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December 5, 2018 Cats0

Let’s be honest—cats can be moody. Unlike a dog, who is generally overjoyed to see you in any circumstances, a cat will often refuse to acknowledge its owner exists. But as your beloved pet ages, there can be medical explanations for moodiness. Cat dementia is a serious problem, and one that’s very hard to spot.

The reason we’re becoming more aware of cat dementia is a good one. Cats are one of our longer living pets, which is fantastic. Middle age for a cat is between the ages of eight to 15 years. They are classed as geriatric over the age of 15. If you have a healthy cat with no other problems, we’d be hoping to get them live to their high teens, early twenties. But when they live that bit longer, we’re seeing more cases of dementia.

Symptoms of cat dementia

I have clients coming in saying, “My cat has just started waking up at three o’clock in the morning every night.” If your cat sleeps on your bed, then suddenly one morning at 3am it’s in your face screaming at you, that’s not conducive to a happy life.

Another odd behaviour we’ve seen is the cat forgetting they’ve been fed, and asking again. Not long after dinner, the cat is yowling at you again, and you’re thinking, “I’ve just fed you an hour ago. What’s happened?” Or they forget to eat, so when you put the food down, they’ll wander off and won’t recognise it as food.

Both symptoms are worth checking with your vet, but the real challenge we face in diagnosing dementia is the symptoms mirror behaviours that might be associated with other diseases. For example, your cat may be sleeping more than usual, or walking around less than usual. That may be arthritis—or may not be. It’s similar if the cat seems cranky for no good reason, or if they’re soiling in weird spots. These could all indicate old age diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease or hyperthyroidism.

Odd cat behaviour

But if they are suffering from dementia, these things may be happening because they lose the ability to separate day and night. They get confused and they start doing things at the wrong time of day. They’re yelling because everyone’s asleep and they can’t understand why, for example.

One key indicator is they stop wanting to groom, and that can be they’ve forgotten that they need to groom. But again, it can also be that grooming hurts. If the cat has elbow arthritis, they’re not going to want to move their legs in that way. Or if they have a disc disease in their neck, it might hurt to turn around and groom.

How to tell if dementia is the problem

As you can see for so many reasons, it’s hard for you at home to say definitively that your cat has dementia. There are lots of other subtle problems that the vet can’t tell either.

If we suspect that dementia is a problem, we will run a lot of tests to rule out those other old-age diseases. We’ll do blood tests and urine tests, and a blood pressure check on your cat. All of these tests are to try and rule out the disease that’s mimicking the signs of dementia.


November 26, 2018 Cats0

Both Burmese and Ragdoll cats are popular options for families looking for a family pet. Both breeds are well-known for liking people. But there are some notable differences between to two—and Gabby Dexter summed them up brilliantly in this post she put on the Burmese Cat Obsession group on Facebook. We loved it so much, we asked Gabby whether we could reprint it here (and she said yes—thanks Gabby!).

Last year I asked people here of those Burm vs Ragdoll experiences as we were getting a Raggie kitten. We’ve had Ushi the Ragdoll for seven months now and as, from what I know, both are very typical of their breeds I thought you’d be interested in the breed differences, seeing as they are both breeds known for being people centric.

Physical type:

Burm: Petite, lithe and sleek—essentially a small puma. Like a brick wrapped in velvet.
Ragdoll: Large, clumsy and floppy. Like a pudding wrapped in cotton wool.
Burm: Keen eyed, occasional resting bitch face, looks thoughtful and judgmental.
Ragdoll: Pure innocence, has no idea what’s going on, chances of any thoughts being in their head at any given time unlikely.
Raggies also have amazingly hairy big feet.


Burm: The cleverest cat you’ll ever meet, always one step ahead, plotting, learns tricks well, frustratingly good problem-solving skills.
Ragdolls: Thick as mince.

Talkative nature:

Burm: A low, strong meow, always chatting, big range of sounds, no thought goes unsaid.
Ragdoll: A high, sweet kitten-like mew, doesn’t chat but cries A LOT if you leave the room because apparently you’ve suddenly stopped existing. Has a nervous breakdown if you go to the bathroom without him. A surprisingly good mimic.

