Short Takes: 02/03

Bedbugs, Diabetes Monitoring, Curfews

When Cats Get Bedbugs
. . . And dont let the bedbugs bite used to send kids to slumber land with a shudder, but whod have thought that cats need to worry about the parasitic insect, Cimex lectularius? Some Scottish felines might, according to an article in the journal, Veterinary Record (Vol. 151, Issue 11), titled Human bedbug infestation of a domestic cat.

The parasites were not causing the cat any obvious discomfort despite their size and number, but did move on to the owner when the cat sat on her lap, said the reports authors, who work at the University of Glasgow Veterinary School and Disease Surveillance Centre at Thurso, in northern Scotland.

Bedbugs are still endemic in many parts of the world, but had been extremely rare in the United Kingdom because of improvements in hygiene and insecticides. But that could change on both sides of the Atlantic with the increase of international travel of both human beings and their domestic pets. Eradication can be
difficult because adult bedbugs can live in crevices for up to six months without feeding.

Their diagnosis, the Scottish health authorities said, raises the possibility that domestic cats may provide a reservoir and mode of spread of this human parasite.

Monitoring Your Diabetic Cat
New, easier-to-use equipment is allowing more owners of diabetic cats to monitor their pets at home and administer insulin, as necessary. But increased responsibilities come along with home monitoring, according to an article in the veterinary journal, Clinical Techniques in Small Animal Practice (Vol. 17, Issue 2).

According to research by veterinarians at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, portable glucose meters and home fructosamine monitors make blood and urine sampling more feasible for owners. And home testing – by a properly trained and equipped family member – may be more accurate for cats that find visits to the veterinarians office to be stressful. Home sampling is suggested when stress-induced hyperglycemia occurs in the unfamiliar setting of the veterinary clinic, according to the article.

The diagnosis of diabetes in a beloved cat can be a shock to owners, reported the articles authors, and owners must understand that the human-animal bond to which they are accustomed is about to change. Diabetic pets, once regulated, can lead normal, healthy lives but will depend on the owner more than the owner may have been previously accustomed.

Besides the new tests and insulin injections, diet and exercise routines may have to change. Feeding measured amounts, based on the animals size, must be coordinated with insulin doses and other medications. The days of free-choice feeding are over for the diabetic cat – and probably for other household pets, the journal noted.

Education by veterinarians and clear lines of communication from the cat owner are keys to home monitoring of diabetes, the article said, concluding, The management of diabetes and long-term health of the pet, in most cases, will become second nature to those who understand the disease management and their role in that process.

Cat Curfews Work . . . Until Dawn
Australians love their animals, spending $2.2 billion a year on pet care and employing more than 30,000 people to cook pet food, provide veterinary services, and make non-food pet products. But they care, too, about native Australian wildlife, particularly in the suburban fringes and their remnant urban bushland.

Researchers writing in the Australian Veterinary Journal (Vol. 80, Issue 9) about attitudes of suburban Western Australians to proposed cat control legislation knew the results of one attempt to regulate felines and spare the birds. Lawmakers in the municipality of Sherbrooke, in Victoria, were worried about dwindling lyrebird populations in the adjacent Sherbrooke Forest so they required cat registration (with microchips under the skin) and a nightime curfew for all cats, among other measures.

In fact, the cat curfew seems to be helping lyrebirds, the journal reported. The lyrebird population in Sherbrooke Forest is rebounding. And the number of lyrebirds treated for cat-inflicted injuries has decreased. But now that Sherbrooke cats are contained at night, their hunting time has shifted to daylight hours and the prey choice has changed to diurnal native animals, the journal reported. Attacks on diurnal native birds have increased 30 to 53 percent.