Feb 2, 2024

National Cat Health Month: Osteoarthritis in Cats

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Cats

February is National Cat Health Month, a time to bring awareness to the well-being of our feline companions. This month, emphasis is placed on regular veterinary check-ups to help ensure that our cats lead happy, healthy lives. Unfortunately, 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.

While there are several potential reasons that cats tend to visit the vet less, one reason commonly cited by owners is the belief that their cat is in excellent health and is never sick or injured. As you may 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. One example is pain from osteoarthritis (OA).

For years, osteoarthritis in cats has been underdiagnosed when compared to dogs. One reason for this is that cats with OA present with different symptoms than what we see in dogs. Because of their smaller size and natural agility, cats tend to tolerate bone and joint problems better than dogs. But there are specific symptoms to watch out for.

According to the FDA, “Clinical signs of osteoarthritis in cats include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, and inability to jump on and off objects.” Unlike dogs, cats do not commonly present with lameness or limping. Instead, they will be less willing to jump and/or have shorter jumps.

Unfortunately, there are fewer treatment options for cats with OA compared to dogs. Unlike dogs, cats do not tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain medications very well. In the U.S., there are only two NSAIDs approved for short-term post-operative use in cats, and there are currently no veterinary NSAIDs approved for safe, long-term use to control osteoarthritis pain in cats. There are some non-drug options including weight loss for overweight cats, increased exercise, as well as environmental accommodations such as elevated food bowls and more easily accessible litter boxes.

That’s where VetStem Cell Therapy comes in. Stem cells are a non-drug treatment option for osteoarthritis, which can be particularly beneficial for cats given that effective treatment options to control OA pain are extremely limited. Stem cells have shown the ability to directly modulate pain and down-regulate inflammation. Additionally, stem cells can induce repair and stimulate regeneration of cartilage and other joint tissues. VetStem Cell Therapy harnesses your cat’s own healing abilities, so it can be considered a natural and holistic approach to managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

If you think your cat may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Dec 1, 2023

Meet VetStem’s Newest Cats for National Cat Lovers’ Month

Posted by Bob under Cats

Today officially kicks off National Cat Lovers’ Month and we want to introduce you to the newest members of the VetStem Clowder! But first, if you’re curious about how VetStem Cell Therapy can be used in cats, check out our recent blog.

This sweet orange boy is Rusty. His favorite activities include causing trouble and stealing the dog’s bed. Additionally, he has a hankering for food that rivals a teenage boy. It’s been reported that he has already figured out how to open the pantry door. He’s also been known to jump on the dining room table and climb legs to access the food that should surely be shared with him. His mom is excited (or not…) to see how he reacts to the Christmas tree. Who wants to take bets on how that goes?

Rusty

Our newest addition doesn’t have an official name yet, though he has earned a few nicknames including “Mako” (as in the shark…) or just simply, “Crazy.” He’s a rescue Siamese who was found in a box at just a week old. He was nursed back to health and is now lovingly described as “AWFUL but cute.” As you can see from his picture below, he loves to play with (read: torment) his dog sister, Darby. We know it’s not a great picture, but we feel it captures his personality perfectly. Darby wants to know if anyone would like a free Siamese kitten?

Mako “playing” with Darby
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Oct 27, 2023

VetStem Cell Therapy for Cats: Three Common Uses

National Cat Day is fast approaching, and we never miss an opportunity to talk about VetStem Cell Therapy for cats. While stem cells are primarily used for orthopedic conditions, many veterinarians have used VetStem Cell Therapy to help treat and control symptoms associated with diseases such as kidney disease, gingivostomatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
All three of these diseases are prevalent in cats and have limited treatment options.

Stem Cells for Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is one of the most common causes of sickness and death in cats. Common symptoms can include weight loss, lethargy, variable appetite, and poor coat quality. Some cats may also drink and urinate more, vomit, or have diarrhea.Unfortunately, treatment options for cats with kidney disease are limited and can be costly.

The good news is, based upon our own data as well as the data of others, we believe that stem cells may help improve the symptoms and quality of life in some cats with kidney disease. 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. Owners and veterinarians have also reported improved appetites, weight gain, and increased energy in cats treated with VetStem Cell Therapy.

Stem Cells for Gingivostomatitis

Gingivostomatitis is another debilitating condition found in cats. It is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gums, which can 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.

A recent clinical study demonstrated that intravenous administration of adipose (fat) derived stem cells could ameliorate the clinical signs of gingivostomatitis. Additionally, veterinarians and cat owners have reported an improvement in symptoms and quality of life in cats treated with VetStem Cell Therapy.

Stem Cells for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an intestinal disorder that affects 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. 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.

If you think your cat may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.

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Aug 18, 2023

Osteoarthritis in Cats: Know the Signs

In last week’s blog, we discussed kidney disease in cats and how VetStem Cell Therapy may help. This week, we want to discuss osteoarthritis (OA) in cats so that cat owners know what to watch out for. That’s right, cats get OA too! In fact, a high percentage of cats will get or already have osteoarthritis. According to one study, 91% of cats between 6 months and 20 years old have OA in at least one joint, as proven by X-rays.

National Take your Cat to the Vet Day

But why two cat blogs in a row, you ask? Well August 22nd is National Take your Cat the Vet Day. This day is meant to bring awareness to the fact that the statistics for feline veterinary care are disparagingly low compared to dogs. According to one recent academic survey, only 20% of cat owners said they took their cat to the vet more than once a year, compared to 35% of dog owners. Additionally, 7% of cat owners said they never seek veterinary care, compared to 2% of dog owners. Likewise, in a targeted survey of pet owners conducted by the AVMA, only 48% of cat owners said they sought routine veterinary care for their cat, compared to 79% of dog owners.

