Calvin the Cat

Calvin is one of our patients and this is his amazing true story!

At age 16, JK’s  first job was a summer construction job in southern San Diego.  While installing fences, a large, white, female cat would sit and watch him until he finished his work. Eventually, in an attempt to get his attention she would use her claws to scale his body and would then  perch on his shoulders. She was an extraordinarily affectionate cat.

Soon it became apparent that she was pregnant, and her appearance was unhealthy and malnourished.   He was concerned and brought her canned food for the ensuing month every Monday thru Friday.  Each day she would eat ravishingly from his hand.

One day she did not greet JK upon his arrival. This continued for approximately two weeks.  Finally, on a scorching hot afternoon JK decided to search for his feline companion.  He discovered  her hidden near a dumpster with 5 newborn kittens… two white kittens, an orange tabby kitten and two siamese  kittens. (Apparently female cats are capable of simultaneous impregnation from several different male cats).

She was unable to nurse the 5  kittens, walk or hunt for food. It appeared that the mother was surviving on garbage scraps.  JK was concerned not only for the mother, who apparently belonged to a neighbor, but for the starving kittens as well.

JK made the decision to save the kittens and allow the mother to care for herself.  He carefully wrapped the 5 kittens up in his t-shirt and brought them home for his mother to nurse  back to health.  He knew that she could not refuse or resist the suffering creatures.

His mother bathed the flee infested kittens and set up a nursery in the bathroom.  She fed each  of them by hand until they were strong enough to eat on their own volition. At the approppriate time she had all 5 spade and neutered.  The two white cats were named Romeo and Juliet.  Romeo was handsome and large.  Juliet was clever with small, delicate facial features and eyes that looked directly into yours, as if she understood your every thought. However, after their first visit to the vet they discovered that Juliet was a boy…thus Juliet and Romeo were renamed. Juliet became Calvin and Romeo was renamed Hobbs.

JK and his family kept the two white male kittens (Calvin and Hobbs), and took the other three to the Humane Society where they were quickly adopted.

Calvin and Hobbs lived with them for 8 years.  Jk had gone to college, graduated and returned to San Diego for Law School. He married his college sweetheart and consequently moved to Irvine…where they both practiced law.

His parents divorced. His  mother was left to care for their two ninety pound dogs as well as Calvin and Hobbs (each weighing in at 20 pounds). Unfortunately, his mother was moving into a small rental and could only take one pet. She reluctantly found a home in San Diego for the 2 cats with a friend of a friend. ..who promised to love them dearly and call if her situation changed.

In 2011, JK and his new bride, Meg, made the decision to volunteer at the local animal shelter. The second day of volunteering JK walked by a cage with a large, gray or white (difficult to decipher due to the dirt), male cat that was about 10  years of age. He looked so familiar that JK had to take a second glance.

The cat had all the same characteristics of his old pet, Calvin.  He had a long, slender face, scar on the nose, small black patch on the forehead, same attitude and personality, extremely affectionate, same size, same age. The signs were all there. Could Calvin have appeared years later in an OC animal shelter …where JK just happened to be volunteering?  Calvin had been adopted in southern San Diego, at least 150 miles south. Could it be Calvin? It seemed impossible.  It was difficult to be certain.  This cat was emaciated, sick, dirty and difficult to identify.

Three days later, on Mothers day, he informed his Mom of the situation. Since she knew Calvin best, she insisted that she must to go see if it was him. JK resisted, remarking that it was probably not Calvin and it would be upsetting to her.  However, JK’s mother was relentless and after several hours JK conceded and they drove to the shelter.

Upon viewing and playing with the cat, his mother was 100% certain it was him. She insisted that she pay for a vet to check the cat and the adoption fees.  She wanted to adopt him and bring him home…or preferably sneak him into her condo where pets were not accepted.

There was still some doubt with JK and everyone else that this cat could actually be Calvin. It was difficult to recognize him in his current state. Yet JK’s  Mom was adamant and insisted that even if it were not Calvin…the cat must be adopted and removed from his deplorable conditions (a tiny cell of a cage.. not large enough to stand properly).

