Sunday, May 13, 2012


May 18th...Birthday #4 for Questions On Dogs and Cats

Why Is My Cat So Sneezy?

Cats get seasonal allergies to pollen and grass, and some have year-round allergies to fleas and dust mites. Sandy Willis, a veterinary internist who advises the American Veterinary Medical Association, says that when cats interact with an allergen, their body sends immunoglobulin E antibodies to link with it, triggering the release of histamine and other chemicals that cause itchy eyes, runny noses, sneezing, hives and rashes.

The same process happens in other pets (dogs, rats, hamsters) and humans. In rare cases, cats can even be allergic to people. People allergies are uncommon, since we bathe more often than most other species and don’t shed as much hair and dead skin—which trigger our own allergies to pets. When cats do have a bad reaction to us, it’s usually caused by residue from our perfume, soap or laundry detergent. Any water-based cleaning product usually contains some preservatives. Cats tend to be more sensitive to chemicals than dogs. Specific chemical allergies are difficult to isolate and diagnose, so pets can’t be vaccinated for them or build up their tolerance with exposure like they can for organic allergies.

Cats can even be allergic to other pets. Vets offer antihistamines for dogs to treat cat, horse and bird allergies. Cat antihistamines recently hit the market too.

Adapted from:

Does your cat hate making trips to the vet?
If so, you're not alone! 


Q: My cat is 8 years old. It has been at least three years since I took him to the vet, maybe more. I used to take him once a year for a check-up and vaccinations, but it was such an ordeal that I stopped. I always got scratched putting him in the carrier, he howled the whole way to the vet, then he hissed and tried to bite and scratch the doctor and assistant. Is it worth trying to take him again?

A: Your cat is not alone. A recent survey of over 1,000 cat owners showed that 58 percent of cats hate going to the vet. Many of these cat lovers decide not to make regular visits to their veterinarian for wellness exams and preventive care. The cats may suffer the consequences of not getting adequate health care and only see their vet when they have been sick.

Particularly for older cats like yours, routine physical examinations and lab tests can catch problems when they are just starting, hopefully making treatment more successful.

The first step to make your next visit easier will require some changes at home. Keep your cat's travel crate out in a room he spends time in. To attract him to the crate, put a soft bed in it, or article of clothing with your scent. Treats and catnip in the crate can help also. Hopefully that will be enough to encourage him to get in and out of the crate willingly.

If this isn't enough to make him comfortable, spray the crate with Feliway pheromone spray. It should help reduce anxiety associated with the carrier. It also helps to spray the car before you take him in it. When it is time for a visit, if he won't go in the crate with a little coaxing, avoid putting him through the front of the crate against his will. Take the top off and set him in it that way.

Once you arrive at the veterinarian, if there isn't a separate waiting room for cats, ask to be put into an exam room while you wait for your appointment to avoid the stress of dogs nearby. It's even better if your vet has separate exam rooms for cats away from the dog exam rooms. If this isn't possible, ask if your vet makes house calls or consider a veterinarians who only see cats in their practice.

Please don't avoid taking your cat for check-ups. If you wait until he is sick, it may be too late.

Adapted from:

Domestic Cats, Wild Bobcats, and Pumas, Living in Same Area, Have Same Diseases Adapted

Domestic cats, wild bobcats and pumas that live in the same area share the same diseases. And domestic cats may bring them into human homes, according to results of a study of what happens when big and small cats cross paths.

The joint National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) Program funded the study. Scientists at Colorado State University and other institutions conducted the research.

It provides evidence that domestic cats and wild cats that share the same outdoor areas in urban environments also can share diseases such as Bartonellosis and Toxoplasmosis. Both can be spread from cats to people.

"Human-wildlife interactions will continue to increase as human populations expand," said Sam Scheiner, program director for EEID at NSF.

"This study demonstrates that such interactions can be indirect and extensive," said Scheiner. "Through our pets we are sharing their diseases, which can affect our health, our pets' health and wildlife health."

