Cats


New issues of the following journals are now available online:

A report in the 6 April issue of Science explains why small dogs are small and large are large. Here’s a news article on the findings. Here’s the abstract.

A British cat won a giant Easter egg.

Tune in online to Heska’s annual shareholder meeting on 4 May 2007. Info about the Webcast is here. (The press release says to “click on the Annual Meeting of Stockholders link on the front page” of the Heska Web site, however when I checked today no such link yet existed; hopefully the PR and IT departments will coordinate a little more closely in the future.)

An editorial in the Times of Malta urges the Maltese to consider setting up their own college of veterinary medicine.

A U.S. military veterinary mission in Djibouti ends up rescuing a young man caught in a flash flood. “With a powerful current of water standing between them and the injured 19 year-old man, three military members, accompanied by a local Djiboutian, tethered themselves together with a rope and made their way into the river.”

A nice story on a Columbus, WI, veterinarian whose husband is reservist serving in Iraq.

A horse in Bakersfield, CA, that got trapped in an overturned, mangled horse trailer (in pouring rain) is rescued. The rescue is caught on camera. (Or you can read a transcript here.)

EquestrianMag.com reports on the end of the most recent outbreak of equine infectious anemia in Ireland.

CIO Asia reports on the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s development and implementation of a veterinary management information system. “With the value of the animals being cared for in excess of US$190 million, the stakes are high.” Indeed.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports on caprine acupuncture.

K9 Magazine explains how the Petplan Charitable Trust, a charity operated by a British pet insurance company, works.

The Veterinary News Network deems itself newsworthy.

Donations from grateful clients to veterinary colleges (and their teaching hospitals) are climbing.

Go for the title (“Plastic Rats and Disposable Lungs”). Go for the lead image (tandem parachuters, one holding a large gray plastic dog). Go to learn about the new generation of pet mannequins being used to train veterinarians. Just go! This story from Wired has so much going for it!

A profile of Emily Hilscher, a veterinary assistant who was one of the people killed at Virginia Tech last week.

The Royal Canin recall hit us hard. Hypoallergenic is the prescription diet we use second most (after Royal Canin’s Calorie Control). Over fifty of our clients feed it to as many as 100 of our patients. On Friday we sent out thirty-nine sets of bloodwork to Antech, almost what we’d expect to perform in a full month. We had another thirteen cats scheduled to come in for testing on Saturday. We’re performing urinalyses in house and sending out for CBCs and general chemistry profiles. I expect our bill to Royal Canin (who told us they will pay for testing of any cat that has eaten Hypoallergenic in the past six months) to be in the $8,000–$10,000 range, not including treatment costs for those cats showing signs of renal failure (so far, at least two) and not including overtime costs for our staff who have worked extra-long hours the past few days.

Royal Canin’s Handling of the Recall
Catmanager’s wife contacted our Royal Canin representative about three weeks ago to report a cat she had seen in early February with unusual urine crystals. The cat had slightly elevated BUN and creatinine (but still within normal range), had been vomiting, and was generally ADR. Fast forward several weeks and those odd crystals were popping up all over the country, now identified as melamine (Antech has a nice PDF with nine photographs). When my wife realized what she’d likely been seeing, she called our Royal Canin rep. The cat had been eating Hypoallergenic. Our rep said he was unaware of any problems but advised my wife to contact one of the company’s staff veterinarians.

Now that Royal Canin has recalled Hypoallergenic (along with a few other diets) because it contains tainted rice protein, we really wish my wife had made that second call (the birth of our first child got in the way). Had she talked with one of Royal Canin’s vets, would they still have reported “we have no confirmed cases of illness in pets” in their press release announcing the recall?

Probably yes, because a “confirmed” case is worlds away from a “suspected” case. Although I find the semantic game frustrating, it’s a small annoyance in what seems to be an otherwise forthright and responsible response—certainly Royal Canin has outperformed Hill’s in handling the recall. Unlike Hill’s, our Royal Canin rep contacted us immediately about the recall. We also didn’t have to wait for days for them to announce that they’d reimburse for testing. We were simply told that testing would be covered as long as we could show that the client had purchased a bag of recalled food within the last six months.

The response on the two companies’ Web sites is also quite different. Royal Canin’s front page is currently all about the recall. You can’t miss it. If one were unaware that Hill’s products had been recalled and visited the main page of their Web site, one would leave still unaware (unless one read the “Letter to Pet Owners” that is linked to from the main page). The page instead implies that Hill’s foods are unaffected by the recall: “Feed with Confidence.” “Wheat Gluten Free.” “Hill’s products not affected by rice protein concentrate recall.”

(We don’t use any P&G or Purina products, so I haven’t been as aware of their responses. Checking quickly, I don’t see any mention of the recall on Iams’ U.S. page. Purina addresses the recall on its main page.)

For several years now, my wife’s confidence in Hill’s products has steadily declined. For at least the past eighteen months she has refused to carry most of their maintenance diets. She finds that the Royal Canin prescription diets are generally more effective (k/d and z/d are the only Hill’s Prescription Diets we regularly use). Now, after watching them respond poorly over the last month to the pet food recall, her confidence has plumeted to new lows, and we’re seriously considering carrying only k/d and z/d.

