Welcome to the Cornell Animal Hospital Blog

This is a destination for pertinent information, sharing stories, and memorializing our beloved pets.

Pertinent News Items
Interesting INFO
Captivating Stories
In Memorium
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Pertinent News
Are you interested in learning some of the latest news about pet health and safety, pet insurance, and new offerings from the clinic?


Info about your CAT

Discover interesting facts and tips to help you understand and care for your feline friends.


Info about your DOG

Discover interesting facts and tips to help you understand and care for your canine friends.

Pet Stories

Take a moment to read some educational and funny stories about pets. Some are from our staff; others are from our clients. Enjoy!

In Memorium

Do you have a pet you would like remembered on these pages? Let us know and we will post an image and some memorable words to commemorate your furry friend.

Pertinent News

Sixteen pet food brands may be linked to increased risk of canine heart disease

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a list of 16 pet food brands that may be linked to increased risk canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The investigation, which began in July 2018, was conducted to determine a cause of the drastic increase in reports of DCM in dogs, including breeds without genetic predisposition.

Brands named in the report include Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, Blue Buffalo, Nature’s Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Natural, Natural Balance, Orijen, Nature’s Variety, NutriSource, Nutro and Rachael Ray Nutrish. Many of the foods identified are labeled as “grain-free” and contain a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds and potatoes.

Although most commonly reported in larger dogs, some smaller dogs and a few cats have also developed the disease.

Due to the complexity of the issue, the FDA has announced it will continue to investigate the link between pet food ingredients and DCM.

To read the full report and learn more, visit the FDA website.

Info about your CAT

Enrich Your Cat’s Environment with these 4 Tips


Info about your DOG

Keeping Your Pets Safe When it's Hot Outside

We've bred dogs to have expressive eyebrows that manipulate our emotions

From a Quirks and Quarks posting on the CBC website p

Researchers have found that the puppy dog eyes that humans find so irresistible are made possible by muscles that have evolved in dogs since they separated from wolves. They think this was likely a result of selection by human breeders who to enable better communication with our furry friends.

Dogs can raise their inner eyebrows, which makes their eyes appear larger and gives them a forlorn look that humans read as sadness. According to a new study by Anne Burrows, a professor of anatomy at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, it's a look humans often find irresistible, and dogs may know this and use it to their advantage.

Burrows led a study five years ago that found the dogs in a shelter with the most expressive eyebrows were the ones that found new homes fastest.

Dogs raise their inner eyebrows, which makes their eyes
appear larger. (Juliane Kaminski)

Previous research had shown that a dog's ability to make eye contact with humans made them easier to direct and therefore perhaps made them more capable hunting companions. An ability to produce pleasing facial expressions might also have helped with this. This suggests to researchers that human preference for certain kinds of facial anatomy might have had a big influence on the way their faces evolved over the 30,000 years that they've been human companions.

Dog and wolf eyebrows

In Burrows' most recent study, she looked at the facial anatomy and behaviour of dog eyebrows and compared it to that of the wolf. Dogs and wolves had similar facial anatomy around the mouth and ears, but not the eyes.

Most modern breeds of dog have have the well-developed facial muscles that makes raising eyebrows possible. In wolves however, only a few fibres of that same muscle exist.

Expressive eyebrows make dogs appear sad to humans,
which makes us want to care for them. (Anne Burrows)

Burrows and her team also observed that dogs were found to raise their inner eyebrows more frequently and at a higher intensity when in the presence of a human. They don't know yet whether dogs also make these expressions around other dogs as well.

Dogs use their eyebrows against us

That fact that humans selected for dogs with expressive eyebrows really means that we are responsible for they way they manipulate us with their puppy eyes. It's consistent with other ways we've selected for dogs to appear different from wolves, including shorter snouts and smaller teeth.

Both characteristics suggest non-aggressive appearance and behaviour that contributed to the domestication of dogs over time.

As for the question of whether dogs are aware that the can use their puppy dog expression to gain our favour, Burrow suggests that her own dog certainly does, especially close to dinnertime.

Pet Stories

“Love was in the Air” by Lindsay Gilmore

It all began Valentine’s Day 2012; a day of romance, happiness, wine, chocolate, and flowers. Adam Gilmore had all the bases covered, especially the large bouquet of beautiful flowers that he brought home to his sweetheart, Lindsay. Going against the trend of a dozen red roses, Adam chose a variety of fresh flowers containing one lovely Lily. The scent from it was intoxicating and the pollen-rich stamens hung heavily outwards, luring any passing pollinator – or, in absence of a bee, Toby the 2-yr.-old cat.

