We’re live. Hi everybody. Welcome back. This is Coffee Talk. And my name is Dr. Erica Barron, and this is our head technician, Ellen Carozza, here at NOVA Cat Clinic. Thanks for your patience because we’re looking at two different screens, so if you feel like we’re not talking deep into your soul because we’re not making perfect eye contact, you might be over there with Instagram, and then we might be over here with Facebook. So thank you while we are, I guess, evolving–
Yeah. We’re multitasking and evolving. Before we get started on the common myths of feline practice and feline medicine, I just wanted to say happy veterinary technician week to Ellen. We couldn’t do all that we do without special technicians like her. For those of you who don’t know, technicians are the unsung heroes of the veterinary profession. They are the person who’s really– I mean, the doctors are paying attention to the patients as well, but the veterinary technicians are really on top of their patients. They’re monitoring every step of the way, they’re making sure that the cats are having their cat needs met while they’re in the hospital. They do everything between anesthesia to dentistry to phlebotomy to–
management, radiology, I-131, you name it. Basically, what we cannot do is cannot diagnose, make a prognosis, perform surgery, and prescribe medication. That’s what we cannot do.
That’s what I can do That’s why we work all together.
That’s what a doctor can do. Doctors need to do doctors’ work, technicians need to do the technical aspect to make sure that the patients get the quality of care that they absolutely deserve. So it really truly is teamwork here at the hospital.
Yes. So I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you for all you do. Thank you for making my job easier. And also, thank you for taking such great care of the patients. Because, truthfully, one of the reasons my cats come here, one of the reasons one of my cats was driven in from Cleveland to come here was because they’re under Ellen’s care [laughter]. So if you have a moment to stop by this week or to send her a shout out on Instagram or on Facebook or wherever you are and just say “thank you”, this week is about her.
Yeah. The same thank you to the technicians that you know in your veterinary hospitals. They honestly do a lot of work. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, we think about our patients when we go home, we’re always involved, and we really, honestly, do care about your patient and your pet. So we want to make sure that they absolutely are taken care of just like one of our own.
And if you ever have any questions about how to become a technician, because a lot of people don’t know what that all entails, feel free to reach out to Ellen or to reach out to one of the national technician groups because they can help steer you to a local college to you, a local technician program, and then also help you just kind of figure out if that’s what you want to do. There are some online programs as well now. I always feel like if you do an online program, you really also need to find one that’s local so you could be on the ground and meet other technicians. Because it’s just like anything, people do better when they’re together.
Right. And we do. We have college degrees. And we also have to pass a national board exam which is actually pretty darn hard. And then we also have to pass a state exam as well. There’s only 11 states that do not recognize the credential technician. So you’re only as good as what you train by. If you go to an AVMA-accredited school, [it’s?] just like a veterinary goes to an AVAM-accredited school. You know those technicians are being taught high standard of what they actually need to know in practice. So looking for the credential technician is actually pretty darn important and hopefully, one day, everybody gets on board, and all the states are required credentialing.
Yeah, yep. All right. So with that – thanks, Ellen, and thanks for giving us a thumbs up – we’re going to go ahead and talk about myths.
Right. So I went ahead because this is something you wanted to do–
Yeah, I was like, “Let’s talk about myths.”
So I went ahead online, and I was like, “All right, let’s look up the myths because this is what she wants to do.” So we’re going to try to stump her again, to see if we can get her to answer some questions.
So I only picked out a few since we have to do our– getting ready to do appointments and all of that. So [we’re only going to be able?] to do so much. So the first one that a lot of people tend to ask– and we’ve actually seen this a few times here in the clinic, and we’ve gotten this question [asked?] before [that?]–
Ellen has her serious face on with her glasses down her nose–
I can’t see anymore. This is terrible. I’m actually getting old, now. Cats lose their balance if their whiskers are cut off. True or false?
Oh, I mean, I’ve seen cats without any whiskers that walk in a straighter line than I do. That means that I don’t think they do as well sensory-wise because the point of the whiskers besides that they’re communicating with them– so if you ever walk into a room, and the cat’s whiskers are forward and pointing at you like, “I’m going to get you,” they’re probably going to get you. You walk back out of the room slowly, but–
They do. They actually tell a really good story, and we actually use their whiskers here, at the clinic as part of a pain assessment because their face tells you so much, and their whiskers, actually, are a large indicator that something is up.
