Short Takes: 12/07

The danger of string; how behavior problems start; the calories of kitty treats

When Cats Swallow String

Rushed to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Kansas State University, the year-old cat had been coughing, vomiting and suffering abdominal pain. When all was said and done (yes, she survived, thanks to surgery) the cat was the subject of a report, “Diagnostic imaging for linear foreign bodies in cats,” in the journal, Veterinary Medicine (Vol. 102, Issue 8).

The cats owners got lots of pictures – from imaging techniques that included survey radiography, compression radiography, ultrasonography and positive

Bev Caldwell


contrast upper GI radiography. And veterinary science learned which techniques work best: compression radiography (something like a mammogram of the abdomen) and ultrasound.

No, the cat didnt get to keep the cotton string from her intestines. Teaching hospitals like to hang on to things like that.

Beware of Relatives Bearing Cats

Until televisions Cesar (The Dog Whisperer) Millan tackles cats, we have “Animal Behavior Case of the Month” in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 231, No. 5).

This one involved a nice young couple with a pair of nice young cats – until a relative came to visit with a cat of her own. The hour-long melee ended only when the relative packed up her cat and fled. When she came back, without the visiting cat, the resident cats attacked each other. The fighting went on for days – sometimes provoked by loud sounds, and only interrupted when the cats mauled the wife instead of each other.

It was a textbook case of feline aggression – including fear aggression, redirected aggression, play-related aggression – just about every other kind except territorial aggression. Which was how the whole mess started in the first place.

A solid year of desensitization treatments – separating the cats, non-threatening play and gradual re-introductions – returned the two feline friends to normal.

The owners were advised to avoid high-pitched sounds, and one other thing: “Remind the cat-owning relative to wash her hands and change her clothes whenever she comes back to the house.”

About Those Kitty Treats

“As few as two or three treats can contain half or more of a pets daily caloric need,” Ernest E. Ward, DVM, a nutritional consult to Veterinary Economics magazine in a recent (Vol. 48, No. 10) issue.

We hope Dr. Ward is talking mainly about some of the temptingly rich treats that dogs get, because a chart he prepared for the magazine (available to download in the “Web Exclusives” section of says a small size JumBone for dogs has 297 calories, and just one of the large size has 624 calories. According to the treat, a 10-pound cat needs no more than 275 calories a day (slightly fewer than a dog of the same weight).

So we checked labels on some favorite treats of Frannie, the ShortTakes mascot. Surprisingly, not one mentions calories-per-treat on the label. However, the Meow Mix Ocean Explosion Tartar Control container says the little fish-shaped things “can replace part of your cats regular diet since its 100 percent nutritionally complete for maintenance,” and that a 10-pound cat (Frannies size) can have 20 to 30 treats a day.

Oh, really? We believe in rewarding good behavior. And Frannie is a pretty good cat. But 20 good deeds a day? v