So now that the weather is getting a lot nicer, you want to go outside more, take long walks with your four-legged family members, and have all the outdoor barbecues you can have, right? But what are you going to do about all those pesky insects that try to suck, bite, and sting all the fun out of summer nights? Not only are they a nuisance for you, but they can be just as annoying, and potentially deadly for our pets, too! Read on to learn about some of the various harmful insects, and what you can to combat them and the diseases they can transfer.
Mosquitoes: Passing on Deadly Worms
Mosquito bites are no fun for us, but are even worse for our pets because of something called heartworms. Heartworms are spread through mosquitoes that carry infective larvae, and are a potentially fatal issue for dogs and cats. The heartworm larvae move from the site of the mosquito bite through a host’s body until they reach the heart and lungs. Once they are mature, adult heartworms can get to be 12 inches long, and will cause a significant decrease in blood flow throughout the body. Depending on the severity of the disease, it can possibly lead to death if not taken care of early on.
Heartworm preventatives such as Heartgard, Revolution, and Sentinel are very instrumental in helping before any bite occurs, but getting a heartworm test and treatment at your local AAHA Accredited Veterinary Hospital will absolutely help if your dog or cat already has heartworms. Signs of heartworm disease can include: mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss.” These symptoms won’t necessarily show early on in dogs, and in cats they can be very subtle, or very sudden.
Fleas & Ticks: All it Takes is One Bite
Fleas: These tiny brown bugs like to hide in cooler, shady areas like shrubs, trees, and under leaves. Despite not having wings, fleas can jump up to two feet high; so when your dog walks by, that’s when they will hop on, latch in, and start feeding on blood. The danger of fleas is that they can bring about tapeworms, skin infections, and other serious diseases. Combating fleas is as easy as using monthly preventatives such as Frontline or Nexgard, avoiding tall grassy/shady areas when walking, using a flea comb, and washing your pet’s bedding often.
Ticks: Ticks also like to hang out in shady, wooded areas, waiting for an unwary host to attach to. Once they are attached, ticks feed on blood (including you), which means they can directly transmit deadly diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and babesiosis from just one bite! You can help deter tick bites by also using monthly preventatives, avoiding tall grassy/shady areas when walking, and whenever you are done with your walk make sure to check your dog (and yourself) for any little bumps because it might be a tick!
Bees & Wasps: More than a Sting!
Bee and wasps are a bit easier to avoid because they usually have visible nests and in general they’re the most noticeable bug. If you’ve got a curious pet then you should keep an eye out. Most stings tend to occur on the face or nose because that’s how our pets investigate. They may even get stung in the mouth or throat if they end up catching the bug; and those stings can be dangerous because the poison from the sting can cause the throat to swell. Other severe reactions to look out for include weakness, difficulty breathing and excessive swelling at the sting site. If you see any of these signs you need to go to your veterinarian ASAP. Most of these severe reactions occur with multiple stings, but always give your veterinarian a call and make sure to monitor the reaction to make sure it does not worsen. All cases will be different, so always consult your veterinarian before administering any medication or remedy, such as a weak water/baking soda mixture or an ice pack.
Tips to Decrease Insect Exposure
Ask your veterinarian about monthly Flea/Tick preventatives like oral doses, liquid, and collars.
Close screened windows/doors when inside so flying bugs don’t come inside.
Use bug repellent on yourself, and only pet-safe repellent on your furry friends.
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Our furry friends bring us lots of joy; we cuddle with them and treat them like family. They respond by licking our hands and face and showering us with unconditional love and attention. Close contact with our furry bundles of joy can also unknowingly cause microorganisms to be passed along to us, which can cause zoonotic diseases. A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed between animals and humans. Read on to learn about some of these common zoonotic maladies, and how to safeguard your pet and family from them.
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. It can lead to potentially fatal infections of the kidney, liver, brain, lung or heart. Dogs are most often affected by Lepto. They commonly become infected and develop leptospirosis from exposure to, or drinking from rivers, lakes, or streams.