Yes, so I would assume that they do not have as good of balance just because it’s telling them so much information about what’s going on in front of them. However, I have seen cats where people have cut their whiskers off, and they walk fine. So I don’t think it’s necessary. I just think they probably do better with their whiskers.
Right. And what about the breeds that are bred to not have whiskers like the Sphynx?
Oh, I didn’t even think about that. Yeah, they walk straight. They walk straighter than I do, so. I didn’t even think about the hairless ones [laughter]. I was just thinking about when I’ve seen people cut them off because they thought they looked funny.
Right? Or, oh, God forbid, yeah. We get the little kids that– half of the whiskers, and they think the cat’s going to walk to the right or walk to the left. Not true. Your cat’s just going to look silly for the next several months as they fall out–
And they’re going to get angry
–and they grow back in .
I would be frustrated if someone cut my whiskers off if I had whiskers.
Well, I guess it’s like– if you’re walking around with one shoe on, one shoe off. Maybe that’s the way the cat feels. Like they feel stupid.
Yeah. But you would still walk in a straight line.
All right. So, next question. We only have a few. Cats always land on their feet.
So there is something called the righting reflex, which I wrote a paper about when I was an undergrad. And there is a physiological thing. I think they start it when they are– correct me if I’m wrong. I think it’s 24 weeks old when they have the righting reflex enter into them. They should always land on their feet because they have a righting reflex. If they do not, there could be an issue with the reflex syndrome or how it’s going on because there is a certain way they flip. I don’t remember every little step. I could pull out the paper if I could find my old computer, to show it to you. But I believe it’s– is it that they have to be– is it under five stories? If they fall from over five stories, then because of the righting reflex, and if they land on their feet, they will actually break their back, and they will break their jaw because they hit their jaw so hard.
So, yes. They do land on their feet unless there’s something else wrong with them or unless they’re like the biggest klutz ever, and their reflexes aren’t perfect. So like my little cat, Cleo, doesn’t always land on her feet because she has a dent in her chest, and I don’t think all of her nerve endings are normal because she’s a little bit– you can’t go to vet school with normal cats.
No, that’s very true. You go on YouTube, there’s actually a really cool video on it, it was actually done by an engineer that he actually goes over the righting reflexes with cats, and it’s like all in slow motion so you can actually see them, how they actually twist their body and actually get ready with flexing their feet, ready for the landing. And of course, I’m like, “That’s mean. I can’t believe he did this video.” And my husband’s like, “Calm down. It’s an engineering purpose.” And I’m like, “We already know all this information. Why are they still doing it?”
Yeah. Someone said, “I thought they took out the whiskers.” I thought they used them to measure so they didn’t get trapped in a place that they couldn’t get out.
They’re a sensory organ, so yeah, they’re going to tell you exactly– and if they can fit into something. Now, there are some cats that have whiskers by far longer than the width of their body. There are some cats that whiskers are very much shorter than the width of their body. So usually, if they can get their head through it, they usually can get their body through it. I don’t think it really speaks well for cats nowadays since a lot of them have their heads a little bit smaller than their bodies since we have an obesity epidemic right now, so. But I’m sure in lean cats and stuff like that, if they know they can push their whiskers through something, their head’s going to go through, and the body is sure going to follow.
It’s like a hamster, if they can get their head and everything squished down, they get underneath the door, and then the whole little fat body [inaudible], goes right through.
Yeah. Cleo used to be able to fit under doors like that because of her chest being so weird, and she would like go into the– yeah. I think I have a old video of it bc it was so weird. It looked like she was just like a hamster going under things, and you’re like, “Stop. Stop. You’re going to hurt yourself.” And she still did it.
I used to laugh so hard at the hamsters when they did that because it looked like they had soap on them. They’re like poink. And they go right through the door, and then they were off. And you’re like, “I can’t get there. That’s it. It’s gone. Bye. We’ll buy a new one.” All right. Next one. A cat’s purr indicates they’re always happy.