Burm: Dog-like, constant and faithful love and loyalty, lives for cuddles, wants to be cuddled all the time, wants to be with you all the time, loves being held, stroked, kissed, ticked, purrs the whole time. Sits on my son’s bed at night to watch over him until he falls asleep.
Ragdoll: Wants to be with you all the time but not touched thank you very much! Waits for me by the door whenever I pop outside. Loves being brushed. Lives for tummy rubs. If you put your face too close to him he will push it away with his paw EVERY TIME! Likes sleeping by our feet or lying near us in bed but never on us.
Burm: Greets me with ecstatic meowing, twisting round my legs, reaching up for cuddles, loud purring, chirps and head boops.
Ragdoll: Greets me by falling over.

Burm: Loves to climb, is frequently found on top of the fridge/ curtain rails. Likes to jump and be as high as possible.
Ragdoll: Needs help getting onto the bed. Can’t jump very well, hates heights yet I still find him asleep on top of our bookshelf every morning about to roll off (and I have no idea how he’s doing it!)
Burm: Gannet. Eats everything. Always begging for tidbits. Will kill for fish. We have to spell the word around him or he’ll go nuts. Cast iron stomach.
Ragdoll: There is exactly one type of food he will eat, and even that gives him the squits. Very fussy, not interested in fish.
Burm: Fastidiously clean. His nickname is ‘Niles’.
Ragdoll: NEVER covers up after himself when he’s used the litter tray. My partner used to try and teach him what to do by dragging him back to the litter tray and showing him how to cover it. My partner has long since given up and now just does it himself.
Ragdoll only: Two words; poo scissors.
Burm: Elegant and precise
Ragdoll: Sleeps on his back with all four legs in the air. Rolls off the bed at least once a week.
Burm: If he does something daft that makes you laugh (ie falls off the bed) he will glare at you until your soul shrivels up. A very proud creature.
Ragdoll: Will do it again for the lols.
Burm: Has a funny half hour once a day and goes crazy.
Ragdoll: Too lazy to move.
Burm: Liked aggressive kitten play when little.
Ragdoll: Very very gentle. Never been nipped by him even in play. Also, too lazy to move.


September 12, 2018 Cats0

Sick cats pose a difficult problem for vets. Cats don’t like change, and a vet clinic can be both scary and stressful for a cat. That’s why is so important that the vet you choose is cat-friendly. This doesn’t just mean someone who is nice to cats. As veterinary professionals, it’s important that we recognise the signs of stress and fear in caged cats. Their body language is the only voice they have and sick animals don’t heal well if stressed. 


July 23, 2018 Cats0

SNIP Kitten Rescue rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes unwanted kittens, and provides de-sexing at a reduced cost. This not-for-profit organization was founded by Zarli Kew, head nurse at our Pet Medical Muswellbrook clinic and endorsed by Pet Medical. Over the six years since founding the program, our team at Pet Medical has found homes for over 700 kittens, all of which are fully vet-checked, vaccinated, micro-chipped, de-sexed, wormed and flea treated. Our kittens also come with 4 weeks free pet insurance.


Obviously, nipping and biting behaviour from your pet is less than ideal, and for a number of reasons it’s important to limit it. Realistically, they’re natural behaviours for dogs and cats. In fact, they’re natural behaviours for kids too! What's the first thing an infant does when it grasps something new? Chances are, it goes in the mouth, and if it's fun or feels good it happens again! It’s exactly the same for cats and dogs. That said, when it comes to your cats and dogs, you need to draw a line to make sure you have a happy, well-socialised pet who doesn’t terrorise the family or the neighbourhood.


May 9, 2018 CatsDogsMedicine0

Just as human vaccines have eradicated devastating diseases such as smallpox and polio, pet vaccinations are a vital weapon in the fight against the many diseases that threaten our beloved pets.  Take parvo (parvovirus), for example. This horrific virus causes viral gastroenteritis in dogs that literally strips the lining of the intestine. It's hideously painful and often results in death. Parvo is also highly contagious. Just a single gram of faeces infected with parvo can spread the disease to another 1,000 animals. The virus will also stay in the environment for about 12 months, and can even survive on your shoes and clothes for up to six months.


April 25, 2018 CatsDental CareDogs0

Our pets’ diets are getting worse and it’s coming at a huge cost—pet dental problems. But there are simple steps you can take to make your pet’s life healthier and happier. How do you spot a pet dental problem? Breath odour is a sure sign. If your dog’s breath stinks, it usually means they’ve got an infection. Get them to the vet immediately! Don’t let it get to that stage.