Humans commonly develop leptospirosis through exposure to the urine or bodily fluids of an infected dog. It’s important that you see your veterinarian so they can recommend vaccines that can effectively protect your dog against many strains of this disease.
Hookworms & Roundworms
Hookworms can be acquired in puppies and kittens from their mother’s milk. They can then be transmitted to humans from your pet’s feces, or from contaminated soil when walking barefoot. Hookworms live in the small intestine and can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and blood loss leading to anemia.
Roundworms are typically acquired by your pet when they eat the infected feces of another animal. They most commonly become transmitted to humans through the ingestion of roundworm eggs from contaminated soil in your garden or backyard.
It’s very important that puppies and kittens be de-wormed as they commonly carry hookworms and/or roundworms. If you suspect your pet has been exposed, you should drop off a stool sample at your local veterinarian for analysis.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium that is transmitted to humans and pets through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Blacklegged ticks are also known by the name Ixodes Scapularis, and the common name: Deer ticks. Acute Lyme disease causes fever and lethargy. While Lyme disease cannot be spread directly to you from your pet, they can bring infected ticks into your home or yard. Protect yourself and your pet by asking your veterinarian about tick control products for your pets.
Giardia is a microscopic parasite that can live in the intestines of animals and humans. It is often transmitted through contaminated water and is one of the most common waterborne diseases in the United States. Common signs and symptoms in both dogs and humans include diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.
Puppies and kittens have a higher risk of illness from Giardia so it is important to not allow them to drink water from areas where other animals may have left their feces. Your veterinarian can test your pet’s feces to see if giardia is present and prescribe a safe, effective treatment for control of the disease.
Safeguarding Measures You Can Take
Contracting a pet-borne disease requires very close contact with your pet or their excretions, so zoonotic diseases can be avoided with these common sense approaches:
- Annual Exams! Make sure your pet gets an annual preventative exam by a licensed veterinarian, including a parasite screening test, and is current on all vaccinations.
- Practice good tick protection! Regularly check for ticks on your pets and the humans around them and ask your veterinarian about tick control products for your pet.
- Pick up the poop! Keep your environment free of feces. Make sure you have a clean yard and litter box at all times.
- Cleanliness! Thoroughly wash vegetables from your garden and hands or other exposed skin that come into contact with soil frequented by pets.
- Fresh, Clean, H20! Avoid drinking improperly treated water.
See Your Veterinarian for Testing & Safe, Effective Treatment
If you suspect that your pet is ill or may be infected take them immediately to an AAHA accredited animal hospital. While information on the internet may provide you with some ideas, only a licensed veterinarian can provide you with an accurate diagnosis.
As our pets age, they continue to hold a very special place in our hearts. Senior pets require additional care to help them carry on long and fulfilling lives. It is important to be aware of the changes in our senior pets’ health and to provide them the care they deserve. Here are some ways to help care for your senior pet:
Regular Health Check-Ups
It is recommended that all pets receive annual physical exams to ensure that your pet is in good health. As our pets age, it is even more important that they receive regular health care. As with people, dogs experience a number of health changes as they age. Preventative care is key to keeping your senior pet happy and healthy. It is recommended that your senior pet receive a health examination every 6 months. During each exam, your veterinarian can monitor health and recommend changes to help keep your senior pet comfortable.
At Centreville Animal Hospital, we are pleased to provide the Senior Wellness Bloodwork Panel. This panel is a wonderful aide in keeping track of your senior pet’s health. This invaluable panel measures many important body systems, including organ values, red and white blood cells, and includes an urinalysis. All of these components can tell a lot about your pet’s health. If the levels are abnormal, it can be an indicator of cancers or diseases. If such diseases are detected early, medications or dietary changes can be made to help restore health.
Senior pets are susceptible to discomfort changes such as arthritis. Sometimes your senior pet may seem stiff while getting up or moving around. This is certainly uncomfortable and can easily be managed by administering pain medication at home. A simple, daily dose can greatly impact your pet’s comfort. At Centreville Animal Hospital, we perform a pain assessment during your pet’s physical examination. By determining your pet’s level of pain, your doctor can provide recommendations for keeping your pet comfortable.