Cats are Masters at Hiding Their Pain

There are likely several reasons for this discrepancy, one of which may be the fact that cats tend to be masters at hiding their pain. This tendency is often linked to survival instincts. In the wild, if a cat shows weakness, this may draw unwanted attention from a predator. But in the domestic cat whose only predator is a half empty bowl of food, this tendency to hide pain just means us owners have a hard time knowing when our cat should be taken to the vet.

Preventative Veterinary Care for Cats

Thus, National Take your Cat to the Vet Day promotes the idea of once-to-twice yearly preventative veterinary exams. These types of routine check-ups are important to maintain a cat’s health. Even if nothing appears to be wrong with your cat, 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.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Cats

But back to OA in cats. For years, osteoarthritis in cats has been underdiagnosed when compared to dogs. One reason for this is that cats with OA present with different symptoms than what we see in dogs. Because of their smaller size and natural agility, cats tend to tolerate bone and joint problems better than dogs. But there are specific symptoms to watch out for.

According to the FDA, “Clinical signs of osteoarthritis in cats include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, and inability to jump on and off objects.” Unlike dogs, cats do not commonly present with lameness or limping. Instead, they will be less willing to jump and/or have shorter jumps.

Treatment for Osteoarthritis in Cats

Unfortunately, there are fewer treatment options for cats with OA compared to dogs. Unlike dogs, cats do not tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain medications very well. While there are some NSAIDs approved for short-term post-operative use in cats, there are currently no veterinary NSAIDs approved for safe, long-term use to control osteoarthritis pain in cats. There are some non-drug options including weight loss for overweight cats, increased exercise, as well as environmental accommodations such as elevated food bowls and more easily accessible litter boxes. But these are not the only non-drug treatment options available.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis in Cats

VetStem Cell Therapy is a non-drug treatment option for osteoarthritis in cats, dogs, and horses. It can be particularly beneficial for cats, given that effective treatment options to control osteoarthritis pain are extremely limited. Stem cells have shown the ability to directly modulate pain and down-regulate inflammation. Additionally, stem cells can induce repair and stimulate regeneration of cartilage and other joint tissues. The beauty of VetStem Cell Therapy is that we are harnessing your pet’s own healing power, so it can be considered a natural and holistic approach to managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

If you are interested in having your pet treated with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Dec 2, 2022

Meet the VetStem Clowder!

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Cats

Happy National Cat Lovers’ Month! We never miss an opportunity to talk about how much we love cats. We’ve already introduced you to the VetStem Pack so for this week’s blog, we wanted to introduce you to some of the VetStem Clowder! (And if you’re curious about how VetStem Cell Therapy is being used in cats, check out this blog.)

Frankie and Puck

Frankie and Puck are two Maine Coons owned by VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman. Each one weighs 28lbs! As you can imagine, they hold their own with Mick and Gracie, the Border Collie and Aussie of the house.

Josephine’s Amazing Dreamcoat aka “Phini” and Scarf

Phini and Scarf are both Oriental Shorthairs owned by our Director of Commercial Operations, Kristi. Phini tolerates Scarf who tends to get himself into trouble. For instance, he loves eating socks. Can you tell by that goofy look on his face?

Ali’I, Keone, Squirrel, and Lilly

These four cuties are owned by Customer Service Rep, Whitney. Apparently they each hang out in different locations in the house so the only way you’d know Whitney has 4 cats is if you shake the treat can and they all come running!

Gryffin

Gryffin is a Ragdoll owned by Customer Service Manager, Veronika. According to Veronika, he’s full of cattitude and rules the roost (as he should with a face like that!)

Portia

Portia is a Manx mix owned by our Marketing Assistant, Ashley. If you so much as brush up against her, her purr machine kicks into high gear. She’s a love!

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Oct 28, 2022

The Future is Now: VetStem Cell Therapy for Cats

Tomorrow is National Cat Day and what perfect timing since our sales and marketing team is currently at the annual American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) conference! For the past few years, VetStem has been a bronze sponsor at this conference and has delivered a talk on the topic of VetStem Cell Therapy for cats to veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

This year, VetStem’s very own Dr. Anne Hale will be delivering a talk entitled Evidence Based Medicine Supporting Stem Cell Therapy in the Feline Patient. In her talk, Dr. Hale will discuss the potential uses of VetStem Cell Therapy in cats. As many of you know, veterinarians have used stem cells to treat renal disease, both acute and chronic, inflammatory bowel disease, gingivostomatitis, and more in cats. This year, Dr. Hale will also introduce a few feline clinical trials that VetStem will be enrolling for soon.

We find AAFP to be one of our favorite shows. From the attendees to the educational offerings, this show has a lot to offer. Feline medicine is unique in the field of veterinary medicine. For a long time, cats were often treated like small dogs. However, there are several physical and physiological differences between cats and dogs that are important to understand from a caregiving standpoint.

One major difference is that cats metabolize drugs very differently than dogs. This is why there are limited treatment options when it comes to pain in cats. While dogs tend to tolerate NSAIDs and other pain medications relatively well, cats do not. There are some NSAIDs approved for short-term post-operative use in cats, but there are currently no veterinary NSAIDs approved for safe, long-term use to control osteoarthritis pain in cats.

This is one of the reasons that technologies such as VetStem Cell Therapy are so important in feline medicine. Stem cells can help control pain and inflammation, can regulate the immune system, and can help regenerate damaged tissues. This makes stem cell therapy a potential treatment option for a wide array of diseases that are lacking effective treatment protocols in cats.

If you think your cat may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to find a VetStem provider near you.

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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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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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