Cat Writer's Association Awards 2011

The Cat Writer's Association(CWA) is an organization of professionals writing, publishing and broadcasting about cats.  Members include writers, editors, publishers, artists, public relations specialists, broadcasters and others. 
 Every year the CWA sponsors a contest in which they give out awards for the best written articles in a variety of categories.  The winners are announced at their annual conference.  This year, I submitted a few articles for consideration, and I’m pleased to announce I won three (!)  awards this year!

I won TWO Muse Medallions:
1) Newsletter Article – Any Other Topic
Judge’s comment:  “This is an entertaining and informative article that takes the reader on a unique journey into Holland’s famous floating cat shelter and examines its veterinary care practices.  The writer succinctly narrates a personal account of the ways another culture manages its homeless cat population.”
The Muse Medallion goes to: Dr. Arnold Plotnick for "Cats in Amsterdam" published in Cat Fancy.
 2) Online Article – Health and General Care
Judge’s comment:  “There were many excellent articles in this category.  With their fluid, easy-to-read style, the winner’s entries, in particular, provided enjoyment while dispensing useful and important information.”
The Muse Medallion goes to: Dr. Arnold Plotnick for "Why We Vaccinate (Even Indoor Cats)" published in Cat Man Do.

And last but not least, the big one) The PURINA ONE® HEALTH AWARD sponsored by Purina is for the outstanding single article reporting on feline health issues.
Judge’s comments:  “The winning article has good information.  It is readable, accurate and applicable.  This article can help everyone at all levels of ownership and experience understand the importance of oral health in cats.”
The winner is Arnold Plotnick for “Anatomy of the Feline Mouth.”
Also, see:
2011 Certificate of Excellence Winners (PDF) 
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Shelter Sketches: Meet Vincent, Marellus, and Mia

This is amazing! Meet Chelsea Conlin, a freelance illustrator who also uses her artform to save animals. She is in charge of Shelter Sketches on ILRA )

Each week, Chelsea snags a photo posted from an animal shelter or rescue group of animals that need homes, and transforms the picture into a work of art.

This week Chelsea picked the three kitties rescued, and up for adoption at Manhattan Cat Specialists! Yay!  We posted this picture with some information about how to adopt these kitties:

Before Chelsea:

And Chelsea transformed that picture into this:

After Chelsea:

Chelsea is truly outstanding!  And her blog post is terrific as well. This is such an incredible method for her to do exactly what she loves and save lives.  She gets to do illustrations of animals each week.  She gets to help rescue animals with a brilliant way of spreading the word.  She gets to watch her artform travel worldwide while people are sharing their desire to help animals in need.
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Pulp Kittens - available for adoption now at Manhattan Cat Specialists

Manhattan Cat Specialists kittens for adoption.

We have three new rescue kittens available for adoption at Manhattan Cat Specialists; Vincent, Marcellus, and Mia are approximately 8-10 weeks old..  These kittens were scheduled to be euthanized. Instead, they're relaxing with us at the hospital, shaking off small colds, and almost ready to be adopted into loving homes.

All specific info (testings for FIV and FeLV, vaccination record, ect) will be updated here in about a week.  In the meantime, if you are in the New York City metro area and would like to adopt a cat, please visit our adoption info page, and then give us a call.  If you have friends or family that may be interested in some adorableness in their lives, please share this post.  These kitties deserve loving homes.

230 West 76th Street  |  New York, NY 10023  |  212-721-2287
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Cat Litterbox Problems Solved

CatChannel solves all your cat litterbox problems.

