Short Takes: 12/04

Feline blood donors; how much do we spend each year on our pets?

Two Good Reasons to Give Blood
Cat owners who responded to media requests to bring their kitties to Bostons Angell Memorial Animal Hospital Blood Bank to donate blood later found their pets heralded in a Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 225, No. 3) article titled Assessment of the prevalence of heart murmurs in overtly healthy cats.

One inducement to give a little feline blood – to be banked for other cats needing transfusions – was the offer of free stuff. Starting with a complete physical exam, blood tests and echocardiography if heart murmurs were detected, the cats also were tested for infectious diseases and had all their vaccinations updated. They went away with identification microchips under their skins and eight-pound bags of cat food for their tummies. 

Cats that had heart murmurs were not allowed to donate blood. Those that could donate earned a donor card with their photograph and blood type noted. And all cats in the study were guaranteed free blood transfusions if they should ever need them.

Besides being nice to cats, the research veterinarians were actually trying to learn whether heart murmurs are anything to worry about – or evidence of latent heart disease that can cause trouble later. Their published conclusion: Heart murmurs occur commonly in apparently healthy cats in the northeastern United States. In many or most instances, these murmurs may be caused by structural heart disease, especially hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

None of the 105 cats in the blood bank study needed immediate medical care, but those with heart murmurs should be monitored periodically for possible problems. In the meantime their owners have the satisfaction of knowing a little more about their feline friends and that they have done a good thing for veterinary science.


Sometimes the System Works
Ever wonder what happens when a pet has an adverse reaction to a drug? Does anyone, anywhere care? Apparently the Food and Drug Administration does, according to an article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 225, No. 4) titled Adverse drug event reports at the United States Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine.

The article tells what happened when cats started going blind in 1992 after being treated with the antimicrobial drug enrofloxacin. At first it was just one or two cats a year, but by April 2000 there were 52 cases of total or partial blindness in the federal centers database. The government veterinarians ordered the drug manufacturers to reconsider the recommended dosage of enrofloxacin and to send so-called Dear Doctor letters to all veterinarians in the United States warning them to cut the dosage.

The agency says it welcomes more reports of adverse drug reactions. For the bureaucratically minded, those reports should be on FDA Form 1932 (for manufacturers) or Form 1932A (for pet owners). The rest of us can call toll-free at  888-FDA-VETS.


Wonder Where the Lizards Are
From the trade journal Veterinary Economics (Vol. 45, No. 8), the average expenditure on toys last year by American pet owners: dogs, $33; cats, $20; fish, $30; birds, $25; and reptiles, $190.

Thats right; $190 for reptilian recreation. Dogs were the most rewarded by food treats, at an average of $53 worth, whereas cats got $34 worth; fish, $25;  and birds, $28. And reptile treats? Seems they deserved nothing. Zilch.

Which just may account for some of that bad lizard behavior.