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15 Common Household Items That Can Kill Your Curious Cat

You’ve heard the phrase, “curiosity killed the cat.”

That can be true when it comes to accidental poisoning caused when curious kitties get into stuff you typically have around the house, such as laundry detergent, soda pop, or cut flowers.

While some household items may only cause mild stomach upset, others can be fatal. Your best line of defense is to cat-proof your house, removing poisons dangerous to cats (or at least, keeping them completely out of your cat’s reach).

In this article, we’ll introduce you to 15 common items that are toxic for cats. We’ll explain what to do if your cat ingests something poisonous, and give you six tips for keeping toxic substances away from your kitty.

15 Common Household Items That Can Kill Your Curious Cat | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

15 Common Feline Poisons

1. Poisonous plants

Cats love munching on greenery and bouquets of flowers. But some common plants, such as tulips, daffodils, lilies, philodendrons, Dieffenbachia, foxglove, and Japanese yew, are very dangerous for cats.

Two of our readers shared their sad personal experiences with lilies, which are particularly toxic.

One wrote:

“My husband gave me some beautiful orange lilies for my birthday and, as much as I tried to keep our three-week-old kitten away from them, she managed to get to them. She was diagnosed with acute kidney failure and we had to put her to sleep. We are devastated, feeling guilty because we should’ve researched more about what is harmful for cats… Those flowers need to have a warning saying that they can kill your cat.”

Only one bite of the petals or leaves can kill a cat! Even licking the pollen or lapping up water from the vase can result in severe, potentially irreversible acute kidney failure.

Another reader shared, “An innocent-looking day lily shut down my cat’s kidneys with only one bite.”

This reader advised, “Check your home, yard, neighbor’s yard – everywhere you can think of for any kind of lily.”

The following varieties of lilies are poisonous to cats:

  • Tiger lilies
  • Day lilies
  • Asiatic hybrid lilies
  • Japanese show lilies
  • Easter lilies
  • Rubrum lilies
  • Stargazer lilies
  • Red lilies
  • Western lilies
  • Wood lilies

2. Laundry detergent, drain cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, and other household cleaners

One of our readers lost their 5-month-old kitten, who consumed laundry detergent and died from epilepsy.

When ingested by a cat, some household cleaning products can cause profuse drooling, chemical burns, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, difficulty breathing, and even death.

Keep your cat out of the room while you’re scrubbing toilets or doing laundry. And be sure to keep all household cleaners and pesticides out of reach of cats.

3. Clothes Dryers

One of our readers warned that clothes dryers, while not poisonous, can be dangerous to cats. This reader lost their sweet 5-month-old kitten to the dryer.

4. Human antidepressants

Human antidepressants are like catnip to cats. They love the smell of common antidepressants such as Effexor, Prozac, Cymbalta, and Zoloft and can’t resist eating the pill.

However, instead of improving their mood and energy level, human antidepressants can cause lethargy, tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperthermia in cats.

5. Alcohol

Even small amounts of this depressant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, and loss of coordination in cats. In severe cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and death.

6. Caffeinated drinks

The caffeine in drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and restlessness in cats. In severe cases, caffeine poisoning can lead to seizures, coma, and death.

7. Flea and tick topical medications for dogs

Never apply an insecticide intended for dogs (even small dogs) to your cat. These medications often contain high concentrations of a chemical derived from the Chrysanthemum flower – a chemical that is highly toxic to cats. Don’t allow your cat to lick the medication off your dog, either.

8. Over-the-counter aspirin, baby aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen

If your cat is experiencing joint pain, giving him even half a pill can be fatal, resulting in stomach ulcers and kidney failure. Consult your veterinarian before giving your cat any over-the-counter medications for pain.

9. Onions, Garlic, Chives

The gastrointestinal irritation humans feel when indulging in copious amounts of onions, garlic, or chives is compounded in cats. The sulfur compounds in onions and garlic can damage red blood cells in cats, leading to anemia.

Symptoms of onion or garlic poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, pale gums, and decreased activity. In severe cases, onion or garlic poisoning can be fatal.

10. Chocolate

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is toxic to cats. The amount of theobromine that is toxic varies, depending on the size of the cat and the type of chocolate.

In general, dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate – even a small amount of dark chocolate can be harmful to a cat. Small cats are more sensitive to chocolate than large cats.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination, muscle tremors, seizures, and even death.

11. Raisins and Grapes

Grapes and raisins are another popular human food toxic to cats. Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, even a small amount of grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure.

Symptoms of grape or raisin poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and increased thirst. In severe cases, grape or raisin poisoning can be fatal.

12. Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts are a delicious treat for humans, but they can be toxic to cats.

