Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Feb 11, 2022

National Cat Health Month: Knowing the Signs of Sickness in Cats

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Cats

February is National Cat Health Month. This month encourages cat owners to place extra focus on their cat’s physical and emotional well-being. It can be beneficial for cat owners to educate themselves on the signs of unhealthy behavior and illness in cats, since most cats are masters at hiding their pain or sickness.

Veterinary Care for Cats

Several studies in the last decade have demonstrated that as many as 50% or more of cat owners do not take their cat to the vet regularly. According to one study, some of the reasons owners cited for not taking their cat to the vet include worrying their cat will have an unpleasant experience at the vet, seeing cats as self-sufficient and requiring minimal attention, believing their cat was in excellent health and was never sick or injured, and believing an indoor-only cat is not susceptible to diseases. But as we know, cats can be masters at hiding their pain. So, while you may think they are perfectly healthy, there can be subtle signs of sickness or pain that are easy to miss if you’re not looking closely.

Signs of Sickness and Pain in Cats

As a cat owner, it’s important to educate yourself about the signs of potential sickness or pain in cats. Some of the more obvious signs include vomiting, diarrhea, limping, discharge from eyes or nose, and changes in appetite. But there are other subtle signs you can look for to help you determine if your cat is not feeling well. One sign is a change in activity level or social interaction. A sick cat may play less or may not jump as high, or they may start hiding more. Sick cats may also groom themselves less or, alternatively, excessively groom themselves. Another potential sign of illness in cats is a change in litterbox habits. Cats that are not feeling well may start to have accidents outside of their litterbox or you may notice decreased or increased urine output. A more detailed description of potential signs of sickness in cats can be found here.

What to Do if You Notice a Problem

If you notice any of the above signs and are concerned that your cat may not be feeling well, a veterinary visit may be in order. An examination and routine tests can help determine if your cat may be suffering from an illness or disease. And since February is National Cat Health Month, there’s no better time to pay extra attention to your cat!

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Dec 3, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy for Cats

It’s that time of year again: National Cat Lovers’ Month! And as always, we’re going to take this opportunity to tell you all about VetStem Cell Therapy for cats. While dogs and horses are most commonly treated for orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis or injured tendons and ligaments, cats more often than not receive VetStem Cell Therapy for other diseases.

Feline Renal Disease

Nearly 200 cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease. A common disease in cats, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a frequent cause of sickness and death in cats. In fact, some reviews suggest that CKD may be the number one cause of sickness and death in older cats. Unfortunately, treatment options are limited and can be costly.

Based upon data from the numerous cats treated with VetStem Cell Therapy, we believe that stem cells may help improve the symptoms and quality of life in some cats with CKD. In fact, a review of a small number of feline patients treated with VetStem Cell Therapy showed that blood kidney values were slightly to moderately improved after treatment. More data is necessary however and we continue to research stem cell therapy for this disease as part of our clinical research department.

Gingivostomatitis

Another potentially debilitating condition is gingivostomatitis. This disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of the affected cat’s gums. It can be very painful and lead to inappetence, reduce grooming, and weight loss. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. Common treatments include lifelong medical management with antibiotics, steroids, and pain medications and/or full mouth teeth extractions.

Current literature supports the notion that gingivostomatitis is an autoimmune disease. Mesenchymal stem cells have demonstrated the ability to migrate to areas of inflammation, down-regulate inflammation, modulate the immune system, and repair damaged tissue. Additionally, a recent clinical study demonstrated that intravenous administration of adipose (fat) derived stem cells could ameliorate the clinical signs of gingivostomatitis. While more research is needed, preliminary results suggest that VetStem Cell Therapy can improve the symptoms of some cats with gingivostomatitis.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a gastrointestinal disease that can affect both cats and dogs. It is characterized by inflammation of the intestines and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and weight loss. It is important to note however, that these symptoms can be indicative of several conditions including feline lymphoma. Since VetStem Cell Therapy is contraindicated in pets with cancer, it is essential to rule this out before pursuing treatment with stem cells.

Multiple cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD (dogs too!). And we have had reports from veterinarians and owners regarding the improvement of their patients and pets after treatment with stem cells. As stated above, stem cells migrate to areas of inflammation, down-regulate inflammation, modulate the immune system, and repair damaged tissue, all of which can contribute to healing inflamed and diseased intestines. Additionally, in a recently published paper, 5 out of 7 IBD cats that were treated with stem cells significantly improved or had complete resolution of symptoms, whereas the 4 control cats had no improvement.

Orthopedic Conditions

Let’s not forget that cats can get arthritis too! Osteoarthritis (OA) in cats is a lot more common than you may think. It is estimated that 45% of all cats and 90% of cats over age 10 are affected by arthritis in some way. Unfortunately, cats can be masters at hiding their pain and thus, feline arthritis tends to go undiagnosed.