As JK already had two cats in an apartment that allowed NONE, he knew that he could not adopt him. To make the matter worse, his mom had just signed a lease which also excluded owning any animals.

On Thursday the 12th, JK’s mom asked him to physically check on the cat and inform the shelter that she wanted to adopt him but could not do so until the following week.  JK contacted  the shelter to relay the request from his mother. He left a message that his Mom would either donate the adoption fees and/or pay to adopt the cat.  When JK heard back from the shelter employee, she informed him that Calvin was in very bad shape and was scheduled to be euthanized the following day, Friday the 13th.

Needless to say, JKs  Mom paid the adoption fees and begged him to pick up Calvin immediately. She instructed him to drive the cat to RSF as soon as possible.   JKs Mom agreed to bring Calvin to her home, despite the lease restrictions.

She paid a visit to Petco and a palatial experience was awaiting Calvin at his new home.  Additionally, she scheduled an appointment with Calvins previous vet.

On Friday the 13th, JK  went directly from his law office to the shelter. He picked a very sickly Calvin up and drove him to All Creatures Hospital in Rancho Santa Fe. His Mom and the vet were there to greet the suffering cat. After a thorough examination, the veterinarian informed them that Calvin was indeed on the brink of death. He was suffering from an upper respiratory disease, two ear infections, a bladder infection, he was anemic, severely dehydrated, had a hematoma on one thigh, and to make the matters worse, he had not eaten in days as he could not smell his food.

It is also worth mentioning how amazingly sweet he was while the vet examined him. The vet was drawing blood and prodding him in numerous places, sticking thermometers in his bottom and the entire time he was affectionate and purring loudly as he rolled from side to side begging for attention. He knew he was in good hands again.

Calvin  was placed in intensive care at the All Creatures Hospital for three days.  At the end of the third day Calvin was not eating, and the staff was unable to release him until he was capable of eating.  JK asked the vet to leave him alone in the room with Calvin. While sitting with him, JK remembered that Calvin had lived with his brother Hobbs his entire life. They had never been separated.  It was their practice to fight over the same bowl of food, in spite of the fact that they each had their own bowl.

JK brought the bowl over to Calvin and bent down on his knees, pretending to eat out of the bowl.  When Calvin approached him, JK gently pushed him away from the bowl with his head, pretending to fight for the food. Within seconds Calvin was pushing his head into JK’s head and ferociously consuming the food as if it were a competition. Success. Calvin was released and returned home to JK’s mother’s condo.

It took Calvin a few weeks with multiple medications and TLC to recover from his weakened state. Soon he was chasing the laser lights and playfully engaged. Calvin was  back to his old self, and so grateful to have been saved.

He kisses and rolls on command, he hugs with both arms and lies down and purrs near anyone who welcomes him. He is happy to be home with his original owner, and is perhaps one of the most affectionate, loving, communicative cats to bless any persons life. He never stops purring and speaking. He sleeps with JKs Mom and affectionately embraces with one paw.

Calvin had been rescued twice from death by JK and his Mom.  He has definitely cashed in on two of his cat lives.  But what are the chances of this happening?  What a tragedy it would have been to kill this wonderful creature.

There are many other Calvins in shelters waiting for someone to save them from execution, so that they may reward their owner with love, loyalty and affection.


How to cool your cat down

With the hot days still here in September, we are doing an update on cooling off, this time, for cats.

A cat that becomes overheated can suffer from dehydration, shallow breathing, and can even get heatstroke. Keeping your cat cool is an important part of ensuring that he/she enjoys a safe and happy summer, especially if there’s a heat wave.

Keel your cat calm. A cat that is running about too much during a really hot day or during a heat wave will soon become exhausted and dehydrated. Encourage it to calm down by providing a relaxed, indoor place that is both cool and darkened (see the next step). Do not initiate play when it is in an agitated state; you may need to sit with it, for a bit, to help it self-calm.

Create a “snug retreat”. This is a place where your cat can retreat to and relax and feel safe. It is simple to make – place a cardboard box on its side and put it somewhere that is quiet and out of the way such as in a closet, behind a chair, or near a cool spot in the house. Line it with a terry towel or other cotton, breathable natural fabric that is not too warm. Stick an ice pack inside a sock and place it into the snug retreat underneath the towel for added cooling effect.