Symptoms of macadamia nut poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, and hyperthermia. In severe cases, macadamia nut poisoning can be fatal.

13. Raw yeast dough

Raw yeast dough contains a substance called ethanol, which is a type of alcohol. Ethanol can be toxic to cats, and even a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, raw yeast dough poisoning can lead to alcohol poisoning and death.

14. Raw or undercooked meat

Raw or undercooked meat can contain harmful bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, that can make cats sick.

Symptoms of food poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and lethargy. In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to dehydration, shock, and death.

15. Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is often used in sugar-free gum, candy, and baked goods. It is also found in some toothpastes and mouthwashes.

Xylitol is toxic to cats because it causes a rapid release of insulin, which can lead to liver failure.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of coordination, and seizures. In severe cases, xylitol poisoning can be fatal.

What to do if you think your cat was poisoned

If you think your cat has ingested or been exposed to a toxic substance, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian tells you to do so. The sooner your cat receives treatment, the better the chances of a full recovery.

You can also all the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline: (888) 426-4435 (fee-based). For info, visit https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control

Or call the Pet Poison Helpline (fee-based). For info, visit https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/

6 ways to prevent your cat from ingesting toxic substances

There are six things you can do to keep your cat safe:

  1. Keep all toxic items out of reach of your cat. This means putting them up high where your cat cannot reach them, or locking them in a cabinet or drawer that your cat cannot open.
  2. Label all toxic items with a warning label. This will help to remind you and other members of your household to keep them out of reach of your cat.
  3. Teach your children not to give your cat any food or drinks that are not specifically designed for cats.
  4. Keep your cat’s food and water bowls away from any potential sources of contamination, such as cleaning supplies or pesticides.
  5. If you are using any type of pesticide, make sure to read the label carefully and follow the directions exactly.
  6. If you are unsure whether or not something is toxic to your cat, it is always best to err on the side of caution and keep it out of reach.

Service Dogs for Soldiers Bring Healing for PTSD

Dogs make extraordinary service animals.

  • They guide the blind, alert the deaf, and perform tasks for the wheelchair-bound.
  • They predict seizures, cheer the elderly, and encourage children with dyslexia to practice reading aloud.
  • Dogs are used to sniff out explosives, cancer, illicit drugs, and agricultural contraband.
  • They find lost persons and criminals.
Dogs for Soldiers: Healing for PTSD | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Battle Buddy Service Dogs

Dogs also help returning veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) heal from the traumas they endured and carry with them every day. The dogs are trained to help veterans cope with symptoms of PTSD, including hyper vigilance, anxiety, flashbacks, depression, panic attacks, and social isolation.

The soldiers’ service dogs allow them get things off their chest they can’t tell anyone else and pass no judgment. The dogs provide the companionship and trustworthiness of the human “battle buddy” these soldiers depended on in combat.

The dogs are always available to calm anxiety, and let their battle-toughened owners remember to feel and express their softer sides. Dogs are hyper vigilant by nature and provide more accurate information about whether a circumstance is safe or truly dangerous, helping the veteran gain confidence as he or she re-integrates into society.

Train a Dog, Save a Warrior

A program called Train a Dog Save a Warrior (TADSAW) matches returning veterans with dogs, most from kill shelters. Ironically, the soldiers are also saving the dogs’ lives.

The program has had remarkable success. The dogs wear a special vest identifying them as a registered service animal, which provides them access to most places with their owner.

The Difference between Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Service Animals are not considered pets. They are are specially trained to perform three or more tasks to mitigate the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities.

A federal law (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990), protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places.

Therapy Animals (often referred to as “emotional support animals” or “companion animals” or “comfort animals”) are not legally defined by federal law, like service animals are. (However, some states have laws defining therapy animals.)

They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and often did not complete service animal training due to health, disposition, trainability, or other factors.

Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy animals in places of public accommodation that have “no pets” policies.

Activity Trackers for Dogs: What to Look For, Plus 6 Popular Fitness Trackers

By Laura Christianson
Guest Writer

During the water aerobics class I attend, most people wear fitness trackers. We have a friendly competition going to see who can burn the most calories during class.

Fitness trackers are all the rage, not only for humans, but also for dogs (who wear them on their collar, not their wrist).

Activity trackers made specifically for dogs help you monitor your furry friends’ health and activity. They can provide a wealth of information about your dog’s overall well-being, including how many steps they take each day, the distance they walk, how many calories they burn, and how much sleep they get. Some trackers include features such as a heart rate monitor or a built-in camera.

Two Types of Activity Trackers

Collar-mounted trackers are attached to your dog’s collar and track their activity level using a built-in GPS receiver. They are typically more expensive than clip-on trackers, but they offer a wider range of features.

