Tuesday, March 30, 2010

AVMA Tips On How To Limit Intercat Aggression At Home

AVMA has a new podcast that may be of help to multicat owners who are seeing aggression issues between their cats. The main aggression problems we see in housecats are territorial aggression and redirected aggression. Pain can also cause aggression, so it's best to get kitty in for an exam and consultation about the problem so we can be sure what type of aggression we are dealing. Only then can we make appropriate management recommendations.

Early warning signs of aggression are holding ears back, tail twitching, or growling/hissing. Never attempt to handle a cat which is acting aggressively, particularly if it is reacting to another cat that it can't get to - it will attack whoever is convenient and that may just be YOU!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Raw Diet "Research"

Worms & Germs Blog's Scott Weese has another excellent post, this time about some recent "research" done by the folks at Nature's Variety.

Apparently, the study, commissioned by Nature's Variety, involved the feeding of 6 adult dogs variations of different diets over a 4.5 month period. They looked at stool quality, volume and odor, blood chemistry, quality of their skin and coat and body weight.

•In research, we worry about sample size. You need to have enough animals to detect any real differences. With 6 dogs, 4.5 months of feeding and different diets, you don't have much of a chance to detect a problem. You could have a diet that kills 10% of the dogs that eat it every year and not detect that in study of that size!
•The number of dogs and time don't even fulfill AAFCO feeding trial requirements, so this doesn't provide any information that would be accepted using standard requirements.
Nature's Variety director of research stated “It’s kind of a sigh of relief.”

•It's pretty concerning that the head of research would be relieved that there were no obvious health problems in such a small study. If they don't have real confidence in the quality of the food, why are they selling it? If you have confidence in your diet, you say "Of course, as expected, our diet was shown to be nutritious and safe..." not "Wow, we're really happy no dogs died!". Research to indicate safety and nutritional value should be done before you sell, not well after.
Duclos said she expects the study to be published in a peer-reviewed journal in about one year.

•Not likely. For one thing, from what they are releasing, it's very weak and not defendable scientifically. For another, they've already released the results. It's inappropriate for people to release results before they've undergone peer review, and releasing data in a press release will probably prevent any reasonable journal from even considering the study.


Nature's Variety recently had a large recall of their pet food due to massive Salmonella contamination. This "research" doesn't exactly inspire any confidence on my part in the company, but then I think feeding raw meat to pets is just plain foolishness.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Safe Use Of Flea And Tick Products In Pets

Flea "season" is fast approaching as the weather rapidly warms up, so now is a good time to cover flea control and flea product safety. FDA has an excellent page about the safe use of antiparasitic products in pets, which I encourage you to read even if your cat(s) are 100% indoors. Too often fleas manage to get indoors and be noticed by an owner on the weekend when the vet is not available to discuss appropriate control. The result can be a bad decision on the owner's part, and a sick or dead cat.

The most important take-home message is: NEVER use a product labeled for use in dogs only on a cat. You'd think I wouldn't have to say this, but it is a very common error, usually due to the "somebody said" phenomenon, whereby somebody who is NOT a veterinarian manages to convince a naive pet owner that they can save money by just buying dog products and using a lower dose on a cat. Big mistake.

I still highly recommend Advantage and Frontline as the safest and most effective OTC flea control products in cats. Advantage is now available at pet stores and online, so we will no longer carry it (we can't compete with the big boys on price and it's very expensive to stock it). My preference is the broader-spectrum prescription-only product Advantage Multi, which controls fleas, ear mites, heartworm, roundworms, and hookworms. It also in my experience controls mites other than ear mites, but has no label approval for those. If your cat goes outside on a regular basis, Advantage Multi is the way to go because the danger of those other parasites is very real.

Cat Fur Puts Criminals Behind Bars

People who prey on cat owners had apparently better be careful - that cat fur that sticks to EVERYTHING may just stick to them and prove their downfall. According to DiscoveryNews, "An international team of scientists has just established an extensive DNA database that will permit cat fur to be used more often and accurately as forensic evidence."

