Archive for the ‘Cat Ownership’ Category

Oct 29, 2021

Cats Are Not Small Dogs: Understanding the Differences

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Cats, Pets, Veterinary Medicine

Today is National Cat Day! And we never miss an opportunity to discuss felines! Check out our latest blog from VetStem veterinarian, Dr. Amber Vibert.

I think we are all pretty aware that cats and dogs are different in many ways. Dogs tend to be pleasers and cats often make their humans work for their trust and respect. Dogs don’t really care if they are dirty or have something stuck in their fur, but cats on the other hand, cannot stand to be soiled in any way and will work fastidiously to keep themselves clean. And if a dog is caught counter-surfing for the sandwich that someone left unattended, he will cower when he is admonished. Cats will look at you as if to say, “So?” and quickly scurry away with a piece of ham in their mouth. Of course, there are exceptions, but in my experience, these characteristics are more often the rule than the exception.

Beyond their unique personality differences, however, there are several physical and psychological differences that are important to understand when approaching each species from a caregiving standpoint. For example, dogs have a ligament in their neck that  helps to keep the head erect if the neck muscles are weak. Cats lack this ligament, so when they experience illnesses that cause profound muscle weakness such as hypokalemia (low potassium) or advanced stages of kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism, they may become unable to lift their head.

Another example of how cats and dogs differ is with respect to their nutritional needs. We know that every species of animal on the planet consumes different kinds of foods to sustain their bodies. But many people don’t realize that cats and dogs have such significant differences that feeding a cat only dog food can cause heart disease and even death. One of the reasons for this is because cats have different essential amino acid needs. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. An amino acid is termed “essential” to a species when that species needs to consume the amino acid through their food in order to survive. Taurine is essential for cats and not as much for dogs, meaning that dogs produce enough of it in their bodies that they really don’t need as much in their food. So high-quality, well-established, commercial cat foods are specifically designed to provide the correct amount of taurine to keep cats healthy.

Furthermore, cats metabolize certain drugs very differently than dogs. For instance, did you know that although dogs can safely be prescribed low doses of Tylenol (acetaminophen), a single regular strength tablet can kill a cat? Both dogs and cats have a limited ability to metabolize this drug compared to humans, but cats have a really limited capacity and it will render their red blood cells unable to carry enough oxygen to live.

Cats also have unique needs when it comes to their surroundings. They have natural instincts to chase prey, climb and perch off the ground, control their own personal space, and use scent to establish their boundaries by rubbing their faces along people or items in their home. If these environmental needs are not met, not only will cats experience high levels of stress, but they can also develop stress-induced medical issues.

VetStem recognizes and embraces the fact that cats are not small dogs. We understand that cats not only have diseases unique to them such as Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS), but they also exhibit symptoms of illness very differently than dogs do. In particular, cats are particularly adept at hiding pain. This is why many cats go undiagnosed for common painful conditions such as degenerative joint disease (DJD). We encourage you to speak to your family veterinarian about establishing regular veterinary checkups for your beloved cat companions to keep them happy and healthy through all stages of life.

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Jun 11, 2021

June 6th-12th is Pet Appreciation Week

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Dog Ownership, Pets

June 6th-12th is Pet Appreciation Week and to get in the spirit, we asked a few of our staff why they appreciate their animals. Read what they had to say below.

Kristi, Director of Commercial Operations: I know that no matter how bad of a day I have had, I can always count on one of my cats to come sit on my lap and make me feel needed and loved. As for my Newfie, I appreciate how great Elphie is with my kids, her loving temperament and gentle demeanor. She is also a big goofball that makes me smile daily.


Veronika, Customer Service Manager: I have always had big dogs and did not expect to fall crazy in love with this little cow-spotted critter. She is a total joy and a source of constant comedy and is the most loving and trusting little thing. According to my son, Darby is the “completion to the family” and he loves that she is convinced she is not a small Frenchie but a giant Rottweiler.


Dr. Carolyn Wrightston, COO: Born about one month apart, these two boys are brothers from another mother. Jasper makes the greatest faces. Koda is a big lover – and totally food driven.


Ashley, Marketing Assistant: These three fuzzy creatures love unconditionally. Willow is such a good guard dog and the cats just sleep and cuddle all day. They are so good with our rowdy toddler, despite all of her poking and prodding and attempts to ‘ride’ them.


