August 28, 2012

How And Why Do Cats Purr?

Filed under: Cat Behavior,Dr. Loridawn's Lessons — Tags: — Dr. Loridawn Gordon @ 3:50 pm

cat purringSome of the questions I get a lot from curious cat owners are about purring. It fascinates us, mainly because we don’t do it naturally.

Some cat owners assume that their cats purr to communicate. Maybe they’re hungry or want to show affection. And that certainly may be the case, but there’s no conclusive evidence that cats purr for communication purposes.

On top of the way, a lot of people wonder about the how, too. So, let’s dedicate a little time to clearing up these common questions.

How Do Cats Purr?

There are some conflicting theories on how cats purr. Some experts say that the “purring” sound actually comes from the vibration of the laryngeal blood vessels.

In other theories, it’s suggested that purring is produced by a laryngeal constriction-dilation mechanism that modulates cat respiratory system flow to cause air vibrations.

In short, we know it comes from both the laryngeal muscles as well as the diaphragm. It happens when cats breathe in and breathe out, both ways.

Contrary to what some people believe, animals aside from cats also purr. Believe it or not, elephants purr when they’re being fed.

Why Do Cats Purr?

According to modern research, there could be two main reasons behind cat purring—communication and healing.

The Healing Power of Purring

The sound vibration of a cat’s purr is between 25 to 150 Hertz. Astoundingly, this vibration range has been seen to promote bone growth and healing in humans.

So, maybe it’s done by cats to promote the same healing benefits. This gives us valuable insight as to why cats have remarkable endurance and recover quickly from injuries.

Others also believe that purring releases endorphins, which are biological pain killers. Cats purr to feel better when they’re under stress, or when they just want to be happier overall.

Other Theories on Cat Purring

Cats may purr when they feel pleasure. If you have one at home, you might hear this when you’re petting, stroking, or feeding your cat. When resting, cats also have been known to purr.

Cats may purr to tell you that they are hungry. This is probably the most common idea people have as to why cats purr. Don’t be surprised if you find your cat rubbing against your legs while making their sweetest purring sounds.

Cats may purr to counteract the effects of prolonged rest and sleep. Bone density loss is a problem that’s also common among animals that spend long periods in the same place, or inactive. And these long periods of inactivity could lead to bone density loss, osteoporosis, and bone fractures.

Cats may purr to communicate. If you have kittens at home, you probably have a good idea how frequently and loudly kittens purr, especially when they’re hungry.


Dr. Loridawn Gordon


August 24, 2012

Can Cats have Allergies? Yes!

Filed under: Cat Allergies,Dr. Loridawn's Lessons — Tags: — Dr. Loridawn Gordon @ 11:20 am

cat allergiesWhile many people find themselves allergic to cats, felines themselves are not immune to the effects of allergies either.

Cat allergy symptoms can range from a mild nuisance to ones causing serious bodily harm.  Here’s what you need to know to keep your cat’s fur healthy and itch-free.

About Flea Allergies in Cats

Flea allergies in cats are quite common.

Normally a flea bite causes mild topical itching, quite similar to a mosquito bite. But, in the case of a cat allergic to fleas, the itching can be so extreme that the cat can severely scratch or chew itself.

This can lead to open sores, missing patches of hair, and other symptoms.

Cat flea allergy treatment involves handling a flea infestation first and foremost, but also includes anti-itch remedies if severe enough.

About Food Allergies in Cats

Food Allergies in cats usually develop over time.  Most often these allergies are to meat, such as beef, pork, and chicken.

Cat food allergies can provoke skin itchiness and gastrointestinal upset. If you see excessive itching or foul smells after mealtime, it may be time to take action.

Dealing with cat allergies is simple, and much the same as is done with humans—find the allergen responsible and remove it from the cat’s diet. However, finding a food that your cat can eat may prove to be a challenge.

And if your cat is a picky eater, it could be even harder.

About Pollen Allergies in Cats

Pollen allergies certainly exist in cats. Unfortunately, our feline friends are not immune to what some have called nature’s super-allergen.

Allergenic pollen for cats comes from the same “usual suspects” as for humans: trees, grass, and flowers.

But unlike humans, cats have much more at risk. Instead of suffering ‘hay-fever’ effects, cats can experience full-body itching that often times requires anti-itch treatment or a cat allergy shot.

About Skin Allergies in Cats

Contact allergies are the rarest amongst cats, and are caused when a cat physically touches something it’s allergic to. The likely culprits: carpet, wool bedding, and detergents.

Unlike the cat allergies I already mentioned, the effect is usually confined to an irritated patch of skin. The most common contact areas are the elbows, bottom of the feet, and the belly.

Fortunately, cat skin allergy treatment is easy. It’s the same as with cat food allergies: just find the offending material and get it out of the picture.


Dr. Loridawn Gordon

August 15, 2012

How to Treat Dog Arthritis

Filed under: Dog Arthritis — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 2:15 pm

arthritis in dogsOne in five dogs will experience canine arthritis, a disease which weakens the joints and affects physical mobility. Pet owners who suspect that their dogs are suffering from arthritis should, with the help of their veterinarian, research the different types of arthritis treatment for dogs.  Diagnosing and treating dog arthritis as soon as possible can help alleviate some of your pet’s suffering and reduce the amount of stress they are likely to suffer from the degenerative disease.

