Category Archives: Julia Williams

Tooth Resorption in Cats and Dogs

tooth resorption makiaBy Julia Williams

A few months ago I took my cat, Annabelle, in for a routine checkup. After a thorough exam, my vet told me that Annabelle had a painful condition called tooth resorption. This came as a complete surprise, as Annabelle had been acting her normal happy self, she was eating well and seemed to be in perfect health.

I hadn’t noticed any abnormal behavior, and Annabelle did not act like she was in any discomfort when she was scarfing her CANIDAE wet food or her treats. My vet explained that even though tooth resorption is known to be quite painful, in most cases our pets don’t show outward signs until it’s become extremely uncomfortable. This is a largely a survival instinct, since an animal in the wild who showed weakness would be vulnerable to a predator.

What is Tooth Resorption?

Although tooth resorption is similar in appearance to the cavities humans get in their teeth, there is a difference. Cavities are caused by bacterial decay which begins at the tooth’s hard outer surface (the enamel) and progresses toward the interior of the tooth. With tooth resorption, the damage begins inside the tooth with “resorptive lesions” which are caused by cells eating away at the tooth. A tooth that is affected by resorptive lesions will erode and eventually disappear entirely as it is absorbed back into the animal’s body. As a tooth disintegrates, the dentin (inner part of the tooth) and nerve are exposed, causing extreme sensitivity and a great deal of pain.tooth resorption rick

Tooth resorption occurs primarily in cats, but dogs can get it too, as can larger cats such as tigers, lions, cheetahs and leopards. Tooth resorption in domestic housecats is a common condition that affects as many as 50% of cats over three years old.

What Causes Tooth Resorption?

Some studies suggest that an excess of vitamin D in the diet may play a role in tooth resorption; other theories support that it’s an autoimmune response. However, at the present time there is no definitive answer as to what causes the resorptive lesions. What is known is that once an animal develops one resorptive lesion, it’s highly likely that other teeth will also be affected.

Is Tooth Resorption Preventable?

Unfortunately, until it’s understood what causes the resorptive lesions to occur, there is no way to prevent them. Pets that have resorptive lesions in one tooth often have them in other teeth.

How is Tooth Resorption Diagnosed?

Some things to watch for include excessive salivation, bleeding in the mouth and difficulty eating. (You might notice, for example, that your pet appears to only be chewing on one side of her mouth). As I mentioned earlier, however, some pets with tooth resorption may exhibit no outward signs; in this case, the condition will be discovered when your vet examines your pet’s mouth.

Some resorptive lesions can be seen, while others are hidden below the gum. If a lesion is suspected, your vet may use a probe such as a cotton swab. When the lesion is touched by the probe, it causes pain resulting in chattering and jaw spasms. tooth resorption danielleRadiographs (x-rays) are extremely helpful not only in making a definitive diagnosis, especially for the hidden resorptive lesions, but also for treatment planning.

How is Tooth Resorption Treated?

Tooth resorptions can be seen on radiographs in many different stages, depending upon how long the tooth has been affected and how fast it is resorbing. Unfortunately, there is no reliable treatment and extraction of the affected tooth (or teeth) is usually recommended. If the disease has significantly progressed and the resorbing tooth has already fused to the jawbone, the veterinary surgeon may recommend amputation of the tooth instead of extraction. Radiographs while under general anesthesia will help your vet determine which procedure is best.

Top photo by Makia Minich/Flickr
Middle photo by Rick Wasser/Flickr
Bottom photo by Danielle Kellogg/Flickr

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5 Tips for Litter Box Training a Kitten

cat box abbamouseBy Julia Williams

Teaching a young kitten to use its litter box is generally not a long or complicated process. For starters, learning to use the box is largely instinctive for a feline. Further, if the kitten lived indoors with Mom for its first few weeks, it may have already been “shown the ropes” and will adjust to a new box in a new home almost immediately.

That being said, there are some things you can do to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Make no mistake, proper litter box training is very important, because establishing good habits early on is the best way to avoid future issues.

The Box

Most litter boxes are made from heavy duty plastic, which is easy to clean and very durable. I recently also came across a disposable litter box made from recycled paper. It was on the small side and had a low entrance, which is perfect for a little kitten to be able to enter and exit comfortably. A small cat box is fine for a kitten, but just be aware that they will outgrow it and you’ll eventually need to get a larger one for your adult cat. The cat box will need to be big enough for your cat to turn around in and scratch around in it comfortably.