So that is a great question or a myth because yes, there are some times where cats are purring and they are so happy. But if you ever notice a cat that’s very sick, a lot of times they will purr because of the sounds that it emits is actually a calming thing. So there’s been a lot of studies where depending on the decimal of what’s going on around you, if you hear a cat purring or if you feel a cat purring, it also calms us down. So they will do this right before a stressful event or during a stressful event. Sometimes we call it, unfortunately, the death purr because they’re like on their way out, and they’re purring because they’re so stressed out. Yes, Alyssa?
It’s a little off topic. How true is it that having necklaces with bells hurt their hearing?
Oh, the bell thing.
I’ve never heard that before.
So I’ll tell you where this came from because I posted some pictures up of – what’s his name? – Teddy that he had the big bells on, and I had a bunch of people asking about bells. It doesn’t necessarily hurt their hearing, okay? Because you have to remember, there is much more louder decibels going on around them. It can be annoying, but a lot of times, some of these bells are absolutely necessary, especially if your cat goes outside and you’re trying to protect songbirds. It’s a songbird issue. Sometimes the birds are still stupid, and they still ignore it.
They’re birds. So sometimes it doesn’t help. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it helps the other cats in the household know that the troublemaker is coming along so they don’t get ambushed. So those can be helpful that way. The size of the bell matters. The bigger the bell, the louder and deeper the noise. So usually, the cat collars that have the bells on them are the appropriate size bell for use for alerting that the cat is in the area. So no. It doesn’t necessarily hurt their ears. It might be more annoying to the people because you think it’s just like putting a costume on them. Cats shouldn’t be wearing clothing but in some cases, it’s absolutely necessary. Especially in households where you have cats that ambush each other in the litter boxes, ambush each other just starting fights. So the collars that come with the bells are the appropriate size bells that the cat should be wearing. You should not be going out and buying the Christmas jingle bells at all. Those are much louder and much deeper and yeah. It can get annoying after a while.
I have another question. It says I am fostering a mother and her two kittens in India. The mother’s tummy is still very bloated. It’s been 12 days since she delivered. Do I need to get her checked?
Yes, you do.
Bye. To the vet, you go.
Yes. I would make sure the cat’s imaged to see if they’re holding onto a baby in there that didn’t come out. But going back to the purring thing. It’s no. Cat’s don’t just purr when they’re happy. They can purr when they’re happy but as someone said here, I can’t see that far. As Shelby said, yes. A lot of cats purr when they give birth too because they’re trying to calm themselves down because I know when I was giving birth I wasn’t very calm. So-
Were you purring [laughter]?
I wasn’t purring.
I was very unhappy at that point in time.
Maybe it would have helped if I had a cat purring by me but I feel like if a cat would have been by me it wouldn’t have been purring. It would have been running away.
. The cats will purr at a very specific decibel when they’re happy, when they’re stressed, when they’re dying, and of course, when they’re trying to heal themselves. Cats have a different purr when they heal themselves as well and it could be not just the decibel but the way they purr. Is it a continuous purr? Is it a broken purr? Is it a soft purr? So there’s a whole bunch of different aspects of purring that a cat does which is actually pretty cool.
It is.
Sometimes my cats, you know they’re content and happy when they have a nice soft purr going on. When the purr gets loud enough that you can hear then you can either be like, well, are you really happy or is something kind of going on with you that I need to know about? Because you haven’t been acting yourself lately. But normally, half the time you really should have to really kind of go up to your cat and listen for them to purr.
Oh, my cat, Cosmo purrs really loud. Unless he’s angry then he just screams at you. My cats don’t do the I’m not happy purr.
Right, and each cats have their own specific purrs that are unique to them too. I can tell all of my cats apart with their purrs if they’re laying on a pillow above me and it’s in the middle of the night I know exactly who it is usually by their purr that they do.
I’m just more like, why are you purring on my head in the middle of the night? I don’t care who you are.
I’m like, this is great. I love it
All right. Next one. Female cats should have at least one litter before being spayed.
All right. I’m getting on my soapbox.
I figured this was a good one to put in there because we see a lot of this question all the time.
