Welcome back to "The Animal House." I'm Sam Litzinger with Dr. Gary Weitzman of the San Diego Humane Society. Dr. Weitzman will answer your animal-related questions at 1-877-610-3647. That number again is 877-610-3647. You can also email your questions to email@example.com. You can visit our "Animal House" Facebook page to see animal news, videos, our Animal of the Day. You can get schedules, you can get event information and updates following "The Animal House" on Twitter if you'd like to do that. Let's take a telephone from Rosalind. Rosalind, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yeah, hi. My question concerns my grandcat.
Oh, your grandcat, okay.
Yes. She's about five years old, and her name is Kitty.
She was adopted about four year ago by my son and his wife. She was a stray, I think, actually, and they kind of took her in. Their family is moving, driving from Florida to Virginia where we live.
In a moment of, I think, insanity, I volunteered to fly to Florida the morning before they leave and fly back to Virginia with the cat. (laugh)
Oh, Sam you're laughing.
Don't do it. Don't laugh at me.
No. I was going to say, you may be slightly insane, but it's a great thing that you're doing, and you're an excellent cat grandmother, I must say.
Oh, well, thank you.
Yeah. Good grandmother, yeah.
She will travel in the passenger cabin with me in an airline-approved...
Oh, good. Okay.
Okay. That's actually great.
And it's a non-stop flight, I assume?
It is. It is.
My son and daughter-in-law don't want to give the cat any sedation, so my assumption is that I will have a furious, frightened, howling cat on my hands, along with the ire of every passenger on the plane.
Yeah. Well, the first question of course is what is Kitty like normally traveling? Does she ever get in the car, does she -- what's the experience with her anyway, and what's her personality like?
Well, when she's not in the car, she's pretty even tempered and mild and friendly and sweet.
But I have been told that when they have tried to take her to the vet in the past she has gotten berserk.
So she's a normal cat, in other words.
Okay. You know, I really think it's great not to sedate an animal that you're traveling with, because the sedatives don't work in so many of the cases. So I think if you have a quote/unquote "normal cat," you're doing the right thing if she doesn't get too stressed in strange situations, then I think you're doing the right thing not to sedate, and for a short flight. So all that being said, you know, anything could happen with her behavior on board, but I think she's probably going to be okay.
But your son and daughter-in-law need to give you a little bit of a hand here since you're being a good grandmother, and that would be to get that carrier out and leave it on the floor, and put her treats in there, leave the door open, don't close it for quite a few, you know, weeks. Get that thing out so that she sees it, she's not scared of it, she's, you know, not avoiding it. She might be curious about it, just so she's sort of comfortable having it around. That's going to be 99 percent of this travel experience for you and her.
And thank heavens, you know, you're not going to Hong Kong, you know. You're a two hour, you know, two hours in the air. There are worse sounds than a cat, you know, meowing. We don't want her to be all that stressed, but that's why you just make sure it's as familiar an environment as possible for her. Her treats in there where you actually do board the plane, you know, obviously don't feed her that morning. It's not the best time if you have an early morning flight, you know, to get her all filled up so that she has to use, you know, go to the bathroom while she's on there, and then you're going to be off pretty quickly. But the real key is getting her familiar with the carrier.
Okay. Actually, we have done that. The carrier is at their house now, and ...
Good. Good. Good.
...she's actually been curling up and sleeping in there of her own accord which is very good.
Oh, you're going to be fine.
I did have one other question. I read on an airline website that I might have to remove the cat from the carrier at the security checkpoint. Do you know if that's so?
Ooh, I have never heard of that. That's a really bad idea. You may have to x-ray the cat, but I don't even think you'd do that. Here's the thing, check on that airline's website. There should be a lot of information about traveling with pets. But here's the other thing, and Sam's going to say it if I don't, make sure she gets microchipped. Please, please, please get her microchipped before you travel.
Just Heaven forbid, you know, just in case. And put a tag and a collar on her as well.
And here are two quick tips from me, Rosalind, having just gone through this...