Clip-on trackers clip onto your dog’s collar or harness and track their activity level using an accelerometer. Clip-on trackers are smaller than collar-mounted trackers, but they’re not as accurate.

6 Benefits of Activity Trackers

  1. Monitor your dog’s activity level. Helps you ensure that your dog is getting enough exercise to maintain a healthy weight and stay fit.
  2. Identify potential health problems. If your dog’s activity level suddenly decreases, a tracker can give you early warning of potential problems so you can get your dog to the veterinarian for the treatment they need.
  3. Share your dog’s activity data with your veterinarian. When your vet examines your dog, the data from the activity tracker can be helpful.
  4. Encourage your dog to be more active. Some dogs are naturally more active than others. If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, a fitness tracker can help you encourage them to be more active.
  5. Track your dog’s progress. If you’re working on a weight loss or fitness goal with your dog, tracking their progress over time will help you stay motivated.
  6. Find your dog if it gets lost. Trackers have a built-in GPS receiver so they can track your dog’s location.

6 Things to Consider When Shopping for a Tracker

If you’re thinking about getting a fitness tracker for your dog, here are six important considerations:

  1. Dog’s size and activity level. Some trackers are designed for small dogs, while others can accommodate larger breeds. Check the size and weight of the tracker and/or tracker collar.
  2. Waterproofness. Make sure the tracker is waterproof, especially if you live in a rainy or humid environment or you plan on taking your dog swimming.
  3. Durability. The tracker should be able to withstand being chewed on by your dog.
  4. Accuracy. The accuracy of the tracker is important, especially if you are using it to track your dog’s health data.
  5. Battery life. The tracker’s battery should last for several days (or even weeks) without needing to be recharged.
  6. Price. Trackers typically range in price from around $50 to $150. Many of them require an ongoing subscription plan in addition to the price of the tracker itself. Choose a tracker that fits your budget.

5 Important Features of Activity Trackers

Next, it’s time to think about the features that are most important to you.

  1. Step tracking: This is the most basic feature of any fitness tracker, and it can be a great way to see how much exercise your dog is getting each day.
  2. Calorie tracking: Helps you make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Sleep tracking: Helps you identify any potential sleep problems that your dog may be having.
  4. GPS tracking: A lifesaver if your dog ever gets lost.
  5. Two-way communication: Some trackers allow you to send voice commands to your dog, or even receive live updates on their location.

6 Popular Activity Trackers (in no particular order)

To help you research, we compiled information and current pricing on six popular activity trackers. Many of these companies offer multiple types and sizes of trackers for both dogs and cats, each with varying features and pricing. In this article, we feature one device from each company.

In addition to the cost of the device itself, most activity trackers require an annual subscription plan. When comparing prices, calculate the costs over the life of the device. Many devices include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Fi Smart Dog Collar

Website https://tryfi.com/collar

*Amazon https://amzn.to/3nh0BlE

Fi Smart Dog Collar

This collar includes GPS tracking, activity monitoring, and escape detection (which sends an alert to your phone if your dog gets out unexpectedly). The waterproof collar has a stainless steel body to resist chewing, and the battery life averages 1.5-to-2 months.

Price: Approximately $148

Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs

Website https://tractive.com/

Amazon https://amzn.to/3ng7pjq

Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs

Designed specifically for dogs, this subscription-based GPS tracker offers live tracking, so you can always know where your dog is. This waterproof tracker also offers a virtual fence, all-day activity monitoring, historical tracking and health reports.

Price: Approximately $49 plus required subscription plan (monthly, 1, 2, or 5-year plans)

Whistle Health

Website https://www.whistle.com/

Amazon  https://amzn.to/3oS3YzU

Whistle Health Activity Tracker

This collar attachment is good for dogs of all sizes. It requires a subscription plan that uses sophisticated AI to track your dog’s health, fitness, nutrition, and activity. Some – but not all – Whistle Health devices include GPS location tracking. The subscription also gives you access to on-demand veterinary help through chat, phone, video, or email––right from the Whistle app. Waterproof up to 6 ft., the Whistle Health has battery life of up to 60 days and a built-in night light with three settings.

Price: Approximately $69 plus required subscription plan

FitBark GPS 2nd Generation

Website https://www.fitbark.com/

Amazon https://amzn.to/3NoOmhn

FitBark GPS 2nd Generation

Weighing half an ounce, the FitBark GPS touts itself as the world’s smallest pet tracker, fitting dogs as small as 5 pounds. The required subscription plan tracks a variety of metrics, including steps taken, calories burned, and sleep quality. This tracker also offers features that can help you improve your dog’s health, such as goal setting and progress tracking. The FitBark is 100% waterproof and has a battery life that ranges from 24 hours (for live tracking) to up to 6 months (Bluetooth).

