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Monday, October 24, 2011

Cat Body Language

Cat Body Language

Cats talk with their bodies all the time - some cats much more so than with their voices. You've probably noticed certain kinds of cat behavior that your Kitty often displays - maybe twitching his tail, stretching out on his back, slowly blinking at you... Do these all mean something? Definitely! This page goes through common body language behaviors that cats display, and tells you what they usually mean.

1) Cat body language: Tail
  • Swishing. A swishing tail (i.e. the whole tail slowly and gently moving from side to side) usually means Kitty is alert, curious and interested in his environment.
  • Lashing. A lashing tail (i.e. the whole tail moving from side to side in a fast, aggressive way) means Kitty is agitated and annoyed. Sometimes when Kitty is doing this he'll adopt a generally aggressive stance (more on this below.) The hair on his tail may also stand on end, giving it a bushy appearance. If he's doing this, leave him alone or you're likely to become the victim of an attack.
  • Twitching. If Kitty is twitching his tail at the tip, this usually indicates he's interested in something he's seen. However, it may also be the first sign of aggression - e.g. if another cat has just invaded his patch - and in this case it could turn to a lashing tail and aggression.
  • Quivering. Cats will quiver their tails at the base as part of cat spraying behavior. However, they may also do this when they rub up against you, or when you stroke their backs, especially near their tail, when they're standing up. In this instance, the quivering is a sign of great affection for you.
  • Tail bolt upright. With some cats, if their tail is upright (i.e. pointing towards the sky) when they're walking, it means they're happy and confident. The rest of their body language (e.g. the way they walk, the way they look around) will also reflect this.
  • Tail half tucked between legs. This usually means the cat is scared, unhappy or feeling threatened. The rest of his body language will confirm this (e.g. head down, ears back, body low to the ground.)
2) Cat body language: Ears
  • Pricked up ears. This is a sign of Kitty being interested in what he can hear around him. You may have noticed cats can also turn their pricked up ears round so they can listen to what's going on behind them without moving their heads...
  • Ears turned back. If Kitty's ears are flattened towards his head and turned back, this usually means he's being threatened and is turning his ears away to protect them.
3) Cat body language: Head and whiskers

  • Raised head.
  • In a stand-off with another cat, a lowered head indicates submissiveness. In other circumstances, it can just indicate sleepiness, contentment or boredom.
  • Lowered head.
  • Whiskers can act as a measure of a cat's mood. If his whiskers are in a forward position, he's relaxed, happy or curious. If they're pulled back, he's defensive or aggressive.
  • Cat whiskers.
  • The meaning of this varies depending on the circumstances. If Kitty is happy, a raised head indicates curiosity and confidence, and is usually associated with pricked up ears. On the other hand, if he's in a stand-off with another cat, a raised head can indicate dominance and in this case his ears will often be turned back for protection.
4) Cat body language: Eyes
  • Wide, staring eyes. This is usually seen before and during a cat fight, or before a cat attacks another animal or a human. They stare to try to scare the other cat / animal / human away.
  • This means the opposite of above - the cat is saying he's happy with the other cat / animal / human and that he trusts them. If you've ever wondered why cats make a beeline for the one person in the room who doesn't like cats, eyes are the reason. The cat lovers in the room will stare at Kitty, which will make him feel threatened, so he'll want to stay away from them. The person who doesn't like cats won't look at him because she's sincerely hoping he won't go anywhere near her. He sees her as the only non-threatening person in the room, so guess who he heads towards?!
  • Narrow, slowly blinking eyes.
5) Cat body language: Body
  • Rubbing against your legs. When Kitty does this, he's leaving his scent on you, effectively marking you as "his territory." It's a sign of affection.
  • Kitty is being submissive. He's paying you a compliment, saying he likes and trusts you.
  • Bent / straight legs. If all Kitty's legs are straight and he has an upright posture, raised head and pricked ears, he's happy, curious and confident. In a stand-off, bent front legs and stretched back legs show that Kitty would rather avoid a fight, but that he will defend himself if he has to.
  • Arched back. In kittens, this is usually a playful stance - they're wanting a play fight. In adult cats, however, it usually indicates that Kitty is preparing for a real fight. Accompanying things may be ears turned back, wide eyes and hair on the back and tail standing on end. This is a sign of affection, comfort and contentment.
When you're trying to interpret cat body language, it's important to look at Kitty's whole body, not just one particular part. I've told you what individual behaviors and some combined behaviors usually mean, but these should be taken into consideration along with everything else Kitty's doing - and with what he's verbally communicating. I hope you have fun trying to figure him out!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Meet Sweet Pea!