Though most of our osteoarthritis data is from dogs, cats have experienced similar results when treated with VetStem Cell Therapy. Stem cells may reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and may lead to the regeneration of damaged joint tissues. This can result in increased mobility and a better quality of life for your kitty.

So, there you have it: VetStem Cell Therapy for cats in a nutshell. It’s important to remember that kidney disease, gingivostomatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease are still in the investigational stages. And as with any medical treatment, not all cats will respond positively. That being said, if you think your cat may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Oct 29, 2021

Cats Are Not Small Dogs: Understanding the Differences

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Cats, Pets, Veterinary Medicine

Today is National Cat Day! And we never miss an opportunity to discuss felines! Check out our latest blog from VetStem veterinarian, Dr. Amber Vibert.

I think we are all pretty aware that cats and dogs are different in many ways. Dogs tend to be pleasers and cats often make their humans work for their trust and respect. Dogs don’t really care if they are dirty or have something stuck in their fur, but cats on the other hand, cannot stand to be soiled in any way and will work fastidiously to keep themselves clean. And if a dog is caught counter-surfing for the sandwich that someone left unattended, he will cower when he is admonished. Cats will look at you as if to say, “So?” and quickly scurry away with a piece of ham in their mouth. Of course, there are exceptions, but in my experience, these characteristics are more often the rule than the exception.

Beyond their unique personality differences, however, there are several physical and psychological differences that are important to understand when approaching each species from a caregiving standpoint. For example, dogs have a ligament in their neck that  helps to keep the head erect if the neck muscles are weak. Cats lack this ligament, so when they experience illnesses that cause profound muscle weakness such as hypokalemia (low potassium) or advanced stages of kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism, they may become unable to lift their head.

Another example of how cats and dogs differ is with respect to their nutritional needs. We know that every species of animal on the planet consumes different kinds of foods to sustain their bodies. But many people don’t realize that cats and dogs have such significant differences that feeding a cat only dog food can cause heart disease and even death. One of the reasons for this is because cats have different essential amino acid needs. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. An amino acid is termed “essential” to a species when that species needs to consume the amino acid through their food in order to survive. Taurine is essential for cats and not as much for dogs, meaning that dogs produce enough of it in their bodies that they really don’t need as much in their food. So high-quality, well-established, commercial cat foods are specifically designed to provide the correct amount of taurine to keep cats healthy.

Furthermore, cats metabolize certain drugs very differently than dogs. For instance, did you know that although dogs can safely be prescribed low doses of Tylenol (acetaminophen), a single regular strength tablet can kill a cat? Both dogs and cats have a limited ability to metabolize this drug compared to humans, but cats have a really limited capacity and it will render their red blood cells unable to carry enough oxygen to live.

Cats also have unique needs when it comes to their surroundings. They have natural instincts to chase prey, climb and perch off the ground, control their own personal space, and use scent to establish their boundaries by rubbing their faces along people or items in their home. If these environmental needs are not met, not only will cats experience high levels of stress, but they can also develop stress-induced medical issues.

VetStem recognizes and embraces the fact that cats are not small dogs. We understand that cats not only have diseases unique to them such as Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS), but they also exhibit symptoms of illness very differently than dogs do. In particular, cats are particularly adept at hiding pain. This is why many cats go undiagnosed for common painful conditions such as degenerative joint disease (DJD). We encourage you to speak to your family veterinarian about establishing regular veterinary checkups for your beloved cat companions to keep them happy and healthy through all stages of life.

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Aug 20, 2021

National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day

Posted by Bob under Cats, Veterinary Medicine

Hello fellow cat lovers! Did you know August 22nd is National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day? This is a day to remind cat owners of the importance of routine check-ups and the perfect opportunity to schedule your cat’s routine exam if needed! Of course, most of us know that taking some cats to the vet can be a stressful experience for both cat and owner alike. Thus, we would like to share some helpful information about ways to potentially reduce stress leading up to your cat’s exam and also ways in which to prepare.

Cat Ownership and Veterinary Visits in the U.S.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), in 2017-2018 over 25% of the households in the United States owned cats. With over 30 million households owning an average of 1.8 cats, that means there were nearly 60 million family cats in the United States at the time of the AVMA’s pet ownership survey. That is a lot of cats! That being said, additional statistics from the AVMA indicate that dogs in the United States visit veterinarians more frequently than cats. There are likely a number of reasons for this, one of which may be related to the stress on your cat when visiting the vet.