Toby was Lindsay’s rescue kitty. He was a big, fluffy, longhaired beauty. Orange and cuddly and friendly. And very attracted to the beautiful lily.

It took about a week for the symptoms to begin. A decline in appetite was first, followed by lethargy and weight loss; Toby was so tired. Lindsay couldn’t understand what was going on. A visit to the vet diagnosed the problem – acute renal failure i.e. kidney failure – but the prognosis wasn’t good. Such conditions are generally fatal, or leave the patient with lasting issues. And then the vet told her why…the Lily. The entire lily plant — leaf, pollen and flower — is poisonous for cats. Eating just a couple of leaves or licking a few pollen grains off their fur can quickly cause kidney failure. Little did Lindsay know that her Valentine’s bouquet was deadly. She was heartbroken.

And so began the long road of treatment for Toby. He was immediately hooked up to IV and kept in the clinic. Every morning and night Lindsay would bring him yogurt, and as his condition improved she mixed ground-up cat food to get his taste back. Eventually, Toby made the journey home although his prognosis was still not determined; he had to learn to eat on his own again and heal on his own time.

To monitor him, Lindsay slept with him in a separate room from her other cat – and Adam.  The first time she heard Toby eat on his own is etched in her memory; such a simple task that she took for granted a few months before was now a precious gift. But the moment of truth came when he looked up at her, held her gaze, and then reached his paw up and started playing with the zipper on her sweatshirt -time stood still – and it was then that she knew he wouldtoby be OK.  After a final visit to the vet to determine if his kidneys were fully working, Toby was given the thumbs up. Luckily, he was one of the survivors who had made a full recovery!

Flash forward, Valentine’s Day 2013: Adam Gilmore is now completely off the hook for flowers at Valentines in perpetuity! Kitties and Lilies don’t mix.

“The Little Cat That Could … ‘Kai'” by Melissa Farquhar

kai final-web

“Kai”, short for “Kaiser”, which is short for “Kaiserschmarnn” (it’s a long story for another time!!), came into this world as a tiny, feral kitten found in a client’s backyard. Abandoned by its mother, Kai required bottle-feeding from a very early stage and came to the clinic in a suppressed state of health. His success story is all because of the exceptional care and fostering by Alli McEwan, one of the vet techs at the Cornell Animal Hospital. Alli devoted much time and effort to helping Kai regain his health and well-being while he stayed at the clinic. But more than this, Alli socialized Kai to such an extent that, when it came time for him to be given up for adoption, Dr. Gemmill just couldn’t let Kai go; he was literally curled up on his shoulder!

And so began a new life for Kai…

Introduced into Dr. Gemmill’s home amongst his other feline friends, Kai quickly won over their affections – and the rest of the Gemmill household. But little Kai was not to stay that way for long. With good nutrition, Kai started to grow  – and grow – and grow. Larger than many small dogs, Kai stretches out like a small tiger. He throws his front legs around one’s neck in an embrace and then languidly allows himself to be flopped over a shoulder or neck and carted around like a pet snake. He is an incredibly loving and relaxed cat – and still he continues to grow!

Starting out as a little peanut of a kitten, Kai has emerged into a gigantic cat of mammoth proportions with a personality and heart to match, all because of the efforts of Alli and her vision for the little cat that “could”! Thanks Alli.

In Memorium

Lucky’s Memoirs – written by Lucky Sandford








Lucky Sandford, the author, pictured at home.


I don’t remember much about my youth. I was a bit of an adventurer. I liked to run outside, climb trees, chase mice and birds and yes, girls, too. You must understand, I was a handsome fellow with long flowing fur and a regal face, and I was particularly proud of my big fluffy tail. I have to say, when I was young I was, sort of, irresistible. Sadly, one day tragedy struck. I was running across a road – one of those busy with big people machines – and I don’t know what happened but the next thing I remember I was lying by the road with a lot of humans standing over me debating whether I had just lost one of my lives. I mean, we cats, we don’t care so much as you humans about that kind of thing; we do have nine of them to go through you know. My hips and legs hurt, I knew that much, and when a white van arrived. I allowed the uniformed human to put me in a cage. I confess that I probably cried a bit. The ambulance took me to a hospital where I got poked and prodded. I didn’t like that so I bit the vet, just a little bit, just to let him know I didn’t like it.