...a few weeks ago, with a very long trip involving two cats, let the cabin crew know that you have the animal and they can kind of watch out for you and just maybe sometimes give you a break. You know, they -- for us they were very kind and said, okay, you can sort of move the animal around a little more, and we know you're there, and the captain knows. It just kind of makes things easier and everybody knows what's going on.
And then the other thing that we found for our cats was they like the little kind of training pads that puppies use. We put those in the carriers with them to give them nice comfortable things to lie down on, and then we also put a couple of our shirts in their as well so that they kind of -- I don't know. It made us feel better.
The scent was there, you know, and the animals I think maybe are a little calmed by that. So you might consider those two options as well.
We always think animals like our scent, but, you know, we've never asked.
Right. (laugh) It may just be for us, Rosalind, that we're doing this, but at least it's -- it makes us feel like we're contributing to the overall effort.
Do you have a shirt I can put in the cat's carrier?
I'll mail one. I'll send you a shirt of mine, and we'll see if that does any good at all.
Thanks so much.
Thank you very much.
Yeah. Happy travels. Let's take a telephone call from Linda. Linda, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes, I do. About four months ago, we adopted a rescue -- a yellow Lab. The Lab rescue told us was four years old, and it seems from...
…my vet and the trainer, the most she is is two and a half, and you add to that the fact that Labs are permanent puppies...
...I've got a 75-pound project on my hands.
Oh, no. Okay.
And she really -- really has done well, you know. The trainer has certain techniques with using a foreign language and using a pinch collar, and what I'm left with...
...which -- yeah. I fought a little bit, but it seems to be doing the job.
Yeah. I'm not -- I'll tell you, Linda.
I'm not a fan of prong collar or pinch collars.
I think there are many better ways to train a dog.
I did too, but, you know, I'm living in a condo.
And she's the biggest dog in the neighborhood.
We'll what's happening with her? Are you just having trouble training her?
Well, the two things I'm having trouble with, number one is counter surfing.
She, you know, seems to -- hasn't processed the fact that her dinner shows up in the metal dish on the floor, and mine is the stuff that sits on the counter.
Right. Right. Okay.
And the other one, which is more serious, is she has the most awful sounding, ferocious sounding bark.
And it's directed at other dogs whether she sees them, hears them, smells them, or thinks she saw them yesterday. Truly all bark and no bite.
Okay. If she's a trainable dog, you need to take her to a training class, but she is reacting to other dogs, so you have to do one of two things. Either stop her from doing that, by going to a class with other dogs that she can actually be trained at, and it has to be a reactive dog class. And on top of that, you need to minimize the confrontation potential. If there are a lot -- there's a lot of barking because she sees another dog outside, you're going to have to draw the blinds in your home so that she can -- that happens as little as possible.
You're not going to be able to ever get rid of it, because the world is full of sounds and dogs and noises and she can hear all that outside too. So I think that's part of it, but I do think you need to talk to your trainer about working on the dog reactivity, and maybe your trainer, you know, alone, can help you with that. We find that it's often helpful to be in a group class of other dogs like that, well restrained and safe, with a good positive trainer. If you're looking for a trainer, I'd make sure they are CPDT trainer, so they do positive techniques, and I do like that a lot better than, you know, thinking about prong collars and all of that.
So Linda, you're looking...
But I think it's workable.
Jump online and look for reactive dog class. Does the Washington Animal Rescue League have those, Gary?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, definitely. And many do. Many do. So I think it's a good place to start.
Thank you, Linda. Our telephone number is 877-610-3647. Animalhouse@wamu.org is our email address. Let's take a telephone call from Ruth. Ruth, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes, I do. Among all the cats in the house, I have a cat named Arbuckle. He's at least 11. He's probably 12 or 13. He was three years at the Richmond SPCA, and I...
Oh, that's a great shelter.
Yeah, it is. It's a great shelter. He -- it's a no-kill shelter. He's a diabetic. I adopted him, it'll be eight years in January.
He has been very well-controlled for the entire time I've had him, and he's of course under regular vet, you know, supervision and everything, but...
Okay. So August 2011, late August, he had some just fast-onset striking symptoms of losing his appetite, nausea, staggering around, leaning to the left, not being able to -- I mean, it was just pathetic. It was awful.
