Friday May 24, 2013
SimplyCats October 2009 Mewsletter:
If you have problems viewing the images on this Mewsletter, please click on the above link 'View it in your browser'
Hello and welcome to our October 2009 Mewsletter!.
By producing this Mewsletter we can reach and help so many more people to understand and care for their cats. This will go out to our clients at SimplyCats and also to our clients who have signed up on our Cat Behavior Web Site. We apologise for the American spelling but 80% of the clients on this site are from overseas.
We hope to mail all SimplyCats subscribers monthly. Remember this mailing is totally free and you can un-subscribe at any time, using the link on the top of the page or at the end of this Mewsletter..
Please feel free to browse our website where you will be able to view our special offers. www.simplycats.net
The idea is to select a number of articles each month that we think our subscribers will be interested in and have a direct link to how your cat thinks and his / her wellbeing. We sincerely believe the most important aspect of living in harmony with your cat is understanding how he or she thinks. You have to get inside your cats mind. This was the real passion behind creating our Cat Behaviour Guide and SimplyCats.
"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this".
Being cat vets, feline behavior and cat medicine is an area of continuous interest to both of us and has a massive influence on the well being of cats and the humans owned by cats ;-). This is even more important when your beloved cat is ill or sick.
Knowing about cat behavior has been the centre point of the design of our cat only veterinary practice for example CAT ONLY, NO DOGS, all kept quiet and calm with places to hide in most of the hospitalisation cages. Also very careful use and selection of disinfectants etc. so as not to disturb the cats incredible sense of smell. Remember all these facts when you are trying to make your home cat friendly, though, do remember cats can get on fine with dogs once carefully introduced.
Feline Bereavement - do cats grieve?
Little attention is paid to the subject of bereavement in cats, probably largely because cats are often seen as independent animals which retain much of their 'wild' nature. But cats do exhibit behavioural changes after the loss of another cat, and sometimes these can be difficult to understand.
When animals are closely bonded they are more likely to be upset by the loss of their companion. Even cats that constantly fight can grieve the loss of a feuding partner. While no-one will ever know if a cat understands death, they certainly know that a fellow housemate is missing and that something has changed in the house. The owner's distress at the loss of a pet may also be communicated to the cat, adding to the confusion it may be feeling.
The signs of grief
There is really no way to predict how a cat is likely to behave when a companion is lost. Some cats seem completely unaffected and, indeed, a few may even seem to be positively happy when their housemate disappears. Others may stop eating and lose interest in their surroundings, simply sitting and staring; they seem to become depressed. A few cats undergo personality or behavioural changes when a companion is lost.
While there has been no major research on the subject of feline bereavement, a survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that cats ate less, slept more and became more vocal after the death of a companion cat. But encouraging in the 160 households surveyed, all pets that lost a companion were behaving normally within six months.
How can we help?
There are a number of things you can do to help a grieving cat to overcome the loss. Minimising change gives the cat time to come to terms with the loss of a companion cat. Keep the cat's routine the same. Changes in feeding times or even simply moving furniture around can cause further stress.
A grieving cat may go off its food. A cat that goes off its food for several days is in danger of a potentially fatal liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. Encourage eating by warming food slightly or putting water or meat juice or it. Sit with your cat during meal times to provide reassurance. Don't be tempted to change diets to stimulate appetite as this may cause digestive upsets. If the cat does not eat for three days seek veterinary advice.
Spend more time with the cat grooming, stroking and playing. This will give a positive feel to any changes in the house that the cat senses.
Don't attempt to replace a lost cat immediately. While your remaining cat may be missing a long term companion, she is unlikely to welcome a stranger when she is still unsettled about the loss. A new cat at this time simply provides an extra source of stress.
Like many species, time spent sniffing and nuzzling the dead body of their companion may be a necessary part of the grieving process. It can therefore be helpful to bring the body of a euthanased cat home rather than have it cremated at the vet's.
Whenever dramatic changes in behaviour occur, the cat should always be checked by a vet for any underlying physical problem.
Advice for Bonfire Night
On the evenings you expect fireworks, ensure your cat is safely inside and secure doors, windows and cat flaps.
