by Dr. Jean Hofve & Jackson Galaxy
Library of Congress ISSN #1550-0764
Volume 7, No. 10  — December 2009

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Dr. Jean and Jackson wish you and your family a safe and happy New Year!

In this issue:

1. News Bites:

  • Declaw Ban Update
  • Milk Thistle Study
  • Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods

2. Environmental Health Risks for Cats

1. News Bites

Declawing update: The new California law prohibiting cities from passing bans on any procedure performed by a licensed professional goes into effect tomorrow. This law was passed solely to prevent cities like West Hollywood, whose ban on declawing passed every legal challenge, from doing the same. Nevertheless, as of today, 7 more cities have passed similar declawing bans: San Francisco, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City, Beverly Hills, and Burbank. Based on their population and statistics about pet ownership, we’ve protected 8.2 million paws so far! For more information about preventing destructive scratching and the truth about declawing, please see these articles in our Little Big Cat Library on:

Cats and Claws: Living Happily Ever After
Declawing: A Rational Look;
Declawing and Science
Don’t Let Your Landlord Make You Declaw Your Cat!

Milk Thistle Study: A study was just published that proves what most herbalists have known all along— milk thistle (Silybum marianum), helps to reduce liver toxicity in patients receiving chemotherapy. The study, which was funded by the American Institute for Cancer Research, the Tamarind Foundation, and the National Cancer Institute, also shows that milk thistle appears to have no antagonistic impact on chemotherapy drugs. To read more about this study, click here: To read more about milk thistle and how it can be used for pets, please visit the article on Milk Thistle in the Little Big Cat library.cow eating corn

Study Demonstrates Toxic Effects of Genetically Modified Foods: A study was recently published  that examined the effects of genetically-modified (GM) corn on rats. The researchers found that each of the three tested varieties of GM corn had different effects, though mainly toxicity was seen in the liver and kidneys. Other affected organs included the heart, adrenal glands, spleen, and hematopoietic (blood producing) system (including bone marrow). de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5:706-726. You can read the study here:  In the U.S., 90% of soybeans, 75% of canola, and 60% of corn, are genetically modified. Corn and soy are commonly used in livestock feeds; no one knows what effects meat from these animals might have. The Grocery Manufacturers of America estimate that 75% of all processed foods in the U.S. contain one or more GM ingredients.

2. Environmental Health Risks for Cats

invisible_tightrope Sometimes it’s important to sit down and consider how best to keep our cats healthy. While some things, like diet, are easy to change, we need to understand what other challenges our pets face. Avoiding every hazard is impossible, but just avoiding the obvious ones is an awful lot like walking a tightrope!

Last year, the Environmental Working Group ( reported that U.S. pets are polluted with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in humans, even newborns. Dogs and cats were contaminated with 48 of 70 industrial chemicals tested. According to the report, average levels of many chemicals were substantially higher in pets than is typical for people, with 2.4 times higher levels of stain- and grease-proof coatings (perfluorochemicals) in dogs, 23 times more fire retardants (PBDEs) in cats, and more than 5 times the amounts of mercury, compared to average levels in people found in national studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and EWG (Figure).

Samples from cats contained 46 chemicals, including 9 carcinogens, 40 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system, 34 neurotoxins, and 15 chemicals toxic to the endocrine (hormone) system. Endocrine toxins raise particular concerns for cats, since they include fire retardants called PBDEs, which have been linked to hyperthyroidism in cats, a disease that is growing in epidemic proportions. (For more information, please read the article Hyperthyroidism in our Little Big Cat Library.)

Besides environmental toxins, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Surgeon General, and the Environmental Protection Agency have long warncigarettesed about the dangers of secondhand smoke, which causes thousands of cases of lung cancer and heart disease among nonsmokers each year.

Recent studies have confirmed that cats who live with a smoker have a much higher risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma, an invasive cancer occurring on the mucous membranes of the mouth. Having more than one smoker in the home, or living with a smoker for more than five years, increased the risk even more, according to a study conducted at Tufts University. Because cats groom themselves so thoroughly, toxins and carcinogens from smoke that settle on their fur are taken into their mouths while grooming. Over time, this can cause cancer to develop.

Exposure to smoke also increases a cat’s risk of malignant lymphoma. Since the lymph nodes filter the blood, inhaled or ingested toxins can build up and cause cancer. Cats living with secondhand smoke are three times more likely to develop lymphoma than other cats. In addition to cancer, cats exposed to smoke can also develop other respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.

If you are a smoker, and you haven’t quit for your own health, please please please, do it for your pets! At the very least, only smoke outdoors, or in an area away from the animals (and children) in your home.

Next month we’ll look at how to keep our pets green…in the environmentally healthy way that is!

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