Yes. So the most current research shows that cats who are spay before their first heat cycle have less than a .25%. So that’s less than .25% chance of getting mammary carcinomas which is breast cancer which in cats is bad, okay. So to me, that’s reason enough not to. If you wait until after the first heat cycle then it’s one in four just the like the rest of the population. So to me, the size that we have in over pet population in this country, besides that a lot of cats are euthanized every day because they don’t have homes, besides that the feral community is great at what they do but isn’t taken care of well. We have a lot of people who try to help in lots of ways and they’re wonderful but there’s a lot. I think the most current study I saw a couple weeks ago said there were one million feral cats in DC. And that doesn’t include the surrounding DC area. And I remember when I was living in Columbus, Ohio, it was like there were two million feral cats in Columbus. And Columbus isn’t huge. And they’re feral and it gets really cold there. So to me, for those reasons, I don’t think its necessary for a female to have babies before she’s spayed. To me, that’s very similar to saying that all adult women should have children before they go through menopause. It’s not necessary.
Right. And what a lot of people don’t understand is when these cats do develop these mammary carcinomas and your veterinarian diagnosis for that, well the surgery is intense. It’s probably worse than a human mastectomy–
Oh, absolutely.
–because you don’t just take one off, you take the whole chain–
You take the whole chain.
–which is four of them on one side and sometimes–
Sometimes there are extras.
–you have to go take all of them.
And it’s the whole side of the body. It’s not just one area, which I’m not trying to discount having a mastectomy, it’s a lot– but for a cat, it’s your entire abdominal wall. A lot of them do great afterward. It takes a while.
Literally from the neck to the tush is taken away in this several layers deep. And it’s very hard on these poor cats. So the way you can prevent it is having them spayed. Unfortunately, we’ve seen several cats that have been adopted older. They don’t know the cats’ history, and they have a mammary carcinoma. And we pretty much know that that cat probably had a litter at some point in its life. Or it’s predisposed due to genetics in the breed.
Like Siamese cats tend to be.
What is the success rate? The success rate of surgery? It depends. A lot of cats do really well afterward. I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head because I feel like a lot of people choose not to do the surgery because it is a lot.
And sometimes you need to follow up with chemo or radiation on top of just the surgery depending upon what it comes back as. If it comes back as something super aggressive, they’re going to send you to oncology for an evaluation on that. For further info on what else can be done if the surgery was even successful. Because sometimes, even though you think you have those margins, the lab is like, “Uh-uh. That’s extended pretty far.”
And the other thing is, it depends on if there’s already metastasis to the lungs or other organs. Yes, Alyssa?
Can male cats get mammary carcinomas?
Probably, but I’ve never seen it.
It’s not like in men in humans. I know men can get it genetically if they’re in that line for it. I don’t think we’ve ever seen one in cats here, personally.
I don’t think so.
Not saying the impossible is possible, but personally, we haven’t had any cases here.
Yeah. That’s why I think a good physical exam should have a yearly exam on females for dogs and cats. It should be that somebody feels down their chains– the mammary chains –because something could pop up and it’s just like in humans. If it’s small, it’s going to go away faster than if it’s big, hopefully. Somebody left a message. I wonder if we can see this. Nope. Oh, there we go. “My cat randomly likes to sit close to the wall, a few inches away, and just stare at it. People told me it means something is wrong with them. I’ve never heard it before, is that another cat myth?” That’s a great question.
Well, I guess it depends. If your cat is like– if your cat puts itself in a corner, and we see this with a lot of sick cats. If they start cornering and literally put themselves in a corner and stay there for hours at a time, something then something needs to be addressed. Now, whether or not the cat is hearing something in the walls, and they’re curious about if there’s a bug behind the wall, mice, whatever, that’s different. You’ll see it in their ears and in their face, the way they’re inquisitive, that they’re looking for something behind the wall. But if your cat is doing what’s called head pressing, and they’re pressing into the wall or pressing into a corner, that needs to be addressed by your veterinarian. I mean, we see a lot in our sick patients. And sometimes that’s the only clue that they notice that their cat is starting to head press.
The other thing I was going to say was that if you notice your cat staring at the same spot in the wall every day, I would try to see if something’s going on back there. Cats are a lot more in tune to the environment than we are. I mean, besides their amazing ears and their amazing whiskers, they have much better scent smells than we do. So I would try to see if something’s going on there. Is there something in the wall?
