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The Scratching Post: Your Kitty’s Kidneys

by ARLnow.com | April 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 655 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a new column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

Has Fluffy been drinking a lot more water lately? Have you been cleaning out her litter box more often than normal?

These can be some of the initial signs of kidney disease. We rarely think about our cat’s kidneys and how well they are functioning, but they are very important organs in the body. Kidneys filter the blood to remove waste from the system. Most commonly due to aging, but occasionally from infections or toxins, the kidneys can become weakened. This may lead to kidney disease, which is sometimes called Chronic Kidney Failure.

Here are some commonly-asked questions we get regarding feline kidney issues.

Q: I’m cleaning Fluffy’s litter box all the time. How can her kidneys be failing if there is MORE urine?

For us humans, we might think it’s a good thing. We are told to drink 8 glasses a day to stay hydrated, but cats are different. When Fluffy’s kidneys are functioning well, her urine is fairly concentrated (yellow) and she doesn’t need to drink a large amount of water. If her kidneys begin to fail, it doesn’t mean they aren’t producing enough urine; it means they are not eliminating waste as well. In order to compensate, her body will increase blood flow to the kidneys which makes her kidneys produce more urine. To avoid dehydration, she will become very thirsty. This compensation may help initially, but over time she may experience loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and very bad breath. While these symptoms can be due to kidney disease, they can also be caused by other conditions and should be investigated by a veterinarian.

Q: How will I know if my cat has kidney disease?

The only way to know how well the kidneys are functioning is through testing the blood and testing a urine sample. These lab results, in conjunction with a discussion with your veterinarian about your cat’s overall health and behavior, will help us to determine the appropriate course of action.

Q: What can I do if my cat has kidney disease?

Though every cat’s needs are different, there are a few common treatments we use to help ease the burden on the kidneys. These treatments can range from special diets and medications, to giving fluids under the skin, or even acupuncture treatments. If the kidney disease is more advanced, we may recommend placing Fluffy on IV Fluids for up to three days to flush waste out of the kidneys. This will hopefully help her kidneys to function better for some time while some of the other treatments are provided.

Q: Will treatment cure my cat?

While Fluffy’s kidneys will never return to normal, she may live with a great quality of life for an extended period of time. Following your veterinarian’s recommendations and closely watching Fluffy for changes will give you a leg up on keeping her as happy and healthy as possible.

If you feel your kitty is showing any of the signs of kidney disease, give us a call at 703-525-1955. We can work with you to figure out the best plan of action for you and your furry friend.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Photo: Cat Rescued from Early Morning Fire

by ARLnow.com | March 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm | 2,425 views | No Comments

A cat was rescued from a townhouse fire Wednesday morning (Photo courtesy ACFD)Arlington County firefighters rescued a cat from a townhouse fire early this morning.

Firefighters were called to a home on the 4400 block of Pershing Court in the Barcroft neighborhood around 4:45 this morning for reports of a fire. Units arrived six minutes later and found flames coming out of a front window on the top floor, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah-Maria Marchegiani.

The blaze was quickly extinguished but firefighters found a cat inside the home in “respiratory distress,” Marchegiani said. The cat, which was foaming at the mouth as a result of smoke inhalation, was brought outside and given oxygen. It was then transported to an animal hospital — the VCA SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center on Route 50 — where it is now listed in stable condition.

There were no human injuries as a result of the fire. The blaze caused about $50,000 in damage.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, which started in an upstairs bedroom, according to Marchegiani. Other than the cat, the home was unoccupied — its residents were on vacation at the time.

Photo courtesy ACFD

Cat Shot With Dozens of BBs Adopted

by Ethan Rothstein | March 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm | 2,593 views | No Comments

Arrow, the cat found that was found in Ballston shot with more than 30 BBs, including at least 20 that remain lodged in his head, was adopted today at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Bluemont resident Anne Hancock took Arrow — who the shelter estimates is 6 years old — home after an emotional goodbye with AWLA staff. Arrow was brought to AWLA Jan. 18 by someone who found him wandering near Ballston Common Mall.

