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«Cat Owner’s Home VETERINARY Handbook This book is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of veterinarians. Readers should regularly ...»

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Cat Owner’s Home



This book is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of veterinarians. Readers should regularly consult a veterinarian in matters relating to

their cat’s health, and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may

require medical attention.

In writing this book, we have described the signs and symptoms that will

lead you to a preliminary idea of what is happening with your cat, so you can

weigh the severity of the problem. Knowing when to call your veterinarian is very important. Delays can be dangerous.

At the same time, we have sought to provide guidance for the acute or emergency situations that you must handle on your own until you can get your cat to a veterinarian. Life-saving procedures such as artificial respiration and heart massage, and what to do in the event of poisonings, obstetrical problems, and other emergencies, are explained step by step.

But a veterinary handbook is not a substitute for professional care. Advice from a book can never be as helpful or as safe as actual medical advice. No text can replace the interview and the hands-on examination that enable a veterinarian to make a speedy and accurate diagnosis.

However, the knowledge provided in this book will enable you to more effectively cooperate and better understand your interactions with your veterinarian. You’ll be more alert to the signs of health problems and better able to describe them. You’ll know more about basic care for your cat, and you’ll be prepared in an emergency. Together, you and your veterinarian make a great health team for your cat!

Cat Owner’s Home VETERINARY Handbook Third Edition Debra M. Eldredge, DVM Delbert G. Carlson, DVM Liisa D. Carlson, DVM James M. Giffin, MD Edited by Beth Adelman Copyright © 2008 by Delbert Carlson, DVM, and James M. Giffin, MD. All rights reserved.

Howell Book House Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the web at www.copyright.com. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Legal Department, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 10475 Crosspoint Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46256, (317) 572-3447, fax (317) 572-4355, or online at http://www.wiley.com/go/permissions.

Wiley, the Wiley Publishing logo, Howell Book House, and related trademarks are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc. is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.

The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising here from. The fact that an organization or Website is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further information does not mean that the author or the publisher endorses the information the organization or Website may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that Internet Websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read.

For general information on our other products and services or to obtain technical support, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at (800) 762-2974, outside the U.S. at (317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

Cat owner’s home veterinary handbook / Debra M. Eldredge... [et al.] ; edited by Beth Adelman. — 3rd ed.

p. cm.

Rev. ed. of: Cat owner’s home veterinary handbook / Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffin. 2nd ed.


Includes index.

ISBN-13: 978-0-470-09530-0 ISBN-10: 0-470-09530-X

1. Cats—Diseases—Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Eldredge, Debra. II. Adelman, Beth. III. Carlson, Delbert G. Cat owner’s home veterinary handbook.

SF985.C29 2007 636.8'089—dc22 Printed in the United States of America Third Edition Cover design by José Almaguer Wiley Bicentennial Logo: Richard J. Pacifico Book production by Wiley Publishing, Inc. Composition Services The smallest feline is a masterpiece.

—Leonardo da Vinci


A special Index of Signs and Symptoms is on the inside of the front cover for fast referral. Consult this index if your cat exhibits any unexplained behavior.

It will help you identify the problem.

The detailed Contents outlines the organs and body systems that are the sites of disease. If you can locate the problem anatomically, look here first.

The general Index begins on page 596 and gives you a comprehensive guide to the book’s medical information. Where a page number is in bold, it indicates more detailed coverage of the subject.

Cross-references note pertinent supplementary information.

A Glossary on page 576 defines medical terms used to best explain the subject or condition. Many of these words are now being used commonly among veterinarians and their clients. Glossary terms will usually be found in italics in the text. (Italics may also be used for emphasis.) vi In memory of James R. Richards, DVM, director of the Cornell University Feline Health Center, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, director of the Dr. Louis J. Camuti Memorial Feline Consultation and Diagnostic Service, co-chair of the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force, author, educator, communicator, and a man who worked endlessly for better feline health and care.

He treated everyone as a personal friend and a respected colleague. He understood the importance of communicating what we know. Although he was much in the public eye, it was never about him and always about the cats.

He inspired everyone who knew him. He was a friend of everyone who was a friend of cats.

There are some people whose passing makes even the angels weep.

–  –  –

This book has been a team effort and a labor of love. Editor Beth Adelman has cracked the whip, but gently, and virtually coauthored this rewrite.

Researcher Marcella Durand found obscure facts and neat photos. Technical editor Dr. Lorraine Jarboe added from her vast store of cat knowledge.

Sophomore student Valerie Toukatly added artwork, as did the incomparable Wendy Christensen. Chris Stambaugh saved us with her technical expertise.

Thanks to Roxanne Cerda, who pushed and prodded me into doing this. And thanks to my family, who have all dodged around piles of cat veterinary articles, books, and brochures throughout the house.