Keeping Comfortable with Rehabilitation
With aging joints and limbs, your senior pet could greatly benefit from rehabilitation exercises. After a consultation with your veterinarian, she can customize a plan that will allow you to perform exercises during rehabilitation appointments and at home. Keeping your senior pet active is very important as it will help maintain muscle mass and more comfortable movements. Acupuncture is a method of rehabilitation that involves applying very small needles to certain points of the body. This provide relief for a wide range of conditions, including relieving discomfort. Acupuncture is a painless, natural method that has been very effective for both pets and humans.
Recognizing Nutritional Needs
Your pet’s nutritional needs are important to help sustain health. What your pet consumes can greatly impact his overall health. By referring to the Senior Wellness Bloodwork Panel results, modifying and supplementing your senior pet’s diet can greatly impact the necessary vitamins and minerals your pet may be lacking as he ages. There are several prescription diets that are designed to help treat certain diseases and others for general senior care.
By recognizing changes in your pet’s health as he ages, these preventative and treatment methods will greatly impact your senior pet’s health and comfort. As pet owners, we want nothing but the best for our furry companions, and Centreville Animal Hospital is committed to providing you with options that will offer a better quality of life.
Valentine’s Day… a time of love letters, boxes of chocolate, giant teddy bears, and… a sick pet?! It only takes one moment to turn a great day into a disaster, but we’d like to help you avoid that altogether with some quick and easy to remember Valentine’s Day Pet Safety Tips! While you’re celebrating with your better half and showing them how much you care, make sure to show your pets how much you care for them, too. Follow these easy tips and tricks to make sure everyone feels the love this Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate is a year round hazard to pets, but on Valentine’s Day there always seems to be a lot more of it floating around. While sweet and delicious to us, chocolate contains stimulants called methylxanthines that, if ingested by your pets, will negatively affect their neurological, gastrointestinal, and cardiac function by causing vomiting, hyperactivity, seizures, diarrhea, and an atypically increased heart rate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are higher in fats which can lead to life-threatening pancreas inflammation, while dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate have some of the highest levels of methylxanthines because of the high cacao percentage.
Don’t Break my Candy Heart
If you’re planning on getting your loved one gum, candies, or other sweet treats, make sure that they stay far from the reach of your pets! Candy is never recommended for consumption by our four-legged friends, but it is especially an issue when those sweets contain xylitol. This sugar substitute is very dangerous and potentially fatal to pets. If ingested, xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (a sudden drop in blood sugar), which can cause your pet to suffer from seizures, depression, and loss of coordination.
Flowers Aren’t a Cat’s Best Friend
Flowers and bouquets of all sorts are everywhere during Valentine’s Day. While not all flowers are toxic to pets, Lilies in particular are toxic to cats. They can cause kidney failure, lethargy, diarrhea, or vomiting. If you are unsure of what flowers are toxic or non-toxic- reference this handy ASPCA plant guide. Another flower that should be mentioned is the Rose. The flower itself isn’t toxic, but the spiny thorns pose a big threat. If ingested, bitten, or stepped on they can cause major infections if they break the skin.
You Got Me a What?!
Much like on Christmas, birthdays, and other gift-giving occasions, Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect day to surprise your loved one with that dog or cat they’ve always wanted. This can be an amazing experience- for the animal and your loved one, but make sure you are both prepared for what the idea of owning a pet means. Animals are a lifelong commitment that take time, patience, money, and attention. If you do decide to get a pet for someone, drop some subtle hints beforehand and make sure that they would be fully prepared and capable of taking care of a pet. An alternative to the “surprise, take care of this animal!” is to find out if your local shelter offers gift certificates; then you can go with your better half to the shelter and pick out a pet together!
- If you’re getting cozy by the fireplace, make sure your pet is cozy away from any flames!
