A feline dental miracle

Last night when I was brushing Jake’s teeth, I decided to check and see if daily brushing was making any difference. I was pleased to find that it was; his teeth are really clean and his gums look very nice and healthy. He just had a little tartar build-up in the crevices of the first top molars on either side of his mouth. I have a dental scraping tool that I use on my own teeth, and last night, I thought, “Hmmm…I wonder if he’d let me…”

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So, after washing it carefully, I held him on the counter and I gave it a shot…and he let me scrape the tartar off! I was stunned; I mean, I know he’s an exceptionally patient cat and he trusts me implicitly and unconditionally, but I did not expect him to actually let me chip plaque off his teeth! Cats usually need to be put under general anaesthetic to allow people to do that!

However, I do have to mention that, while I was looking for a dental reference and a picture of a cat’s teeth to accompany this post, I found a greater-than-expected percentage of Abyssinians showing off their pearly whites, like:

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Truman, and


Ivanhoe!

So it seems that Abys seem more likely to let people mess about with their mouths than most cats. Too bad nobody’s told Angel about that…

Aby-a-Day – February 17: He’s a big boy now

Once a month, we weigh each cat and record their weight in Pet First Aid on my iPhone. During their monthly weigh-in last weekend, Angel was 10.4lbs. Jacoby was 11.8 lbs! He’s getting so big!

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He used to be such a little guy compared to Angel.

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Now look at him!

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He’s bigger than his (unneutered) brother Dillin, too. Sherry and I emailed a couple of days ago, and she said, “Dillin weighs 10.78 lbs, and he’s a bit heavy, meaning he would probably be more fit at about 10 lbs. I thought Dillin was big and a bit overweight LOL! He doesn’t feel very fat, just a bit flabby and not really solid like Buddy Guy (their brother from another litter).” Jake is solid; he feels like a coiled spring when you hold him.

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Even better, Tessie has lost some weight, and she is now down to 11.1 lbs! Which means that, despite appearances, Jake is officially the heaviest cat in the house.

Aby-a-Day – Day 231 of 365

Veterinarians are always telling us we should brush our pets’ teeth, but how many of us actually manage to do it on anything like a regular basis? Not trying to make you all feel guilty, but I actually do brush Jacoby’s teeth nearly every day.

Why do I brush his teeth, and none of the other cats’ teeth? Basically…because he lets me. He doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t fight me, scream, squrim, pummel or push me away with strong arms and dull but still scratchy claws.

I started getting him used to the brush and the toothpaste as a young kitten. We alternate between C.E.T. Poultry Flavour (for him, because he likes chicken) and C.E.T. Vanilla Mint (for me, because I like the smell) and he seems to like the taste of those; at least, he licks the toothbrush when I’m done.

I use a toddler toothbrush from the Korean market to brush with because it’s got a tiny brush head, it’s super soft, it’s got a nice grip and it’s made for a parent to brush their child’s teeth with. It’s also got cute little cartoon sea creatures on it, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, he tolerates it, and the vet can tell that his teeth are being brushed when she looks in his mouth. I’m glad because Abys as a breed have a genetic predisposition to gingivits.

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He actually holds pretty still while I’m brushing…although, he will try to hide from me when he knows it’s toothbrush time.

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He’s trying to lick the toothbrush before we’re even done!

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I even give those tiny teeth in front a little brushing!

I wish I could do the other cats…and believe me, I have tried – I can’t even get near them with a toothbrush without my husband’s help. Kylie screams blue murder and twists like a tornado, the usually gentle Tessie growls and bites, and Angel…well, Angel is the only cat I ever saw a need to put into a kitty straightjacket, and even then she ripped out the zipper and escaped! Angel may have a divine name…but don’t make her angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. She does everything but turn green.

Aby-a-Day – Day 193 of 365

As I’ve already posted, Saturday every cat went to the vet. We have a wonderful vet, Dr. Natalie Waggener at South Boston Animal Hospital, and it’s always great to come in for a visit. I’m endlessly impressed that she remembers everyone’s name, humans and felines alike.

Overall, the news was good, but there was one rather worrisome bit of news. Dr. Waggener looked at Angel’s eye and noticed spots on her cornea. This could be Corneal Sequestrum, which is found in Abyssinians 5% of the time (it’s most common in Persian/Himalayans, which breed repesents 70% of the cases seen).

Needless to say, Angel’s one eye is of utmost concern. Because of the Feline Herpesvirus infection that caused her to lose her left eye, her remaining eye is more susceptible to corneal sequestra, ulcers and keratitis. She has Gentamicin drops right now, and we’re getting a referral to an opthamologist at Angell Hospital. I know cats can manage wonderfully without eyes, but Angel just loves her remaining vision so much. She loves to watch things and, as I often say, she sees things the other cats don’t.

