In this issue:

1. News Bites:

  • Fat cat prompts cruelty charges
  • Iceland hunting whales for dog food
  • Internet vet loses license over online advice
  • Children die in hot cars–and so do pets!
  • Remember what it was like before you had a cat?
  • Class action suit over toxic treats will proceed

2. Science Notes:

  • Marine Omega-3s show benefit in asthma
  • Cell damage from common antibiotics can be mitigated by antioxidants
  • Exercise helps brain cope with stress
  • How coronavirus mutates into FIP
  • Your cat isn’t ignoring you, he’s just waiting for you to do something interesting

3. Obesity is a Major Threat to Human and Feline Health

1. News Bites

Fat cat prompts cruelty charges: A Canadian woman who had been warned many times to reduce her 12-year-old cat’s weight has been charged with animal neglect under animal cruelty rules. The Ottawa Humane Society said that  Napoleon was so heavy he could no longer stand or clean himself, while his fur became matted with fecal matter. She had taken him to a veterinarian several times but ignored the advice she was given. She was charged under animal cruelty law with “permitting distress to an animal and failure to maintain standards of care. ” She could receive a fine up to $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail. Napoleon’s condition was so poor that he had to be euthanized. An officer at the Ottawa Humane Society stated: “Failure to follow a veterinarian’s advice and allowing a pet to deteriorate like this is appalling. And it’s against the law.”

Feline obesity is a serious issue. If a cat is too fat to clean himself, it’s up to the caregiver to clean the area as often as necessary to prevent urine scald and fecal build-up; and, of course, to take steps to get the cat back to a normal weight. Obesity causes immense stress on the joints, spine, and internal organs; and it can cause diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney and bladder problems, constipation, and a host of other painful and dangerous health conditions. If your cat is one of the 53% of American cats who are overweight or obese, please do whatever is necessary to get those harmful extra pounds off! See the article on Feline Obesity in our library, and Fat Cats in our Bookstore. 

Iceland hunting whales for dog food: Iceland has decided to hunt whales over the next few months, despite a longstanding global moratorium on whaling. Virtually all of the meat will be exported to Japan, which wants to use it for boutique dog treats. Fin whales in particular are highly endangered, but Iceland plans to kill them anyway. Click here to read the report.

Internet vet loses license over online advice:  Texas has suspended the veterinary license of Dr. Ron Hines because he gave veterinary advice over the internet. Dr. Hines answered pet guardians’ questions by email, which the Texas board disallows, because there a “veterinary-client-patient relationship” has not been established if the vet has not personally seen and examined the animal. Dr. Hines asserts that his right to free speech under the First Amendment allows him to help people and their pets however he wants. The Institute for Justice has taken up the case. Their attorney says, “All Ron’s doing is communicating with grown adults about things they wanted to hear and the First Amendment protects that. It doesn’t matter what you call it—does he practice, advise or anything else—he’s communicating and it cannot be banned unless there’s a compelling reason to do so.”

This case has broad implications for veterinarians around the country. A veterinarian may be violating a state’s Practice Acts if they discuss a pet with a guardian in another state where that vet is not licensed. It means that internet consultations are prohibited for residents of Texas; and other states are likely to take the same hard line position.  Taken to its illogical conclusion, a specialist in another state who consults with a pet’s own veterinarian could have her license threatened for the same reason. Click here to read the full article in DVM Newsmagazine.

Children die in hot cars–and so do pets! So far this year, at least eight children have died when they were left in a car. The temperature rapidly rises in cars when the weather is warm, regardless of cloud cover or parking in the shade. In a typical year, dozens children (mostly infants and toddlers under age 2) die this way. The problem is much worse with dogs, who also die by the hundreds every year. Cracking open a window isn’t enough, and parking in the shade won’t do it, either. Even mild temperatures can heat up a car to well over 100oF in a matter of minutes.

One hot summer day in the clinic where I used to work, a man left a mother cat and her kittens in his car while he came in to ask the receptionist a few questions. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry. But a few minutes into the conversation, the receptionist realized he had actually brought the cats with him, and they were still in the car. She raced out to get them…but they were already severely hyperthermic–vomiting and seizuring–and despite emergency treatment, not a single one of them survived. Never ever leave any pet (or child) in the car if the temperature is 70oF or more. Not even in the shade. Not even with all the windows cracked. Just don’t do it, period.

Remember what it was like before you had a cat? No, me, neither! Catster recently posted a fun article about the things that you can’t do anymore because you have cats. I would add: put the toilet paper on the roller, and my mother’s favorite: “You’ll never be able to have nice things because of those cats!” Hey, who said I wanted nice things, anyway?

Class action suit over toxic treats will proceed. Several class action suits against Del Monte over Chinese-made jerky treats will proceed in a federal district court. One claim was dismissed, but the others (negligence, fraud, and more) were allowed to stand by the judge. Del Monte’s Waggin’ Strips are among many chicken jerky treats alleged to have poisoned thousands of dogs, causing fatal kidney disease in 360 dogs and one cat.

If you’re a subscriber or frequent visitor to Little Big Cat, then you know that Dr. Jean is an official Advisor to AAFCO, the organization that sets the standards for pet food. Some of the items that will be discussed at the Annual Meeting next month will tighten requirements for truthfulness of the information you’ll be able to find on pet food labels, including the often-misleading descriptions of ingredient quality, such as “human grade.” But in order to attend this meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida, Dr. Jean needs your help! So far, contributions have covered conference registration (which has been paid), but we need about $70 right quick to grab the best airfare, plus a bit more for hotel and other expenses. Can you help? Please click on the PayPal donate button on the right, or visit our fundraising site. ( Thanks!!