Cat Resources
Cat Litterbox Resources Get answers to your cat litterbox questions with a quick check of litterbox resources from and CAT FANCY. Find articles that discuss cats’ inappropriate elimination, cat constipation, loose bowels in cats, cats who use the litterbox to sleep and other cat litterbox conditions. Looking for something not on our cat litterbox resources list? Contact a CAT FANCY and expert to ask your about your cat’s litterbox condition. All this and more can be found in our cat litterbox resources section.
What will happen when you fix your cat? Find out from an expert.
Constipation Sources
Learn why your cat might have a stoppage of stools.
Cat Spraying
When your cat uses scent marking to mark territory, try some simple steps to help redirect your cat's behavior.
Locate the LItterbox
Check this quick tip to see how good litterbox location will help your cat have healthy habits.
Inappropriate Elimination
Going outside the litterbox is a common cat problem. See how to help correct this behavior and get your cat to use his litterbox again.
My Cat Is Sleeping in the LItterbox — Why?
Your cat might be trying to tell you something if he's using his litterbox for a bed.
Soft Stools
Your cat's loose bowels can signal a problem. Get expert advice on your next step.
Keep It Inside the Box's veterinary expert explains how to teach cats to use their litterboxes.
Defecating Outside the Litterbox
Your cat could avoid the litterbox for everything. Get tips on how to correct bad litterbox behavior from cat behaviorists.
Why Cats Stop Using the Litterbox
Do some detective work to discover why your cat went from using the litterbox to using the floor around it.
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Hepatic Lipidosis in Cats

Hepatic Lipidosis in Cats

by Arnold Plotnick MS, DVM, ACVIM, ABVP

Section: Overview

Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) is a syndrome characterized by an accumulation of excessive amounts of lipid (fat) within the cells of the liver, abnormal bile flow within the liver, and impaired liver function. Severe impairment of liver function may affect the liver's ability to detoxify the blood. As toxins accumulate, they can affect the mental status of the cat, leading to mental dullness, severe depression, and seizures. Hepatic lipidosis can occur as a primary event, or it can occur secondary to other disease processes, such as diabetes. It is the most common liver disease encountered in cats.

Adult cats of either sex can be affected. Any breed of cat is susceptible. Middle aged to older cats are most likely to be affected.

Hepatic lipidosis can be a serious disease. Even with aggressive therapy, a significant number of cats die from the condition.

The cause of hepatic lipidosis remains unknown. Obesity is thought to be a predisposing factor, as most (but not all) affected cats are obese at the time of disease onset. A period of anorexia (decreased appetite), occurring as a result of a stressful event (such as the addition of a new pet or family member, or a sudden change to a less palatable diet) can trigger the onset of hepatic lipidosis.

What To Watch For

Loss of muscle mass
Jaundice (yellow tint to the whites of the eyes and possibly the skin inside the ears)
Severe depression
Possible seizures

Diagnostic Tests

The diagnostic tests needed to confirm the presence of hepatic lipidosis and exclude other liver disorders include:

Complete medical history and physical exam. This includes examination of the gums, whites of the eyes, and other part of the body for jaundice (yellow discoloration).

Blood tests and urine analysis to confirm that the liver is affected

Bile acid test to assess how well the liver is functioning

Abdominal x-rays to evaluate the liver

Abdominal ultrasound. This is a painless procedure in which a probe is held against the abdomen and is used to detect valuable information about the health of the liver.

Fine-needle aspirate of the liver. This technique allows for a small sample of liver cells to be obtained and evaluated.

Liver biopsy. Obtaining a biopsy specimen (a small piece of the liver) is the definitive test for making a diagnosis of hepatic lipidosis.


Dietary therapy is the mainstay of treatment. Affected cats may need to be force fed, or fed through a tube in the nose, esophagus, or stomach. Hospitalization is usually required for the first few days. Treatment for hepatic lipidosis may also include some or all of the following:

Medication to control vomiting

Drugs that help control gastrointestinal bleeding for cats that develop stomach ulcers

Medications that help control the mental signs of hepatic lipidosis in severe cases

Blood transfusion if the impaired liver cannot normally regulate blood clotting

Appetite stimulants

Drugs to improve bile flow within the liver

Home Care and Prevention

Follow all feeding instructions very carefully, as dietary therapy is the most important aspect of therapy.

If a nasal, esophageal, or stomach feeding tube has been inserted, follow all instructions as to the care and maintenance of this tube, and report any problems to your veterinarian immediately.