Price: Approximately $100 plus required subscription plan

PetPace Smart Collar

Website https://petpace.com/

PetPace Smart Collar

The PetPace Smart Collar is a non-invasive wireless collar that continuously collects your pet’s vital signs and behavior patterns. It offers real-time GPS tracking, activity tracking, sleep tracking, and a variety of other features. The PetPace Smart Collar comes in three sizes, is water-resistant, and the battery lasts around three weeks before it needs recharging.

Price: Approximately $150 plus a monthly monitoring fee

Pawfit 3s Dog GPS Tracker

Website https://www.pawfit.com/

Amazon https://amzn.to/3ACpzz1

Pawfit 3s Dog GPS Tracker

This subscription-based tracker enables you to record up to 5 personal voice commands so you can recall or train your dog with the speaker of the tracker, even when they’re out of earshot. The Pawfit can be submerged in water up to 9.8 ft. deep and for up to 30 minutes. It offers activity tracking, real-time GPS tracking, sleep tracking, and has a built-in LED light and alarm that makes your dog easier to find in the dark. You can create safety zones around your home and other important locations. If your dog leaves one of these zones, you will receive an alert.

Price: Approximately $100 plus required subscription plan

Which Activity Tracker is Right for You?

The best dog activity tracker for you will depend on your individual needs, preferences, and budget.

Whether you are looking primarily for a GPS tracker, the most affordable device, or one with all the bells and whistles, an activity tracker is a valuable tool for ensuring that your furry friend is getting the best possible care so they can live a long, healthy, and happy life.

*Note: Amazon links in this article are affiliate links. If you purchase a product using a link, the author will receive a small commission on the sale.

Laser Therapy for Pets: Speeds Healing, Enhances Comfort

Laser therapy is a comfortable, drug-free, non-invasive therapy used to successfully treat a variety of painful pet conditions.

Dr. Monahan performs laser surgery on a dog | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Laser therapy speeds healing and enhances comfort for chronic issues, such as arthritis and some neurologic conditions, as well as acute injuries like wounds, injuries, dental extractions, incisions, and broken bones. And, in the hands of a trained veterinary acupuncturists, therapeutic lasers can also be used to perform laser acupuncture therapy.

While a relatively new therapy, laser technology has significantly improved in recent years from the older, less powerful “cold lasers” to the newest and most effective Class IV Therapeutic Lasers, such as our Companion Laser.

What does laser therapy feel like?

During laser therapy, patients feel a soothing warmth during the treatment and typically relax and enjoy the session. Areas of inflammation may briefly feel sensitive to the touch, before pain reduction occurs. Therapy sessions usually last 10-20 minutes, depending upon the number of body sites treated and the size of the animal.

How often should a patient be treated?

Dr. Munroe with a happy laser surgery patient | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Munroe with a happy laser surgery patient.

Acute conditions can be treated daily, particularly in cases of severe pain. Chronic problems (arthritis, some skin conditions) may respond better with treatments 2-3 times weekly, tapering down to once every 2-4 weeks, or as needed.

How long before results are seen?

While some patients experience significant pain reduction after the first visit, improvement is usually seen by the third or fourth session, and the benefits of treatments are cumulative. Acute conditions often improve quickly, while chronic conditions (such as arthritis) may require ongoing therapy treatment to achieve and maintain optimal results.

Click here to learn more about our Rehab & Sports Medicine therapies.

Automatic Cat Feeders: Pros, Cons, and Recommendations

In the movies, Garfield the cat, the overly plump feline who’s always in search of food and adventure, is great for a laugh.


In the real world, however, obesity in cats leads to unhealthiness, illness, and even death. Diabetes, arthritis, urinary obstruction, skin problems, and cancer are much more prevalent in obese cats than normal weight cats.

In the wild, cats spend most of their waking hours (not necessarily daylight hours) hunting for food, defending their territory, and caring for young or finding a mate. In today’s world, pet cats often get little exercise and find calories very easily in their dish – no hunting required.

That’s one reason why 59.5 percent of cats are overweight or obese, according to the 2021 annual survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).

Related articles on our blog:

Dry vs. Canned Cat Food

Dry cat food is very calorie dense and only about 10% moisture. Alternatively, canned cat food is 90% moisture and has many fewer calories per ounce, more similar to the little critters cats catch in the wild.

Because dry food is so calorie dense, it doesn’t take too many bites to fulfill a cat’s calorie needs.

Some cats can self-regulate and remain slim, but most see the smorgasbord and lose control.  Their instinct is to continue eating until they feel full.

Auto Dry Cat Food Feeder = Calorie Dispenser

Enter the automatic dry cat food feeder, dispenser of calories, often with little regard to a cat’s true needs or consumption. Set it and forget it.

