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Dealing with multiple medical problems in your cat

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Any time a member of your feline family has a medical problem it can be scary and confusing. Hopefully though, your veterinarian can diagnose the problem and start treatment to make your cat feel better. Many times however, our patients have more than one problem that may or may not be related to each other. It is not uncommon to see a 14-year-old patient with hyperthyroidism, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, dental disease and arthritis, all causing some amount of suffering in the cat. Even younger patients can have multiple problems. If a patient has not been examined in a few years, the veterinarian may be diagnosing all of these problems at one time. Because cats are so good at hiding their problems, you may not even be aware that each problem has developed. Indeed, it may be the combination of problems that finally caused the cat to appear obviously unwell.

Addressing multiple medical problems frequently means using a number of tools to help us figure out what is going on with your cat. Some medical problems can be seen on exam but usually, in order to be fully diagnosed and understood, some tests or procedures will be needed. Typically the first step is a blood and urine panel that can evaluate for problems with organs, diabetes, immune system disorders, and anemia. In many cases however , we will use more specialized blood tests to accurately explain a problem. In addition to these specific blood and urine tests imaging such as x-rays and ultrasound may be needed. Radiographs and ultrasound can be vital to looking into the body to find the underlying cause of medical problems. Assessing all of these multiple results together helps your veterinarian to have a more complete picture and make better treatment recommendations. For example, in dental disease the true severity of the problem is rarely diagnosed completely until the mouth is examined under anesthesia and radiographs are taken.

Hershey receiving fluids under the skin to rehydrate him.

Once treatment is started, many of these tests need to be repeated on a regular basis to evaluate how well the treatment is working and to assess for any side effects from the treatments and on going changes. This may need to be done monthly at first or every 4-6 months if the cat’s condition is stable. For example, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) can greatly affect the cat’s kidneys and heart. If the thyroid medication dose is too high, the thyroid level can become too low, which worsens kidney disease. Treating hyperthyroidism can improve heart function so heart medications may need to be altered. If the blood tests are not repeated, there is no way to know if the medication dose is helping enough or is having any adverse effects. Many medications cause potent reactions in the body. Regular monitoring insures that those medications are doing what they are supposed to rather than actually doing harm.

It can be overwhelming for the client to understand each problem and the needed diagnostic tests and treatments. Sometimes, we need to take a one-step-at-a-time approach to address all of the problems. Creating a chart for medications and notes on how the cat is doing each day has helped many of our clients. Clients should also feel comfortable asking whatever questions they have, calling or emailing the clinic, even for what may seem minor concerns. Changes in appetite, activity level, urine or stool quality and any vomiting should be reported to your veterinarian, especially if these occur after a change in medications.

Our goal is to give our patients good quality of life free of pain and distress for as long as possible. By addressing all of their problems and monitoring their treatment, we can work with our clients to achieve this.

For more information, please visit our website page about testing at or call and schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians.

Hidden dental disease causes pain in your cat

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Dental disease affects all cats at some point in their lives. For at least half of cats, this includes painful resorptive lesions in one or more teeth. With these lesions, the enamel of the tooth is eroded away exposing the pulp of the tooth. The pulp contains the nerve and blood supply. Depending on the size of the lesion, this can mean mild to severe pain for your cat. Unfortunately, many cat owners are not aware that this is happening with their cat.

Few cats with these lesions stop eating or cry in pain. But there can be some subtle signs. Some owners do notice their cat eating more on one side of their mouth or preferring a different type of food. Some cats will prefer canned because it is easier to chew. Other cats prefer dry food because they can swallow it easily without chewing. Cats may exhibit behavioral changes such as not grooming well or exhibit a change in the interaction between cats in the house.

At some point many of the lesions can lead to the breaking of the crown of the tooth. Cats may show pain at this point because of the increase in severity of the pain. The pain may subside a little with time and the cat learns to deal with it and hide it again. But the cat is still most likely in considerable discomfort.

Unlike with human teeth, there is no way to fill these lesions like our dentists do with cavities. The best treatment for these lesions is extraction of the tooth to remove the source of pain. After removing the damaged tooth, the gum tissue is closed with sutures and heals well in a short period of time.  After the extractions, most cats become more active due to the relief of their pain. They eat well even if many or all the teeth must be extracted. Our clinic cat, Kristina, has had all of her teeth removed and most of our clients can attest to how well she loves her hard treats.

Below are some photos and radiographs showing how teeth that appear healthy and normal can have problems discovered on closer examination.