Give all medications and dietary supplements as directed.

Although the actual cause of the disorder is unknown, obesity and anorexia have been noted to be associated with the onset of disease. Therefore avoid overfeeding your cat to prevent obesity and avoid stressful situations that may cause a cat to suddenly stop eating, such as the addition of a new pet or family member, or suddenly changing your cat's diet.

Section: Information In-depth

Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) is a common disease of the feline liver in which abnormally large amounts of lipid (fat) accumulates within the cells of the liver. In other animals (humans, dogs, laboratory animals), lipid accumulation tends to be harmless, however, the cat's unique pathways of protein and fat metabolism cause lipid accumulation in the liver to have severe consequences. Any breed of cat may be affected, and both sexes seem to be affected equally. Middle aged to older cats are more susceptible than young cats.

Most, but not all, affected cats have a history of being obese, as well as a history of a sudden loss of appetite, often precipitated by a stressful event, such as a move to a new home, separation from an owner, a new pet or family member in the household, or a sudden switch to an unpalatable food. Anorexia, depression, and intermittent vomiting are the first signs usually noted by the cat owner. As liver function worsens, cats may develop jaundice (a yellow discoloration to the whites of the eyes, gums, and skin), severe loss of muscle mass, drooling, and signs of mental dysfunction (severe depression, sudden blindness, seizures). Cats often lose at least 25 percent of their body weight. The diagnostic tests recommended will help differentiate hepatic lipidosis from other liver diseases such as:

Cholangiohepatitis - an infection or inflammation of the liver and bile ducts

Feline infectious peritonitis - a deadly viral disease that can affect many organs, including the liver

Toxic liver disease - caused by ingestion of a drug or other harmful toxin

Liver cancer

Feline leukemia virus

Parasites - such as liver flukes (uncommon)

Section: Veterinary Care In-depth

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnosis In-depth

There are a variety of diagnostic tests that may be run so that a diagnosis of hepatic lipidosis can be made. These tests may include:

Medical history review and complete physical exam. A history of obesity and sudden onset of anorexia after a stressful event is a classic finding in hepatic lipidosis. Physical exam usually reveals dehydration, severe weight loss, drooling and jaundice.

A complete blood count usually reveals mild anemia, and abnormally shaped red blood cells (known as poikilocytes), which are often an indicator of liver disease.

Blood tests that test organ function are especially important. Cats will usually have moderate to severe elevations of several liver parameters. A thyroid test is necessary to rule out a hyperactive thyroid as a cause of the liver enzyme elevations.

A bile acid test is a special blood test that may be necessary. It requires a blood sample after a 12 hour fast. The cat is then fed (force fed, if necessary), and another blood sample is taken two hours later. This simple test assesses the function of the liver.

Analysis of the urine may give information concerning the function of the liver.

X-rays of the abdomen allows assessment of the size and shape of the liver, and may help rule out a tumor as a cause of the liver problems.

Ultrasound of the abdomen allows limited assessment of the internal structure of the liver. It allows some assessment of the gall bladder and biliary system, and may rule out cancer as a cause of the liver disease. It may also help provide a method for obtaining a biopsy sample.

A fine-needle aspirate of the liver is a small sample of liver cells that are obtained by inserting a needle into the liver. This technique requires no or minimal sedation, and complications are extremely rare. Results must be interpreted cautiously, however, because concurrent liver diseases cannot be ruled out and may be missed.

A liver biopsy, in which a small sample of liver tissue is obtained, is the definitive test for diagnosing hepatic lipidosis. A biopsy specimen may be obtained surgically, or may be obtained using a special instrument that is inserted into the abdomen while being guided by the ultrasound probe. Surgical biopsies can be obtained by most veterinarians. Ultrasound-guided biopsies are often referral procedures.

Therapy In-depth

Therapy for hepatic lipidosis is aimed at reversing the accumulation of fat in the liver, and treating the signs of liver dysfunction. The primary treatment for reversing the fat accumulation is aggressive nutritional support.