The dry food feeder’s purpose is owner convenience – keep the bowl full, regardless of whether Fluffy ate a little or a lot.

Most automatic dry cat food feeders lull cat owners into not paying close attention to what their cat(s) are truly consuming, from too much to too little. In fact, a cat may be ill and eating very little, but the change is difficult to spot for several days or even longer.

We do NOT recommend gravity kibble feeders like the two pictured below, because pets have a tendency to gorge themselves.

The Temptation of Automatic Cat Feeders

Automatic feeders tempt cat owners to consider leaving cats for extended periods without daily supervision from a pet sitter, kind neighbor, or boarding facility.

Most veterinarians have stories of calls from distraught cat owners returning after a weekend or week away from home to find their cat in dire straits because the cat feeder malfunctioned, or the feeder is still full and the cat wasn’t eating, or the cat developed a medical emergency (such as a urinary blockage), yet no one was there to notice.

The money saved on a pet sitter or boarding turns into an afterthought in the regret of the current reality of an ill or dead cat.

It can be a hassle every morning and evening with a cat intertwined around your legs, begging for food while you’re trying to get to work or make dinner.

But those moments of carefully monitoring what your cat is eating is time well spent, both in terms of your cat’s physical health and promoting the beautiful bond between you and your cat.

Our Recommendation for Feeding Your Cat

Meal feed your cat two-to-three times a day.

Feed your cat primarily wet food, because it more closely mimics their natural nutritional and hydration needs. If you feed your cat dry food, do so in very carefully controlled amounts.

Our Favorite Automatic Dry Feeder

While we recommend that cats eat primarily wet foods, improvements are being made in automatic dry cat feeders. The PETLIBRO Automatic Cat Feeder is good at controlling the amount of kibble released.

  • This timed feeder has a built-in LCD screen so you can easily set up and schedule feedings according to your cat’s needs, even when you’re away for work.
  • A secure top lid prevents cats from accessing the food and keeps air out to maintain freshness.
  • An interactive voice recorder allows you to record a 10-second message and play it (up to five times).

Our Favorite Automatic Wet Feeders

Automatic wet food cat feeders, which require daily washing, filling, and setting, offer some convenience. They provide 2-6 small wet food meals per day.

We recommend the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder for multiple-pet homes.

  • This pet feeder opens when it recognizes your cat’s microchip or RFID collar tag. It is compatible with all microchip types worldwide. Programming your pet’s microchip into the feeder is achieved at the push of a button; there’s no need for you to know your pet’s microchip number.
  • When a registered pet approaches the feeder, the lid slides open. When kitty is finished eating and walks away, the lid closes, keeping other animals out.
  • The bowl and mat can be removed for easy cleaning. And, if you need more than one feeder, you can color-customize them.

This YouTube video shows how it works:

Our favorite automatic feeder for wet food is the iPettie Donuts Frost 6 Meal Cordless Automatic Pet Feeder.

  • It comes with two ice packs to keep food fresh for 6-8 hours.
  • It’s cordless, powered by a rechargeable battery, with one charge providing up to 30 days of use.
  • You can personalize your cat’s feed schedule, either 6 meals a day, 2 meals a day for 3 days, or 1 meal a day for up to 6 days.

For Gadget Lovers

If you want a feeder that allows you to see and talk to your pets and toss them some treats – all from your smartphone, check out the PETLIBRO Automatic Cat Feeder with Pet Camera.

  • This WiFi-enabled feeder allows you to program and monitor your pet’s meals anywhere, anytime, through the PETLIBRO LITE App for iOS and Android phones.
  • Your phone will be notified when there is insufficient food, low battery power, kibble blockage, WiFi disconnection, feeder stop working or other problems.
  • You can set a feeding plan and schedule feeding time for two pets, up to 6 meals per day with 1-50 portions per meal.
  • A high-definition video camera allows you to monitor your pets’ eating habits when you’re on the go.
  • A built-in microphone and speaker allow you to record a voice message (up to 10 seconds) that plays at mealtime, set the playing time of meal call (0-5 times) and deliver reminders or send warm words like, “I love you.”

Because that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Loving your cat and giving them the best possible care.

Preventing Urinary Blockage in Cats

Bubba the Cat | Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, SeattleBy Bubba the Cat
Public Relations Officer

We’ve had a run of “blocked” cats recently, so I wanted to tell you more about it so you can save my kitty colleagues—and your wallet—a great deal of pain.

Urinary blockages occur almost exclusively male cats when a plug of material gets stuck in their urethra, the tube leading from the urinary bladder to the outside.