Ways to Reduce Stress When Taking Your Cat to the Vet

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has provided some helpful information to help both cat owners and cats be more prepared and feel less anxious about vet visits. The AAFP lists five ways to reduce stress when taking your cat to the vet. The first is carrier acclimation. Rather than storing the carrier in the back of your closet, keep it out in an area where your cat spends a lot of time. Add familiar bedding and toys and cover it with a blanket or towel. This will let your cat know the carrier doesn’t have to be a scary place and can actually be comfortable!

Other methods to reduce stress on your cat involve food. The AAFP states that withholding food from your cat for several hours before traveling can help to avoid motion sickness. That being said, you should consider consulting with your vet before withholding food from elderly or sick cats. On the flip side, you can bring your cats favorite treats along and use these as a reward or distraction to help reduce any stress your cat may experience at the vet. Bringing along some of your cat’s favorite toys or familiar bedding can also help your cat feel more comfortable.

There is also the option of anti-anxiety medication. While this shouldn’t be a first resort for all cats, some cats may never feel comfortable at the vet, no matter how many treats and toys you provide. Speak to your veterinarian if you think your cat may benefit from anti-anxiety medication when going in for a check-up.

Ways to Prepare for Your Cat’s Vet Visit

One important way to prepare for your cat’s vet visit is actually stated above: leave the carrier out with familiar bedding and toys. While it may take some time for your cat to become comfortable with the carrier, it can make getting your cat into the carrier easier when the time comes to leave for the vet. Another way to prepare is to jot down any questions or concerns you have regarding your cat. This will help to expedite the visit and will also help you not forget anything when speaking to the vet. Additionally, it may be helpful to compile and bring any previous medical records for your cat.

For more helpful tips from AAFP, visit their website.

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Aug 6, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy for Diseases in Cats

This coming Sunday, August 8th, is International Cat Day! We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to discuss the use of stem cells for various diseases in cats. Like dogs and horses, VetStem Cell Therapy can be used in cats to treat orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis and injured tendons and ligaments. But there are several other diseases for which VetStem Cell Therapy may be helpful.

Chronic Kidney Disease

A common disease in cats is kidney disease. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a common cause of sickness and death in cats. In fact, some reviews suggest that CKD may be the number one cause of sickness and death in older cats. Unfortunately, treatment options are limited and can be costly.

One potential treatment option is VetStem Cell Therapy. Nearly 200 cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for CKD and veterinarians have seen some promising results. Based upon data from a small number of feline patients treated with VetStem Cell Therapy, blood kidney values were slightly to moderately improved after treatment. While more evaluation is necessary, these results suggest VetStem Cell Therapy may be a viable treatment option for cats with CKD.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a gastrointestinal disease that can affect both cats and dogs. It is characterized by inflammation of the intestines and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and weight loss. It is important to note however, that these symptoms can be indicative of several conditions including feline lymphoma. Since VetStem Cell Therapy is contraindicated in pets with cancer, it is essential to rule this out before pursuing treatment with stem cells.

Several cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD. In fact, one of our veterinary clients, Dr. Joel Stone, wrote a guest blog about one of his feline patients who experienced relief from IBD after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. In one of our own case studies, a 4-year-old Himalayan cat developed IBD and treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy quickly resolved the cat’s diarrhea and vomiting and led to an increased appetite with no recurrence. To add to that, in a recently published paper, 5 out of 7 IBD cats that were treated with stem cells were significantly improved or had complete resolution of symptoms, whereas the 4 control cats had no improvement.

Gingivostomatitis

Another unfortunate disease that affects cats is gingivostomatitis. Gingivostomatitis affects the mouths of felines and causes oral pain which leads to other symptoms such as decreased appetite, reduced grooming, and weight loss. The most common treatment is extracting all the cat’s chewing teeth, however only about 70% of cats will respond to this treatment. The remaining 30% of cats that do not respond will require lifelong treatment with medications.

Fewer cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for gingivostomatitis than CKD, however veterinarians have seen favorable results none the less. In addition to our own data, two small studies conducted at the University of California Davis showed that when fat-derived stem cell therapy was utilized in addition to teeth extractions, there was improvement or remission in the majority of cats treated. VetStem believes that fat-derived stem cell therapy without full extractions may be beneficial.

As you can see, VetStem Cell Therapy may be useful for a number of disease processes. Though the above conditions are still in the investigative stages, the preliminary results look very promising! If you think your cat may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us for a list of VetStem providers near you.

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Feb 5, 2021

February is National Cat Health Month

Posted by Bob under Cat Stem Cells, Cats

Welcome to February, which happens to be National Cat Health Month. While we should always be mindful of the health and well-being of our pets, February reminds us not to forget about our cats! Statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association indicate that dogs in the United States visit veterinarians more frequently than cats. There are likely a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that cats hide pain and illness very well.