Drat! I was hoping for a chance at a second career as a cat burgler. Maybe not........

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ok, I Know This Has Nothing To Do With Cats.......

but it's exceptionally cool nonetheless.

Hummingbird nest webcam with eggs about to hatch

I may not treat birds or wildlife, but I am a big fan of these little guys. When I lived in the house I had a huge Mexican bush sage that attracted them by the dozens. I never got to see any nests because they were probably all up in the silk tree.

Published Report of Feline H1N1 Case in Emerging Infectious Diseases

The CDC's medical journal Emerging Infectious Diseases has just published the report on that first feline H1N1 case from 2009 in Iowa. This was a big deal, as evidenced by the FIFTEEN co-authors, people involved in the case who really really really wanted their names attached to it!

The take-home message for cat owners is, firstly, that cats CAN catch H1N1 flu from people and, secondly, that the presenting symptoms in this case were depression, decreased appetite, and difficulty breathing (as evidenced by reluctance to lie on its side, sternal recumbency, and stretching the neck out to increase tracheal airflow). The cat did not have sneezing/nasal congestion. In cats, H1N1 causes lower airway disease (lungs) rather than upper airway disease (nose, nasopharynx).

The illness resolved with supportive care (fluid administration), good nursing (nutritional assistance), and antibiotics as a precaution against secondary bacterial infection.

We still don't know how common H1N1 is in cats. That report will no doubt be published sometime this year as statistical data over time gets compiled. If you get sick with fever, aches, etc (flu-like symptoms) and then your cat develops lethargy, depression, or decreased appetite, please bring it in as a precaution. Do not try to determine on your own whether or not there is lung involvement.

It helps to bear in mind that the vast majority of respiratory problems we see in cats sre mild and easily treated upper respiratory infections due to Feline Herpesvirus. Pneumonia, asthma, and more serious problems are in a distinct minority.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nature's Variety Expands Nationwide Voluntary Recall to Include All Raw Frozen Chicken Diets with Any "Best If Used By" Date On or Before 2/5/11

Well, the raw meat diet people have done it again: massive Salmonella contamination. This comes as no surprise. Raw poultry is pretty much always contaminated with Salmonella bacteria these days, and often Campylobacter, too. This is why you will never hear me recommending the feeding of raw meat to cats. And don't think beef is magically exempt from the problem - it's not. It just tends to have different bacteria doing the contamination.

Of course nobody should expect that raw meat, or produce, or even milk are sterile - they are NOT. But the contamination with disease-causing organisms is an ongoing problem, and one that requires far greater regulatory oversight than it has received in recent years.

For information on foodborne diseases, which can affect humans who handle raw meat just as easily as the pets that eat it, go to the FDA's Animal & Veterinary page, Food Safety page, and for the truly adventurous, their Bad Bug Book.

As always, if you stick with my advice to feed only a high quality commercial kibble cat food (or in some cases canned), both of which are COOKED, you avoid the risk of this sort of problem.

Cats Attracted To ADHD Drug, A Feline Poison

Science News is reporting that Adderall XR, the extended release form of an ADHD drug for humans, has become a common cause of poisoning in cats. Apparently they like the taste of it, and a single 20 mg capsule can kill the average sized cat.

Cats are infrequently poisoned by human medications because they are so sensitive to the bad taste that most of them have, but Adderall seems to have a taste cats find attractive.

The drug is a stimulant, and can cause dangerous agitation and elevations in heart rate and blood pressure. If your cat ingests it, you have a medical emergency which requires immediate treatment.

PLEASE keep this and ALL medications, whether OTC or prescription, out of the reach of your cats. If you have a child taking this specific medication it is imperative that you ensure that the pills are never spilled onto the floor where a cat can find them. And always assume that your own medications are dangerous to cats. Another common cause of feline poisoning is an owner administering a human medication in an attempt to treat a perceived medical problem without first seeking veterinary advice.

Please click on the link to read the entire article.