In the first photo below we see, on first inspection, what looks like normal, healthy teeth (Photo 1). However, this cat has severe resorptive lesions not easily visible in a reluctant cat. Cats, as you might imagine, are usually not completely cooperative when their owner or veterinarian tries to look inside their mouth. Yet with a closer examination when the cat is anesthetized, we can see a lesion on an upper tooth (note the red discoloration in Photo 2). A complete oral examination under anesthesia following a dental cleaning enables your veterinarian to find these painful lesions and treat them.

Photo 1.  The lip side of the premolar appears normal. (Click for close-up view)



Photo 2. Resorptive lesion on the tongue side of the upper third premolar is obvious during exam under anesthesia. (Click for close-up view)

Yet simple visual inspection will not show all problems in your cat’s teeth. To gain a complete understanding of your cat’s oral health, dental radiographs (x-rays) need to be taken on all cats undergoing a dental procedure to look for resorption of the roots of the teeth. Because the roots of the teeth are below the gum line, radiographs are the only way we can see the health of this part of the tooth. In this second cat, the entire root of the canine tooth (fang) was resorbing even though the crown of the tooth appeared normal to the eye (Photo 3). Under x-rays, however, we can see clearly that the root is almost completely resorbed (Photo 4). In Photo 4, the compromised fang is shadowy and barely visible. Compare this to a radiograph of a healthy fang (Photo 5), where the tooth is distinct and a solid white, showing us a solid root. The diseased tooth in Photos 3 and 4 would have eventually broken, resulting in severe pain for this cat. By performing oral surgery and removing the tooth during the dental procedure, he was saved from this outcome.

Photo 3. This canine tooth (fang) appears normal. (Click for close-up view)

Photo 4. Severe resorption of the root is obvious on radiographs. Note the barely visible outline of the tooth. (Click for close-up view)

Photo 5. Radiograph of normal canine tooth (fang) showing a solid white outline of the root.

Dental health represents a significant element in your cat’s overall health. Unhealthy, compromised teeth are not only painful (as any of us who have had a sore tooth can attest), but dental disease can also result in other, more widespread problems. Pain and discomfort can lead to poor nutrition and behavior problems, while bacteria from dental disease can lead to organ problems. These can be serious problems and not to be treated lightly. It is important to take care of  your cat’s teeth to keep them happy and active.

We are moving!

Thursday, July 21st, 2016


Exciting News

Thanks to our wonderful clients, Scottsdale Cat Clinic has continued to grow, and we’ve finally pushed beyond the space in our current location. We are very pleased to announce that soon, we will be moving to a new location in Scottsdale. In March, we purchased a building and after much discussion with architects, staff and other experts we will soon start renovating the new Scottsdale Cat Clinic. In its former life, our building was a lawyer’s office, pleasant enough, but completely unsuited to be a veterinary clinic. This means we will completely remodel the interior, and we can create the perfect space for caring for all of our special patients.

We are excited to tell you about some of the new features you can expect at the new and improved Scottsdale Cat Clinic:

• More exam rooms to provide better service to you during appointments.
• More boarding space including a playroom for the cats.
• A separate dental suite to keep all of our patients’ pearly whites healthy.
• Our own parking lot!

Behind the scenes we will be mapping the layout to better separate the various tasks we perform. The new clinic will be quieter and calmer for your cats. We will also have improved labs, pharmacy and work-stations for all the staff.

Our new building is located at the northeast corner of Chaparral and Granite Reef. It will be closer to the 101 and easier to access for most of our clients. If you drive by, you may start to see some work there as we clean up the landscaping and paint the building. We plan on keeping you constantly updated with news and photos as we move along. Plan for a big party in the fall!

Good hygiene in cats is up to you

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Cats are independent and take care of themselves pretty well. Healthy cats groom themselves often, keeping their fur clean and smooth. They generally use the litter box and don’t make messes. However, this can make us complacent with ensuring good hygiene in our cats. Even if your cats appear to be clean and happy, there are some areas that you should be checking periodically.


Many long hair cats, and even some short hair cats, develop mats in their fur. Often these start on the underside or on the hind legs so they may not be apparent at first. This may worsen as they get older or gain weight. You should gradually get your cat used to being combed daily. A flea comb with close teeth can be helpful with removing small mats. Once mats are larger, they need to be removed with a clipper. Do not attempt to cut them out with scissors, which can cut the skin, especially when mats are close to the skin. If you do not have clippers or are not used to using them, contact a groomer or your veterinarian to have the mats removed. If a cat that typically keeps her fur well groomed starts developing mats or a poor fur coat, this is a sign of a medical problem and your cat should have a veterinary exam. Cats with arthritis in their back or hips can also stop grooming well due to pain when they lick the area or difficulty getting into the correct positions.