He came in with an upper respiratory infection and when he was given an X-Ray, veterinarians were shocked to find his body riddled with BBs and buckshot. One eye had to be removed, and he’s blind in his other eye.

Hancock’s daughter and grandson volunteer with AWLA — in fact, her daughter transported Arrow from the shelter to the vet — and they told her about the cat who, despite being horrifically abused, was so friendly and gentle around people.

“He seemed to be a special cat,” Hancock said. “He’s affectionate, sweet and very, very dear.”

Hancock will take him to a home with two other cats — cats that she said have been lonely since her third cat, which was similar in age and color to Arrow, died from cancer a few months ago.

Hancock was one of about 15 who expressed interest in adopting Arrow after ARLnow.com and other news outlets reported on him last month, AWLA Adoptions and Rescue Coordinator Amy Laferrera said. Frequently, animals that have been abused take longer to find homes, but Arrow was quickly in demand.

“We were shocked at how, all of a sudden, there was this huge outpouring of support,” LaFerrera said. “People not only wanted to adopt him but they wanted to donate and help the shelter any way they could.”

Arrow quickly became a favorite around the shelter, coming to humans who called for him or made noises to let him know they were nearby. Hancock picked him up at 2:00 p.m. today, and Arrow spent all morning saying goodbye to the staff at the shelter.

“I’m sad, in a good way, to see him go,” Charnita Fox, an animal care manager whose desk was just a few feet from Arrow’s pen. “I knew he was special when he was brought in because he pretty much let us do anything to him. We didn’t believe he was blind at first because he uses his other senses so well.”

After Hancock signed the adoption paperwork, Arrow was brought to AWLA’s front desk in crate to meet his new owner. He meowed a few times when his crate was closed, but when he was let out he quickly explored the desk he was on. Once Hancock picked him up, he settled peacefully into her arms as he was showered with affection. One AWLA staffer, after snapping a few cell phone photos, excused herself, saying “I’m going to go cry now.”

“He’s a special fella,” Hancock said after meeting him. “I feel like I won the lottery.”

Renovations Coming to AWLA Cat Quarters

by Courtney Battle | February 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 1,000 views | No Comments

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) wants to make life a little better for its feline residents by upgrading their housing.

In the upcoming weeks, the shelter will undergo a complete facelift of its cat quarters that includes six cageless cat colonies, a separate kitten room, an adoption area with enlarged windows, and larger cages with spaces for hiding, perching and stretching. There will also be two isolation rooms for sick cats, two private rooms for potential adopters to “get acquainted” with the cats and a new HVAC system.

Neil Trent, AWLA President and CEO, expects all of the renovations and construction to be finished by the middle of March.

To pay for the renovations, the league launched a fundraising campaign dubbed Care And Transform (CAT). It has a goal of raising $670,000, to “improve the intake and quality of life for feline and small companion animals at the shelter,” according to a press release.

AWLA’s cats stay for 35 days on average, but some end up staying for as long as a year, according to the press release. For long-term cats, the new improvements are very important.

In a 2010 report, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) claimed that “poor cat housing is one of the greatest shortcomings observed in shelters and has a substantially negative impact on both health and well-being.”

“We believe that while cats are in our care we must do everything that we can to enrich their lives and that includes an opportunity to stretch, climb and play,” said Trent.

AWLA held an adoption event this Valentine’s Day weekend to benefit the CAT campaign. For just $14, attendees could adopt a cat, bird, or rabbit to call their own.

However, due to last week’s snowstorm, the event didn’t go quite as planned. One cat found a permanent home, but several others are still waiting to find a match. So far the CAT campaign has raised just over 35 percent of its goal. 

Photos courtesy AWLA

Cat Found Shot with More than 30 BBs

by ARLnow.com | February 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 3,480 views | No Comments

Aarow (photo courtesy AWLA)The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is helping a cat recover from injuries suffered as a result of being shot numerous times with a BB gun.

