We remain open to provide care for your pets. We are following the direction of government and regulatory authorities and have implemented hospital and visit protocols to keep both you and our team safe. For regular updates on our hours and visit protocols, please follow our social media platforms.

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Weight Loss in Senior Cats

Weight loss and specifically muscle loss is a concern in cats 11 years and older. It can be described as cachexia or sarcopenia. Cachexia is loss of muscle with the disease, e.g. congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, cancer and many other chronic conditions. Sarcopenia is the term used for muscle loss that occurs with ageing in the absence of disease. In recent years there has been more focus on understanding why this happens in humans and animals as loss of muscle is directly related to worsening disease and death. There is a change in the body with ageing and disease that causes the protein to be used for energy during periods of calorie restriction instead of fat. Why this happens depends on many complex reactions which are not completely understood at this time.

In the senior cat, nutrient absorption may be compromised where the gut is not working as well as it had in the past to metabolize and absorb protein. Also, appetite or energy intake is often less. There are many reasons a senior cat may be eating less. Some reasons may be the presence of painful dental disease, sore joints making moving toward food more challenging, medications that taste bad or cause nausea. Other reasons may include a younger, more powerful cat in the house guarding the food and decreased the ability to taste and smell are all reasons a senior cat may take in fewer calories. These changes can happen slowly. It is difficult for owners to recognize muscle loss before it is severe.

It is important for veterinarians to assess the body condition of senior cats. The cats total body weight is part of this assessment but it is common to have an overweight cat with excess body fat and poor muscle mass e.g. a “skinny fat cat.” The only way to determine this is to palpate the muscles. Tracking body weight alone is not enough.

Once your veterinarian identifies sarcopenia, a diet assessment can be done to determine if you are feeding your cat optimally. It is important to know what you are currently feeding, how much the cat is eating and your cat’s eating behaviour, e.g. where, when, and how you feed. With this information, your veterinarian can determine current calorie intake, your diet’s protein content and digestibility, and whether the diet is complete and balanced. Can small changes such as the location of food, type of dish, meal size and frequency be made? Is a diet change required to provide higher calorie food with more digestible protein?

Gone are the days of leaving kibble out or providing whatever is on sale at the local grocery store. Ask your veterinarian for body condition scoring and a diet assessment as part of every annual or bi-annual visit to help your senior cat live better and longer.

Written by: Dr. Dana Cini, DVM

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COVID-19: Additional measures we are taking

Dear Clients,

Due to the close contact that our work requires, we have taken additional measures to protect you and our team while providing care for your furry family members.

The following changes are effective as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020:

1. We are currently operating a “closed waiting room” policy to protect our clients and staff. When you arrive, please remain in your vehicle and use your cell phone to call us at 905-857-5057. We will take a history from outside of your vehicle, and bring your pet into the clinic for an examination with the veterinarian. We will then return to your vehicle with your pet to discuss our recommended treatment plan. If you do not have a cell phone please knock our door to let us know you have arrived and then return to your vehicle.

2. We are continuing to accept appointments for urgent or sick pets, as well as time-sensitive puppy/kitten vaccinations. All other services will be scheduled for a later time.

3. If you are ordering food or medications, please allow 3-5 business days as our suppliers are dealing with increased demand and are trying to fill orders as quickly as possible. We will advise you as soon as your order arrives. Please call us when you arrive to pick up your order, but do not enter the hospital. Our staff will bring your order to your car and take payment over the phone. You can also use our online store and have your food delivered directly to your home. To sign up for the online store, visit our website.

4. For the time being, we are not accepting cash as payment. Instead, we are taking payments over the phone.

5. Online consultations are now available! If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.

Following the recommendations of our government and medical experts, we are doing our best to practice social distancing within the constraints of our roles. As such, we have taken measures to avoid both contracting and facilitating the spread of this virus.

Thank you for helping us be diligent for everyone's safety. As we have heard from all levels of government, the situation is fluid and any updates will be provided as changes occur.

- Your dedicated team at North Hill Animal Hospital