If you are a regular at Guthrie Pet Hospital, then you have more than likely met our resident clinic cats, Silvie and Felicia. Both cats live full time at the clinic; it is their home. Occasionally someone will ask why they must live there, or why they don’t get to go home in the evenings, or isn’t it mean to make them live there. Rest assured, if they were not happy there, we would not make them stay! But the truth is, living at the clinic is an incredibly rich environment that provides them with both attention and stimulation that many cats who live in normal households do not.
Greeting the peasants at Guthrie Pet Hosptial:
Every single day, people stop by Guthrie Pet Hospital to say hello to the cats, showering them with pets and praises. They get chin scratches and head rubs and told how beautiful they look. The girls remain suitably aloof (except for Felicia, she still hasn’t mastered aloof) and will occasionally reward the petter with a slight head bop or a slow blink. Some days they get so much attention they leave the reception area and go upstairs to the office for some peace and quiet. Those are the days I must constantly reassure their fans that all is well, and to check back later to see if they are receiving guests. The cats also get their quiet time with the employees, snuggling under the desk while we work or watching the techs fiddle with the equipment in the back. Silvie has even been known to watch Stefani groom the occasional dog, but that doesn’t seem to hold her attention.
I’m watching my shows:
If you want to hold Silvie’s attention, you need an iPad. This cat loves to watch her shows! After her morning routine of medication and breakfast, Silvie will head up front to the reception desk and her bed and wait for the presentation to begin. Sometimes she watches the bird channel, which is just a camera capturing the action at a bird feeder, and other times she likes to watch cartoons, like the old Garfield cartoons. She thoroughly enjoys watching NatGeo shows, but I can only watch so many gazelles being taken down by lions before I must shut it off. She will watch for a good solid hour, then curl up for a nap.
How much is that kitty in the window?
Felicia doesn’t seem to be interested in the shows, but then she is quite a bit younger. Silvie is getting ready to turn 16, while Felicia is less than 4. Felicia came to us from a campground in western Oklahoma. Dr. Coffin found her at an RV Park with no owner in sight. She had at some point been through a spay and neuter program but had no microchip and had been at the campground alone for quite some time. We like to think of her as the clinic cat in training. Felicia spends her days in the front window, napping, chasing flies, and freaking people out when she suddenly wakes up, and they realize she is real. She gets to experience the world through 8-foot windows and constant foot traffic outside. It has been amazing to watch her learn from Silvie how to react and not react to other animals in her space. She will still get a little puffy or hissy, but only when she is confronted with younger kittens. It is almost like she has been with us just long enough to be confident, but not confident enough to be completely certain of her security. We hope that she comes to trust her place in the clinic, but without knowing her history and her experiences before coming to us we will have to continue to work with her and hope for the best. (She is quite comfortable with us; she wants to appear as a tough kid-she is still practicing that whole “aloof” thing!)
The daily grind:
Both cats can experience people and animals and music and light. Felicia is fascinated by rain, and Silvie loves to people watch. Both have their relationship with Dante, the bird. They are well-fed and have meticulous health care, which has become especially important with Silvie over the last few years. As you may have noticed, she has lost a bit of weight and slowed down a bit. She is being treated for a thyroid condition as well as her chronic upper respiratory issues, but she is doing well for an old gal. Silvie occasionally has sleepovers at the B&B when out of town friends come to stay, but for the most part, is ready for her quiet time at the end of a busy day.
If you are out and about, stop by Guthrie Pet Hospital and say hello to the girls. If you come by in the morning, you can watch a few minutes of cat TV with Silvie, and if you stop in around 11 am you can catch Felicia with her morning workout routine of throwing toys all over the reception area and rug surfing. Silvie naps after lunch followed by a patrol of the clinic. Felicia hasn’t started making rounds with her yet, but probably will eventually. Finally, it’s dinner time before closing, which leads to an evening of people watching in the window. The girls seem pretty content and think it is sweet of you to worry about them, but they want you to know they are fine and living their best life with hundreds of friends, not to mention followers on Facebook! As Silvie says on her internet posts, “Take time for your furries, and you’ll always have a friend. Toodles!”
Canine cognitive dysfunction is a behavioral condition that occurs in older patients and is like Alzheimer’s in people. A recent study done at the University of California showed that this syndrome affected 32% of 11-year-old dogs and 100% of dogs over 16 years of age. The disease has a gradual onset, and most people fail to recognize early signs and chalk it up to the normal aging process.
Canine cognitive dysfunction symptoms:
- excessive vocalization
- accidents in the house
- decreased interaction with family members
- wake-sleep cycle disturbances
Like Alzheimer’s patients, canine cognitive dysfunction occurs due to a buildup of a specific type of protein called amyloid in the brain.
Several treatment options are available. Since we are unable to reverse the amyloid deposits already present it is important to start treatment early to prevent further deposition of this protein. We can’t make the amyloid deposits go away, but we can help prevent more buildup which will help decrease the symptoms.
- Purina Bright Minds is a diet that helps promote alertness and mental sharpness in dogs over 7 years old. I recommend this as the first line of defense, especially when symptoms are mild.
- Purina Neurocare is a prescription diet that was developed to support cognitive support in dogs.
- A drug by the name of Anipryl (selegiline) is FDA approved for the treatment of this disease.
- There are a variety of dietary supplements such as antioxidants and fatty acids that can help.
- You can teach your old dog new tricks! If he can’t hear then teach him hand signals and if he can’t see, then teach him by touch or smell.
A two-year study showed the combined effect of a special diet and enriched environment provided the greatest improvement in learning ability when compared to the dogs that did not have either dietary or environmental enrichment.
If your pet is showing symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction contact Guthrie Pet Hospital for a full physical and diagnostic testing to determine the cause.