Another good idea is to place towels or sheets over the spots the cat usually likes to sit, to create a cool barrier between their fur and the normally warmer surfaces.

A hot water bottle can be filled with very cold water and left out for it to lie on.

Ensure that your garden or yard has some shady spots for your outdoor cat to enjoy. It will find them readily enough, provided you supply them. If your plants are too young to throw enough shade yet, or you do not have a garden, at least set up some shade over a comfortable spot under which your cat can lie; choose somewhere that gets a gentle breeze. Water should always be easily accessible and available in the outside area, as well as indoors.

If you have an outdoor cat, be scrupulous about checking outdoor buildings and greenhouses before shutting them after use. If you accidentally lock in your cat, the building could overheat, if it is a shed or other uninsulated or unventilated building, and this might prove fatal.

Allow your cat to choose a cool spot. Cats are smart about comfort at all times, including during the heat. Cats love to curl up in the bathtub or sink because porcelain stays cool even when it is hot outside. They will also prefer tiled areas of the house, such as the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen. Some cats will even find the freezer and flop themselves over it. Do not reprimand your cat for picking the coolest spot in the house – be grateful that it is working out how to cool down using its own initiative.

Cool your cat down with damped towels. Most cats do not like getting wet, but you can at least help cool their fur down, a little, with dampened towels. Simply dampen a cloth or paper towel and gently stroke your cat with the cloth or towel from the top of its head and down the back. Do this a couple of times a day if it is very hot.

Where cats get the warmest are their bellies, the pads on their paws, their armpits, under their chins, and on the outside of their ears. Concentrate on keeping these spots cool.

Another way to use a small kitchen towel is to soak it with water and place it in the freezer. When the towel gets cold enough, lay it out on a smooth kitchen or bathroom floor for your cat to lie on; if it is too cold for your cat, leave it there as it will warm up enough over time. Do not force your cat onto it – simply introduce the cat to it, and if it likes it, it can make up its own mind.

Brush your cat daily. Matted fur traps heat; ensuring that the fur is not matted and allows air to flow freely through it will help to keep your cat cool. This is especially important for long-haired breeds of cats.

Avoid shaving your cat to the skin as this will expose your cat to the sun and can result in sunburn and risks skin cancer.

Use your usual cooling methods to help keep your cat cool too. If you have air conditioning or fans, keeping your cat indoors will ensure that it is benefiting from the cooling, too. Many of the things you do, usually, to keep the house cool for yourself, also benefit your cat; such as keeping the blinds, drapes, and most doors closed. Just be sure to allow it the choice to exit if it feels too cold, so that it can go into a warmer room when it pleases, as air-conditioning and fans can make things too cold and irritating for a cat, after a while. And be sure that your cat is actually inside and not stuck out in the heat if you do not have a cat door!

It is recommended to keep your cat inside during the hottest part of summer days.

Provide access to a good, constant supply of water for hydration. Dehydration is a real risk for cats during the heat of summer, so constant access to water is essential. Fill the water bowl and check that it is always filled during hot weather (indeed, a cat should have access to clean water at all times of the year).

You could try adding ice cubes to a second bowl of water. Not all cats will appreciate this but it is worth trying and if it likes it, the cat has access to some very cool water. However, do not make this the only source of water, because if it finds it too cold, it will get dehydrated by avoiding it. You might be able to encourage licking of, and drinking from, ice cubes if you flavor them with chicken or beef stock.

Create cool play. Even in the heat it is possible to find a way to cool down through play. A really fun game is to toss a couple of ice cubes on the floor in front of your cat. Watch him play with them as they scatter away from him and he chases them. Be sure to do this in a cool indoor environment.

