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Q - Dr. Ewald,
We have 4 cats. Two of them are very healthy and they can eat a variety of
foods. One of them requires assistance regulating blood sugar with Diabetes
Management food (hard and soft) and our oldest cat is showing early signs of
kidney failure and recieves k/d food (hard and soft). The two cats requiring
the k/d and DM foods have only been eating these foods for approximately two months.
We will be taking a two week vacation and we will have professional pet sitters (that we know and trust) stopping by once every day to play with the cats, replenish dry food and water, offer soft food, and take care of other maintenance needs. We are currently experimenting with placement of hard food dishes to prevent our k/d cat from eating the DM and vice-versa. Relying on general leaping abilities and territoriality of the cats involved, we believe this solution to be feasible but far from fool-proof. The two "healthy cats" can access surfaces that the other two can't get to without assistance or intermediate platforms and can be easily accomodated in a number of ways.
Is there a dry cat food available that could be offered to all of these cats for a two week period? We realize that k/d and DM foods are almost opposites, but we are trying to figure out if there is a happy medium that will not exaccerbate the issues associated with both our special diet cats. Any information that you are willing to offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Bill from Chicago
A - Dear Bill,
It is difficult to make recommendations without knowing the specifics of
your cats' health histories (severity of diabetes, etc.). The best advice would
be to consult with the veterinarian who prescribed the foods they are currently
on, as they know your cats' conditions. They may be able to recommend which cat
needs which food and which cat can switch to something else for
the 2 weeks you are on vacation. Also, it is always important to let your
veterinarian know if you will be out of town for a prolonged period of time.
I can recommend, if it possible, to have the pet-sitters come twice-a-day and feed the cats in separate rooms according to their prescribed diets
Q - Dear Dr. Ewald,
I am in love with a cat that has Giardia. Are there any lifelong implications with that? I've heard it's a bacteria, and the current caretakers say they think it's almost gone (treated w/ heavy duty medicine and they're giving it a test soon). But they said in some cases it can return. They said the cat is doing well, positive and happy, and eating well.
I am going to be a first-time cat owner, if I take home this
cat, is this a big challenge to take on medically speaking? (frequent doctors
visits? expensive medications?). I really love this cat--so I just want
to be sure that I'm fully informed before making a decision, as the cat has
been returned once before for the medical problem and I don't want to add
further trauma to the poor thing (I.e. it had diarrhea that the old woman who
adopted it couldn't handle...not sure if I feel the same way, tho I'm not a
neat freak I don't think I'd LOVE having feces everywhere all its
life?!?). Any more information you could provide would be greatly
Jessica, Chicago IL
A - Dear Jessica
Giardia is a protozoal parasite, which means that it
is a single-celled, animal-like organism, not a worm like most intestinal
parasites. Giardia can look very similar to tritrichamonas, which can difficult
to impossible to clear up. An Elisa test (antigen test) must be performed to
determine if indeed the cat has Giardia.
When treating Giardia, no drug is 100% effective. However, when multiple courses and sometimes multiple medications are used, the treatment of this persistent illness can be effective. More difficultly may arise because it is possible for a cat to reinfect themselves with Giardia, so it is very important to keep the cat's living environment and litter box extremely clean. This will help decrease the likelihood of reinfection. The illness may also appear when other problems occur, like inflammatory bowel disease, so clearing up the Giardia may not clear a cat's chronic diarrhea.
As for your specific situation, if the cat is happy, healthy and appears to be on a road to recovery, you should be able to manage their condition. Most cats do not have a lifelong problem with Giardia, which can be asymptomatic. You should expect to encounter some bumps in the road in regards to health issues, so it is very important that you establish an immediate relationship with your veterinarian upon adoption. That way they are aware of your cat's health concerns.
If you are willing and able, you will be able to provide this cat with a warm, loving home that they will definitely appreciate!
|Dr. Lynda Ewald, our Director of Veterinary Services, received her veterinary degree at Michigan State University, and gained her first introduction to shelter medicine at Tree House over a decade ago. She has since worked in private practice at the Cat Hospital of Chicago, and is currently Director of Veterinary Medicine at Tree House. Her supervision of the clinic has greatly increased our level of care, and her knowledge and experience in feline and canine care are extensive|