In a male cat like me, this tube has a very tiny diameter and it’s easy for urinary crystals, stones, or mucus plugs to create a traffic jam. When a cat is “blocked,” it cannot void urine and the bladder quickly overfills, causing tremendous pain and toxins to build up in the blood. This is a life-threatening emergency if not managed quickly, and can rapidly cause acute kidney failure and a painful death.

Preventing Urinary Blockage in Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.comI am the poster child for urinary blockage – I’m a male, neutered cat, I live indoors, I’m middle-aged, I’m a bit chunky about the middle, and I prefer dry food.

Cats with highly concentrated urine, a condition extremely common when we eat exclusively or primarily dry food, is always a factor in causing a urinary blockage.

To help prevent this in yours truly, I’m served wet food twice a day to help keep me hydrated and the dry food I eat is designed to help prevent crystals from forming.

Big hint here:

Grocery store brands of dry food are much more likely to be implicated in urinary blockage, so please don’t buy that stuff. In the long run, you’re not saving money and could be putting your cat’s life at risk.

Signs of potential urinary blockage

  • Repeated trips to the litter box and straining (sometimes people think their cat is constipated when it’s actually a urinary blockage)
  • Producing only drops of urine or no urine, instead of a normal amount
  • Crying, agitation, and sometimes vomiting associated with trying to urinate
  • Lethargy and depression as the pain and toxins becomes too much to bear

What to do if you suspect your cat has urinary blockage

If you think your cat may be experiencing a urinary blockage, take him to the vet immediately. Do not wait; this is a life-threatening situation.

The doctor will need to relieve the obstruction quickly. She will likely want to perform some tests to see if there are any significant complications, such as kidney failure and elevated potassium, which require additional treatment. Sometimes, X-rays or an ultrasound are helpful too.

To relieve the obstruction, the vet usually needs to sedate or anesthetize the cat, then carefully pass a urinary catheter into the penis, through the urethra, and into the bladder. The catheter allows the bladder to be emptied and for the vet to flush the bladder with saline to try to rinse some of the crystals out. These procedures must be done very carefully to avoid further damage to the urethra.

A softer, longer urinary catheter, called a “Slippery Sam,” is then placed to keep the pathway open and help prevent an immediate re-blockage. This second catheter will usually need to remain in place for a few days to allow the kitty’s bladder to return to its normal, un-stretched size, and to assist the kitty in passing more crystals and excess toxins in his urine.

IV fluids are usually needed to help the kitty flush toxins from his system and make more dilute urine. Antibiotics and medications to help relax the urethra and control pain and inflammation are usually prescribed.

Long-term care

Long-term care is aimed at preventing another urinary obstruction from happening, as they often will if not managed properly. There are special diets, both canned and dry, to help create more dilute urine and prevent the formation of urinary crystals and bladder stones.

If repeat blockages do occur, despite appropriate management, some kitties require surgery to produce a new, wider opening for urination (but this puts the kitty at risk for bacterial urinary infections, so hopefully can be avoided).

Preventive care

To help prevent this situation from occurring the first place, please consider feeding your cat a diet that promotes hydration, such as wet food and/or a high-quality dry food with water added.

Watch your kitty’s waistline and help him maintain his athletic build (good for him on so many levels).

And, if you ever notice a change in your cat’s urinary habits, especially a male cat, please take him to the vet immediately.

Tell them Bubba sent you.

What Attracted You to Your Pet?

I’ve often wondered why we prefer the pets (mixed or purebred) that we do.

Why do you like the pet you do? | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Unless a pet chooses us (which happens often enough), what is it that attracts someone to a pocket-sized Yorkie, a bouncy French Bulldog, or a huge, fluffy Newfoundland?

Do you prefer a regular tabby cat, an elegant Siamese, or a smushy-faced Persian?

Why do you like the pet you do? | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

I have a friend who loves naked cats. Naked, as in born with little to no hair, as seen in breeds like the Sphynx, Donskoy, and Kahona. She finds their soft, velvety, hairless wrinkles absolutely beautiful. Cats with fur just aren’t as interesting, she says.

I pondered this question for a while and came up with eight factors that attract pet parents to the furry friends they choose.


We want pets that fit our lifestyle and personality. If you are an active person, you may want an energetic dog who and loves to go for walks. If you are more laid-back, a cat may be a better choice.

If you’re a dog lover and are trying to decide which breed would be the best fit for your personality, try matching breeds to your Enneagram personality type. Check out our fun article on this topic.


Some animals are naturally more friendly and outgoing, while others are more shy and reserved.


The size of your home can play a huge role in the size of pet you choose.

Dog breeds large to small

If you live in an apartment, you may want a smaller pet, such as a fish or a small dog or cat. If you have a big yard, a larger breed will enjoy having space to roam.


