Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

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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