Dietary therapy is the mainstay of treatment. High protein diets are usually recommended (except in cases where the cat is showing mental signs of liver disease). Because nearly all affected cats are completely anorectic, food is administered through a nasal, esophageal, or stomach tube. This requires hospitalization, and sedation or anesthesia.

Several dietary supplements such as carnitine or arginine may be beneficial in treating cats with hepatic lipidosis, and may be recommended or prescribed by your veterinarian.

Vomiting is a frequent finding in cats with hepatic lipidosis. Many cats require a medication to help control vomiting, such as metoclopramide, especially during the initial 1 or 2 weeks of tube feeding.

Some cats with liver disease develop ulcers and subsequent gastrointestinal bleeding. Drugs that control gastric acidity, such as Tagamet, Zantac or Pepcid, may be necessary to help control this. Carafate, a gastric protectant, may be used in conjunction with the antacids.

Antibiotics may be necessary in severe cases. They help kill off bacteria that produce harmful toxins that may lead to various mental manifestations of liver disease (drooling, depression, blindness, seizures).

Blood transfusions may be needed if the liver is so impaired that it cannot produce adequate clotting factors or cannot regulate the ability of the blood to clot properly.

Appetite stimulants (oxazepam, cyproheptadine) may be tried, but are seldom useful. They seem to work best in the recovery phase of the disease.

Ursodeoxycholic acid, a drug that improves bile flow within the liver, may be helpful in selected cases.

Section: Follow-Up

Optimal treatment for a cat with hepatic lipidosis requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow up can be critical, especially if your pet does not rapidly improve. With early detection and aggressive nutritional support, survival rates for hepatic lipidosis are 60 to 80 percent.

Administer all prescribed medications as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet.

Follow strict instructions concerning the care and management of any feeding tube that has been placed in your cat.

Follow strict feeding instructions in terms of the type of food, amount of food, and frequency of feeding, as dietary therapy is the most important aspect of therapy. As the cat improves, tube feeding should be decreased, and palatable food offered so as to encourage the cat to eat on his own. The tube is removed when the cat is voluntarily eating enough to meet his energy requirements.

Your cat should be re-examined every 3 to 7 days to have body weight, hydration status, and degree of jaundice evaluated.

A complete blood count, and a panel of blood tests evaluating the liver should be performed every one to two weeks during treatment.
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Need a New Wingman? Adopt a Cat.

Here's a great pro-cat adoption PSA by the Denver Dumb Friends League
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Top 5 Healthy Cat Treats

Top 5 Healthy Cat Treats

Don’t serve up tricks, just treats that your cat can eat for health this holiday and beyond.

Cat eating treats
The best treats serve two purposes: tasty reward and healthy supplement.
Cats require a nutritionally complete and balanced diet to live an active, healthy life. Life is meant to be enjoyed, however, and every now and then it’s OK to toss your cat a tasty treat.

Not all cat treats are the equivalent of kitty candy. Some “treats” are actually beneficial for cats and are almost on par with giving medication. Here’s my list of five “treats” that can make your cat happy and healthy.

1. Dental Treats - Dental problems are the most common disease that we see in cats. They can lead to bad breath, swollen and bleeding gums, loose teeth, oral pain and difficulty eating.

Periodontal disease is very common in cats. Untreated, it can lead to oral pain, abscess formation, osteomyelitis (bone infection) and tooth loss. Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through diseased oral tissues, affecting other organs as well, most notably the heart valves and kidneys. Treatment of periodontal disease requires professional cleaning under general anesthesia. The plaque and calculus are removed, and the root surfaces are cleaned.

Prevent advanced periodontal disease with early detection and treatment. Home care is essential after professional cleaning, and that includes brushing and — you guessed it — cat dental treats! Most cats aren’t too crazy about having their teeth brushed, but tartar-control treats seem to be popular with many cats. Cat owners who regularly give their cats treats should consider using crunchy tartar-control treats over the softer treats, especially for cats prone to dental disease.

