Roaming cats worry their owners

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter, found that owners who allow their cats to roam freely outdoors worry about their cat’s safety. Why then do they let their cats roam? The study shows that many cat owners feel that their cats need to roam and hunt. They feel that a cat would not be happy or fulfilled if they are kept indoors.

 

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A feral kitten we rescued a few years ago. We found her in the road on a cold, snowy Christmas eve. She was adopted to a good home. 

Unfortunately these sentiments can be detrimental to a cat’s health and even it’s life. Cats do not need to be free outdoors to roam and hunt. Cats can and do live a happy and productive life indoors. It is up to the owner to provide interactive toys or play with their cat to satisfy the cat’s need to hunt and attack prey.

Cats also need companionship, either from another animal or their owners. Most cats are very social although not in the same way as dogs are.

There are videos made for cats to watch. If a cat owner feels strongly that their cat should spend time outdoors there are cat containment systems that allow a cat to go outdoors and be safe. You only need to google “cat outdoor yards” or “cat containment systems” to find a wide variety to meet your cat’s needs.

There are a number of reasons why a cat should not be allowed to freely roam outdoors. Being outdoors, even in a city or urban environment subjects the cat to predators which can range from dogs, other cats, hawks, foxes, coyotes and other wild animals that will attack a cat either aggressively or defensively. There are also evil people who make it a sport to trap and torture or kill cats.

If a cat kills wildlife, they are exposed to various parasites and diseases. If they come in contact with other outdoor cats, they can be exposed to various cat borne diseases which could be fatal. If a cat kills and ingests some of the blood of a rodent that has eaten rodent poison, the poison in the rodent’s blood can kill the cat.

Being exposed to injury, diseases and parasites, can make the cat sick and cost the owner multiple veterinarian bills. Not to mention subject the cat to preventable suffering and death.

If the cat is not spayed or neutered, letting it roam freely will cause pregnancy and add to the feral cat population. Contrary to what many people think, feral cats do not live a good life. They are subjected to all the above-mentioned diseases and death. Most feral cats do not live past kittenhood and if they do, only live about two very harsh years, struggling to find food, water, warmth and to fend off predators.

In conclusion, there is no positive reason to let a cat roam freely outdoors. There is every reason to trap, spay, neuter and adopt feral cats.

Animal related injuries account for over 1 billion dollars of health care

What may be surprising to many people is that most of the injuries are due to non-venomous insect and spider bites, about 40%. Dog bites only accounted for about 25% of the injuries. About 13% were caused by hornet, wasp and bee stings.

The dollar amount does not include doctor’s fees, outpatient charges, lost productivity, and rehabilitation.

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Over half of the costs associated with animal injuries included dog bites, non-venomous insect and spider bites, and bites from venomous snakes and lizards.

Death due to injuries is rare, only .02% with the highest rate of death due to rat bites, with venomous snake/lizard a close second and third was by dogs.

People over the age of 85 were six times more likely to be admitted to hospital and 27 times more likely to die after their injury.

It seems that while people are careful around dogs and other animals, they should be more aware of the reptiles and insects that they may encounter. This is especially true of ticks that carry several diseases that can make a human or animal seriously ill or even bring about their death.

Catnip may help cancer patients

Many of us have seen how catnip also known as catmint makes cats act like a kitten. I have seen cats who played like crazy and some who seemed to get angry and aggressive when given catmint.

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Now scientists have discovered what the chemical process is that makes cats go gaga over catnip.

It turns out it is a two step process that has never been discovered before, where the plant produces nepetalactone, a chemical called a terpene. Other plants such as peppermint, have terpene. By understanding how this chemical is produced, scientists will be able to recreate chemicals such as vinblastine that comes from the Madagascan periwinkle and used for chemotherapy. If scientists can unlock this mystery they will not have to rely on the actual plants for medicines.

Again, our pets have helped us unlock the mysteries of medicine and we will benefit from this research. The lesson for me from this study is that researching something that seems to have no benefit can unlock lifesaving techniques for both humans and animals. After all, who would think of studying catnip?

Susan Bulanda’s Books

Hi loyal followers. Earlier this month I posted about the books I have written. However, I did not realize that my website (www.sbulanda.com) was not working. It is fixed, so if you tried to order any of my books and could not, you should be able to do so now. Sorry for any inconvenience. Please note that you cannot order my WWI book, Soldiers in Fur and Feathers from my website. This is because I only have a few copies left. If you would like a copy of that book email me at sbulanda@gmail.com to see if I still have some. It is a collectible since it is a signed first edition. Also note that Scenting on the Wind and Ready to Serve, Ready to Save are on sale for $6.00 each. These area also signed first editions that are now out of print. Go to my previous blog to see my books.

Thanks, Sue

K9 OBEDIENCE TRAINING COVER PRINT

 

Canine genetics and behavior

Dog owners and breeders know that certain behaviors dominate certain breeds. For example herding dogs have the instinct to herd. Hounds have the instinct to hunt with their nose, some breeds are better guard dogs and the list goes on. This is what makes breed traits what they are. But it has been somewhat of a mystery about how this happens genetically because not all dogs in a particular breed have the same strength of the trait for that breed and some lack it entirely.

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In a new study, James A Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues Evan L. MacLean of the University of Arizona, Noah Snyder-Mackler of the University of Washington, and Bridgett M. vonHoldt of Princeton University conducted a study to try to unravel how genetics affect breed trait behavior.

Their study concluded that genes do play a large part in breed behavior, and those gene most affect the brain rather than other bodily tissues. However, they stressed that there is a large margin to allow for the differences between individual animals.

