From the February 2015 Issue

The Truth About Litter Box Aversion

The Truth About Litter Box Aversion

Thinking outside the box has become a cliché, but it’s still a praiseworthy trait. When your cat eliminates outside the litter box, however, it’s a problem. House soiling — urination or defecation any place other than in a litter box — is a major reason that owners surrender their cats to shelters.

Current Issue

Anesthesia Presents Fewer Risks Today

If your cat needs to have anesthesia, you can rest easier about the procedure because it poses fewer risks today, thanks to newer drugs, precise monitoring and an increased number of board-specialized veterinarians. “Our discipline has evolved,” says Luis Campoy, LV CertVA, MRCVS, Section Chief of Anesthesiology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Best Way to Break Up a Catfight

Most catfights occur between two females, followed by two males rather than male to female. The causes vary but most often center on coveted boundaries and possessions, with vertical spaces like climbing trees and sturdy shelves being especially valued. Whatever the reason, the safest way to break up a fight is the same: Keep your hands off both combatants. Instead, intervene with a disruption or barrier. Drop a pot on the floor, wedge a rigid, flat object like a baking sheet between them or pop an empty cardboard box over one of them. Protecting yourself is paramount because cats have an arsenal of sharp teeth and claws. When paired with their flexible spines and acrobatic ability, they can cause serious puncture wounds. If the wounds become infected, you can land in the hospital with cat scratch fever, an infection caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae, found in cat saliva. People with compromised immune systems are at the greatest risk for the infection.

Short Takes: February 2015

An international team of researchers has analyzed results of the cat genome — the complete mapping of DNA and genes — to arrive at a greater understanding of cats’ domestication. They compared the genomes of domestic and wild cats and found that areas of the domestic cat genome differed significantly from their wild counterparts, including genes involved in the reward centers of the brain and the development of neurons that produce dopamine, which helps control the brain’s pleasure centers. The researchers say that this suggests that the first wild cats bred for domestication were those responding to rewards such as food and stroking.

Ask Elizabeth: February 2015

Q. I have a 13-year-old domestic shorthaired cat who has recently developed an annoying habit over the past six months. He has begun meowing incessantly to the extent that he is driving our family crazy. We can’t tell if he is unhappy or sick, although he does not appear to be outwardly ill. This behavior keeps us up at night sometimes, and his daytime meowing has become hard to handle. Do you have any ideas about what may be going on?

In The News: February 2015

By far the most common heart disease in cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The characteristic thickening of the muscle of the left ventricle seen with HCM affects the heart’s ability to pump blood. One complication is that blood clots form and dislodge from the heart and block blood flow in large arteries. The clots cause pain, nerve and muscle damage, and can lead to death. Treatment today is only minimally effective. A study led by Fern Tablin, VMD, Ph.D., at UC Davis will analyze the activation of blood platelets — cells that help blood clot — in cats with HCM with the goal of early detection of the disease. Many affected cats show no signs. Others have labored or rapid breathing and lethargy.