2. Hairball Remedies - Hairballs are a constant problem for cats (and cat owners). The most important part of hairball prevention is to brush your cat regularly and to remove as much loose hair from the coat as possible. Get your cat used to being handled and brushed regularly while he is a kitten.

If cat hairballs become a problem despite diligent brushing, other deterrents include feeding specially formulated hairball diets, administering the brown gooey oral hairball remedies from pet stores and veterinary offices or handing out some crunchy hairball treats with the gooey hairball gel in the center. Many cats love the gel and/or the gel-filled treat, and it’s a great way to reward your cat and prevent hairballs at the same time.

3. Heartworm Preventatives - Heartworm disease has been a major concern for dog owners for the last few decades. For cat owners, however, heartworm disease barely registers a blip on our radar screen, with most cat owners wrongly assuming that cats aren’t susceptible to the disease. In fact, feline heartworm disease (FHD), although relatively uncommon, is a serious and potentially fatal disease in cats. Fortunately, the disease is entirely and easily preventable.

Some FDA-approved drugs are marketed for monthly use in cats. One very popular formulation (Heartgard for Cats) is a chewable treat!  Because the consequences of cat heartworm disease are potentially dire and treatment options are limited, give monthly preventatives to cats living in endemic areas. Remember, even if your cat goes crazy over the taste, you can only give the treat once a month.

4. Lysine - Upper respiratory infections are very common in cats, most frequently caused by the feline herpes virus. Lysine is an amino acid that many believe speeds the resolution of herpes virus infections, and is recommended for cats with clinical signs of herpes virus.

Lysine tablets are quite large and are difficult to administer to cats. Crushing them and hiding them in the food is fine, if the cat will take it that way, but easier options exist these days. A variety of veterinary preparations of lysine now available include powders, pastes and … crunchy lysine treats! Each treat contains 50 mg of lysine, which means a typical cat can get five treats twice daily. Ten treats a day, prescribed by a veterinarian — Not bad! Bear in mind that herpes viruses stay in the body forever and during times of stress the virus may re-emerge from dormancy and cause recurrence of the upper respiratory symptoms. Keeping cats current on their vaccination status should help reduce the severity of the upper respiratory infections.

5. Glucosamine and Chondroitin - Arthritis is common in cats, especially elderly cats. The hips and elbows are the most commonly affected joints. The most obvious signs would be lameness and stiffness when walking or an inability to jump well, however, other more subtle signs may exist, such as urinating defecating outside the litterbox because arthritis makes it difficult to step into or crouch in the litterbox. Hair matting or an unkempt coat might appear because arthritis in the spine can make it difficult to properly to groom.

One way to help relieve the discomfort of arthritis is to give glucosamine and chondroitin, the same supplements humans use for arthritis. This supplement comes in several forms. A popular form is a capsule containing a chicken-flavored powder. Most cats enjoy the taste and regard it as a treat. It’s an easy way to administer glucosamine and chondroitin. Cats who fail to respond may require stronger medication, such as anti-inflammatory drugs.

So there is a tasty way to stay healthy. Take these five treats and enjoy them in good health!

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My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 7

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 7 (continued from Day 6)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge)

It’s our last day in Istanbul.  Sigh. 

When I booked the flight, I had originally planned on taking the 11:00 a.m. flight, bringing us back into NYC  at 2:30 p.m.  Instead, accidentally, I booked the 5:15 p.m. flight.  Once I did this, it was too late to switch without paying a substantial penalty.  So I kept  the 5:15 flight.  This flight would arrive in NYC at 9:00 p.m, and by the time we got home it would be 10:30 or 11:00.  Having to work the next  day, it wouldn’t give much time at all for unwinding or unpacking.  As it turns out, I’m glad I did it this way, because we didn’t have to catch the shuttle to the airport until 1:00, giving us a half day of sightseeing.

I woke up early and took one final look out the hotel window. 

First thing I see is a kitty across the street.  This should be a good omen for the rest of the day.