The study looked at urban areas in California and Colorado. Its results show that diseases can spread via contact with shared habitat.

All three diseases the scientists tracked--Toxoplasmosis, Bartonellosis and FIV, or feline immunodefiency virus--were present in each area.

The research also demonstrates that diseases can be clustered due to urban development and major freeways that restrict animal movement.

"The results are relevant to the big picture of domestic cats and their owners in urban areas frequented by wild cats such as bobcats and pumas," said Sue VandeWoude, a veterinarian at Colorado State and co-leader of the project.

"The moral of this story is that diseases can be transmitted between housecats and wildlife in areas they share, so it's important for pet owners to keep that in mind."

The researchers followed wild and domestic cats in several regions of Colorado and California to determine whether the cats had been exposed to certain diseases.

The effort includes data from 800 blood samples from felines of all sizes, including 260 bobcats and 200 pumas, which were captured and released, and 275 domestic cats.

"As human development encroaches on natural habitat, wildlife species that live there may be susceptible to diseases we or our domestic animals carry and spread," said Kevin Crooks, a biologist at Colorado State and co-leader of the project.

"At the same time, wildlife can harbor diseases that humans and our pets can in turn get. Diseases may be increasingly transmitted as former natural areas are developed."

The project also looked at whether bobcats in southern California were segregated into different populations by major highways.

By analyzing genetic and pathogen data, the scientists found that bobcats west or east of Highway 5 near Los Angeles rarely interbred, but that the bobcats did cross into each other's territory often enough to share diseases such as FIV.

"The evidence suggests that bobcats are moving across major highways, but are not able to easily set up new home territories," said VandeWoude.

"They can, however, spread diseases to one another when they cross into each other's territories. This could result in inbreeding of the bobcats trapped by urban development and end up in the spread of diseases."

VandeWoude and Crooks say that the results don't necessarily mean that all domestic cats that are allowed to roam outdoors are at a high level of risk. They plan further studies to better assess that risk.

It does mean that domestic cats and wild cats who share the same environment--even if they do not come into contact with each other--also can share diseases.

The findings show that pumas are more likely to be infected with FIV than bobcats or domestic cats. While FIV cannot be transmitted to people, it is highly contagious among felines.

The rate of Toxoplasmosis was high in pumas and bobcats across Colorado and California.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite that, when carried by healthy people, has no effect but that can cause complications for infants and adults with compromised immune systems.

Cats only spread Toxoplasmosis in their feces for a few weeks following infection with the parasite. Like humans, cats rarely have symptoms when first infected.

Bartonellosis is a bacterial infection also called cat scratch disease. If someone is scratched by a cat with Bartonellosis, the scratch may become infected, but the infection is usually a mild one.

Other studies underway include a fine-scale analysis of urban landscape features that affect disease incidence; evaluation of pathogen exposure and transmission in bobcats; and a survey of domestic cat owners about their attitudes toward risks for pets from wildlife.

Large-scale projects looking at movement patterns of bobcats and pumas in Colorado, and a motion-activated camera analysis of human and wildlife interactions along urban areas, are also in progress.

The take-home message, the researchers say, is that life in the wild may not be so wild after all.

Adapted from:

Why Cats And Other Carnivores Don't Taste Sweets

With no need for carbohydrates, many carnivorous animals have lost the ability to detect sweet flavors.


• Lions, dolphins, hyenas and other pure carnivores have lost the ability to taste sweet foods.
• Omnivores that chew their food have kept their sweet receptors, because detecting carbohydrates is a matter of survival.

Lions and Asian otters don't care for sweets but raccoons and spectacled bears will eat almost anything. Now a new study helps explain why.

Independently and fairly recently, genetic mutations have made various carnivores unable to taste sweet foods.

Probably, this is because these species were already subsisting off of meat-only diets that lacked sweet flavors when the mutations first occurred, they did just fine after losing their sweet receptors -- giving rise to entire species of animals that lack appreciation for cookies or fruit.