Cats are Masters at Hiding Pain and Sickness

Most of us cat owners know that cats tend to appear slightly less domesticated than dogs (or maybe they are just too smart for their own good!). So it comes as no surprise that some of their survival instincts remain intact. One such instinct is this tendency to hide anything that a potential predator may portray as weakness. By masking weaknesses, the cat does not draw unwanted and potentially dangerous attention.

A grey and white tabby cat lying on blanket to promote National Cat Health Month

Signs that Something may be Wrong

The good news is, there are some pretty clear signs to look out for to determine if something may be wrong with your cat. One sign of illness in cats is a change in activity level. Many cats will hide when they are not feeling well, which goes back to their instinct to not attract attention from predators. A sick or painful cat might play less and may not be able to jump as high as before. Some other things to look for include changes in appetite, changes in litter box habits, and of course more obvious signs like vomiting, diarrhea, and limping.

Why Veterinary Care for Cats is Important

Just like dogs (and people!), routine check-ups are important to maintain a cat’s health. Even if nothing appears to be wrong with your cat, these routine examinations by your veterinarian may uncover some ailment that your cat has been hiding. In the same way, routine bloodwork can help your veterinarian monitor for diseases such as kidney failure. In diseases like kidney failure, early diagnosis and treatment leads to a better prognosis.

How VetStem Has Helped Cats

There are multiple feline diseases, in limited numbers, that have been successfully treated with VetStem Cell Therapy. Some of these diseases include osteoarthritis (no, it is not just a dog problem!), kidney disease, gingivostomatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For more detailed information about using VetStem Cell Therapy for these conditions, check out our previous blog. If you are interested in stem cell therapy for your cat, we encourage you to speak to your veterinarian or contact us for a list of VetStem providers in your area. February is the perfect month to check in with your cat’s health!

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Jan 8, 2021

COVID-19 Transmission in Cats

Posted by Bob under Cats, COVID-19

As we begin 2021 and remain in the midst of a global pandemic, we wanted to revisit the topic of COVID-19 in animals. In previous blogs, we discussed the spread of the novel coronavirus from humans to animals and from animal to animal. While we know that animals can become infected with COVID-19, the CDC continues to report that there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 in Animals

You may remember that the first reported case of a pet with COVID-19 was a dog in Hong Kong. From there, more reports emerged of animals infected with the virus. In the United States, the first report of a COVID-19 positive animal was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Several other large cats at the facility went on to test positive in the following weeks. After that, it was two cats from separate households in New York, both of which likely contracted the virus from a COVID-19 positive owner. At the time, I remember wondering about the link between cats and COVID-19 and whether there was any significance there.

As the weeks and months went on, more and more reports of COVID-19 positive animals came out. Dogs, cats, minks, more exotic large cats. As of late December 2020, the USDA reported a total of 11 exotic cats (tigers, lions, and a snow leopard) and 54 domestic cats in the United States tested positive for COVID-19. This in comparison to a total of 38 COVID-19 positive dogs.

Cats Infected with COVID-19

While it is clear that some animals are more susceptible to the virus, there isn’t much information regarding COVID-19 within specific species. For instance, it is not currently clear how many COVID-19 positive cats experience symptoms. It appears that some cats have symptoms while others are asymptomatic. But we do not yet know why that is the case.

We also do not know the death rate in cats with COVID-19. There is news that a cat in Pennsylvania that had COVID-19 was humanely euthanized due to respiratory distress. There was another cat in Alabama that passed away and was COVID-19 positive however information suggests that the cat had additional health issues that were more likely the cause of death. Fortunately, it does not appear that cats are at high risk of death from COVID-19 infection. But more studies are necessary to understand how this virus affects our four-legged companions.

COVID-19 Transmission in Cats

In November, a study out of Kansas State University confirmed some of my suspicions regarding COVID-19 transmission in cats. The study concluded that cats infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can be asymptomatic and still easily spread the infection to other cats. The study found that the virus is shed through an asymptomatic cat’s nasal, oral, and rectal cavities and that they can infect other cats within 2 days of contracting the virus.

While more research is needed, this information is crucial to understanding how the virus is transmitted in cats. And though we mentioned it before, it is worth repeating: there is still no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people. There is, however, significant evidence to suggest people spread the virus to animals. So, if you or a family member is suspected to have, or tests positive for, COVID-19, the CDC recommends avoiding contact with your pets.

More Studies Are Needed

There is still so much to learn about the novel coronavirus. More studies are underway to determine how this virus operates and what we can do to keep everyone, both ourselves and our pets, safe. For now, we will continue to do our best to keep ourselves and others healthy. At VetStem, we continue to follow our local ordinances by social distancing, wearing masks, and requiring employees to stay home if they have symptoms or exposure. Though these are scary and uncertain times, we hope that the start of 2021 finds you and your loved ones, two- and four-legged, happy and healthy.

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