So we are concerned about her, needless to say. We’ll be taking her to Angell as soon as we get the referral from our vet.

Angel also has dental issues; she has Oral Resorptive Lesions starting on at least one tooth. Patrick had this problem, too, so I am familiar with it. She’ll probably have to have the affected teeth removed next year, after we’ve dealt with her eye. Tessie and Kylie also both need dental work; Kylie’s teeth are particularly problematic since she just had them cleaned last year, and we really don’t want to need to take her in every year to get a full anaesthetic dental cleaning. They’ll need their cleanings before Angel needs her dentalwork done.

Jacoby was perfectly fine. His teeth look really good (he actually tolerates me brushing them) and apart from waxy ears and a whiffy butt (he needed his anal sacs expressed), he’s a glowing bundle of health. He’s also going to be a wonderful therapy cat, at least if the vet’s office staffs’ opinion counts for anything. Of course, he’s a major suck-up, so their opinion is best taken with a grain of salt.

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I mean, just look at him. It’s not like you can charm your way into a better vet checkup!

Brush with disaster

Jacoby, unlike most cats, actually tolerates having his teeth brushed. This is awesome, because he may avoid the dental problems Kylie has and Angel will have (the only cat who ever let me brush his teeth was Harri). Obviously, it’s a great help starting him out as a kitten, but I tried to start Kylie and Gun-Hee out as kittens, too, and they would have none of it.

I had some Benedent Triple-Pet All-Natural Vanilla-Mint toothpaste I’d gotten for Gun-Hee and Kylie, barely used since neither of them would put up with it. One day I was brushing Jake’s teeth, and I happened to notice that the toothpaste contained tea tree oil. That didn’t seem right, since tea tree oil is poisonous to cats. I’d bought it at a local groomer/pet supply shop and had been assured it was okay to use on cats. I looked around online to see if I could confirm or deny that it was okay to use on cats, and discovered it’s definitely marketed as a cat-safe toothpaste. In fact, I only found one site that even included a warning that it should be “used on a less frequent basis with cats”!

Needless to say, I threw it away, and ordered CET Enzymatic Toothpaste for him in Vanilla-Mint (because I like it) and Poultry (because I figured he might not like Vanilla-Mint) and now I’m alternating the two. No more tea tree oil!

Still, how scary: a toothpaste marketed for use on cats, containing an ingredient that’s poisonous to them! Good thing I read labels!

One Week Til Angel Comes Home!

Just over three months ago, my beloved Abyssinian Gun-Hee died from FIP. Since we were a home that needed an Aby, I decided to see if there was anything like an Abyssinian rescue out there, so that we could find an Aby that needed a home.

So I went on Petfinder.com, started with my home zip code (in Boston) and went out from there. And I found Angel, a little red Aby girl.

When I saw her photo online, I knew it was destiny. Gun-Hee sent her to me, and he made sure I’d know it.

First off, we took him to Angell Animal Hospital in Boston when he was diagnosed with FIP.

Secondly, the rescue, Purebreds Plus, is headquartered in Vacaville, CA…about 20 miles from the town I grew up in, Davis, CA – where my mother still lives. Which means, despite the fact that we live in Boston, adopting a cat in Northern California would not be not impossible, but would actually be doable.

Finally, I had a good friend pass away in April. Her name was Angela.

So I had to at least try to adopt her. I emailed her foster mom, Karen, and asked if she was available and if it would be possible to adopt her. I could easily fly to California, stay with my mom, and come to get her (the rescue doesn’t ship animals and wants to meet all adoptive parents in person). I told her all about Gun-Hee and how we not only understand the unique Aby personality but enjoy it, sent her the link to his journal, and asked her what she thought. I filled out an adoption application, talked to her on the phone…and on July 15th she sent me an email saying: I wanted you to know that your references are approved and after watching Gun-Hee’s website 2 times and crying my eyes out, I feel that in spite of the travel that Angel would be one lucky kitty to be with you. You are approved to adopt her.

However, due to our travel schedules, the earliest we could arrange the meeting was Columbus Day weekend.

During the course of our correspondence, I learned the following about Angel:

Angel’s birthday is November 2007 (I’ll get the exact date, who her parents are and her history when I pick her up).

She weighs only 7½ lbs.

She eats anything.

Angel is best friends with two fosters that Karen adopted. The three of them are quite the trio. She calls the two girls “wild women.”

Angel likes anyone who will play with her.

She’s had her in the car and she seemed fine.

Angel was raised with small dog so seeing one shouldn’t be a problem. (Such a nice difference from Gun-Hee, who was fearless in the face of anything save canines!)

Angel plays the piano every day. All of a sudden one day Karen heard someone walking on the keys and it’s Angel. So cute. She knows she is making it happen.

