Injury

A Commitment to Improving Well-being

Imagine veterinarians being able to sterilize feral cats by vaccination instead of surgery. Or to identify the connection between a relatively benign form of feline coronavirus and feline infectious peritonitis, which is nearly always fatal, with the hope of finding ways to diagnose and combat it. Or discover how and why vaccine-associated sarcomas may trigger DNA damage in some cats and how this damage may be used to predict which cases of the sarcomas are amenable to chemotherapy. These are just three of the many scientific studies funded by the Cornell Feline Health Center where, under the guidance of Director Colin Parrish, Ph.D., Professor of Virology, the goal of bettering the health of cats continues to be the focus and commitment, as it has been since the center opened its doors in 1974.

Short Takes: October 2012

Two specialists in veterinary emergency and critical care have teamed up to help produce the first evidence-based guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation in cats and dogs. When a preliminary survey showed little consistency in the rate of chest compressions administered by veterinarians during CPR, Daniel J. Fletcher, DVM, Ph.D., at Cornell and Manuel Boller, DVM, MTR, at Penn initiated a plan to develop evidence-based guidelines for CPR for veterinary patients. Although more than 20 percent of human patients who suffer cardiac arrest in the hospital survive to go home, perhaps partially as a result of the variability in compression rate, only 6 percent of dogs and cats do, according to recent veterinary CPR research.

Broken Bones: All Cats Are at Risk

Despite their typically strong, agile, and resilient bodies, cats are subject to a wide variety of musculoskeletal disorders — diseases and injuries affecting the complex structure of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that give shape to their bodies and enable them to move about. Fortunately, most of these disorders — such as congenital malformations, inflammatory diseases and tumorous growths — are relatively rare in cats. Less rare by comparison are bone fractures that result from traumatic events, such as when a cat is hit by a car, for example, or falls from a tree. A fracture can occur when any physical force applies sudden and excessive pressure on a bone until it snaps at its weakest point. Although fractures occur less frequently in felines than they do in dogs, cats with broken bones are treated once or twice each month at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA), according to Ursula Krotscheck, DVM, an assistant professor of clinical sciences at the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Understand the Risk of Glaucoma

The eye is an amazing, delicate organ. Cells within the eye normally produce a clear fluid (aqueous humor) that serves to nourish and maintain the shape of the eye. When the balance between the production and the drainage of fluid is upset, glaucoma can result. Decreased drainage of fluid causes increased pressure (and pain) within the eye, often resulting in damage to the optic nerve and, consequently, loss of vision. While glaucoma is much less common in cats than in dogs, it still poses the same high risk of blindness if left untreated. In fact, even if diagnosed early on, treatment is not always successful.

Taking Your Cat’s Temperature

You may wonder: How exactly can I take my cat’s temperature without being bitten or scratched to smithereens? Obviously, you will need to do it carefully, and if possible, with a partner. Additionally, it’s a smart idea to first have a trained staff member at your veterinary hospital demonstrate the technique for you. There may be a time when your cat is recovering from an illness and you’ll be asked by your veterinarian to monitor her temperature, so it’s a useful skill to aquire.

Taking Your Cat’s Temperature

You may wonder: How exactly can I take my cat’s temperature without being bitten or scratched to smithereens? Obviously, you will need to do it carefully, and if possible, with a partner. Additionally, it’s a smart idea to first have a trained staff member at your veterinary hospital demonstrate the technique for you. There may be a time when your cat is recovering from an illness and you’ll be asked by your veterinarian to monitor her temperature, so it’s a useful skill to aquire.

Feline Blood Donors: Necessary

Blood can be the gift of life not just for us, but also for our cats. "A cat suffering severe injury or trauma may require blood transfusions," says Marjory Brooks, DVM, associate director of the coagulation section at Cornell Universitys Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory. Other indications for transfusion include surgical complications and anemia caused by autoimmune disease, renal failure, chemotherapy, parasites in the intestinal tract or fleas. "Young kittens are especially at risk for blood-loss anemia caused by flea infestation," says Dr. Brooks. Cats that need plasma proteins to combat liver disease, clotting problems or rat poisoning may also require a transfusion.

Earthquake and Tsunami Spared Cat Island

Japans "cat island" - known formally as Tashirojima - was found to be relatively intact after Marchs devasting 9-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami, according to Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support. The small island is home to at least 100 people - mostly elderly - and many more cats. The animals are valued by the residents for their beauty, companionship and ability to keep the rodent population down in this fishing area.

Diagnosis: Conjunctivitis

Your cats eyes, like yours, are delicate structures made up of various components -the cornea, pupil, iris, lens, retina and so forth - each of which plays a role in enabling the animals keen vision. While the feline eye is generally sturdy and resistant to injuries and disease, a wide variety of disorders, such as glaucoma and cataracts, can impair a cats vision and even, in some cases, lead to blindness. According to Thomas Kern, DVM, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Cornell Universitys College of Veterinary Medicine, the most common of all feline eye disorders is conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the thin mucous membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the inner surface of the eyelids and coats the outer surface of the eyeball.

Short Takes: February 2011

Multiple endocrine glandular failure is recognized in humans, yet it is an uncommonly recognized phenomenon in veterinary medicine. This retrospective study ("Multiple endocrine diseases in cats: 15 cases [1997-2008]," Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery, 2010) included a population of cats from a university veterinary teaching hospital diagnosed with multiple endocrine disorders.

Emergency Care for Your Cat

Perhaps the most important characteristic of a responsible cat owner is the ability to distinguish the signs of minor feline illnesses from those calling for an immediate trip to the nearest animal emergency care facility. Cat owners should be equipped ahead of time to deal promptly with such a crisis. They should know precisely where the clinic is located, the speediest route to get there, how to transport the afflicted animal, what documents they should take to the facility - and what to expect to happen upon arrival.

Short Takes: December 2010

Researchers developed a questionnaire for evaluation of cat owners perception of and knowledge about vaccination of cats, with owners asked to fill out a separate questionnaire for each cat they owned. A total of 3,163 questionnaires were evaluated ("Use of a web-based questionnaire to explore cat owners attitudes towards vaccination in cats," Veterinary Record, 2010). Vaccination as a kitten was the strongest predictor of up-to-date vaccination status, followed closely by plans to take the cat to a boarding cattery or cat show in the coming year. Owners who ranked the severity of infectious diseases or veterinary advice as very important were more likely to vaccinate their cats than owners who perceived these factors as less important.