- After you’re done opening gifts, make sure you properly dispose of all bows, wrapping
paper, ribbons, balloons and tape. Fun to look at, but not fun to ingest!
Extra: Show animals how much you love them, too!
- Visit a local shelter and spread the love by volunteering.
- Give your furry friend some pet-safe treats and toys:
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Maintaining your pet’s weight is very important so that they can live a longer, healthy, and happy life. Without proper weight management your furry friends run the risk of possibly developing diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, lung disorders, high blood pressure, immune dysfunction, and cancerous tumors. Here we’ve listed a few tips to help keep your pets happy and healthy by maintaining their weight!
Much like some of us, our pets will eat when they’re bored. Refraining from giving them 24/7 access to their food is always a good start. Keeping that in mind, it’s also a good idea to talk with your veterinarian so you know just how much to feed and what type of food would be best for your pet. It is also highly recommended to not feed them any table scraps. We all know it can be difficult to tell them no when they give you that look, but stay strong!
Exercise is very important for any pet. At least 30 minutes a day of active play will reduce the risk of weight gain and help them lose weight. Not only does exercise help maintain your pets weight it also has great health benefits that include, reducing the risk of heart disease, digestive issues, and the chances of urinary tract infections. If your furry friend is more active they also have less of a chance of developing depression, which means a longer, happier life span.
It might be a strange thing to consider, but keeping track of your pet’s calorie intake is actually a very huge help! Unfortunately, a lot of people forget to include treats in their counting. A lot of treats are high in calories so it is very important to factor those in and adjust your pet’s food intake accordingly so that they receive the correct amount of calories.
Having a set schedule for when your pet eats and exercises will not only be helpful for you, but will also benefit your pet greatly. Make sure you feed your pet at the same time, in the same place every day to help establish healthy eating habits.
AAHA Weight Management Guidelines for Cats and Dogs– https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/guidelines/weight_management_guidelines.pdf
ASPCA Dog Nutrition Tips– https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-nutrition-tips
ASCPA Cat Nutrition Tips– https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/cat-nutrition-tips
AVMA 7 Things to do to Keep your Pet Healthy– https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/pet-health.aspx
Some pet owners rely on the presumption that what is safe for humans to ingest is also safe for their pets, however that’s just not always true. Xylitol, a substance found in many everyday products is safe for human consumption, but it can be harmful and potentially life-threatening to dogs.
Xylitol is Toxic to Dogs
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol sweetener commonly used in sugar-free gum and candies, toothpaste, chewable vitamins, baked goods and even peanut butter. The compound doesn’t affect glucose levels in people, but when ingested by dogs it can cause a dangerous surge in insulin. In as little as 15 minutes it can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar (insulin shock/hypoglycemia), seizures, and severe liver damage. Signs of xylitol poisoning include weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse, and seizures. These symptoms can develop within 30 minutes of ingestion, and require immediate veterinary treatment. Just three grams of xylitol, or 6 pieces of xylitol containing gum, can kill a 65-pound dog.
Common Products Containing Xylitol
Here are a few of the more popular brands that contain xylitol…
- Nuts ’N More
- Krush Nutrition
- Spry Mints
- Spry Chewing Gum
- Xlear Nasal Spray
- Nicorette Gum
- Xylichew Gum
Treatment for Xylitol Poisoning
If you suspect your dog has ingested a product containing Xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately; The amount of Xylitol ingestion is often difficult to determine because the level of sweetener varies greatly by manufacturer and product. Treatment typically consists of induced vomiting, 24-hour hospitalization, and administration of IV fluids containing glucose to stabilize blood sugar levels. Liver levels are also monitored and tested every few hours until they have normalized.