Sweet Pea is a 5 year-old grey tabby cat who was presented to us on Saturday. The owner stated that she had a broken jaw and his funds were limited. It was obvious from the beginning that the damage was extensive. Sweet Pea is normally an indoor-only cat but on Saturday she had briefly gotten out and when she returned her jaw was obviously broken, with a piece of bone actually visibly protruding. More than likely during her escape she encountered another animal, and that altercation resulted in this painful injury. Upon arrival it became apparent that she was in intense pain.

Our staff immediately got a doctor and began diagnostics. Sedation was necessary as she was too painful to treat without it. Radiographs were taken and the doctor observed that the fracture was quite severe, the alignment of the entire jaw had been compromised. Surgery was going to be absolutely necessary in rectifying the issue. Finances became a concern and so we admitted Sweet Pea and maintained her on intravenous fluids, as she was too painful to even satisfy her basic need to eat. Who could, with a broken jaw?

We kept her on pain medication and eventually a feeding tube was placed, as it was the only way we could ensure she received the nutrition she needed during this painful ordeal. The wait then began for the funds to become available to perform the procedure. A surgeon our facility works with frequently was notified, and shown the x-rays to ensure that the surgery could be performed at our facility. He confirmed that it was within his capabilities and today he traveled to our clinic to perform the needed procedure. The surgery took one hour, but things were looking good!

As of now Sweet Pea's surgery has been done, with the help of a fund raising underway on her behalf. Nylon sutures were placed to stabilize the jaw, as a portion had been shattered and no bone was present to work with (a wire, etc would not prove effective in this situation, as there was nothing present to reinforce with a wire.)

Following the surgery, another radiograph was then taken to confirm the proper placement. Sweet Pea was then recovered from anesthesia and we determined that observation overnight would be needed. At this time the feeding tube is still in place (syringe feeding will soon be needed, and the tube will be removed) and Sweet Pea is not urinating on her own and will need her bladder expressed periodically. For this reason, we have transferred Sweet Pea to a 24-hour emergency facility. The owner has already picked up and is on her way to the emergency facility. Tomorrow Sweet Pea will return to us for continued care.

Below are some before & after radiographs of the jaw.

Before - Look closely and you can see that the right side of the jaw is obviousy broken with a section of bone protruding forward. The entire area of the jaw was gaping open and disconnected.

After - As you can see the alignment of the lower jaw on both the left and right side are stable and consistent with the upper jaw. This was achieved with nylon suture material, which will, I believe, stay in place permanently in place of the shattered and missing section of bone that would otherwise have anchored the fractured area of the jaw into place.

We will continue to update you on Sweet Pea's status as she continues her road to recovery!

posted by Jessica R.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Employee Spotlight: Brandi Miller, Head Surgery Technician

Our first employee spotlight is going to go to our head surgery technician, Brandi Miller! We are very fortunate to have her as part of our staff. You can rest assured that with her as the head of our surgery staff, each patient is receiving the best possible care. She is not only an informative, thorough and caring nurse but is also known at the office for her lively personality and incredible sense of humor!


Brandi Miller, Head Surgery Technician

Hello fellow animal lovers! My name is Brandi.
I have made animal medicine my career instinctively for 18 years. I have proudly served as senior surgical nurse at DPC for the previous 11 years and counting. I am an avid animal lover and advocate, therefore choosing DPC as my home was only natural.
Our hospital and its employees have never compromised our integrity for the sake of just “business”. We have always been a step above the rest and maintained our goals as such throughout the years. My purpose has been and always will be the comfort, safety and health of your pet first and foremost. That is my pledge to all of my animal friends. Hope to see you soon!

Halloween Safety Tips

ASPCA Halloween Safety Tips!

Attention, animal lovers, it's almost the spookiest night of the year! DPC Veterinary Hospital recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying "trick or treat!" all the way to November 1.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call us at 954-989-9879 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.
3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he or she will be returned to you

If you have any other safety questions just call us and our staff will be happy to go over them with you!

Thank you to the USPCA for this helpful list of Halloween safety tips!


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6902 Stirling Road
Davie, FL 33024
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