2. Science Notes:

Gut bacteria transmit antibiotic resistance, affect response to vaccinations. The bacteria in the digestive tract have many well-known functions, and many others that are only now being discovered. New research shows that bacteria that have developed antibiotic resistance can transmit that knowledge to other, unrelated bacteria – including disease-causing species like pathogenic E. coli and Psuedomonas – via small molecules that are sort of a “universal language.” (El-Halfawy OM, Valvano MA. Chemical Communication of Antibiotic Resistance by a Highly Resistant Subpopulation of Bacterial Cells. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (7): e68874 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068874) 

In other work, researchers showed that gut bacteria play a key role in the immune system’s response to vaccines. The more diverse the bacterial population, the better the immunity will be. (Seekatz AM, Panda A, Rasko DA, et al. Differential Response of the Cynomolgus Macaque Gut Microbiota to Shigella Infection. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (6): e64212 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064212) (Eloe-Fadrosh EA, McArthur MA, Seekatz AM, et al. Impact of Oral Typhoid Vaccination on the Human Gut Microbiota and Correlations with S. Typhi-Specific Immunological Responses. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (4): e62026 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062026)

Probiotics are a great way to enhance your cat’s digestive health and ensure a diverse, optimal-functioning gut bacterial population. Click here for more information on probiotics.

Marine Omega-3s show benefits in asthma. A recent study shows that Omega-3s derived from green-lipped mussels (GLM) eased airway inflammation in asthmatics. Click here for more information about Omega-3s, including green-lipped mussel oil. Mickleborough TD, Vaughn CL, et al. Marine lipid fraction PCSO-524(TM) (lyprinol(R)/omega XL(R)) of the New Zealand green lipped mussel attenuates hyperpnea-induced bronchoconstriction in asthma. Respir Med, 2013 May 6; [Epub ahead of print]. 

Damage from common antibiotics can be mitigated by antioxidants. Antibiotics such as amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin (a close relative of Baytril) cause significant oxidative stress to cells, which can damage their DNA, cellular enzymes, and the cell membrane. Researchers found that treating with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine helped mitigate this damage. They also found that using less-aggressive “bacteriostatic” antibiotics produced less damage. Kalghatgi S, Spina CS, Costello JC, et al.  Bactericidal Antibiotics Induce Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Oxidative Damage in Mammalian Cells. Science Translational Medicine, 3 July 2013 DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3006055

Exercise helps the brain cope with stress. Another good reason to help your cat get adequate exercise: this study showed that exercise both reduced anxiety and increased growth of neurons. So your cat can be healthier and smarter with exercise! T. J. Schoenfeld, Rada P, Pieruzzini PR, et al. Physical Exercise Prevents Stress-Induced Activation of Granule Neurons and Enhances Local Inhibitory Mechanisms in the Dentate Gyrus. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (18): 7770 DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5352-12.2013

How coronavirus mutates into FIP. Cornell University researchers have finally tracked down the specific mutation that causes a harmless coronavirus to convert into the form that causes lethal feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Hopefully this discovery will lead to effective diagnostics, preventions and therapies for FIP. Click here to read the story from Cornell. Licitra BN, Millet JK, Regan AD. Mutation in spike protein cleavage site and pathogenesis of feline coronavirus. Emerg Infect Dis. 2013 Jul;19(7):1066-73. doi: 10.3201/eid1907.121094.

Your cat isn’t ignoring you, he’s just waiting for you to do something interesting. An article in Discovery magazine cites a new study asserting that cats actually do pay attention to their owners, though they are very subtle about it. While dogs jump around, bark, and wag their tails, the most acknowledgment you might get from your cat may be a slight movement of the ears. But hey, for a cat…that’s practically a standing ovation! Japanese researchers found that cats orient more toward their personal humans’ voices than strangers. Saito A, Shinozuka K. Vocal recognition of owners by domestic cats (Felis catus). Anim Cogn. 2013 Jul;16(4):685-90. doi: 10.1007/s10071-013-0620-4.

Did you know that there all of these ebooks by our own Dr. Jean Hofve are instantly available at, as well as for immediate download in our Bookstore?

(You don’t have to have a Kindle to read Kindle ebooks! Freely downloadable e-readers are available at for your PC, Mac, tablet, and smartphone!) 

 3. Obesity is a major threat to human and pet health

The numbers keep rising: the millions of overweight or obese cats (and dogs) are tracking right along with human statistics. An estimated 53% of cats weigh too much.  That is very bad news for all concerned.

The Centers for Disease Control says that an estimated 110,000 Americans die as a result of obesity each year, and about one-third of all cancers are directly related to it.  Another recent study found that excessive abdominal fat increases the risk of both heart disease and cancer. It’s well-known that in humans, the location of body fat makes a difference; but cats specifically accumulate excess fat in the abdomen–the most dangerous location.

Feline obesity is a chronic inflammatory disease that can lead to diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, liver and pancreas dysfunction, asthma, urinary crystals and stones, digestive issues, and many other problems. On Jackson Galaxy‘s wonderful TV show, My Cat From Hell, he often (and correctly) attributes aggression and other behavior problems directly to an obese cat’s discomfort due to weight.

How to prevent and treat cat obesity? In simplest terms: feed in meals, feed all wet and no dry food! But if you want the down-and-dirty details, check out our ebooks Fat Cats and What Cats Should Eat on, or in our Bookstore! (Note: Amazon Kindle ebooks can easily be read on your Mac, PC, tablet, or smartphone with their free reading apps!) Don’t we wish it was that easy for us humans?

Be sure to read editor Jenny Dean’s interview with Dr. Jean about feline obesity!

More Floppycats interviews with Dr. Jean:


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