What this means to the dog owner, and especially the potential dog owner, is that getting a dog from a reliable, ethical and trusted breeder is critical to your dog’s behavior. The genetic tendencies can and do vary from line to line. It also means that if you adopt a mixed breed or purebred dog, you will have no idea what it’s genetically controlled behavior will be.

This is important to understand because if behavior issues arise, you will have to allow for the possibility that it is genetically influenced. The method that you use to alter any unwanted behavior that is genetically influence will be different than simple training methods. Always consult a certified behavior consultant. You can find one at www.iaabc.org.

Also keep in mind that genetically influenced behavior is not limited to dogs but is a part of the makeup of all living beings. Yes, environment and learning also comes into play.

Measuring device-critical in feeding your dog

Prof. Jason Coe from University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College did a study to see how accurately people measure dry dog food. While this may not seem like an earth-shattering study, it can have a huge impact of the health of all dogs. Coe found that 48 percent of the people tested underestimated and 152 percent overestimated the amount of food that they fed their dogs.

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This can cause dogs to be either underweight or overweight. Small dogs are especially at risk because even a small error in the amount of food can cause them to become overweight.

A two-cup measuring device was the least accurate form of measuring food. This is because it is hard to eyeball one half or one cup of food. A measuring device that is the correct size for the amount you want works better than the two-cup device. What works the best is a kitchen scale. This is the most accurate way to ensure that your dog gets the correct amount of food.

Of course it goes without saying that if you feed your dog table scraps or other items, you must account for that too. Yes, table scraps of a high quality are OK in small amounts. You also have to consider treats, especially if you are training your dog and using treats as a reward.

One of the culprits that I have found is if your dog is around small children, since kids often share their food with a dog. I have seen my grandson sitting next to my dogs and sharing, ‘one for you and one for me.’

It is always best to take notice of your dogs’ physical condition and if you see that they are losing or gaining weight, reassess what you are feeding your dog and how much. If there has been no change, sudden weight loss or gain does warrant a trip to your veterinarian.

Night blindness in dogs

Dogs suffer from the same type of night blindness as people. People who have congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB) have normal vision during the day but have trouble seeing things in dim light. Because dogs cannot tell us what they see or do not see, we can only assume that they have the same problem. We do know that they suffer from CSNB by their behavior. If you notice that your dog seems to be okay going out during the day but does not want to go out at night or acts uncertain when the lights in your home are off, you might want to have a veterinarian ophthalmologist examine your dog.

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The good news is that a team of veterinarians have proven that dogs suffer from CSNB and they have identified the gene that causes it. Once the gene has been identified, veterinarians can work to find a cure. That is exactly what veterinarians Keiko Miyadera and Gustavo Aguirre, a professor of ophthalmology and medical genetics at Penn Vet, and Rueben Das, then of Penn Vet and now of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, in collaboration with a team led by Mie University’s Mineo Kondo are doing.

As with inherited disorders and diseases that are common in dogs and humans, a cure for one will lead to a cure for the other.

Parasite from cats killing sea otters

For decades scientists have been studying why some California sea otters are dying. Recently researchers led by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have linked feral and domestic cats as the source of Toxoplasma that is killing sea otters.

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photo from pixabay

The parasite forms egglike stages referred to as oocysts. Feral cats eat rodents and birds that have the oocysts in their bodies. From there the oocysts live in the cats until they are passed through the cat feces. The feces are washed into the sea and live in the kelp. Then snails eat the oocysts and the sea otters eat the snails.

People who own cats can help by keeping their cats indoors. Cat feces should not be flushed into septic or public wastewater systems since they will cycle back into the ground.

The oocysts are also washed into the waterways by rainwater, therefore preserving wetlands, forests and grasslands will help keep the parasite and other pollutants out of the oceans. Managing storm water runoff and replacing pavement with permeable surfaces will help.

If all cat owners in California, especially those who live near the ocean, do what they can to help, we can reduce the death rate of sea otters.

Cats do bond to humans

A recent study by Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University showed that cats’ bond to their human caretakers the same as dogs and human infants (attachment security). In this study cats were put in a novel room with their caretakers for two minutes, then they were left there for two minutes alone. After that the caretaker returned and the cat’s reaction was observed.

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The findings show that a cat’s attachments to humans are stable, and present in adulthood. As a result of this finding, the researchers are currently looking into how this impacts the many cats and kittens that are in shelters. They want to see how socialization and fostering influence a cat’s ability to have attachment security.

I am personally glad to see that researchers are finally exploring this aspect of a cat’s personality. Those of us who own cats know how attached they can be to us. For years people have misunderstood cats, labeling them as aloof because they show their affection differently than dogs.

Life-threatening heart arrhythmia’s in dogs

Although it is rare, some dogs, often Labrador Retrievers, suffer from life-threatening, arrhythmia caused by atrioventricular accessory pathways (APs).

APs are abnormal electrical circuits in the heart that can become activated and overcome the heart’s normal current pathways, severely impairing the heart’s ability to pump.

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Accessory atrioventricular pathways are atypical muscle bundles that connect the atrium to a ventricle outside of the regular atrioventricular system. The traditional treatment is life-long medications and frequent trips to the veterinarian. However, Dr. Kathy N. Wright and her colleagues at MedVet, a family of emergency and specialty veterinary hospitals around the United States have used a technique that is successful in humans, to treat dogs.

What she has demonstrated is that radiofrequency catheter ablation is a safe and highly effective alternative to successfully treat dogs. RFCA uses radiofrequencies to destroy those rogue circuits and allow the heart’s normal function to resume. In her study, dogs were cured with one or two treatments.

Again, this is a case of human medicine benefitting dogs. It is encouraging to think that veterinarians and human doctors will continue to work together to make all of us healthier.