She also likes to help type; another email Karen sent me said, “Angel is doing really well. She is typing whil00000000000 I write.” That’s going to be fun when I update this journal!

The story behind Angel’s eye and foster situation is sad; The breeder had a couple of tough years with her mother who was sick and dying and in the midst of this her pregnant females in December of 2006-January 2007 were getting sick. Almost ¾ of the kittens born were dead or died shortly after birth. She had never had this problem before and only when the pet food information came did she begin to put things together as she was feeding some of the recalled foods. When she bred her females (and a couple of the kittens born to them), health problems showed up in the lines – Herpes infections like none seen before with ulcerated eyes and very sick cats. Not being as careful as usual her numbers increased and unhealthy cats increased.

I met the breeder at a cat show in October 2007 and we talked about me taking some of her cats. I knew nothing about the situation. A week before Christmas she called me and we set January 1 as the day I would take 5 of her cats. The very next day she took 4 other cats to the Humane Society and asked that 3 be put down and the other (Angel) be put up for adoption. Two days later the Human Society paid a visit and found a house with over 60 cats, spotlessly clean. She gave up the sickest cats and others totaling 18. The Humane Society called us, and on Friday December 20th, we spent 3 hours there bathing cats/kittens eyes that were horribly stuck together and gave meds. They could only allow us to take the original 4 as there is a 72 hour rule in California. Sunday the 23rd we went back and took the other 16 (2 had died). Then at the breeder’s house we took 5 more cats – a total of 14 kittens and 11 others between 5 months and 14 months. We separated the kittens by illness levels and 9 of the healthiest kittens went to Southern California Aby Rescue. Unfortunately 5 of those died. Of the 5 that we kept, 2 died over the next 3 months, both of FIP. The other 3 were adopted. Of the other Abys 2 of the younger ones died and the others were adopted except Angel, who had many problems over the months finally with an eye ulcerating in April. She has been healthy since.

The problems:

· Upper Respiratory Infections that finally healed then eyes ulcerated. Some eyes were saved and a couple had the eye removed. This was different than the normal herpes infections that we had seen in rescue where the conjunctiva was swollen and goopy. The eyes ulcerated seemingly overnight and it was a relentless treatment regime that could save then (if it did).

· Bordatella – took 6 weeks of Doxy to go away

· Some of the cats were vaccinated (for FIP). Of the cats that died, they all had vaccines and 3-6 weeks after got sick and then died of FIP. The breeder begged us not to vaccinate because she had the same problem.

· Ringworm – Over the 7 months we have taken 35 cats and have about 10 more coming. The ones we have seen since April have not been as ill and that is what we expect of the remaining 10.

Gun-Hee (and my Siamese, Harri, before him) had Feline Herpes Virus, and I am familiar with how to deal with it. I also have a good supply of powdered L-Lysine left over that I bought for Gun-Hee; he didn’t like the taste of it mixed in food and wouldn’t eat it. I’m hoping Angel isn’t as finicky. It’s also very likely that she’s been exposed to the coronavirus that causes FIP so I won’t have to worry about going through that again. As Karen said, Since Angel has been around all these cats, I would think she was exposed and didn’t get it. Since it is a mutation there is usually a precipitating event and she has sure had enough of those. I watched her very carefully after she was spayed. She was also stressed when I first put her out with my cats and now fine – just the normal stuff once in a while.

Angel’s actually already had more health issues than our two girls, Tessie (5) and Kylie (3) have had in both their entire lives! Angel is quite the little survivor!

And her monocular vision doesn’t seem to bother her at all. As Karen told me, “Angel is an amazing cat. When her eye was first removed she did bump into a couple of things but now she just zooms around, completely unaware that she is a bit different than other cats. When I had her at the vet on Saturday, the vet said it never ceases to amaze her how well cats adjust to whatever handicap they have.”

So, next week, next Friday, Oct. 10th, my friend Tap and I will go and meet Karen and Angel in person. I can hardly wait!

Gun-Hee’s Distant Cousin

I’ve worked it out.
Red (Kopper Kats Firestorm of Escenzia) is the Aby who died of kidney failure at the age of 4 earlier this year. Red’s great-grandfather is Felinexpress Lord Kynan Rupert. Rupert’s mother is Felinexpress Betty. Betty is also the mother of Felinexpress Leo Escencias of Haro. Leo is the father of Haro’s Gingersnap of Pellburn…who is Scar’s (Pellburn Scarface Cat Pacino) mother, Gun-Hee’s grandmother.

So they’re distantly related at the great-grandfather level.

EROS is a wonderful resource for this.

I also discovered that familial amyloidosis is common in Abyssinian cats and the cause is unknown. Amyloidosis occurs when amyloid, a protein substance, is deposited in the kidneys.

The vet appointment is at 4 this afternoon. Thank you all for your thoughts!