Prevention is Key
The number of products containing Xylitol has been growing steadily over the years and so has the number of reported cases of animal poisonings. You may be watching your diet by eating Xylitol sweetened products, but you should also be watching your dog to ensure that they don’t ingest any Xylitol containing products. Make sure to check your food’s labels and keep Xylitol containing products where dogs can’t access them.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control
National Center for Biotechnology Information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Contributed by: Zach Buchanan, Veterinary Assistant (pictured with his pug Katie)
For most of us, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season… a
time filled with family, friends, and lots of food. While we enjoy this special time of year, we need to pay special attention to make sure our non-human family members stay safe. Some often over looked hazards are actually very easily preventable just by remembering that it’s best to keep your pet’s diet as normal as possible- no matter how tempting it is to share! The following are a few of the ASPCA’s Thanksgiving safety tips to help keep our pets happy and healthy while we feast:
Talkin’ Turkey: If you decide to feed your pet a small bite of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer them raw or undercooked turkey which could contain salmonella bacteria. Do not give your pet the left over carcass either–the bones can be problematic for the digestive tract.
No Bread Dough: Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving them access to raw yeast bread dough. When a dog or cat ingests raw bread dough, the yeast continues to convert the sugars in the dough to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. This can result in bloated drunken pets, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring hospitalization.
Don’t Let Them Eat Cake: If you plan to make Thanksgiving desserts, be sure that your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.
A Feast Fit for a King: While your family enjoys a special meal, give your cat and dog a small feast of their own. Offer them some made-for-pets chew bones or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey (cooked and boneless), vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a food puzzle toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.
Making sure you pet doesn’t get access to anything unhealthy from the table is important, but don’t forget about your trash! Sometimes our pets figure out that the best way to get what they want is to get it themselves… straight from the trashcan! If you know you have a trash-curious pet, make sure you keep your bin behind closed doors, or tightly sealed at all times to prevent an unwanted trip to the emergency room. Some of the most hazardous Thanksgiving items often found in the trash (and hopefully not your pet) include: the yummy string that goes around the turkey legs, discarded skin & bones, and fatty grizzle. The potential problems caused by “garbage gut” include gastroenteritis (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain), Pancreatitis (severe inflammation of the pancreas), a gastrointestinal obstruction, or even tremors or seizures.
We all want the best for our pets, and ensuring their health and safety this Thanksgiving will give us something to be thankful for all year long. For more information and helpful tips from the ASPCA, visit Thanksgiving Safety Tips.
For additional resources visit:
Thanksgiving Safety Tips:
Information about Symptoms:
Blog written by:
Lindsey Vance, Client Care Specialist with her dog Hazel
Many pet owners may not realize that cancer is not just a human disease; it affects our pets as well. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death in cats and dogs over the age of 10. Since half of all cancers are curable if caught early, it’s important to closely monitor your pet’s health in order to detect early warning signs.
At Home Screening
Diagnosing pet cancer requires a thorough exam by your veterinarian and medical testing, however, at home screening is an excellent regular tool to monitor your pet for a new or changing mass (growth or lump). Here are some steps you can take to screen your pet at home:
- Look at your pet often in a well-lit area and pet all over, feeling under their hair coat.
- Do not to forget to check in the mouth, in the ears, between the toes and under the paws.
- If you find something new take note of the size of the mass you have identified and keep track of when it was first seen.
- Accurate measurements using a ruler are ideal but simply comparing the size to a coin or other object of know size can be helpful as well.
- Take pictures of the mass with an object such as a ruler or a coin within the photo to give reference to size.
Medical Testing Methods
Your veterinarian has several testing methods options that will give your pet the best chance of early detection and early intervention. Knowing the process can greatly help in providing for the health and comfort of your pet.
- Fine needle aspirate – If a mass is detected, a test using a fine needle aspirate will help yield the most information. Commonly referred to as a FNA, the fine needle aspirate involves using a needle and syringe to extract cells from the abnormal area in question. These cells are then analyzed under the microscope to define their type and if they are showing benign or cancerous characteristics. If a mass is defined as benign but, then changes suddenly in size or color, a repeat FNA is a very valuable tool to see if there has been a change that now indicates that the mass should be removed.
- Blood work monitoring – For changes that cannot be seen externally your veterinarian will start with basic blood work monitoring. The slightest change in blood work trends can key your veterinarian in on the need for additional diagnostic work. If there are blood work abnormalities the most common next step is to take radiographs of the suspected area that may be contributing to the change.
