In this issue:
1. News Bites
- Little Big Cat wins award!
- Florida cats being poisoned.
- Jack, the cat lost and found in JFK airport, is sick
- RIP feline leukemia pioneer William Jarrett
- More swine flu news
- Flu vaccine for people doesn’t work
2. Are Cats Medically Underserved?
3. Holiday Safety Tips
1. News Bites
Little Big Cat wins award! The Cat Writers’ Association has awarded Little Big Cat a Certificate of Excellence for 2011, one of only three such awards this year for websites! We also congratulate our friends and fellow cat-lovers Ingrid King (www.consciouscat.net) and Mary Ann Miller (www.felineexpress.com).
Florida cats being poisoned. Authorities in Tampa, FL, are investigating a spate of cases involving what they say is the intentional poisoning of cats. Rat poison and antifreeze are being mixed with cat food, and in one case mothballs were strewn across a lawn. Both feral and owned but outdoor cats have been killed; at least 6 in the past month. An unknown number of cats may have eaten the food but their bodies have not been found. The poisonings occurred in different parts of Tampa at different times, and don’t appear to be related. Of course, any outdoor cat, anywhere, is at risk.
Jack, the cat lost and found in JFK airport, is sick. Jack made headlines when he was found at Kennedy airport more than 60 days after careless American Airlines baggage handlers let him escape. The airpline has been criticized for not even bothering to search for Jack for nearly three days. Now Jack, who lost 5 lbs. during his ordeal, has developed hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), a life-threatening liver ailment that is common in cats who don’t eat regularly. Visit Jack’s Facebook page for updates.
RIP, feline leukemia pioneer William Jarrett. Professor William Jarrett, who discovered the feline leukemia virus in 1964 and worked on vaccines for both feline leukemia and human AIDS, died in August. What makes this story interesting is the assertion that “Subsequent research by Jarrett’s virology group..underpinned the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines that have virtually eradicated this virus in cats from many countries.” So why are so many veterinarians still vaccinating for this disease, when the vaccine itself has the potential to cause fatal cancer in cats?
More swine flu news. Well, it’s actually old news: three children contracted swine flu at Washington County, PA county fair. But the CDC is still flogging this story more than a month later. The “swine origin” influenza A (H3) will no doubt keep spawning fear-mongering to pump up vaccine sales. Some veterinarians will no doubt use this as an excuse to push more vaccines for pets. But keep on reading for the next news flash…
Flu shot doesn’t work! The prestigious Lancet medical journal recently published an analysis that showed the annual flu vaccine to be far from as effective as proponents like to claim. CTV.CA (Canada) reported that'”While the vaccine does work and we still recommend that it be used, it does not demonstrate the kinds of efficacy levels we have reported,” according to the report’s lead author Michael T. Osterholm. The most widely used vaccine in the U.S. is less than 60% effective. U.S. News reported that “Over the past two flu seasons, vaccinating children five and younger did not reduce the number of child hospitalizations or doctor’s visits linked to influenza, according to results of a new study.” Nevertheless, authorities in the U.S. and Canada are urging everyone to get their flu shots as soon as possible. All we can say is, “Ack.”
2. Are Cats Medically Underserved?
According to a recent article at WebMD, the answer is yes. The writer states:
Over the past decade, veterinarians have noticed an alarming trend. Cats see a veterinarian half as often as dogs do. Just like dogs, cats can get sick and do need annual examinations by their veterinarians. Without regular medical care, your cat misses the opportunity to undergo screening tests to find disease before it becomes untreatable. Cats also need preventive healthcare, such as vaccinations and parasite prevention. I find three particular trends in feline health care particularly disturbing.
There are a couple of things here that I would quibble with. First, annual “screening” tests are of limited value in young, healthy pets. One might argue that unless you test, you don’t know for sure the animal is healthy, but odds are that the tests will be normal. It is fairly rare to find significant problems in these tests. Second, most indoor cats don’t need parasite preventatives. However, cats who have access to prey, or who are fed raw meat, may benefit from an annual fecal exam to make sure no parasites have set up housekeeping in the intestinal tract (although this is unlikely).
The writer then outlines her big three kitty concerns: the increase in rabies, the increase in diabetes, and the increase in feline dental disease. It’s true that cats are less likely to get an annual exam, which is necessary whether or not vaccinations are given. Cats are very good at hiding pain and illness, so it’s vital to have regular checkups. But let’s have a look at each of these issues:
Increase in feline rabies. This is most likely tied to the increase in wildlife rabies. Irresponsible people who fail to vaccinate their cat for rabies are also likely to let their cats roam free. These cats can be exposed to many diseases, including rabies. Just two rabies shots 6-12 months apart is considered lifetime protection. If a person cannot manage two veterinary visits, that is indeed a serious problem! On the flip side, many veterinarians are still promoting a spectrum of annual vaccines, most of which are not necessary for adult cats. Over-vaccinating can be just as harmful as not vaccinating at all. (Click here for detailed information and recommendations on vaccinations for cats and dogs.)
Increase in feline diabetes. Here’s one where cats may be better off staying away from veterinarians! Feline diabetes is a man-made disease; largely due to overfeeding of high carbohydrate dry food; occasionally due to drugs such as Depo-Medrol and Ovaban; and rarely from other causes such as pancreatitis. Unfortunately, most vets are brainwashed by the big pet food makers to believe such bogus claims as “dry food cleans the teeth” (it doesn’t; click here to read more). Dry food is much more profitable, and therefore much more vigorously promoted, than any other type of cat food. Since vets still get the vast majority of their nutrition education from Hill’s, Iams, Purina, and Waltham’s, cats are at extreme risk from their bad advice. Diabetes is almost entirely preventable with a sensible carnivore diet; and most cats can reverse the disease through dietary changes and other holistic therapies. (See Dr. Jean’s ebook, Feline Diabetes: The comprehensive guide from a holistic veterinarian, in our Bookstore; also available for Kindle at Amazon.com.)
Increase in dental disease. The study the writer cites was done in France; and perhaps this is a real increase in that country. (If anyone would like to send me there to investigate, my passport is ready!). But in the U.S., some 80% of cats (and dogs) already have significant dental disease by age 3. This is indeed one reason why an annual veterinary exam is absolutely necessary. Chronic, untreated dental disease can harm your pet in many ways, not the least of which is pain. (Click here to read more on feline dental care.)
3. Holiday Safety Tips
Okay, so Halloween is almost over; but now that the kidlets have brought home the booty, please remember to keep candy and other treats well out of reach of felonious felines and dastardly dogs!
This is probably a good time to remind you about other holiday hazards, since Thanksgiving will be upon us in an instant, and the December madness as well. The basics:
- secure all plugs and wires
- keep an eye on the kitchen
- protect vegetation and delicate decorations
- cats and candles don’t mix
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