If your cat hides on top of cupboards or under furniture, leave her alone and do not try to coax her out. This ‘bolthole’ is where she will feel most secure. It is important that your pet can access her favourite bolthole at all times. Plugging a Feliway® Diffuser in the room where the cat spends most of her time 48 hours before the festivities will increase her sense of security.
Make sure your cat is microchipped. If they do escape, frightened, confused animals can easily get lost.
Ensure your cat is provided with a litter tray both before and during the firework season.
Draw curtains to reduce the noise from outside and play music or have the TV on to help mask the noise of fireworks
Ignore any fearful behaviour and do not try to comfort your cat. More importantly, do not try to pick her up or restrain her. Fearful cats prefer to be left to cope on their own.
Try not to go out while the fireworks are going off. Stay calm and act normally.
In multi-cat households, shutting cats in overnight may cause disharmony amongst your pets. A Feliway® Diffuser may help lower inter-cat tension.
If you are worried that your pet is taking a long time to recover from the firework festivities, speak to your vet. Your vet may also wish to refer you to a qualified behavioural therapist.
For further information on how to prepare your pet for the firework season, please contact your vet.
At least one week before the event:
• If possible keep your cat confined to the house for the week leading up to the event. Provide a litter tray.
• Make sure the cat has some form of identification i.e. microchip to trace it if it does manage to escape.
• One week before the event plug a Feliway® Diffuser in the room your cat uses to rest.
• Make sure there are plenty of bolt holes and places to hide inside the home.
On the day of the event:
• Check the cat is definately inside the house and that escape routes to the outside are blocked.
• Create a darkened room and put on some music or the TV to drown out the firework noise.
• Wherever the cat chooses to hide leave it well alone until it feels safe enough to emerge.
• Do not punish or fuss your cat during the event.
• Stay calm and act normally.
After the event:
• Leave the FELIWAY® Diffuser plugged in for at least one week after the event.
• If similar events are likely to happen over a number of nights maintain a FELIWAY® Diffuser throughout the whole period.
FELIWAY® contains a synthetic analogue of the facial feline pheromone which cats deposit onto objects in their environment when they feel safe and secure. In the context of fireworks, FELIWAY® is used to increase the sense of familiarity and security of the home environment which reduces cat’s fearful reactions to loud noises.
For further information on FELIWAY® please contact your veterinary practice.
To help keep frightened pets to a minimum:
If you are using fireworks at any kind of celebration, please use lower-noise fireworks, as they will reduce the likely stress caused to animals. You should make sure that pet and farm animal owners in the neighbourhood are aware of the date and time of the event
Firework debris and litter can harm animals, so pick it all up after it has cooled down and dispose of it safely
Keep cats and dogs indoors while any bonfire is alight. Ensure that any bonfire is a safe distance from aviaries or rabbit / guinea pig accommodation
Bonfires can be fatal for wild animals such as hedgehogs, which often crawl into them to sleep. Build bonfires as late as possible to reduce this risk and make sure you disturb the bonfire’s foundations to give any wildlife a chance to escape before it is lit
Pheromones can be described as a means of scent communication between members of the same species. They are chemicals released from the surface of an individual’s body into the environment to send a message to others which results in a change in their behaviour.
Cats are often seen using facial pheromones to familiarise themselves with their environment by rubbing their faces on items. Surfaces that have been marked with these pheromones are seen by cats as familiar and safe.
Feliway® mimics the properties of the feline facial pheromone and helps cats feel safe and secure in their environment.
An excerpt from our Cat First Aid book
Pale or white gums, rapid heart rate of greater than 200 beats per minute and fast breathing over 40 beats per minute imply SHOCK and must be dealt with whatever the emergency.
Shock can be caused by bleeding, heart failure, burns, vomiting, diarrhoea, trauma, animal bites, diabetes, poisoning, illness and many other causes. Shock must always be treated before most other injuries including fractures. If left untreated, shock will lead to unconsciousness and death.