For omnivorous creatures that chew their food, on the other hand, the ability to taste carbohydrates remains a matter survival, and their sweet receptors remain intact.

Besides offering a window into the unique sensory worlds of other animals, the research adds to our understanding of the complexity of taste perception. By better understanding how the system works, this and research like it could lead to a variety of applications, including the development of better artificial sweeteners or sweet enhancers.

For decades, scientists have known that cats show no preference for sweets. Then in 2005, researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia published research showing that domestic cats have a mutation rendering their taste receptors unable to bind to sweet molecules. The same was true of their wild cousins, including lions, tigers and jaguars.

Many people were unable to accept this news about their feline pets.

"When we first published the data on cats, it got a tremendous amount of publicity and a lot of people saying, 'My cat likes sweets and you're wrong,'" said biologist Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Center. "But invariably they liked ice cream or cake, and sweetness was confounded with fat and other things."

"In retrospect it seems obvious," he added. "But it was to my surprise when we found out that this [loss of sweet taste] has happened repeatedly and independently in many species."

To investigate whether other animals might share the finicky cat's lack of appreciation for desserts, Beauchamp and colleagues analyzed taste receptor genes of a dozen species of carnivores. All of the animals have taste perception systems that are similar to the human system, with specific known genes that code for receptors for each of the five tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami.

Using computer algorithms, the researchers could then scan each gene in each species to see if it contained any sequences that would make it unable to produce the proteins needed to sense each taste quality.

Of the 12 animals studied, seven had mutations that made them unable to taste sweets, the researchers report today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. All seven of those eat meat and only meat, and some inhale their food without even chewing. The list included bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, spotted hyenas and fossas (a cat-like carnivore).

Dolphins and sea lions also appear unable to taste the savory flavor umami, and dolphins might also be missing the ability to detect bitter flavors.

On the other hand, sweet-sensing genes were still functional in aardwolfs (a member of the hyena family), Canadian otters, red wolves, spectacled bears, and raccoons. The last three are meat-eaters who also eat fruits and other foods.

In a follow-up experiment that used behavior to back up the genetics, Asian otters showed no particular preference for water laced with sugar or artificial sweeteners, while spectacled bears almost unanimously chose the sweetened liquid.

When the researchers looked more closely at the genes, they saw that, for the most part, different mutations independently disabled sweet receptors in different species -- suggesting that taste receptor mutations have popped relatively recently in the scheme of evolution.

And an animal's diet, it appears, determines whether a mutation will disappear or stick around.

Understanding from a genetic perspective what animals can and cannot taste could help zookeepers and other handlers design desirable diets for creatures in captivity, said Thomas Finger, a neurobiologist who studies taste and smell at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.

On a deeper level, the study offers insights into how life on Earth is constantly evolving.

"Nature's always tossing the dice and mutating genes all over the place," Finger said. "This says that losing a taste gene in an environment where nutrition doesn't depend on it doesn't matter. That loss will persist, because there's no reason for it to be eliminated."

Adapted from:

How many of you are familiar with the taste of "umami?"  Have you ever heard of it?  It has an interesting story, after first being described in the early 1900s.  Check it out...Wikipedia has a nice description of umami.

The LA Dodgers now have the best record in all of baseball and the biggest lead of any divisional leader.  Granted, it's still pretty early in the season but we just swept our 4th series of the year and it took all of last year to accomplish the same thing.  So, this is a big improvement over last year!

The San Antonio Spurs start the 2nd round of the playoffs this week after sweeping the Utah Jazz in the 1st round.  The oldest team in the NBA is still a very powerful team.

It's hard to believe I've written more than 200 issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats these last 4 years.  It's been a lot of fun for me and I hope our readers have had fun reading the blog.  If you pick up just one fact each week that you carry with you, that will be all the reward I need.  Thanks for visiting the blog site!

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

No comments:

Post a Comment