An Arlington resident recently found the cat near Ballston Common Mall and brought it to the AWLA shelter, according to the league’s email newsletter. The cat, a male tabby, had a blind right eye and an injured left eye — likely the result of being shot with more than 30 BB pellets.

“We named him Arrow and sent him out for x-rays,” according to the league. “We were shocked to learn that he had at least 20 BB pellets in his head alone. This is most likely the reason for his blindness. Although it was shocking to see so many BBs in one animal, there was no medical reason to remove them, as it would cause more trauma.”

“We were able to do thorough diagnostic work on Arrow,” the newsletter continued. “We also neutered him, removed his badly damaged right eye, and performed a dental cleaning with extractions. This sweet boy is now recovering in our offices being closely watched by our medical team. We are hoping for his full recovery and eventual adoption!”

Arrow was originally found on Jan. 18. It appears that the cat’s wounding was an isolated incident.

“We have not seen any other animals with BB pellets,” AWLA Chief Operating Officer Susan Sherman told ARLnow.com. “This is something that could have happened some time ago.”

“Everyone here is impressed with Arrow’s will to survive and thrive,” Sherman added.

Photo courtesy AWLA

Morning Notes

by Katie Pyzyk | September 11, 2013 at 8:45 am | 989 views | No Comments

Flag at Saturday's 9/11 Memorial 5K race (photo by maryva2)

Deputy Accused of Murder Again Denied Bond — Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Patterson, who is accused of murdering Julian Dawkins, has been denied bond for a third time. Patterson’s defense attorney argued that Dawkins may have been using and dealing drugs, and Dawkins’ previous dealings with police caused his confrontational nature the night of the incident. Patterson’s trial starts on December 9. [WUSA]

Home Sales, Prices Rise — The combination of higher sales and increasing average sales prices boosted Arlington’s total sales volume for August by 29.4 percent, to $173 million, compared to last year. The average price of all residential properties rose 8.1 percent to $594,479. Homes sold last month spent an average of 29 days on the market between listing and contract, compared with 50 days a year ago. [Sun Gazette]

Lost Dog/Stray Cat Profile — A Washington Post story profiles two of Arlington’s well known restaurants that help pets find homes — Lost Dog Cafe and Stray Cat Cafe. Co-founders Pam McAlwee and Ross Underwood describe how they started rescuing strays from shelters before the age of cell phones and the internet. Each year the duo, along with their 300 volunteers, helps around 1,800 dogs and 700 cats find homes. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by maryva2

AWLA Sounds Urgent Call for Cat Adoptions

by ARLnow.com | June 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm | No Comments

Cats up for adoption at the Animal Welfare League of ArlingtonThe Animal Welfare League of Arlington is desperately seeking adoptive homes for cats.

The AWLA shelter is at capacity for cats, the organization said Tuesday afternoon. More than 100 cats and kittens are currently at the shelter or in foster care, and another 100 are “expected to arrive throughout the month.”

To help find homes for the shelter’s burgeoning feline population, AWLA is offering a promotional special for cat adoptions in June.

“We have an urgent need for adopters or fosters,” said AWLA Communications Manager Kerry McKeel via email. “Our adult cat adoption fee is normally $100, but AWLA is offering an adoption incentive throughout June — ‘Three Name Your Fee.’ Folks who adopt cats 3 years old and over not only can name their price, but their adoption fee will also include: a certificate for a free exam with a participating veterinarian, spay or neuter surgery, a feline leukemia and feline AIDS test, a distemper vaccination, a personalized I.D. tag, a microchip, an information packet and an emergency sticker.”

Foster homes are also needed for young kittens.

“Our greatest need right now is for fosters who can help to take care of these kittens for a few weeks until they are old enough to be adopted,” said foster care coordinator Sara Emery. “We have a specific need for fosters for kittens who need to be fed every three to four hours around the clock, so retirees, people who work from home or graduate students are in especially high demand.”