Early Shock is characterised by rapid breathing, high heart rate, pale or light coloured mucous membranes, restlessness or lethargy, slow capillary refill time and normal ( or slightly low) rectal temperature.
Late Shock is characterised by shallow slow breathing, irregular heart beat, pale or blue mucous membranes, lack of response, weakness or unconsciousness, capillary refill longer than 4 seconds and a low body temperature.
Try to minimise the effects of shock by:
Placing the cat on his side with his head extended.
Raise his hind quarters by placing a pillow or towel under them.
Stop obvious bleeding by applying pressure or a tourniquet.
Give artificial respiration or heart massage if indicated.
Prevent loss of body heat with a towel, bubble wrap or aluminium blanket.
Get to the nearest vet asap.
Do not give food or water to the cat
Do not let a conscious cat move around
ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK can be brought on by drugs, insect bites or stings or food. It is important to recognise any preceding factors like recent injections or drugs administered, presence of insects and sites of swelling, difficulty breathing, retching, vomiting, diarrhoea or collapse .
Maintain an airway and give artificial respiration and heart massage if required. A gurgling noise may be heard if your cat’s lungs are filling with fluid. If this happens, suspend the cat by its hind limbs for 10 seconds to clear the airway and transport for immediate veterinary attention.
Allergic reactions to bites and injections can cause the face to swell and become itchy. Your vet should be able to give the cat an injection (steroid) to reduce the reaction
Weightwatchers - Dubby's Diet - continued....
Caroline, one of the receptionists at SimplyCats has three cats. Two are an ideal weight but one called Sandy weighed in on the 6th May 2009 an (un)impressive 8.85kg (19.4 pounds).
Dubby was well and truly caught in the act by an infra-red camera set up by Caroline's husband in the garden - originally installed to hopefully capture Harriet, the resident hedgehog in action! However on playing back the DVD an extra-large ginger and white 'hedgehog' appeared and promptly ate the salmon flavoured cat food, looking around at regular intervals to see if anyone was watching him. This is perhaps why he has not been losing weight - (in fact gaining on one interim weigh-in). The hedgehog 'bonus' food has now been stopped so hopefully his stomach will start to shrink!! We'll keep you posted in future editions.
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is an infection caused by a fungus that grows in the superficial layers of the skin, hair or nails. It has nothing to do with worms. The scientific name for ringworm infection is dermatophytosis, and fungi which cause the disease are called dermatophytes. There are approximately 40 different species of dermatophyte, each tending to cause infection in particular species of hosts. In the cat, the cause of more than 90 per cent of cases of ringworm is the dermatophyte Microsporum canis (M canis
). This organism can also cause infection in many other species, including dogs and humans. Other dermatophytes that may occasionally cause ringworm in cats are Trichophyton mentagrophytes and M persicolor (acquired by contact with infected wild rodents) and M gypseum, M fulvum and T terrestre (isolated from the soil).
How do cats become infected with M canis?
Ringworm is contagious. Spores are the infectious stage of dermatophytes and are produced by M canis during an infection. They are typically found in clusters around infected hairs and can only be seen using a microscope. Infected hairs are shed into the cat's environment. Cats may become infected either by direct contact with an infected animal or by exposure to a contaminated environment or object such as grooming tools, clippers or bedding. Spores in the environment are very robust and without treatment can remain infectious for up to two years. Spores attach to the skin and germinate to produce hyphae that invade abraided skin and hair. It is not known how many spores are needed to start an infection. Self-grooming, particularly licking, may be an effective way of harmlessly removing spores from the skin and haircoat. Intact skin is very resistant to infection. Mites and lice are
generally uncommon. The point being made here is that some degree of self trauma is probably required to enable fungal infection to develop and that ectoparasite infestation may be an additional predisposing factor.
Ringworm seems to be more common in young cats less than one year old, and longhaired cats, particularly Persians. The reasons for this are unknown. It is speculated that young cats may have immature immune defence mechanisms which limit their ability to resist infection. In long-haired cats grooming is less efficient and the skin surface is more protected from exposure to the sun (which dermatophytes don't like) than in short-haired cats.
What does a cat with ringworm look like?
