There are indoor and outdoor plants that can potentially make your beloved kitty very ill. Among the most common are the following:

Amaryllis (Amaryllis sp.)
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron sp.)
Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum sp.)
Cyclamen (Cyclamen sp.)
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sp.)
Lilies (Lilium sp.)
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)
Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
Spanish thyme (Coleus ampoinicus)
Tulip and Narcissus bulbs (Tulipa and Narcissus sp.)
Yew (Taxus sp.)

Lilies are cited to be the most deadly for cats. Symptoms of poisoning include drooling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, excessive drinking or difficulty breathing. There is a poison control line (1-855-213-6680)that can be consulted but it is best to get immediate veterinary care.



sickcat2Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a deadly disease for cats.  It is caused by a type of virus known as feline coronavirus and affects 5-10% of all cats.  Not all cats who carry the corona virus will develop the devastating symptoms of FIP.  It is believed that  FIP is either caused by an immune response to the coronavirus or that the virus mutates into FIP.  Cats that are positive for FIP often show no symptoms and will carry this it forever.  The active disease can appear weeks to years after the cat becomes positive and is nearly always rapidly fatal.  There is no vaccination and no cure for FIP.  A few years ago St Francis Animal Rescue had a litter of kittens left at the back door and all were FIP positive.  Although they were healthy and playful,  a majority of shelters would have quickly euthanized them.  Several of our shelter volunteers had no other cats and adopted these tiny kittens.  All are alive today and loving pets but still could develop symptoms. 



This is cold and flu season for humans for sure but our feline friends can suffer from respiratory viruses all year long.  There are two main culprits that affect our kitties: Feline Calici Virus (FCV) and Rhinotracheitis, which is a feline herpes virus infection.  Both can present with lethargy, sneezing, runny eyes and loss of appetite.  Calici virus is the more serious of the two syndromes and presents with mouth sores and aching joints.  The care is largely supportive for both viruses but antibiotics may be needed if there is a secondary bacterial infection of the eyes or lungs.  These two viruses are highly contagious and present serious problems in a shelter environment.  At St. Francis, we isolate the cat at the first sign of symptoms in our infirmary and maintain strict contact and sanitation protocols.  In a home with other cats it is more difficult but hand washing and isolation should help protect your other pets.  The good news is that these viruses are not transmitted to humans and are easily preventable with immunizations.

Hyperthyroidism In Cats




doctorcat4When I started working at St. Francis Animal Rescue in Venice, Florida, I was surprised to find how many of our cats had this problem and required medication. Hyperthyroidism is the most common gland disorder in cats of any breed, both male and female.  They are usually cats older than 10 years of age but we have a few that developed the problem when they were younger.  The most common age of onset is between 12 and 13 years of age.    A cat will present with a marked increase in appetite but will lose weight.  The frequently display increased thirst and urination as well as vomiting and diarrhea.  Your otherwise sedate senior may also become very active, pant and have an unkempt appearance.  

It is important to take your beloved pet to the veterinarian immediately for an examination and lab work.  A simple blood test for the thyroid hormone, T4, will show it is elevated in most cases.  If your elderly cat has other medical conditions, the diagnosis might be a bit tricky and require more lab tests.  These tests can be expensive but because hyperthyroidism is so common,  lower cost clinics run by local Humane Societies and not-for-profit shelters can help provide the needed medical care. cat2

The good news is that the medication called methimazole (Tapazole) controls the condition for a majority of cats and is relatively inexpensive.  The average dose of a 2.5mg. tablet twice a day costs us about $10-$15 a month for our affected cats.  The good news is that it is a small tablet that will dissolve in a few drops of water and can be added to a little gravy or wet food.   For the kitty that really resists medication, there is a gel formulation that can be placed on the inside of the ear and absorbed through the skin.  However, it will cost more.  Again, it is wise to check with local low cost clinics or animal charities to compare medication options and costs.