Our goal today was to see the Quincentennial Museum of Turkish Jews.  The museum is located not far from the Galata Tower, so we took the same route that we took a few days ago, starting with our beloved Istiklal Street.   This time, however, we were seeing Istiklal Street early in the morning before the swarms arrive.  It’s that nice time of the morning, when shop owners are just opening and laying out their fruits and fish and other wares for the day. 

As we strolled down the street, we took a little detour down an interesting side street, and at the end of the street was a gate, behind which was a courtyard for some old building.  I don’t know what type of building it was, but I tell you, I hit the kitty cat jackpot!  There were TONS of cats in this courtyard.  Take a look for yourself!

All shapes, all sizes, all colors.  All looking pretty well-fed.

You can see I’m enjoying myself.

All of them were  really sweet.  I’m sure they were looking for food, but I prefer to think that I just have this type of animal magnetism.

One  last look at the kitty crew, and then we’ll move on:

We finally found the entrance to the Quincentennial Museum of Turkish Jews. In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel of Spain ordered their Sephardic Jewish population to accept the Christian faith, or leave and “dare not return”.  The Ottoman sultan Beyazit Han was the only monarch of th time who extended an invitation to take in these refugees.  Jewish people remain a vibrant part of Turkey’s cultural mosaic.  This museum, founded 500 years (hence “quincentennial”) after the Spanish expulsion, commemorates those first Sephardic Jews who found a new home here.  The museum is housed in an inactive early 19th-century synagogue, and displays items donated by the local Jewish community.

After the museum, walked around in search of the Camondo staircase.  This is a short, curvaceous double staircase leading up from Voyvoda  Street, the historic banking hub.  It was build by Avram Camondo, a leading merchant in the Jewish community and head of the prosperous Camondo family.  He was the first foreigner given the right to have real estate in the Ottoman Empire.  He built this much-used staircase in the 19th –century as a mark of his gratitude, and also to ease the uphill journey to the family’s home when their baby Moise was born in 1860.  I checked my map, and found the staircase.

I climbed up and got a good picture from above, looking down.

We continued the Jewish history tour with a quick visit to the Schneidertempel Art Gallery.  Built in 1894 as one of the city’s few Ashkenazi synagogues, this well-restored building holds temporary exhibitions relating to Jewish life and culture.  The most striking feature is the simple Star of David stained-glass window, above the area which used to be the ark (the ornamental closet that contained the Torah scrolls).   “No photos allowed”, the sign said, but you know how I feel about that silly rule.

After the gallery, we strolled back slowly to the hotel, lingering over souvenir shops.  There was a nice looking hotel on the street we were walking, with a cat (wearing a collar) sitting on the step outside, observing the world go by.

We headed back to Istiklal Street, then to our hotel nearby.  Here are the last cat photos I took on the trip.  First, this little gray kitty watching the woman in the shop prepare for the lunchtime rush.  I’m sure he thinks he’s gonna grab some lunch there, too.

As we passed the high school, I spotted these cats in the front courtyard.  Someone had just tossed down a huge handful of kibble.

Here’s another of the high school cats

We got back to the hotel, grabbed our bags, and headed over to Taksim Square where we caught our shuttle bus to the airport. 

Istanbul.  It’s the historical, cultural and financial center of Turkey, and it’s onne of the world’s most dynamic cities.  It’s the crossroads of civilizations where Europe meets Asia and where East meets West. Great food, great shopping, great people, and as you know by now,  a city teeming with friendly, sweet, well-cared for cats.  I had the time of my life.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my trip and seeing all the cats I met while I was there.

The Istanbul, Turkey Stray Cat Adventure:   
Day 1   Day 2 pt1   Day 2 pt2   Day 3 pt1   Day 3 pt2   Day 4 pt1   Day 4 pt2   Day 5 pt1
Day 5 pt2   Day 6   Day 7

Other Dr. Plotnick adventures:  Amsterdam   Vienna   Budapest   Bangkok (coming soon)
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