The appearance of cats with ringworm is very variable. Some cats have severe skin disease while other cats have only very minor lesions or no lesions at all and look completely normal. Typical skin lesions are discrete, roughly circular areas of hair loss, particularly on the head, ears or extremities of the paws. The hairs surrounding affected areas appear broken. The affected skin is often scaly and may look inflamed. However, ringworm can look very similar to many other feline skin diseases, including some of the clinical manifestations of flea allergy dermatitis, and may present as symmetrical alopecia or even feline acne. Some loss of hair is usually involved, but the amount of inflammation, scaling and itchiness (pruritus) can be very variable.
How is ringworm diagnosed?
It is impossible to diagnose a cat as having ringworm based on its appearance alone because this is so variable and can easily be confused with other skin diseases, or look like a normal cat. Diagnostic tests are used to confirm the presence of M canis or other dermatophytes. Most veterinary dermatologists will use at least one of these tests on any cat with skin disease to investigate the possibility that ringworm might be involved. There are three tests that can be used to diagnose ringworm.
The ultraviolet Wood's lamp can be used to examine cats suspected of having ringworm. It is shone onto the haircoat in a dark room and infected hairs may fluoresce with a characteristic apple-green colour. The fluorescence is thought to be due to a metabolite produced by M canis. Unfortunately, not all dermatophyte species, or varieties of M canis, fluoresce, so failure to demonstrate fluorescent hairs does not rule out the possibility of ringworm. In addition, extraneous substances may cause a similar fluorescence. For these reasons the results of Wood's lamp examination is not definitive, but it can provide a very useful method of selecting hairs for further examination, either by fungal culture or microscopic examination.
Microscopic examination of suspect hairs can provide a very rapid positive diagnosis. The observer looks for fungal elements and spores associated with hairs. Interpretation can be difficult and it is best performed by an experienced mycologist. It is not possible to determine which species of dermatophyte is involved using this method alone. A negative result is unreliable and may only mean that the sample of hairs examined was not representative and did not include infected hairs.
Fungal culture is the most reliable way of diagnosing ringworm. Cat hairs are collected and used to inoculate plates of a special culture medium, which are then incubated in a laboratory. Hairs for culture can be selected because they are damaged or closely associated with skin lesions or because they fluoresce when examined with the Wood's lamp. Hairs are collected from cats that look completely normal by whole body brushing using a sterile toothbrush or massage brush. Culture enables precise identification of the species of dermatophyte involved, but because dermatophytes are slow growing it may take several weeks for laboratories to report a result. A positive result indicates that the cat is infected with ringworm or is carrying dermatophytes on its coat (due to exposure to an infected environment). If one cat in a household is diagnosed as having ringworm then all the other animals
will need to be examined, even if they seem to be completely unaffected. In most cases all cats in a household will be culture-positive and require treatment.
Please note that the absence of dermatophytes on microscopic examination of a skin biopsy does not rule out dermatophytosis.
How is ringworm treated?
Although in most healthy cats ringworm infection will resolve spontaneously after many weeks, treatment is necessary in all cases to speed this up because of the risk of infection of humans and contact animals. Some cats will not eliminate infection unless they are treated. In some cases, prolonged courses of treatment will be needed to achieve a cure. Treatment can be broken down into several elements, all of which are essential.
Treatment of predisposing conditions
Any pre-existing skin condition or ectoparasitic infestation (particularly fleas and cheyletiella mites) which causes skin damage can predispose to ringworm and should be treated specifically.
Treatment of the affected animals
All affected animals should be treated by administration of both oral medication (systemic therapy) and by treatment applied directly to the haircoat and skin (topical therapy).
Thorough vacuuming of contaminated rooms and/or cages on a daily basis is recommended. Vacuum cleaners with a beating action are best for cleaning spores from carpets. Heating and ventilation ducts and fans often become contaminated and should be vacuumed. Vacuum bags should be disposed of by burning. Under suitable circumstances a blow-lamp can be used to burn hairs off wire runs and cages. Steam cleaning is of limited use because the temperature of water that contacts the item being cleaned is unlikely to be sufficient to kill spores.