It may not be the most pleasant place to look, but you should also regularly check your cat’s hind end. Most cats obligingly lift their tail and put their back end right where you can see it with a good rub on the back near the tail base. If there is fecal matter stuck to the anal area or in the fur, your cat is likely having trouble keeping the area clean. This can be because of diarrhea or hard stool sticking to the fur. It can also be because your cat is too large to reach back there. You need to be extra vigilant with long hair and obese cats. We have seen a few obese cats that develop some folds that can retain urine moisture and fecal matter.


You should also check your cat’s nails monthly. Normal claws are thin and come to a point. You can get your cat used to having the tips trimmed by gradually working from first handling the paws, to trimming more nails each time. Use treats that your cat enjoys as a reward for putting up with this. Your cat will usually chew off or use the scratching post to remove the outer sheath of the claws. Older cats and cats that don’t use a scratching post or move around much can retain these sheaths which then can curl under and grow into the paw pad. This causes pain and infection. Also check the nail beds for any crustiness or sticking of litter. There are some skin conditions that affect the nail beds. If litter is sticking to your cat’s claws, this can be a sign that he is urinating large amounts making the litter sticky. This can be due to kidney disease, diabetes, or other medical problems and indicates that your cat should be examined by a veterinarian.

Dr. K’s cancer and your cat

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had just completed four years of medical school and was a runner and pretty in tune with my body. And yet, I had no idea I had any medical problems. I had no symptoms, no discomfort, no change in my weight. On a routine annual medical check-up, my very astute doctor felt a lump in my neck and referred me to a specialist. A needle aspirate was not diagnostic. During surgery, the doctors did a quick cytology of the removed lump and did not see cancer. It was only when the pathologist examined the tissue was it diagnosed that I had thyroid adenocarcinoma.


Sounds scary, doesn’t it? It was scary at first. However, I recovered from the surgery easily and had one day of radiation treatment in the hospital. Except for having to take a thyroid supplement for the rest of my life, the treatment was easy and there is a very good chance the cancer will never return.


This all went so easily because I went to my yearly physical exams and my doctor found this early. I hear so many times that people don’t take their cats to a veterinarian regularly because their cat is “healthy”. I was healthy, medically trained, and a human who can think about possible medical problems. And yet I had cancer and didn’t know it.


Every day, veterinarians see patients who have medical problems that have been going on for a long time without their owners knowing there is anything wrong. These pets may have been suffering from pain or discomfort without any way to tell us about it.  Veterinarians are trained to find hidden problems. Let them help your cat.

Keep your cat healthy throughout life

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

One of the best ways that you can keep your cat healthy is to prevent disease through vaccinations. Everyone seems to know that kittens need their shots. However, providing good immunity against disease depends on giving the right vaccines at the right times and continuing it throughout their lives.


A vaccine tells the body to prepare itself to fight specific disease. When the cat’s immunity is good enough, her immune system will respond immediately when exposed to infection and fight it off. If that immunity decreases over time, the cat’s immune system will not be prepared to fight the disease.


This is why bringing your cat to your veterinarian regularly for his vaccines is very important. Kittens need a series of vaccines to build up a good immunity. As a young kitten, your cat will have antibodies from his or her mother. These antibodies can still be present up to 16 weeks of age and these can prevent the vaccines from working as well. However, since we don’t know exactly when the mother’s antibodies will fade away, we need to start the vaccines earlier and give boosters every three to four weeks until at least four months of age.


Vaccine boosters are then needed a year later and every one to three years after that, depending on the type of vaccine and your cat’s lifestyle. Without these boosters, your cat’s immunity will likely decrease and your cat will not be protected if she is exposed to disease.


Any cat that goes outdoors will very likely be exposed to the diseases the vaccines prevent., however this does not mean that indoor cats need not worry about exposure. Many situations can arise even for indoor cats that can lead to exposure to disease. Adopting or fostering a new cat, visiting cats, traveling, and going to a boarding facility are all possible means of exposure. You might not think you will ever board your cat or travel with him, but unexpected situations do arise and it is better to be prepared and have your cat protected. It can take several days for your cat’s immunity to be strong enough after a vaccine booster so waiting until an emergency arises is not the best way to go.


There are also times when your cat’s immune system may not be strong due to other illness or stress. By having the immunity already strong against the most likely diseases, your cat will be able to avoid becoming even more ill.