- Radiographs – A digital x-ray is an excellent non-invasive screening tool but does have some limitations.
- Ultrasounds – If things are found that are suspicious on radiographs then the use of an ultrasound, to further look at the area in question, can be very helpful. Use of an ultrasound allows your veterinarian to make detailed measurements, as well as direct a fine needle aspirate using the ultrasound to monitor and guide the acquisition of the sample.
Early Detection is Essential
Remember, early detection is key so if you think your pet may be beginning to exhibit signs or symptoms of cancer, you should visit your veterinarian immediately. And don’t overlook the importance of a healthy lifestyle, lots of petting all over and often and regular check-ups by your veterinarian to help keep your pet happy and healthy for a long time!
National Canine Cancer Foundation: http://www.wearethecure.org/more_cancer_facts.htm
AVMA Taking on Cancer: https://www.avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/140115a.aspx
Contributed by Travis Taylor DVM, EMBA, CEO Centreville Animal Hospital
It’s getting close to the end of summer, and we are still enjoying the bounty. At this time of year, many farmers markets remain generously filled with fresh produce, and we are still enjoying flowers blooming in our gardens. At the same time, many of us are also thinking about what live flowers and plants we want to decorate with during the holidays.
But did you know that some fresh fruits, veggies, and decorative plants and flowers can be toxic to pets? Sadly, it’s true. But there is no need to panic; just be aware of where the dangers are, avoid them, and your four-legged friends will be fine.
Some fruits and veggies are actually very good for your pets—such as carrots and peas—but it is important to consult with your veterinarian before starting your pet on a diet that includes any fruits or vegetables. For instance, as innocuous as they seem, grapes and raisins are one of the most concerning fruits for pets. Even a small amount can cause renal (kidney) disease in dogs, especially small breeds and puppies. While there are no reported cases of grapes or raisins causing renal disease in cats, it is suspected that they could be toxic to cats as well.
The seeds from some fruits—such as apples, plums, and cherries—are dangerous to pets because they release cyanide when digested. So be sure to clean up any seeds that fall on the floor or sit within your pet’s reach. Garlic and onions—sometimes found in homemade house pest baits—can cause red blood cell anemia, so they should be kept out of your pet’s reach as well.
You know that potted plant that would look beautiful in your flowerbed or in your home? Think twice before you buy it. Would your pet be likely to think it looks like a delicious snack? Cats are generally the culprits when it comes to eating flowers, but dogs can sometimes cause trouble, too. Lilies are one of the most concerning flowers since both the leaves and stems are toxic, and as little as one leaf can cause serious health issues, including serious renal problems. Flower bulbs such as tulips and irises can also be toxic, causing problems with the gastrointestinal (GI) system.
Not only do they sometimes attract unwanted destructive behavior from pets, live holiday decorations can also be toxic. Pine needles from the Christmas tree or garlands, and even the water in the base of the tree, can be toxic, causing GI issues, renal issues, and central nervous system problems. Other live decorations such as mistletoe, poinsettias, and holly also have toxic properties that can cause GI issues.
Unsafe for Pets
- Fruit seeds (apple, plum, cherry)
- Flower bulbs
- Pine needles/pine boughs
Clinical signs of toxicity can range from vomiting and diarrhea to head shaking and seizures. The onset of symptoms can occur instantaneously, or several hours after ingestion. But remember, not everything that is toxic is fatal. If your pet ingests something that might cause harm, the most important step is to stay calm and call us (703-830-1182) and we will walk you through the steps you need to take to help your pet. We will most likely recommend you bring your pet in as soon as possible.
If you need assistance after hours you can call the 24-7 ASPCA poison control hotline at (888) 426-4435.
Small Animal Toxicology, 2nd Edition (Michael E. Peterson, Patricia A. Talcott)
Contributed by Kacey Hanline, LVT Student, Veterinary Assistant, pictured here with her cat Crazy