The next few days were a blur. I remember the delicious food that was served twice a day, feeling warm and safe, and a lady human with a soft touch and sweet words. She kept saying to me, ‘You are so lucky, do you know how lucky you are?’ I replied, ‘Mow wow! Mow wow!’ The medical man took a picture of my pelvis with a machine and proclaimed it broken. It was also observed that I had an air gun pellet in my belly. Some people have tattoos to remember their adventures, we cats have scars and metal bits in us. I heard the lady who was looking after me talking to the vet about keeping me at the hospital and trying to find me a home, because she said the people with the white van planned to come back soon to euthanize me at the shelter. I thought it was odd that she didn’t know that we were going to be best buddies for the next 18 years, soul mates for the rest of our lives. Sometimes humans are a bit slow to realize things.

All went well. I had my manhood removed and went home with the human lady who, going forward, I shall refer to as Mama Pat. I joined a household of two other kitties, and a small human boy. I had a wonderful life, climbing fences, mousing, sleeping on my lady’s bed, and playing with a black kitty next door. I learned to stay away from those metal boxes that humans traveled in. As I got elderly my hips bothered me a lot and just as I thought my adventuring days were winding down my lady decided she wanted to move to England. England, I thought, and had a vision of a lovely garden, tasty British mice and pretty sunsets. Well, sign me up for that, I thought, I was feeling old and tired, but living inside a concrete apartment with only a balcony cramped my swashbuckling style a tad. Bring on the open seas and the warm south winds…

My lady’s belongings were rapidly leaving our apartment in boxes.


Leo Sandford, in the garden.

My brother, Leo, was a fluffy, nervous boy who was afraid of his own shadow. I will liken him to Eeyore. He was worried that we would get left behind and he started to pee in strange places. I knew my lady would never leave us behind; she knew what ‘forever’ meant. Bear, my younger brother, who had more recently joined our clan, was distracted with the new fern plants that Mama Pat had hung from the ceiling in an effort to beautify the apartment to sell it. He was launching himself off the couch at the plants oblivious of what was about to happen.
The journey was hell. We were all put in boxes and driven to a place where metal birds land and take off. We were terrified. I kept calling out to my brothers, telling them we were going to be ok. We were in lock down; in isolation for hours. Being the most confident of the troop, I considered myself the leader of the three Musketeers. My brother Leo, was a beautiful fluffy grey guy, sweet but lacking in confidence, and Bear, almost a twin of me without the white feet, was just a silly inexperienced kid. I sat in my box and tried to count how many lives I’d had… perhaps this was the 9th and the end? I could only remember six before I fell asleep. I think Mama Pat sat above us on the metal bird, crying a lot. Whatever possessed her to do this crazy England thing? My brother Bear in the next box was throwing up a lot and from the smell, it was safe to assume that he had peed and pooped his breakfast, lunch and dinner. Poor guy. The in-flight service was non-existent, not a catnip cocktail in sight.

A long time later, I decided to take matters into my own paws and leave. I had to get out of my cage. I worked at the door with my teeth and nails, and miraculously the door opened. Now what to do? There wasn’t really anywhere to go, so I went and consoled each of my brothers, telling them that if we were going to die we would all go together like proud warriors. I then sat between their cages and waited. Later there was some bumping and clattering. Eventually the door opened and some uniformed soldiers took us out. They seemed surprised that I wasn’t in my cage. We were taken to an Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow Airport, not quite the Holiday Inn, but at least we were on the ground and were given a litter box and food. Much later, back in our cages we were taken to Mama Pat and off we drove in a metal box. It seemed this journey was never to end, we were all so tired.

Such was our arrival in England. The next day we arrived at our new home, a house with lots of sunny windows and soft chairs. We all gave a big sigh of relief and slept for days. I have to note here that I did not see my brother, Bear, for a few months. He lived in a cupboard. Mama Pat finally carried him out to the garden and showed him the bunnies and the cows over the wall. He was shocked; he had no idea that such creatures existed. With time, he ventured out on his own and would watch the bugs in the hedge, and hunt the pygmy shrews and mice.

England was ok. I liked to walk on the grass again, and slept a lot in sunbeams. The sun warmed my bones. I felt my body aging and I couldn’t jump anymore. My Mama would talk to me; I could see her mouth moving but couldn’t hear the words. I actually couldn’t hear anything. How strange the world had become – quite scary. I also couldn’t climb the stairs to sleep with my Mama so I cried at night a lot and she would come downstairs and we’d sit in a chair and cuddle and look at the full moon over the sea. Aging is no fun. I am embarrassed to share that I was also having a problem with my poo. It had started to, kind of, just, fall out when I walked. I think my muscles had got weak from that whole broken pelvis experience. Nobody seemed to mind too much though. One day, after about a year, Mama announced we were going back to live in Canada. I felt relieved. Of course there would be another metal bird journey, but at least I was wise now and knew we would be safe and see Mama on the other side.

