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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