Talk to your veterinarian about the best vaccines for your cat and how often he should receive them. Be sure to keep your cat healthy by protecting her as well as we can.

Kidney disease – common but treatable

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the medical term for long-term changes in the kidneys leading to a decrease in their function. We may refer to it as kidney insufficiency or CRF, chronic renal failure. When I diagnose CKD in a patient, many of my clients become very concerned that their cats will not live much longer and ask about quality of life and how long they have left with their cat. This depends on the severity of the disease and how well it responds to treatment.  Most cats live for years and have a good quality of life. By doing some medical testing, we can better determine the likely prognosis and what treatments are needed. The sooner in the course of the disease that we diagnose it, the better the cat will do. CKD is a progressive disease but we can slow the progression and keep your cat feeling good for a long period.


IRIS, the International Renal Interest Society, has developed a staging system from one to four to help with prognosis and treatment decisions. The stages are based on the level of creatinine in the blood with mild increases indicating stage one and high elevations indicating stage 4. Creatinine is a muscle enzyme that is excreted by the kidneys and builds up in the blood when kidney function decreases. It will increase with dehydration and decrease in very thin cats but your veterinarian will take these factors into account when staging your cat.


There are also substages based on blood pressure measurements and protein levels in the urine. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can occur in kidney disease and lead to damage to other organs. A urine sample can be sent to the lab to check the Urine Protein/Creatinine level. The worse the kidney function, the more protein will leak into the cat’s urine.


Other tests that can help determine the severity of the kidney disease and help with treatment decisions include blood tests, urinalysis, urine culture, radiographs (x-rays) and ultrasound. Besides the creatinine, the blood tests look at many other things. Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) gives us more information on the progression of the kidney disease and hydration level. CKD also can affect electrolyte and mineral levels, especially potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. We also watch the blood test results for signs of anemia or low protein levels.


The urinalysis shows us the concentration of the urine and indicates any infection. Cat urine is usually very concentrated but becomes dilute when the kidneys can no longer reabsorb water in their filtration process. Finding a low urine concentration shows that the high creatinine and BUN are due to kidney disease and not some other issue. Cats with CKD are more susceptible to bladder and kidney infections, which can be found with a urine culture.


Radiographs of the abdomen can help to see if there is any mineralization in the kidneys or any stones in the bladder or kidneys. It can also show other medical problems, such as arthritis that need to be treated. An ultrasound can show the structure of the kidneys and any possible mineralization, stones, or tumors.

Diagnosing CKD is only the first step. In some cats unfortunately, the CKD is too far advanced for treatment to work. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, most cats live for years with a good quality of life. Finding CKD in the early stages gives your cat the best possibility of this. Watch for subtle changes in your cat, such as changes in thirst, appetite, urination and behavior, and weight loss. Bring your cat into your veterinarian every six months for a complete exam and periodic blood tests.

Yes, you can train a cat.

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Yes, you can train your cat


I may be a bit biased, but I believe cats are very smart. They are great learners. They learn very quickly: what will get you out of bed or how to talk incessantly until you give them a treat. They can also learn things that we might want to teach them. Training your cat is a great way to provide mental and physical stimulus and also to prevent unwanted behaviors.


Our clinic cat Kristina greets our clients at our front desk and in our reception room. Sometimes, a cat coming in for a veterinary visit does not like seeing her and we want to move her into my office. I just say “treat!” and walk back toward my office and she comes running. Rattling the treat bag also has the same effect.


You can train your cat just for the fun it provides to you both or to separate your cats if there is tension between them. I hear from many of my clients that they have one very active cat that pesters the other cats beyond their desire to play. Or they may have a cat that tries to control the movement of another cat. There can be many solutions to talk to your veterinarian about, but one thing that can help is to train the active cat to come when called. The training also provides mental stimulation to distract him from the other cats.


The first step is to find a treat that your cat really likes. You may need to limit his access to food a little so that he is willing to work for that treat. Kristina loves her dry kibble but we only feed her canned food regularly and we do not leave dry food available. The dry food makes for a great training reward for her.


All you need then is patience. A cat will learn that a certain behavior gets a reward. The easiest trick to teach is “sit”.   Hold the treat out to your cat but don’t give it to him until he sits.   He will eventually get bored and sit down. As soon as his bottom hits the floor, give the treat. It will only take a few treats for him to figure this out.


Once he has figured out that he only gets treats when he does certain things, he will do those things for you. You can teach him to come to you (good to use when he is about to bother one of your other cats), jump up onto chairs or his cat tree, jump across furniture.


