From the March 2015 Issue

A Cat on an Underwater Treadmill?

A Cat on an Underwater Treadmill?

The cat’s hip problem was so painful that he required a femoral head osteotomy, the surgical removal of the top of the thighbone forming the ball and socket joint. Afterward, the supporting muscle needed to be strengthened to bear the cat’s weight, but he refused to use his limb.

Current Issue

Telltale Signs: Squinting and Red Eyes

Other than the unlikely use of goggles, one of the best ways to protect your cat’s vision is to pay attention to his behavior. If he’s squinting or rubbing his eyes, he could have a corneal ulcer. The painful condition is caused by an erosion of the layers of the cornea, the translucent outer covering of the eye. Yet another telling sign is a discharge from the eye. This can range from tearing to a thick secretion. An opaque white, yellow or blue coloration may also be noticeable. Eventually, the discoloration and a cloudiness of the cornea can prevent light from entering the eye and result in blindness.

The Common Cause of Ear Infections

One common reason for veterinary visits among cats is otitis externa, or inflammation of the external ear canal. “Most people believe that that the term otitis externa means an ear infection, but that isn’t true. Something has to breech the normal defense mechanism of the ear to trigger the infection,” says veterinary dermatologist William H. Miller, Jr., VMD, Medical Director of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. Once the surface of the ear canal is damaged, bacteria or yeast inside and around the canal can cause an infection. The underlying causes can include tumors, allergies, ticks or fleas, and excessive grooming and ear wax. But by far the most frequent cause in cats, especially kittens, is ear mites.

Short Takes: March 2015

A new test for chronic kidney disease in cats has identified its onset an average of 17 months earlier than existing methods, according to a small study published in the Veterinary Journal. Researchers at Oregon State University and IDEXX Laboratory developed a biomarker — a substance indicating disease called SDMA — and used it in a controlled study of 32 older but otherwise healthy cats. When available commercially, a test based on the biomarker could alert cat owners and veterinarians to kidney disease through periodic checkups, researchers say. “Chronic kidney disease is common in geriatric cats and often causes their death,” says researcher Jean Hall, DVM, Ph.D., at Oregon State. “Damage from it is irreversible, but this is an important advance, in that we should be able to identify the problem earlier and use special diets to slow the disease.”

Ask Elizabeth: March 2015

Q. I’ve been feeding a neutered male outdoor cat for the past few weeks, and he is aggressively friendly. On two occasions, he attacked my legs with his claws when I was walking to his food bowl to fill it. I began taking a spray bottle with me and squirted him when he got too close but stopped that because I thought it would only confuse him. Lately, he has not attacked me but is still very persistent in rubbing against me to the point of almost causing me to trip. Is there anything I can do to calm him down before mealtime?

In The News: March 2015

Animal shelters in the U.S. take in 3.4 million cats annually and euthanize 1.3 million of them. Two shelter medicine programs have set out to save many of those lives with the launch of the Million Cat Challenge. The Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida and hundreds of animal shelters throughout North America want to challenge animal control facilities and private shelters to reduce euthanasia.