A ghost.
I can’t tell you how many cats have told us when, oops, when people are– I’m trying to figure out how to get those back. Sorry about that. I can’t tell you how many times people have come in being like, “My cat’s acting weird.” And I’m like, “Oh. Okay. Is anything in the house changing? Are you pregnant?” “I’m five weeks pregnant. I’m six weeks pregnant.” I’m like, “Yeah. They know.” So.
They do.
I would check that out. Yes, Alyssa?
It says, “How would you go about treating a torn ACL in a cat? And if that was the first case at my vet– or that my vet had seen and was looking at research on it.”
A torn ACL?
I’d go to an orthopedic surgeon.
Yep. Orthopedic surgeon.
You could also see a holistic vet who might treat with a laser and acupuncture, depending on the type of tear.
I know. And a lot of times, all you can do in some cases is cage rest, which a lot of people don’t pay attention to. And then, it gets worse over time. And then, they actually need true surgical intervention. But yeah. They should be seeing a specialist for it. And the veterinarian over there should have access to even speaking to a specialist. There is a bunch of networks that the veterinarians could actually speak to each other on, on advice on how to treat this.
Yeah. They could go on the Veterinary Information Network, or VIN.
All right. Any other questions from there before we go to our last one?
There’s a weird one. My cat got really fat after being spayed, but I put her on a diet. And she lost a lot of weight, but she kept extra skin on the tummy. And I’d like to know if that extra skin can be an issue.
No. It’s actually called the primordial pouch. And that’s very normal for cats to develop–
Yes. Girls and boys get it.
–regardless of being spayed or neutered, they both will get it. It has a lot to do with hormones and getting older. It also is the fat pad that protects them when they get into catfights, etc. There is nothing you can do. You don’t want to have those lifted like women that they go to their plastic surgeon like, “Take them up.” We don’t [laughter] do that with cats and stuff
They don’t care enough for it. They don’t care.
It’s okay to have that extra skin. It’s not going to hurt your cat at all.
Once in a great, great while, some cats will go after it if there’s an issue with the spay underneath, the scar. And then, they get inflammation of that fat pouch. It’s called steatitis. There’s really nothing you can do for that besides give pain meds and just try to help reduce the inflammation. That being said, I’m not worried about it, right?
It’s also lovingly called here the dust ruffle on cats.
Denise goes back and forth [laughter] making runs down the hall like, “Hoo, hoo, hoo.” But good job for trying to help your cat ditch that dust ruffle. It’s important for your cat to be at an optimum weight at all times. They’re much healthier, right?
Just like we are.
So the last one–
Yeah. And I told you I started naming cats that have had nine lives. Some of our patients have totally had nine lives [laughter].
I think you’ve gotten more chances than what you deserve right now, Mister.
Or Missus. I feel like it’s usually a Missus [laughter]. It’s usually a Missus. It’s the feisty females. Mm-hmm.
So basically, it goes down to this old myth from centuries ago for the lives that they have are three lives for when he plays, or her for she, however you want to be. Three for when he strays, so, of course, when you get hit by a car or train or whatever. [
So you got hit by three different cars and you’re okay?
That, or you get tossed in a pillowcase and [inaudible] tossed over a bridge. Remember Tom and Jerry had that scene with the little kittens in the pillowcase and I used to cry at them all the time. And for three when he stays, so it’s kind of like a nursery rhyme for the cats–
Three when he plays, three when [laughter] he strays, and three when he stays.
Right? And nine is also the magic number as they have been worshiped and feared through the centuries. And plus, it’s the number that equals the trinity of all trinities. So three by three, right? And so it’s considered a mystic number for tradition and religion. And so that’s why cats have nine lives is because people think they’re just awesome.
Now we know. The more you know.
All right. Does anybody else have any other questions? All right. Well, thanks so much for spending this time with us. And if we can ever help you again, let us know. And feel free to shoot us an email at the clinic, which is office@novacatclinic.com or message us below if there’s a topic you’d like us to hear. We’re going to try to do them again weekly. We can do one next week, but in two weeks, on Halloween– unlike last year on Halloween when we did our show dressed up–
All right. Well, thanks, everybody. Have a great day.