Kristina knows our routine now. She sits for the first treat then follows from my office to the reception room, jumps onto the chair, jumps across to the table, back to the chair, getting a treat for each trick. The only limit for your cat is your imagination.

Healthy weight leads to healthy cat

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Keeping your cat at a healthy weight is a vital part of keeping him or her fit. Being overweight or obese is detrimental to the health of your cat. Neutering and keeping cats indoors has led to increased life span and better health, however, they have also led to decreased metabolism levels and activity levels. Add overfeeding of calories and carbohydrates, and we have a large percentage of overweight cats.


The best way to evaluate your cat’s size is by a body condition score rather than actual weight. A body condition score is a scale from one to nine with five being the ideal condition. We check this score each time we see your cat, but here’s a quick guide for doing this at home:


You can help your cats have a happier and healthier life by limiting their calories and providing proper food. It is best to feed a food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Cats are carnivores and need animal protein. Look at the ingredients in the cat food and choose one with a meat source listed as the first ingredients. Many cats become accustomed to what they eat as kittens so provide a little variety when they are young.


All cats should eat mainly canned food to provide enough protein and water. In the wild, cats do not drink much water but they get their moisture intake from their prey. You can help prevent urinary problems and obesity by making the canned food the main portion of your cat’s diet. You can add a small amount of dental kibble or treats to help exercise and clean their teeth.


A recent study showed that cats that eat multiple small meals each day lose weight more quickly than cats that had the same amount of calories provided just once daily. This relates well to the natural condition in cats in the wild, catching and eating a few small rodents throughout their day. Providing a few small meals each day will also prevent that bowl of dried out cat food sitting in your kitchen.


Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your cat and how many calories you should be feeding each day. Remember that losing weight is difficult so be proactive to prevent unwanted weight gain. Also remember that if your cat is trying to get your attention, she may just want more attention rather than food or treats.

Seeking an Experienced Veterinary Technician

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Do you feel you could do more as a technician?

Do you feel that all your education and experience is wasted by veterinarians who keep you at arm’s distance from clients and patients?

Scottsdale Cat Clinic is looking for a full-time experienced veterinary technician to join our thriving practice. As a new member, you’ll become an integral part of our health care team—the exam room advocate for both patient and client. Before long, you will find yourself performing as the key link between client and veterinarian. Our technicians work closely with clients, developing and nurturing relationships with both people and pets. Our practice is committed to developing technicians to their maximum potential, performing at the height of their abilities, using all their intellectual resources.

Our top candidate will not only possess exceptional abilities at handling cats, he or she will have an engaging personality that encourages our clients to participate fully in the health care of their cats. We also seek a candidate who will be able to anticipate the needs of clients, patients and veterinarians, recognizing roadblocks, designing solutions and building on successes. We are especially interested in Certified Veterinary Technicians.

Who we are

Scottsdale Cat Clinic was founded in 2007 to provide exceptional veterinary care exclusively for cats.  In that time we’ve established a strong client base—a self-selected group of pet owners who desire the very best for their cats.  Our clients are exceptional people who value their cats beyond measure.  We treat them and their cats as one of our family members.  To meet our clients’ demands, we are equipped with the latest technology, including digital radiology and laser surgery as well as access to the most sophisticated diagnostic equipment available. We are also a paperless office, with all our medical records kept digitally. Our clinic is AAHA accredited and a Certified Gold Cat Friendly Practice by the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Scottsdale Cat Clinic is also committed to developing our employees into skilled, adept veterinary professionals. We value smart, talented and caring people who can join our team at the epitome of veterinary care. If you love cats and you love talking to people about cats, a career at Scottsdale Cat Clinic is for you. Imagine a job where you will participate in the joys of helping people care for their pets, and where you can have the daily satisfaction of knowing you made a cat’s life better.

Our clinic is located on the east side of downtown Scottsdale, a cultural and entertainment center in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Our new facility is just a block or two away from the Scottsdale Civic Center, Scottsdale Stadium, the Scottsdale Public Library, and Old Town Scottsdale.  Work in the exciting and sparkling center of the Scottsdale lifestyle.

Visit for more information.

We offer paid vacation and sick days, health insurance, continuing education, retirement benefits and pet insurance.

We are an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourage bilingual candidates to apply.

What we need from you:

A cover letter and a resume sent to:

Scottsdale Cat Clinic

Attn Human Resources

4002 N. Miller Rd, suite 100
Scottsdale, AZ 85251