A special thanks to all the cats of my life—most especially my beloved Sam, who graced my life for 22 years. From my first cat, Fredericka the Freeloader, to my current orange guy, Firecracker (born on the Fourth of July), my cats have provided me with endless hours of entertainment and company.

All of these cats—client cats, shelter cats, cats of friends, stray cats—have added to my enjoyment of life. Special love to Venus de Milo, my classic three-legged black beauty; Jenny, the feline ballerina and opera star; Tiger, who thought she was a dog; and C2, who loved me despite the fact that I was her veterinarian. Sharing space with another species is not always easy, but with a cat it is always interesting!

–  –  –

Index................................................ 596


Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook has been a familiar title on my bookshelf for more than two decades. It’s the book I turn to, time and again, for definitive answers on feline health. My own cats have pawed at, sat on, and nibbled the corners of many of its pages.

I’ve owned both editions of this book, replacing my old one in 1995 with the latest volume. But I have been surprised to learn that many cat breeders, and several of my journalist colleagues, have both editions, going all the way back to 1983, because they just can’t bear to part with them. I have participated in quite a few feline e-mail group discussions that include the phrase, “According to Cat Owner’s Home Vet...” This is an old book with a long legacy—but also a new one that has been completely revamped and greatly expanded.

That’s because in the past decade, much of what we know about feline medicine has changed. At one time, many veterinary treatments for cats were based on research that had been done on dogs. It was assumed cats were very similar—just small dogs, really—and would respond to similar treatments and medications.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. We now know that cats and dogs are as different, biologically speaking, as cats and people. And the research in veterinary medicine is finally catching up. Accordingly, this book is much longer than its predecessor (because we know so much more!) and has undergone some major changes.

You’ll find the latest information here on vaccine protocols, flea, tick, and heartworm preventives, reading cat food labels, nutrition, joint supplements, treatments for cancer and kidney disease, and treatments for diabetes. Newly recognized heart, muscle, and dental diseases are discussed, as are new ways of understanding feline lower urinary tract disease, hip dysplasia, feline calicirvirus, and many other conditions. New drugs and surgical techniques are explained. Controversial subjects, such as vaccine-associated sarcoma and declawing, are covered. There are spectacular new anatomical drawings. And the entire section on feline behavior has been rewritten, based on new findings.

When the second edition was published in 1995, therapies using supplements, nutraceuticals, and holistic modalities such as acupuncture were largely untested. Now, for illnesses where holistic treatments have proven to be beneficial, they are listed under the Treatments section.

–  –  –

According to a 2006 study by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., the top ten

feline medical conditions for which their policyholders filed claims were:

–  –  –

You will also find all of those common feline health problems here—covered completely and comprehensively. And, whatever troubles your cat, you will find it described clearly and have a variety of treatment options to discuss with your veterinarian.

As an editor, it’s always an honor to work on a book that is already a classic and will continue to be one. But editors are a rather compulsive breed, and I tend to look at every book I own very critically. I have spent more than a decade wishing I could make some changes in this one. At last, I have my chance. In this edition, you’ll find an extensive glossary. The cross-references are easier to use, the index is expanded, there’s a list of tables (and more of them!), there are more appendices, and overall, when you come home with your cat from the veterinarian’s office full of questions, it’s easier to find what you are looking for.

–  –  –

2 • CAT OWNER’S HOME VETERINARY HANDBOOK Handling and Restraint Any cat, no matter how docile he may be, has the potential to bite when he is severely injured, frightened, or in pain. It is important to recognize this and take proper precautions to keep from being bitten. It is therefore wise to always have control of a cat’s head.

There are several effective ways to handle and restrain a cat. Your choice will depend on whether the individual animal is tranquil and cooperative or frightened and aggressive. Remember that cats have five sets of weapons— one mouth and four feet. They are extremely skilled in using these weapons, and will not hesitate to do so.


As a general rule, it is advisable to reach down and pick up a cat from above.

A face-to-face confrontation might provoke the cat into becoming uncooperative or aggressive.

Cooperative cats can be picked up by placing one hand around the cat beneath the chest and taking hold of the cat’s front legs so they cross over each other, keeping your index finger between them for a secure grip. Pick up the cat and snuggle him close to your body, supporting his hind legs if necessary. Cradle his chin with your other hand.

–  –  –

A leash and loop restraint for an aggressive cat. The cat is immobilized by drawing the leash taut.

To keep the cat from being choked, the loop should include one front leg.

Apprehensive cats can be picked up by reaching down and lifting the cat by the scruff of his neck. Most cats under the age of 1 go limp—as they did when their mothers carried them as kittens. Older cats may not be as cooperative about scruffing. Support the cat’s back feet and body with your other hand.

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