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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dogs don't think like us

Humans think. We rationalize, we remember, we anticipate, we cry, we stress over our past and our future. Dogs and cats are hardwired to respond in the moment. A hungry cat will eat, a stressed-out cat will bite your head off, a territorial dog will bark or bite, a calm and submissive dog will roll onto her back and let you rub her belly.

The reason for this post is simply to ensure we understand that much of what's going on in a pet's head at any moment is fleeting. To illustrate this further: just the other day, a very friendly dog that was delighted to meet me would've taken my arm off while I performed an orthopedic exam on him if it weren't for his muzzle (which his owner insisted I use). Not a nanosecond after removing the muzzle, he devoured a treat and licked my face until I was drenched. His aggressive behaviour towards me was intimately tied with fear... in that moment.

On a similar token, a sick dog or cat will not show behavioral or physical symptoms "out of spite." As smart as we think our pets are, their behavior is much more organic, much more ingrained, and exponentially less conniving than we think. The genes of our pets are constantly firing in massive neon letters, "DO NOT SHOW YOUR ILLNESS TO ANYONE," as they were millenia ago, long before domestication (incidentally, cats are the worst in this regard, rarely showing signs of marked illness until they are deathly ill). If your cat or dog is showing any signs of illness, they are not trying to trick you, annoy you passive aggressively, or trying to be devious with recalcitrant spite. A cat doesn't urinate on your rug from jealousy, and a dog wouldn't hold back his appetite for more attention. They need to see a doctor...

...or this guy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Addendum: take 2

See previous two posts for details. The histopathology results came in on the cat on which I performed the necropsy. Shockingly, this cat had a metastatic carcinoma of the intestine. A clot was indeed found, however it was intimately associated with this intestinal tumor. The tumor likely acutely bled, leading to the formation of a clot, which led to the ischemic event (lack of oxygen) that resulted in the hemorrhagic necrosis of the intestine (see photo in previous post). The clot had absolutely nothing to do with heart disease as the heart was normal. An incidental finding was chronic pancreatitis. A specific laboratory test for feline pancreatitis, which was done when the cat was alive, came back normal.
We certainly learned something from this case.

Such cases are almost as rare as this (addendum: I switched the photo from zebras to this - way cuter).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Addendum: I did find out

The client whose cat died (discussed in the previous post) requested a necropsy (called an autopsy in human medicine) a day after the cat passed, which I performed.
Dr. Vassey, who left a comment below, most likely got it right: the cat likely died from an infarct (thrombus/clot) that acutely became lodged in a blood vessel supplying the intestine. Without normal blood flow, and therefore oxygen, the intestine literally "died."
The cat's entire intestine was grossly hemorrhagic and necrotic, while other abdominal organs were spared this pathology. I found a massive clot in a blood vessel feeding a portion of the intestine, which I submitted for histopathology, along with the cat's heart, portions of liver, lung, and intestine.
Unfortunately, it was grave news for this kitty from the get-go.

While not the cat in question, this is exactly what I found.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


A client showed up yesterday morning with her "crashing" six year-old cat. The cat was vocalizing, in severe pain, was markedly hypotensive (low blood pressure), and had pale gums. The elderly owner lives in an apartment, where there was no possibility of having been exposed to toxins, including rat poison, and no toxic plants which the cat could have ingested. She reported that the cat had vomited a few times the day before and that the vomitus contained blood and blood clots.
The cat was evidently in shock. We treated the cat for shock, provided judicious but important pain control for this poor, painful, kitty, and ran a whole slew of tests and x-rays. Nothing, Virtually nothing. The cat didn't have pancreatitis, which was my top differential. The cat passed away peacefully (she was nicely sedated with opiates) last night, which her owner knew was likely.
The owner declined to have a necropsy performed therefore I can only speculate as to the cause of the cat's death.
Obstruction? Intoxication? Intussusception?
I think it was the latter... but I'll never know.
I was not devastated with the outcome, considering the state the cat was in when she presented. Sad, yes, but not disappointed with our efforts.
I wish my condolences to her owner.

This is what I think happened to the poor kitty.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I just had to post this:

Am I the only one who thinks that


are not disimilar?