And he was at the vet then and they kept him, and they were -- they started treating him with anti-nausea meds and some kind of a medication for balance, and they had to give him some saline. He wasn't eating. This is a diabetic, of course that's problematic.
We were one day away, or maybe less than that from counseling me to consider euthanasia for him because he was really suffering. He really depressed and just -- he couldn't stand up.
And that day he started eating and he started to perk up, and I picked him up and he continued to improve. He -- by the time I took him home, he was still leaning to the left a little, but he was looking better, and for the last, let me see, we're August, so the last 11 -- 10 -- at least 10, probably even 10-and-a-half months, the cat has been back to his normal self.
He's great. Ten days ago, the same thing happened.
Oh, really. All right.
Rapid onset, yeah. And at the time that he, you know, and the same symptoms. Maybe not quite as severe, but still, it was really scary. So back to the vet again, and this time he has been kept at home most of the time because...
...they're sort of (unintelligible) same type of treatment, you know, anti-nausea, oh, also, ear drops. We had ear drops, you know, a year ago, and this time too, because what the vet is considering and thinks it might be or could have been, are for example, a stroke. Okay. I could see that.
It could be just an ear infection, and the other...
Right. Inner ear, yeah. Right.
Inner ear. And the other thing that was mentioned was vestibular disease.
You know, it's interesting. You know, Ruth, all the rule-outs. I'm not exactly sure where your question is here, but, I mean, you've outlined all of them except for one, and the one is I'm sure something your vets considered, in that this could be a hypoglycemic incident. We didn't give you a chance to ask what your question was, but I guess it's are you scratching your head what's going on with this guy?
Well, kind of, yeah, and also just looking for information even -- and of course now I'm thinking if this cat continues to thrive and live for another year, what am I in for next August?
I know. And, you know what I always tell people, Ruth, is that if you think you can alter the course of a bad thing happening to your animal, go and get it diagnosed, so MRI, all those things. For this guy, I think it's really, you know, he's 11, he's got diabetes, you're controlling all those things that you can. I think just staying in touch with your vet who sounds like he or she is doing all the right things, I think that's probably about the best that you can do. If it does progress, I would try to find out exactly what it is, and that may be at the very least anesthetic x-rays to look at the bones of his inner ear, and maybe even an MRI to see what's happening in his little head. But the good news is, is that he keeps recovering.
Thank you very much for being with us. Before I let you go, Gary, I have to ask, vestibular disease, what is that in a sentence or two?
Basically the ability to stay upright, and it controls balance and often has to do with either your brain stem or with your inner ear. And most of the time when it happens to dogs and cats, we don't know why. There's a problem, and it clears up, which is good.
Maybe that's doing something like that in this case with Ruth and with Arbuckle. Dr. Gary Weitzman will return later to answer more questions.
This is "The Animal House" Dateline. I'm Steve Williams.
I'm a musician. You might know me from my music, but you probably don't know that I'm a huge fan of animals and wildlife in general.
That's the voice of rock guitarist Slash. The former Guns 'N Roses star helped to unveil an Australian wildlife conservation foundation which is named for noted conservationist Bob Irwin. Slash is a longtime animal lover and once famously owned a large collection of snakes and other reptiles, but let them go after becoming a father. By the way, Irwin is the father of the late crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin.
Operators of a Virginia dog sanctuary that was once the dog fighting compound of NFL star Michael Vick were shocked to learn that they faced changes of animal cruelty and inadequate care of animals. The founder of the Dogs Deserve Better Sanctuary said in a telephone interview that she read a newspaper report about the charges while honeymooning in St. Lucia, but had neither spoken to authorities, nor been served warrants. The Surry County Animal Control's chief officer declined to say specifically what led to the charges, which are misdemeanors.
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That's the voice of Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray who gave felines and their companions something to smile about recently, when he raised the possibility of opening cat parks in the nation's capital. Said Gray, I'm not a dog owner anymore, but I do have a cat, and we have no cat parks yet. For more information on these stories, visit wamuanimalhouse.org.
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