April 11, 2018 CatsDogs1

Our companion pets aren’t just animals—they’re our beloved friends and family members. But while we research gourmet recipes and meal plan for the family, we don’t always think about what’s going into Fido’s mouth. Instead, we just grab the closest pack of pet food off the shelf at the supermarket, with its convenient promise of a complete food in a bag. The truth is, commercial pet food isn’t all created equal. Just like there’s a difference between take-out fries and a salad, there’s a huge scope in terms of nutrition when it comes to pet food. Does this mean you need to fork out for the ones with the fanciest packaging and boldest health claims? Not necessarily. With over two decades in clinical practice and working with animals throughout the world, I’ve learned what’s really important when it comes to feeding your pet.


If your cat or dog is not doing the things it usually does as routine then most likely there is something wrong with them. But how do you decipher the problems and fix them before they become an issue? Most pet owners get a good idea of what their cat or dog’s regular routines are. Some cats love jumping up on a particular chair or table. Some are particularly active—others, not so much. Sometimes we all wish our furry family members could talk so they could tell us what’s wrong, so while we wait for a feline translating device to be made (ahem! Google?), you should be reading your pet’s body language and taking them for regular vet check-ups. Dogs don’t whinge, complain or tell you they don’t feel well. Whingeing is a human thing. You whinge because your partner cares about what you have to say. Dogs don't whinge because no-one likes it. It doesn't get them anything, so they’ve learned not to do it. They suffer in silence, so we don't realise they're unwell. We don't realise they're unwell unless they stop eating, or they're vomiting, or drinking 10 litres of water. We often miss the subtle signs of ageing. So, what are those subtle signs?


March 14, 2018 CatsDogs0

Having senior pets can be fantastic. You know each other, you know each other's habits and you've got a routine happening. Gone are the days of hole-digging and shredded furniture. It’s a beautiful time. But just like us, as pets get older they start to have health problems—and they’re easy to miss in the early stages. Dogs don’t whinge, complain or tell you they don’t feel well. Whingeing is a human thing. You whinge because your partner cares about what you have to say. Dogs don't whinge because no-one likes it. It doesn't get them anything, so they’ve learned not to do it. They suffer in silence, so we don't realise they're unwell. We don't realise they're unwell unless they stop eating, or they're vomiting, or drinking 10 litres of water. We often miss the subtle signs of ageing. So, what are those subtle signs?


March 7, 2018 Cats1

Local veterinary clinic Pet Medical has achieved accreditation as a Cat Friendly Clinic (CFC). The CFC programme has been developed by the International Society of Feline Medicine, the veterinary division of the leading feline charity International Cat Care, and accreditation has been made available in partnership with Ceva, Royal Canin, Boehringer Ingelheim, Idexx, Elanco and Zoetis. It aims to promote well-being and high standards of care for all cats visiting or being hospitalised in a veterinary clinic.


February 14, 2018 Behaviour TeamCats0

When someone tries to describe an impossible task, they often say, “It’s like training cats”. But it is possible to train cats. Proof of that is a cat I know called Hartley. Hartley the cat is so well trained he recently went with his owner to a dog show. And was absolutely fine with it. You may expect a dog show to create some pretty antisocial cat behaviour. But Hartley came to ‘A Bark in the Park’ dog show with 300 dogs and sat in a carrier bag with a harness on; totally unfazed, because Hartley goes everywhere with his mum.


February 6, 2018 Behaviour TeamCats

Cat behaviour is one of the great conundrums of pet ownership. How often have you heard of cat owners buying a lovely bed for their cat to sleep in, only to find that the cat will sleep on a bit of paper beside the bed. Cats like options. They like somewhere to hide, somewhere to go up high, and they like a choice of places to go to the toilet as well. A lot of people are guilty of not providing enough options with litter trays and food areas, especially with multi-cat households. One cat will actually block another cat from getting to food and you won't even see it. All they do is sit there with a blank expression, but what they're doing is saying, "Don't even think about coming past me." This is classic cat behaviour.


February 5, 2018 Behaviour TeamCats

A trip to the vet with your beloved cat or dog doesn’t have to be traumatic (for either of you). By employing low-stress handling techniques your moggy or pup can be absolutely at ease for his or her next check-up. My team are all specifically trained in these techniques and the results make for a relaxed and happy pet, as well as a relaxed and happy pet parent! Low-stress handling comes down to reading your pet’s body language. They may not be able to speak, but your animals will absolutely tell you how they’re feeling. You can see how a dog or cat is feeling by understanding their body language, and learning to read it. Vets become experts at it. It’s really like learning any other language.

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