Avoid Heatstroke Conditions. Cats are very susceptible to heatstroke in excessive heat conditions due to their small body weight and comparatively high surface area. Heatstroke is a fever brought on by the failure of the body’s normal temperature regulation system due to being in overly high temperatures. The most common cause of heatstroke is being left in a hot, poorly ventilated area, usually a car or a hot room. Do not leave a cat in a car during the heat of summer without ventilation and in the baking sun, and never leave a cat in a car, unattended. For long journeys in the car (if you are moving house, etc.), keep the air conditioning on, or the windows open, for ventilation while traveling, and don’t cover up the cat carrier in any way that impedes air flow through the cat carrier’s holes. It is a good idea to include a towel- or sock-wrapped ice-pack in with the carrier to help keep him cool. If you must stop briefly, park in the shade, roll down the windows completely, and do not leave the cat unattended. If you need to make a brief toilet-stop or rest-break, set the carrier down under a tree, on grass, when you stop during journeys, and have everyone keep an eye on him, as well as giving him some water.

The symptoms of heatstroke in a cat include agitation, extreme distress, stretching out and panting heavily, skin hot to the touch, vomiting, glazed eyes, drooling and staggering. Call our office immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

And remember – have fun while you stay cool!


Second-Hand Smoke and Your Pet

We all know that smoking is bad for our health, but what might surprise many pet-owners are the dangerous effects that that same smoke can have on their four-legged loved ones after some time.

There are studies that show that dogs exposed to large amounts of second-hand smoke have significant changes to their lung tissue. These changes range from fibrosis, or scarring of the lung tissue to precancerous and even cancerous lesions.

A case report published in 2012 showed a cat developing a tracheal carcinoma after being exposed to large amounts of second-hand smoke in the home, and another study in 2002, showed that second hand smoke may double the risk of lymphoma development in cats.

Many veterinarians also feel that symptoms in their patients with respiratory diseases such as asthma or bronchitis improve if the owner’s quit smoking. For those that do smoke, there are a few ways to tell if your habit is affecting your pet’s health.

For animals with asthma, allergic lung disease, or bronchitis you might see a dry hacking and progressive cough. Asthma patients may have more frequent asthma attacks and their symptoms may be more difficult to manage medically. Animals with allergic lung disease will often have more severe symptoms if they live in a smoking household and these symptoms may persist all year round rather than being seasonal.

Disposing of your tobacco may also prove hazardous to the wellbeing of your pet if they tend to be nosy or like to dig in the trash. Ingestion of tobacco products may cause gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased salivation and trembling. High doses of nicotine may lead to excitement, constricted pupils, odd behavior, seizures and even death. Cigarette butts are especially dangerous as they contain 25% of the nicotine found in the cigarette.

While the most efficient way to treat second-hand tobacco problems with your pet is for the owner to quit using the substance, there are other ways to keep your pet safe and keep your habit.

Pet-owners need to immediately quit smoking around the animal and wash their hands thoroughly after smoking before touching the pet or anything it may come in contact with. If your dog or cat eats a cigarette, chewing tobacco, cigar, etc. call our office. In most cases the tobacco will induce vomiting by itself, but if not vomiting should be induced to clean the stomach out and prevent systemic and possibly even lethal nicotine toxicosis.”

If you believe your pet is suffering from tobacco-related issues of any kind schedule an appointment with us immediately.


Training Tips and Tricks for FIDO!










Bond to the dog with your heart, but train with your brain. In other words, don’t get emotional about your training efforts. Make it fun for the dog. Sometimes the dog will need correction. He views the correction as merely an “interruption” of the undesired behavior.

It is most crucial to build a relationship with your dog first. Find out what he likes and dislikes. You are uncovering your dog’s personality in this phase, which important in order to begin the training process. Below are five dog training tips that will make training successful and enjoyable for you and your best friend!

First, get to know your dog and build a relationship with him. Find out what he likes and dislikes. Even notice where in the house he prefers to build the bond.

Second, set a goal of what you want to accomplish. If you display any doubt, your dog will pick up on that doubt and be less responsive. Have a game plan.

Third, understand that you will train only part of the behavior in each session. Keep the training sessions short, about two to three minutes. Repeat the session several times a day.

Fourth, keep it as positive as possible when working with your dog, but understand there is a right way and wrong way for a physical correction. Corrections are merely “interruptions.” Be open-minded.

Fifth, always end on a positive note. You want your dog to look forward to the next training session. When it ends, go play with him, take him out for walk and just have a good time with him…maybe give him a treat.