Some pets, such as dogs, can live for 10-15 years. Others, like hamsters, have a lifespan of only 2-3 years. It’s important to choose an animal that has a lifespan that fits with your own plans.

Our article, Should I Adopt a Puppy or an Adult Dog? includes tips for basic pet care.


The cost of owning a pet vary depending on the type of animal you choose. Dogs and cats are generally more expensive than fish or hamsters. However, the cost of food, supplies, and veterinary care can add up over time.

Learn the facts and figures about the costs of caring for a pet over a 15-year lifespan in our article, The Benefits of Pet Health Insurance.


If you live in an area where there are not many animal shelters or pet stores, you may have to travel further to find the type of animal you want.

Ease of care

Dogs need to be walked and fed regularly, while fish only need to be fed once a day.

Choose an animal that you can easily care for, based on your lifestyle and availability.

You might consider co-ownership of a pet. Here’s an article on our blog about dog sharing. The article includes three additional options for pet parenting.

Personal preference

Ultimately, the decision of which pet to choose is a personal one. There is no right or wrong answer, and what matters most is that you choose an animal that you love and that will bring you joy.

What attracted you to your pet?

  • Deep soulful eyes?
  • Affectionate purring?
  • A “Let’s go play!” personality?
  • Fluffball baby fur?

I’m curious.  Please comment and let me know.

Proper ID for Your Pet: Even More Important While Traveling

“Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey,” was a cute Disney movie about three lost pets traveling across country and arriving home.

Sadly, that’s not reality.

Losing your pet can be a traumatic and sometimes tragic event. Even if your pet wears a collar and ID tag, those can fall off.

Protect your pet with a collar, ID tag, and properly-registered microchip. 

Proper ID for Your Pet: Even More Important While Traveling | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

What is a microchip?

Microchips are implantable computer chips no bigger than a grain of rice. Each chip encodes a unique identification number to help reunite you with your lost pet.

The microchip is placed under your pet’s skin with a needle and syringe. The procedure is quick and painless. The chip receives a radio signal from a scanner and transmits the encoded chip identification number back to the scanner.

5 reasons to microchip your pet

1. Microchipping can help you reunite with your lost pet.

Lost cats with microchips are 20 times more likely to be returned home than cats without, and dogs with microchips are 2.5 times more likely to be returned home than those without.

If your pet gets lost, they will likely be taken to a local animal shelter or veterinarian. If your pet is microchipped, the shelter or veterinarian will be able to scan the chip and find your contact information. This will help them return your pet to you safely.

2. Microchipping can help you avoid fees associated with lost pets.

If your pet is found without identification, you may be charged impound fees or boarding fees. Visit Seattle.gov to view impound fees and fines.

If your pet is licensed and microchipped, you will generally not be charged these fees.

3. Microchipping can help you avoid fines.

In some cities, it is illegal to own a pet that is not microchipped. If your pet is not microchipped and is found by animal control, you may be fined.

Note: Seattle Municipal Code Section 9.25.050 requires that all cats, dogs, miniature goats and potbellied pigs be licensed. As part of the licensing process, you can add or verify your pet’s microchip number. Failure to license or renew your pet’s license could result in a $125 citation.

4. Microchipping can help you protect your pet from identity theft.

There have been cases of thieves stealing pets and then using their microchips to register them in their own name. If your pet is microchipped, you will be able to prove that they are yours if they are ever stolen.

5. Microchipping can help you find your pet if they are injured or killed.

If your pet is injured or killed, they may be brought to a local animal hospital or veterinary clinic. If your pet is microchipped, the hospital or clinic will be able to scan the chip and find your contact information. This will help them notify you and allow you to make arrangements for their care.

Register the microchip

After your pet’s microchip is implanted, it’s important to do three things:

  1. Register your pet’s microchip.
  2. Maintain updated contact information.
  3. Provide multiple emergency contacts in case your pet gets lost while you’re out of town.

Give your pet the best chance of being reunited with you. Call us today to schedule an appointment to have your pet microchipped.

5 Disaster-Preparedness Tips for Pet Owners

Sixty-three percent of Americans have a feline friend, canine companion, or other type of pet, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. When disaster strikes, pets are often lost or have no place to stay if owners must move to a shelter or a temporary home that cannot accommodate them.

Planning and preparing our family and pets for the unexpected can provide a huge sense of relief now – and perhaps save lives later. Being prepared for an emergency means thinking about the needs of all your family members, including your pets.

During a disaster, what’s good for you is good for your pet. The tips in this article will help you plan ahead.

TIP #1: Buddy System

5 Disaster-Preparedness Tips for Pet Owners | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Create a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.

Keep in mind that pets might not be allowed inside public shelters. Find pet-friendly evacuation destinations for you and your pet, such as hotels, boarding facilities, animal hospitals or out-of-town friends or relatives along your evacuation route.