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10 Pet-Friendly Companies

pet friendly JeremyBy Julia Williams

I’ve long thought that one of the best things about working from my home office (other than no commute) is that I get to be with my feline friends every day. I love taking “kitty cuddle” breaks, and it’s just nice to have some company while I write. Were I to ever hang up my freelance hat for a job outside the home, I think this transition would be difficult for me. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but I believe the cats wouldn’t like it much either.

Dog lovers who work outside the home face a similar situation. True, they do have Take Your Dog to Work Day which is a nice idea, but it’s just one day in June. What if there were companies that let dog lovers bring their canine best friend to their workplace on a regular basis … maybe even every single day? Wouldn’t that be cool? Well, it turns out there are lots of dog-friendly companies where you can do just that!

According to The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association (APPMA), nearly one in five American companies allows pets in the workplace. Many pet-friendly companies also have perks like discounted pet insurance and organized dog walks. Some even allow cats in the workplace, although I’m not sure how many kitties would think that’s a good idea.

If you’re in the market for a new job and think taking Fido to work with you would be pawsome, the website lists dog-friendly employers in every state; you can see what pet-friendly companies are in your state here. Below, in alphabetical order, are just a few of the companies known to have pet friendly policies.

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Choosing Healthy Treats for Your Dog or Cat

pet treats MartinBy Julia Williams

We have a bedtime ritual here that my three cats look forward to (I know, because if I forget, they are quick to remind me!). The ritual is simple: first, I give the cat treat bag a few shakes and voila – kitties appear instantly, as if by magic. I then dole out their individual allotment of the treats, and watch as they scarf up every last crumb. My cats like this ritual because they get yummy treats, and I like it because it lets me do a quick head count before I say my goodnights.

My cats love the CANIDAE PURE Taste cat treats. They dance around the kitchen in feverish excitement, and their loud meows and purrs let me know they think these grain free treats are the bomb. Dutiful Cat Servant that I am, my job is to give my feline friends what they want … BUT only if it’s good for them. So I enjoy the ritual because I know I’m giving them treats that not only taste great (so I’ve heard, haven’t eaten any myself) and make them happy, but they’re healthy for them too. June Cleaver would approve of these treats, I’m sure!

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7 Tips on Caring for Senior Cats

Senior Cat MickeyBy Julia Williams

One of my cats is 16 now, and the other two are 12. As such, I have been researching the topic of senior cat care quite a bit in recent years. I love my cats like family, and I want to do everything in my power to keep them healthy and happy for many more years. Though there may be some things outside of my control, there are steps I can take now and in the future that will positively impact the longevity of my beloved fur babies. I’ll cover some of them briefly in this post.

When Does a Cat Reach “Senior” Age?

The funny thing about this question is that the answer depends upon who you ask. Some cat experts put the senior age as low at 7, while others say it’s more like 10 or 11. There is no “absolute” age that classifies a cat as senior. This is due in part because, like humans, some cats age faster than others. If your cat is 10 years or older – about the equivalent of a 56-60 year old human – you can safely assume they are a senior.

Vet Checkups

As a cat ages, health issues are bound to arise. The best way to help ensure longevity is to catch problems as early as possible. Early detection of age-related conditions and illnesses will enable you and your veterinarian treat them more successfully. Many health issues can be delayed and/or managed provided they are caught in the beginning stages. Since cats are quite good at hiding illness and may not appear unwell to you even when there is an underlying issue, a wellness check every six months is recommended. For a senior cat, six months is about the same as you seeing your doctor every two years, which is certainly long enough for health changes to occur.

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7 Jobs Cats Do to Earn Their Keep

cat earns keep cy-VBy Julia Williams

Oh sure. The phrase “working cat” might seem to be the best example of an oxymoron, bar none. It’s true that cats are not generally known for their dedication to hard work. They probably think dogs already do enough work to benefit mankind and there’s really no need for them to have a job. Or maybe they just enjoy long catnaps in the sun. Who really knows? Suffice it to say, if you Google “cats with jobs” you won’t find a very long list.

That does not mean, however, that cats are not working at various times throughout their day. You may not realize it, but cats are on the job much more than it would appear to the casual observer. That’s because most of their “work” come naturally to cats. Here are 7 jobs that cats do admirably well.


How many times have you felt unwell and found yourself being nursed back to health by your feline friend? My cats always seem to know when I need the “healing power of the purr” and they stick to me like glue until I am feeling better. I am certain their purrs and loving presence hasten the healing process.


Look, we all need someone to tell our secrets to, and not just the deep dark ones either. The best thing about having a cat for a confidant is that you just know they won’t go running to every cat in the neighborhood saying “Guess what Julia just told me!” You don’t even have to preface telling them your secret with “Now, please don’t tell anyone, but…” Their lips are sealed, no matter how juicy your secret is.

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