Preventative Treatments for Arthritis

Like the old saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. Preventing arthritis in dogs can be challenging, and may not always be effective. Larger dogs for example are more prone to arthritis than smaller dogs; the disease can affect young and old dogs alike, but older dogs are more likely to experience it; and if your dog has suffered an injury on, or near, the joints, their chances of arthritis increase. However, you may be able to reduce the odds in variables such as diet and inactivity. Like humans, dogs that are obese are more likely to develop dog joint pain than their slimmer counterparts.  Excess weight puts strain on joints and can lead to deterioration and inflammation. A healthy diet and regular exercise will keep your dog’s weight down and help them stay in good physical shape.

Treating Arthritis via Medication

Medication can be used to treat pain and stop weakening and inflammation of the joints. In addition, because of decreased pain many dogs, with the help of over-the-counter or prescription drugs, can remain far more active than they would without. While canine arthritis treatments can have a positive impact on a dog’s health, there are usually side effects when using drug therapy so pet owners should always research a drug and talk with their veterinarian before administering it.

It’s also important to note that you should refrain from giving your dog human medication unless prescribed by your vet. It can be hard to translate human doses to a dog, and medicines designed for humans can have harmful and even lethal effects on animals.

Treating Arthritis Via Corrective Surgery

While surgery is a viable canine arthritis treatment it should always be the last option to consider. Surgery can be expensive and may not be suitable for very old dogs, but on the other hand younger dogs that are otherwise healthy should fare well when treating arthritis with surgery. It’s important to discuss with your veterinarian whether your dog is a good candidate or not.

If you decide to proceed with surgery as treatment be prepared for a more invasive treatment than you might originally think. For example, it is sometimes necessary with hip dysplasia to replace the entire hip bone.

If your dog is suffering from arthritis you will want to find the right canine arthritis treatment for you and your pet. The effectiveness of any treatment will vary in terms of budget, stage of disease, and age and general well being of your dog. Talking with your veterinarian is the first step in finding the best dog arthritis remedies and keeping your canine in the best possible health.

August 8, 2012

Feline Bronchial Disease – Treatment and Care

Filed under: Cat Asthma — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 12:45 pm

cat asthmaContrary to the folk tales of aging cats gracefully wheezing away the final years of their lives, cats can develop feline bronchial disease at any age. Symptoms of upper respiratory inflammation in cats strongly resemble asthmatic symptoms in humans. The treatment regimens for human and feline asthma are also eerily similar.

Environmental allergens — substances known to cause allergic reactions — may trigger episodes of feline bronchial disease. The same is true for human asthma attacks. The likeliest asthmatic triggers are smoke, seemingly harmless household chemicals, and common dust particles.

Personally, I have never raised a kitten who was born with feline bronchial disease, but I have cared for a few cats who appeared to develop this condition over a long period of time.

The warning signs of feline bronchial disease are easy to notice, and new cat owners would do well to be watchful of symptoms before a serious medical issue develops.

Cat Asthma Symptoms: It is Not Always a Hairball

The most obvious signs of feline bronchial disease are:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Rapid respiration
  • Wheezing or mouth breathing
  • The appearance of choking
  • Lethargy following physical activity

A coughing cat may be trying to expel a hairball, but coughing can also signify a feline asthma attack. Several years ago, my cat named Snowflake began hunching over and coughing for several minutes at a time. Since this behavior had emerged suddenly, I took Snowflake to the veterinarian’s office for an examination. The diagnosis, much to my surprise, was cat asthma.

Diagnosis: Finding the Best Medicine

Cats can develop asthma with varying degrees of severity. Other more serious diseases can mimic asthmatic symptoms, so cat owners should keep this fact in mind. Veterinarians have an array of blood tests at their disposal, which aid in determining if heartworms or lungworms are at the root of the problem.

Veterinarians have other methods at their disposal as well. My cat Snowflake, for instance, underwent a chest X-ray procedure in order to determine if her coughing was caused by asthma, or bronchitis. Veterinarians can even extract mucous from a cat’s airway in order to recommend the best course of treatment.

Treating Feline Bronchial Disease: Clean House, Breathe Easier

When my cat Snowflake returned from the veterinarian’s office, I was surprised at how easy it was to keep her asthma symptoms from returning. I had to give her a steroid named prednisone daily for the first week along with a drug named theophylline as needed. These two drugs are two of the most commonly prescribed steroids and bronchodialators.

I felt lucky that Snowflake had no issue swallowing pills. Many cats simply refuse to take medication, and I have owned more than a few fickle felines over the years. Also, cats who have fallen ill with a viral infection may not be able to take respiratory feline remedies ( orally; so as an alternative, transdermal gels and infections may be prescribed instead.

Most importantly, Snowflake’s veterinarian also informed me that removing triggering allergens from my home was paramount. In the end, I discovered that it was my new top-of-the-line carpet deodorizer that was triggering Snowflake’s asthma attacks.

Cat asthma is very treatable, but there is no cure. As it is with human asthma attacks, the best medicine is a dose of prevention.

Disclaimer: 1st Pet Naturals is an education resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet is taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.