Those wanting to find out how to adopt from AWLA can do so on the group’s website. The organization’s press release, after the jump.

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Neighbors Collecting Donations for Cat Injured in Fire

by ARLnow.com | May 20, 2013 at 6:00 pm | No Comments

Neighbors of the Lyon Park mother and son whose house was destroyed by fire last week are collecting money for the family’s needs and for their cat’s medical bills.

Three people –  Liz Tefera, her son, and a tenant who was renting a room in the home — were displaced after fire consumed the home on Wednesday, May 15. Tefera and her son, a 7th grade student, are now staying in a local hotel, having “lost everything” in the fire. The blaze also injured Baby, one of Tefera’s two cats, according to neighbor Donna Seabold and her husband, John.

“Two cats were trapped in the house during the fire,” Seabold said. “One cat was found immediately after the fire was extinguished, and suffered only minor injuries. The second cat, named Baby, was not found until the following day in the flooded basement of the boarded up house. Baby has suffered minor burns, respiratory issues, and carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Baby was brought to VCA SouthPaws animal hospital in Fairfax, where she received three days of oxygen treatment. The treatment has improved Baby’s condition to the point where this afternoon she was able to be transferred to the Nova Cat Clinic in Virginia Square, according to Seabold.

Though we’re told that Tefera’s house was insured, neighbors are collecting money to help pay for the family’s expenses, including some $2,000 in medical bills for Baby.

Those interested in helping the family with Baby’s medical bills or with their other expenses can email babyfiremedicalfund@gmail.com for more information. PayPal donations can also be sent to the address.

Kitten Season Prompts Need for Foster Homes

by Katie Pyzyk | April 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm | 574 views | No Comments

Cat and kittens (photo via AWLA Facebook page)It’s that time of year again — kitten season.  The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) needs people willing to offer foster care for the young animals.

Because of the possibility the vulnerable animals may contract an illness, AWLA cannot keep kittens under the age of eight weeks in its shelter. Young kittens also cannot regulate their own body heat, eat on their own or go to the bathroom on their own. They must be fed every three to four hours and kept warm. AWLA does not have overnight staff, so it is seeking volunteers who can care for the animals around the clock until they are old enough to be adopted.

AWLA Foster Care Coordinator Sara Emery explained that cats can only go into heat a few times each year and only during warm weather, so March usually brings a spike in births. Kittens typically continue being born and brought to the shelter through November, depending on the weather. Twelve kittens have arrived at the shelter in the last week alone and Emery expects around 60 more throughout the summer.

Anyone can fill out an application to foster a kitten. AWLA staff will then interview candidates and examine the home environment to find a good animal-human fit. There is no cost to the person fostering a kitten; all supplies (including litter boxes and toys) are provided and will be replenished as necessary. The average time commitment is about three to four weeks, but will not be longer than eight weeks.

Those who provide foster care will have the opportunity to adopt the kitten at the end of its stay, or suggest someone who may be able to provide a permanent home.

Anyone interested in becoming a part of the kitten foster program should contact Sara Emery at 703-931-9241, extension 245, or by emailing semery@awla.org.

AWLA to Offer Low-Cost Microchips, Rabies Shots

by ARLnow.com | March 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm | 1,520 views | 2 Comments

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington will be holding a low-cost microchip and rabies clinic tomorrow (Thursday).

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the AWLA offices (2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive), the organization will be offering $30 microchipping and $10 rabies shots.

AWLA recommends microchips for dogs and cats to help with identification should they ever become lost.

“Each year thousands of lost and abandoned animals are taken in by shelters and humane societies across the country. Some of these animals never make it home because they can’t be identified,” the AWLA notes. ”Microchipping offers pet owners the only truly permanent method of identifying your pet and linking the animal back to you, the owner.”

Six other rabies and microchip clinics are planned through the end of 2012.

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