TIP #2: Evacuation Drills

5 Disaster-Preparedness Tips for Pet Owners | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

If you need to evacuate, take your pets with you. If ordered to evacuate, you may assume that you’ll be able to return home in a couple of hours. In reality, it might be several days or even weeks before you’re allowed to return. What will happen to your pet if you leave him behind?

Practice evacuating with your pet to reduce stress in the event of an emergency.

TIP #3: Emergency Kit

5 Disaster-Preparedness Tips for Pet Owners | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Pets need their own emergency supply kit. Download a supply list at http://bit.ly/2Q0s1Xw

Here are basics to include in your pet’s kit:

  • Food. At least a three-day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  • Medicines and medical records. Keep an extra supply of meds your pet takes regularly in a waterproof container.
  • Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
  • First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
  • Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
  • Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
  • Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.

TIP #4: Microchip Your Pet

5 Disaster-Preparedness Tips for Pet Owners | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

In the unhappy event that you and your pet get separated, help your pet get home to you. Microchip your pet, so you can easily be reunited after a disaster.

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital carries the 15-digit, universal ResQ microchips. These microchips can be placed under the skin on the back of the neck during a quick nurse visit. Your contact information can be quickly and easily updated as needed online any time at no additional cost.

TIP #5: Selfies

5 Disaster-Preparedness Tips for Pet Owners | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Take a selfie of you and your pet together and put it in your emergency kit. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.

Video Tips

Here’s an instructional video with more tips for proactive pet emergency preparedness.

Photo Credits: FEMA/Ready Graphic

Information for this article provided by:

ACL Injuries in Dogs and Cats

ACL Injuries in dogs and cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.comACL – three little letters that can make even a 350-pound linebacker tremble.

The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of two essential stabilizing ligaments that cross over one another inside the knee joint. Instability in the knee causes pain and leads to debilitating arthritis.

Of the many knee injuries that can occur, ACL injury is the most common. Tears in these small ligaments cause a great degree of discomfort and may be a career-ender for an athlete (or at least a big career-bender).

A similar injury causes serious setbacks in a pet’s quality of life too. In fact, cruciate injury is one of the most common orthopedic complications seen in dogs.

According to Dr. Sharon Kerwin, professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, ACL tears occur almost as often in pets as they do in humans.

“Cats and dogs have the same ligaments that we have in our knees,” says Kerwin. “The cruciate ligament stabilizes your femur and your tibia so you don’t get too much motion between those two bones.”

ACL Tears in Cats

ACL tears in cats often occur the same way they occur in humans: from a traumatic injury.

ACL Injuries in Cats and Dogs | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

ACL tears in cats are usually attributed to injury that occurs as a result of jumping from high places, playing, or getting a leg caught in something. However, the injury tends to occur more often in overweight cats.

ACL Tears in Dogs

The injury occurs more frequently in dogs than in cats.

ACL Injuries in Cats and Dogs | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

In some cases, it is simply the result of an athletic injury in a healthy dog. This could even mean landing “wrong” when running or jumping.

Overweight or obese dogs are definitely more prone to this type of injury, as they carry more weight and often have weakened joints.

Additionally, some dog breeds are predisposed to cruciate ligament injuries due to the structure and shape of their tibia or femur, particularly large breed dogs such as Labradors, Rottweilers, and Chowchows.

Orthopedic Lameness Examination

When we examine a pet for a rear-limb lameness, we perform an orthopedic lameness examination, trying to isolate the pain to a specific area and ruling out injury to other parts of the leg, pelvis, or spine.

Cats with ACL tears will often decrease their activity and playfulness. Dogs usually appear lame and sit awkwardly with their leg sticking out to the side. Radiographs (x-rays) may also be performed to check for arthritis or fractures.

ACL Injury Treatment

We often treat the ACL injuries in cats with medical management by placing overweight cats on a strict diet with exercise restriction for three to six weeks, followed by a check-up measuring progress. If the injury fails to heal, surgery is often recommended to explore and stabilize the joint.

But when dogs are afflicted with ACL injuries, many times the best option is surgery as quickly as possible, followed by post-surgical physical therapy.  Dogs often don’t do well with medical management. Delaying surgery usually causes further inflammation in the injured knee, leading to arthritis, and puts the ACL in the other rear leg at risk for rupture too.

While cruciate rupture cannot always be prevented, keeping your pet at a healthy weight and providing plenty of low-impact exercise can minimize the risk.

Please consult with us if you have questions about your pet’s ideal body weight or need tips about nutrition that can help maintain or return your pet to a healthy weight.

Set up an appointment by calling 206-323-4433, or e-mail Atlantic Veterinary Hospital.

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.