Monday, November 30, 2015

Coughing, Vomiting, and Vaseline

Katee, in the video above, has a cough, and her owner is concerned. 

Just like people cats can have a cough that sounds different from one-another. Their cough can be loud or quiet, wheezy or honking, congested (productive) or dry.  The may cough once, a few times or have coughing jags (paroxysmal coughing).  At cat may have a different cough associated with different illnesses as well, so it could manifest differently at different stages of the cat’s life.

One challenge in obtaining history regarding a cough is that clients and veterinarians alike sometimes write it off to normal “hairball' problems. In fact, the cough is often due to respiratory disease including chronic tracheobronchitis. Tracheobronchitis in cats is common and results in recurrent coughing followed by gagging. It is the gag that may trigger vomiting after a bout of coughing, which can confuse the issue. Illuminating this history is difficult and one must first ask the question, then explain the distinction, then mimic or demonstrate with video the difference between vomiting and coughing. If we don't have a high index of suspicion, if we don't have the time to get a good history, and if we don't have the tools to open the client's mind and help them to understand the distinction, then we will not get this history.

Attributing a cough to a hairball is a misnomer with virtually no scientific basis. This notion will likely never be expunged from lay dogma. There is no documentation in the literature of uncomplicated trichobezoars (hairballs) causing coughing in cats. Coughing has been reported in complicated surgical cases of gastric trichobezoars in man, but has not been reported in cats.  Cough attributed to gastroesophageal reflux disease in man is common (over 20% of chronic coughs), but this has not been described in the cat1 (Tatar).  It is possible that an esophageal location of a trichobezoar could compress pulmonary structures and thereby elicit a cough, however, this too has not been reported.

While white petrolatum, Vaseline, is often recommended and administered to cats for treating constipation and/or trichobezoars, giving Laxatone (or any other flavored white petrolatum) orally has never been shown to change the consistency or the slipperiness of the stools or aid in the passage of hair in the stomach.  Theoretically, if you want to lubricate the rectum you could administer Vaseline in that manner, but giving it orally ends with petrolatum simply being incorporated into the stool.

Searching PubMed (Aug. 2012) reveals no published studies in man, or animals, that demonstrate any the effectiveness of these products. While there is not a significant risk (and some cats love this stuff) some reported concerns would include passive steatorrhea and fat soluble vitamin deficiencies. There are over 50 published reports related to the efficacy of liquid paraffin for constipation in man, but none in cats. There is one report of liquid paraffin being superior to lactulose in children. The use of Vaseline in cats may be intended to result in the same effect, but they are very different products.

Mineral oil, of course, should be avoided because it can be easily and silently aspirated. Aspiration of mineral oil does not elicit a cough reflex (like aqueous based products) leading to lipid-like pneumonia.

If constipation is a concern (difficulty passing hard stools, straining) and a stool soften was needed then one could consider canned foods, adding water to the existing diet, water-soluble fibers, PEG3550 (Miralax), and lactulose.

The ongoing recommendation of administering product containing white petrolatum as a means of dealing with constipation or ‘hairball’ is a fallacy that should not be perpetuated.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Feline Leukemia and Bengal Cats

Bengal cat (left) and domestic shorthair (right)
It has come to our attention, recently, that there are a number of breeders and websites that claim that the Bengal breed is immune to Feline Leukemia virus. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are multiple reports across the nation of feline leukemia positive cats that are Bengals. This myth probably arose due to the origins of the Bengal breed.

The Bengal cat originated in part due to Dr. Willard Centerwall's research at Loyola University in the 1970's - breeding Asian Leopard cats to domestic cats in order to study the inheritance of Feline Leukemia. Asian Leopard Cats are considered to have some PARTIAL immunity to feline leukemia, but Feline Leukemia Virus has been detected in some Asian Leopard Cat cell lines. Unfortunately, when Dr. Centerwall passed away (in the 1980's, we believe), his research was not continued, so no studies have been done to determine how much, if any, partial immunity has been inherited by later generations. According to a European source, pet quality Bengal cats (4-5th generation removed or more from the Asian Leopard cat cross is considered to be a domestic cat and a "purebred Bengal") generally have in average only 12.5% "wild" blood in them (F4 generation = 6-14%, F5 generation 3-12%), , which argues that the likelihood that they have any partial immunity is very unlikely. Needless to say, the fact that there are Bengal cats out there that are testing positive for Feline Leukemia Virus is the strongest argument against the claim that they are immune.

Bengal kittens

All felines are at some degree of risk of developing feline leukemia if exposed to the disease - Florida panthers, lions, tigers, etc. Indoor cats are at very low risk of exposure, but any outdoor cat that is not 100% supervised while outside is potentially risking exposure. This is why we recommend that all cats be tested for Feline Leukemia after adoption (or after being found as a stray) and that cats with high risk lifestyles be regularly vaccinated for Feline Leukemia, regardless of their breed.

History of theBengal Cat

Recurrent Demyelination and Remyelination in 37 Young Bengal Cats with Polyneuropathy

Monday, November 2, 2015

Kinsey Leigh

Kinsey  aka Kinsey Leigh
Breed: Silver Mackerel British Shorthair
Age: 1 1/2 years
Gender: Spayed female 
Weight: 9.0 lbs - great body condition 
Demeanor at the vet: Super sweet girl!
Kinsey is our Southern Belle.  Originally from Arkansas, she moved north to Michigan and has never looked back.  She spends her days chasing after her brother Bentley and leaping on to anything and everything.  She is definitely a Momma's girl and enjoys evenings on the couch giving and getting love.  
Never wanting to be left out, and true to her breed, wherever you go...she goes.  Whether it's folding laundry or making dinner, Kinsey is always there to give her own kind of special help. 
Helping with luandry
She has made our lives, and her brothers, all the better.  As all cat lovers know, our pets are truly a part of our family.  Kinsey is our "little girl" and thanks to the love and care she gets from ECVH, we look forward to many, many years of love to come!

Enjoy these lovely photos of sweet Ms. November!

Kinsey is queen of the mountain!