Dr. Bob Harman, CEO: Ben is not only my hiking companion, he also serves to alert me to the presence of rattlesnakes when on the trail. He’s a great hiker and even carries all of his own supplies in his pack.


Whitney, Customer Service Representative: Although all four of my cats are great, I am really smitten with Ali’i. Every time I lay eyes on her, I am filled with delight. She is affectionate, playful, and seems to be as fond of me as I am of her. And don’t tell the other three dogs, but Duncan is my favorite canine child- he is naughty as can be, but also very much a Momma’s boy.


Roberta, Account Relationship Manager: Will Roger’s said it best, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.” That quote pretty much sums up the love and appreciation I have for my dogs. They are the most selfless, loyal, humorous, and unconditionally loving creatures I know. So, to Huggy, Mira and Trace, my four-legged best friends, in celebration of Pet Appreciation Week, I promise, I’ll buy that new kiddie pool and leave the chopped greens out of your dinner tonight.


Dr. Amber Vibert, Safety and Technical Services Veterinarian: I appreciate Rally for the joy she brings to my life and to the lives of those she encounters. Her sweet, smart, intuitive, and playful nature fills my heart with the most pure love, translated from that joy.

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Apr 30, 2021

Celebrate Your Pets During National Pet Week

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Dog Ownership

Next week, May 2nd-8th, is National Pet Week! Founded in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Auxiliary to the AVMA, National Pet Week “celebrates the pets that enrich our lives and encourages responsible pet care every day of the year.”

Each day of National Pet Week has a specific theme. See below for a list of themes provided by the AVMA with a link to helpful information for both new and seasoned pet owners alike:   

Daily Themes

Each day of the week focuses on a different topic essential to responsible pet ownership:

You may notice that several of the above themes emphasize responsible pet ownership, which includes routine veterinary care. On this blog, we frequently talk about diseases and ailments which may prompt visits to the vet. But routine care is very important to maintaining your pet’s health. Preventative care, such as regular wellness exams, can lead to the detection and diagnosis of problems that may otherwise go unnoticed until it is too late. If a problem is detected in its early stages, it is more likely to be treated and resolved with less expense, less difficulty and better success.

But routine veterinary care is not the only way to keep your pet happy and healthy! Exercise and stimulation are important too! We have blogged many times about the benefits of walking your dog such as weight management and a reduction of osteoarthritis symptoms. But taking a walk can provide mental stimulation as well. All the new smells, sights, and sounds beyond your dog’s normal environment provide great mental stimulation. A dog who is well stimulated tends to be happier and more relaxed at home and may demonstrate less destructive behaviors. And don’t forget about cats! Though they tend to be lazier than our canine companions, cats benefit from routine exercise and mental stimulation as well. National Pet Week starts on Sunday so don’t forget to celebrate your pets!

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Oct 18, 2019

How Owning Pets May Improve Our Lives

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Dog Ownership

Most pet owners know that having a pet comes with many bonuses.  Pets provide companionship, entertainment, and unconditional love.  But did you know that pets may have a positive effect on our ,mental and physical health as well?

There have been several observational studies that have pointed to the potential health benefits of owning a pet.  A recent review of nearly 70 years of global research concluded that owning a dog may reduce your risk of death.  Notably, pet owners have demonstrated reduced blood pressure, lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and therefore, reduced cardiovascular disease.

It has been observed that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression, loneliness, and anxiety.  While playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, one study found that simply watching cat videos can boost energy and positive emotions while reducing negative feelings.

Dog ownership has also been linked to an increase in exercise for the owner.  Most dog owners take their dogs for walks while some choose to run or hike with their canine companion.  This also gets the owner outside and around other dog owners where you may potentially make new friends.

While most studies have pointed to dogs and/or cats, other pets may bring health benefits as well!  For example, watching a fish in an aquarium may help reduce muscle tension and lower your pulse rate.  Another example would include horse owners who may get outside frequently to care for or ride their horse(s).  This type of structure and routine can help to give you purpose while keeping you balanced and calm.

We agree that pets improve our lives in many ways and most of our employees have at least one pet.  Meet some of our employees’ pets below!

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