Many disinfectants that claim to be effective against dermatophytes do not have very good activity against M canis spores on hairs. Recent experimental work has demonstrated that there are two products that do work. These may not be suitable for use on carpets and other soft furnishings.
Bleach. The stronger the better, but dilutions up to 1 in 10 of household bleach with water have been shown to be adequate. Use for washing all hard surfaces (floors, worktops, litter trays and cages) at least twice a week.
Virkon (Antec) is a disinfectant powder that is made up with water to a 1 per cent solution. Use for washing all hard surfaces at least twice a week.
Treatment regimes in particular cases:
The single cat household
Dermatophytosis affecting a cat in a single cat household is usually relatively easily contained and managed. The problem of infection being transmitted to humans is an important issue as in any outbreak of M canis infection. However, once the cat is on a programme of treatment and environmental contamination is carried out the problem will usually resolve within a couple of months.
The multi-cat household
The situation where there is an outbreak in a multi-cat household is very different, particularly if longhaired cats are infected in a domestic environment. All cats in the unit could be tested by fungal culture to identify those which are infected. However, it is usual to find that all in-contact cats are culture-positive and clearance is most rapidly achieved by treating all the cats from the outset. In any case, separation and isolation of cats is frequently impossible so treatment of all the cats in the unit is the only practical option. If culture-negative cats are separated this should be to an uncontaminated environment and topical therapy is recommended, as is intermittent monitoring by fungal culture. When cats on full treatment become culture-negative, ideally they should be kept as a third group until a second or third consecutive negative culture result confirms the
permanence of this state. Complete resolution of the problem can take from months to years and be very time consuming and expensive to achieve. However, with commitment and determination this is achievable. Throughout the period of infection the household should be isolated, no cats should enter or leave and breeding should cease.
How long will it take for cats to get better?
Treatment should be continued until all of the affected animals have recovered and are negative on fungal cultures. Skin lesions will often resolve before the cats have eliminated the fungal infection, so it is necessary to monitor progress by taking hair samples (whole body brushing) for fungal culture. If treatment is stopped prematurely the ringworm may seem to recur after a time, although in fact it was never eliminated. In most cases cats will need treatment for a minimum of six weeks and in some cases much longer. Typically, the more cats in a household, the harder it is to resolve the problem.
New cats are an important potential source of ringworm. To prevent the introduction of M canis into a house or cattery, new cats should be sampled for fungal culture and isolated until the results of this are known. Any situations where there is mixing with unknown cats carries a risk of exposure to dermatophyte spores, even if there is no direct contact between cats. Cat shows are a common example of this. There should be no sharing of grooming equipment with other exhibitors at shows. Bathing, spraying or dipping using an antifungal agent after a show is the best available means of preventing any dermatophyte spores on a cat from starting an infection. Similar precautions should be taken whenever a cat returns to the cattery from anywhere where direct or indirect contact with other cats is a possibility, eg, other catteries or the veterinary surgery. Although ringworm is dreaded by
cat breeders, by taking sensible precautions and using good husbandry it can be avoided.Ringworm infection on human skin
M canis infection in humans
Ringworm can easily be spread from cats to people. Children are particularly at risk. Direct contact with infected animals should be minimised. Gloves and protective clothing should be worn when administering treatment. Efficient environmental decontamination will reduce exposure to dermatophyte spores. Dermatophytosis in humans presents as circular patches of thickened, inflamed skin or hair loss with scaling. These may be itchy. Lesions may occur anywhere on the skin or scalp. If any skin lesions develop the family doctor should be consulted. Ringworm in humans usually responds well to treatment.
Paul and Sarah MRCVS
It is very difficult to know how much to put into a newsletter but for the next edition we will explore the subject of cancer in cats, show you more from our new book on Cat First Aid and discuss more aspects of feline behaviour.
Be creative, live long, be happy and follow your own path.
...And the emperor said "Let the party begin!"
Paul and Sarah M's RCVS
If you like this Mewsletter and would like to Forward it to a friend just use the link below:
Forward this email to a friend