Royal Canin, itself not free of warts (we’ve complained loudly in the past about poor communication from them), does at least seem to handle recalls well, admitting the problem in a timely manner and not shying away from their fiscal responsibility.

Dr. Elankurmaran Subbiah, a veterinarian and assistant professor at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine is studying a modified strain of avian Newcastle disease virus (NDV) as a treatment for human prostate cancer. According to the press release here, “Subbiah and his associates are altering the fusion protein of NDV to replicate only in the presence of prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is found exclusively in cancerous prostate cells.”

Eli Lilly and Co. is entereing the veterinary medicine market with a drug for canine separation anxiety, Reconcile (active ingredient appears to be fluoxetine).

A veterinarian’s report led to changes in a controversial Canadian art exhibit. More here.

A Taiwanese veterinarian lost an arm (later reattached) while treating a crocodile at the Shaoshan Zoo. (Warning! The story in the Sydney Morning Herald includes a photograph of the aftermath that some might find too graphic. A shorter version of the story with a nongraphic photo is here.)

India’s lions need more veterinarians.

The BBC reports on Mycobacterium bovis infections in human beings, including cases of human-to-human transmission.

Dr. Nancy Davis, top veterinarian for the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, is retiring.

Another story of cats attacking humans! This one is surprisingly charming and focuses almost exclusively on the cat rather than the victim.

The New York Times profiles Indonesian governor (and vetceteraVeterinarian of Note“) Irwandi Yusuf.

“Cowboy poet and large animal veterinarian” Baxter Black appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation last week.

William Booth, in the Washington Post, asks of his dogs’ wet food, “what, really, is that grayish brown reconstituted lump in the can?”

I assumed it contained lamb lungs and chicken brains. But there’s a lot more. A 99-cent unit of “cuts and gravy” is the signal product of global industrialized food, where nothing is wasted, a brutal efficiency rules and ingredients are assembled from a relentlessly competitive international marketplace. There is no accident in a can of dog food. Just the opposite.

The story pulls quotes from Drs. Tony Buffington and Bonnie Beaver and makes it seem like dogs are the major animal affected (see Dr. Khuly’s comments on this), but then the writer doesn’t admit to owning any cats.

This first story has been all over the Internet, so apologies if you’ve seen it elsewhere. A cat in England has taken to riding the bus each morning. It’s a brief ride (one stop only) that takes the feline suspiciously close to a fish-and-chip shop. One blogger argues that only an escaped lab cat could navigate public transit, a feline Mrs. Frisby as it were. Catmanager thinks the blogger doesn’t know enough cats.

A story from earlier in year tells of Tama, a cat appointed honorary stationmaster of a Japanese railway station. Although the original news story doesn’t seem to be available, a photo and some text from the original article are preserved at this blog.

From one of catmanager’s favorite feline Web sites, Purr-n-Fur, a profile of the resident cats of the Ft. Smith, AK, Trolley Museum. Purr-n-Fur also has several stories of cats taking nonpublic means of transportation such as airship, military vessel, methanol tanker, and spaceship.

Hill’s appears to have heard the loud chorus of veterinarians upset about their handling of the m/d recall and their initial refusal to offer to pay for testing of affected cats. Here’s the letter from the president of Hill’s:

Dear Colleague,

Hill’s announces Prescription Diet® m/d® Feline dry pet food medical screening payment plan

As you know, Hill’s makes all its products with an overriding commitment to the health and well being of pets. With that in mind, on March 30, we notified you of our decision in conjunction with the FDA to issue a precautionary voluntary recall of a single product, Prescription Diet® m/d® Feline dry pet food, our only product containing the wheat gluten at issue other than the earlier recalled Science Diet® Savory Cuts® pet food. A list of recalled products is available on our website, http://www.hillspet.com. This recall was done in an abundance of caution, as the FDA has not yet been able to determine a cause for any pet illness.

However, to further reinforce our commitment to both pets and the veterinary profession, Hill’s is announcing a plan to offset medical screening costs you have incurred to support your clients who have purchased Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry pet food from January 2007 to the present.

Hill’s has decided to take this action to help support so many in the profession who have already extended themselves to assist their clients during this difficult time.

The program will provide a one time payment of $100 per patient tested. This is being made available to help offset the costs of standard tests that would otherwise be borne by your client or yourself. In the case of tests previously conducted, it is up to you to reimburse your clients for out of pockets costs up to $100. This payment shall be available for all requests thru May 30, 2007.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition would like to thank each of you for your on-going support of the Prescription Diet business and encourage you to take advantage of this offer.

Sincerely yours,
Justin Skala
President, North America

Karen Padgett, DVM
Chief of the Veterinary Business Channel

The University of Guelph Laboratory Services department has posted images of crystals taken from a cat suspected to have ingested melamine-tainted food. Guelph hasn’t been able to identify the cystals yet, but mass spectrometry shows them to be 30 percent melamine and to have a different spectrum than ammonium urate or xanthine. Several veterinarians on VIN are reporting seeing crystals similar to those posted by Guelph.

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