By now my brother Leo was also old and frail. His kidneys were painful, and he could hardly walk, and we weren’t sure if he would make the journey. Mama gave him some pain medication that helped. Brother Bear on the other hand practically lived outside in the garden and didn’t want to leave. He had come into his own, with a big gloriously fluffy coat and a proud face. He guarded the garden daily, sitting on the wall watching the cows and foxes, and the bunnies. Neither Leo nor I could get up there, so we left that job to the young one.

We all went to the vet to get our passports signed for travel. While on the table Mama told the vet how much Bear liked the garden and she didn’t think there would be a garden where we were going to live in Canada, so she was worried she was going to ruin Bear’s life. Bear looked at her and saw a picture of life back in the apartment in Canada and decided not to go. I know that sounds crazy to humans but we cats choose how and where we want to live, just like you do.

Two days before we left, Bear went missing, he had gone out to play and not come back. Mama went out to look for him and found him caught on the barbed wire fence at the bottom of the garden. His fluffy trousers had got stuck on the sharp barbs, he went into a panic, had a heart attack and accelerated through a bunch of life times. Mama was hysterical. It was a sad trip home, she cried a lot. Leo and I tried to reassure her that we wouldn’t leave her. We felt calm, we’d done the journey before, and it was going to be ok. Canadian cat food is far tastier than English cat food anyway.

I arrived back in Canada and had my nineteenth birthday. For my birthday Mama bought several comforters from Value Village; they smelled so interesting. She folded them up on the floor and made amazing beds for me in every room. It hurt to walk, and jumping was a distant memory. I felt relieved to be home and safe, and I slept a lot. I had wonderful dreams. I let go of my life two months after that; I had had eighteen fantastic years with Mama Pat and was very grateful. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I knew it was time to go. I followed Mama around all day, telling her I loved her and gazing at her beautiful face. She didn’t understand what I was saying until the next day, but sometimes as I said before, our humans are slow to understand. I told her that I would send her another kitty that reminded her of me to help her sadness. The next day in the very early morning I got off the bed where Mama had put me to sleep by her head, and my legs wouldn’t work at all. I couldn’t feel them. It was a strange sensation. Mama took me to her friend who was a vet, and they decided I couldn’t continue that way. Mama held me while the vet man gave the injection and the last thing I remember is her tears of love. I told her with my eyes that I would always love her, and I left my body.

What an amazing long life I had!

My buddy, Leo, was so frail and all alone for the first time in his life. He sat on the couch all depressed.


Leo and his new girlfriend, Bunny.

I found a white fluffy girl kitty called Bunny who agreed to go and love him. It took me six months to find a cat as beautiful as me to send to my Mama but eventually I found Shanti and gave him some instructions.

I learned in my life that cats and humans can have deep love and respect for each other and fantastic adventures. I told Shanti to go and live with my Mama and love her hard and make her sadness go away. When they met, upon seeing him, Mama said my name, and then she said Bear’s name and I knew she understood.


Shanti and Bunny find each other.

I’ve learned that the lifetimes go fast, so cats, my advice to you is to live well and long and love your people deep.

Happy hunting! Sleep a lot, meditate a little and eat lots of tasty food. Mow Wow!!

What does my pet mean to me?

The team at Cornell speak out about their pets...

"My cat, Kai, is a good friend when I sit down." - Dr. Mark Gemmill

"Pure joy! Carter, my dog, is a bright light at the end of the day, who is always excited to greet me." - Dr. Terra Wakeford

"Happiness is an open car window! Lexus embodies family, fun, and a live-in-the-moment spirit." - Dr. Kharli Friske

"My dog is my world; Theodore is my reason to get out of bed in the morning." - Melissa Fickling, RVT

"My cats have been the most stable consistent relationships in my life, offering unconditional love. They are my teachers, and are non-judgmental, accepting beings." - Pat Sandford, Receptionist

"Noelle was born with deformed front legs but through adversity she has triumphed to become an active, adorable little feline. She reminds me daily that obstacles in life are mostly in our minds." - Whitney Bowes, Receptionist

"He's such a goof; he always makes me smile. Ryder, my dog offers friendship, companionship, and much joy." - Melissa Farquhar, Practice Manager