Monday, May 7, 2012

Meow, the 39-pound Cat Dies

UPDATE: Meow died on May 5th, just weeks after becoming a media sensation. Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society director Mary Martin announced, “I am devastated to share with you that the respiratory distress that Meow was experiencing last week took his life. Although four different veterinarians worked with Meow, we were unable to stop the progression of what turned out to be pulmonary failure.”

She added, “Meow was one of those wonderful cats whose personality was as big as his body. We are completely heartbroken.”


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It’s not the type of record we cheer, but nonetheless the world’s heaviest living cat has arguably been identified in New Mexico — and he needs a home. The two-year-old tabby named Meow was brought into a Santa Fe, N.M., animal shelter weighing a staggering 39 pounds.
 
Meow’s 87-year-old owner dropped him off, saying she was no longer able to care for him. It’s estimated that his weight translates to a human tipping the scales at 600 pounds.
 
How did he get that big?
 
“At first we heard that the old woman had fed it only hot dogs, but that wasn’t true,” said the shelter’s executive director Mary Martin.  “We think she was sedentary and sat in front of her TV feeding the cat. He probably just ate everything in sight.”
 
Martin says that Meow’s unhealthy weight makes it nearly impossible to get him in a carrier and he can’t play for long or else he loses his breath. “This is definitely the biggest kitty I have ever seen in my life. He’s like the Puss in Boots cat in the ‘Shrek’ cartoons. He thinks he’s smaller than he is and tries to get inside things much tinier than his girth,” said Martin.
 
What now?
 
The shelter has put Meow on a high-protein diet devised by a shelter veterinarian. They don’t want him to lose weight too fast and not eat, because he’s at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver syndrome. He is living at a temporary foster home — and because of the publicity surrounding him, there have been scores of inquiries about adoption.
 
Despite the readily available homes, Martin says they’d like to first get at least 10 pounds off of Meow. She warned, “He’s still a massive kitty. If he lays a certain way, he can’t breathe and his face turns blue. And that’s not good.”

OBESITY IN CATS

Warning signs

Colleen Currigan, DVM, of the Cat Hospital of Chicago, said cats are considered overweight when:

  • Their ribs are not easily palpable with a moderate covering of fat
  • Their waist is not defined
  • Their abdomen is obviously rounded
  • They have a moderately large abdominal fat pad

She said cats are considered obese when:

  • Their ribs are not palpable under a heavy covering of fat
  • They have heavy fat deposits on the back, face, and/or limbs
  • The abdomen is distended with no waist
  • They have a large abdominal fat pad

What causes the problem?

Currigan said obesity in cats usually has multiple causes. As in people, low activity and high caloric consumption makes for a fat cat. She said a major source of the problem is when the cats have unrestricted amounts of food available, a feeding approach known as “free choice/free feeding.”

She said some cats have inherent or acquired low metabolism. “Many owners are surprised at how little food it actually takes to maintain the weight of a cat, even a larger or ‘big-boned’ cat, and especially if the activity level of the cat is low,” Currigan said. “Consequently, overfeeding is the primary cause of obesity in the pet cat population.”

The vet said that dogs have similar issues, but are more likely to exercise than indoor cats. “You can take a dog out and walk him an extra 10 minutes a day. It’s difficult sometimes to get a cat moving.”

Risks from extra weight

Cats, like people, face serious health risks from being overweight and obese. Currigan said these include diabetes mellitus, feline lower urinary tract disease, hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), arthritis, cancer, and heart and respiratory diseases. Fat cats encounter higher risks from surgery and anesthesia. “In general, their overall quality of life is compromised and their lives are often shortened,” she said. In addition, Currigan said fat cats have grooming problems, which can result in matting and dander issues.

To read about treating and preventing the fat cat epidemic, click here. To read about exercising with your cat, click here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

WebVet Photo Contest

BumpetPet

Post your pet’s picture for a chance to win a custom tote with his or her image from BumperPet.com!!!

Bumperpet.com gives you the ability to create custom, removable decals from your own images! Using an online image editor, www.bumperpet.com allows people to both choose among various templates for their photos as well as choose the specific product that their edited image is to be printed on, ranging from removable decals and magnets to stretched framed canvas and totes.

BumperPet.com recognizes that many shelters and rescue organizations are having a difficult time working with increasingly limited budgets, and have launched a charitable giving program to help meet that need. BumperPet.com donates 15-25% of each sale to various charities, many of them on an ongoing basis.

One lucky winner will win a custom tote! Note: Picture must be 1 MB or greater to ensure quality.

To enter, 'Like' us on Facebook and post your pet’s photo on our wall!

Contest ends on April 20, 2012.

Carrie Ann Inaba: How To Help Shelter Pets Without Adopting

Carrie Ann Inaba may be best known as a judge on Dancing With the Stars, but she’s doing everything in her power to make her other passion — animal rescue — just as popular. The lifelong animal lover has created a new web show called Crib Cat, the episodes of which feature a new adoptable shelter cat who needs a home.

Carrie practices what she preaches, calling herself mom to six cats and two dogs. Why the feline majority? “I’ve had cats my whole adult life. I just relate a little more to their personalities,” Carrie told us. “They have a sense of mystery and independence that I respect and admire. Cats also do things on their own terms and I can appreciate that. Cats also suited my busy lifestyle as I worked my way through my career. I think most of my friends would agree that I was a cat in another life.”

While Carrie has been able to personally provide a home for many pets in need, not everyone can do so — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to help! “There are many things people can do to help the animals,” Carrie explains. “You can go to shelters - city shelters, no kill shelters any shelters and give those animals some love. Just spend some quality time with them … pet them, tell them they are not alone. Give them warmth and love. Many cats who aren’t eating at shelters will eat after they have been pet. So this affection gives them a lot more than just a moment of affection. It will help them to have the will to survive long enough for someone to adopt them.

What else can you do?

“If you have a little extra cash — (and a little bit helps a lot) you can donate to a reputable rescue organization,” says Carrie. “Sometimes it is nice to go and visit the shelter so you can see how they operate. Not all rescue organizations are legit. The ones we feature (on Crib Cat) are. If you are touched by a specific animal, you can earmark the donation for them. Special needs cats often have large medical bills. If you help with these costs, the rescue organization can continue to care of the animals and help them get adopted.

Also, you can provide transport for animals. At high kill shelters, rescue organizations raise pledges for some animals and then provide transport to the rescue or boarding facility, or to their CRIB or forever home.

You can also foster. This helps the animal get socialized and provides important information about the animal. In any way that you can help, it’s important to help these creatures who have no voices. I suggest you find a local shelter that you like and get involved. It’s so worth it. Your heart will be full every night knowing you are doing something to help.”

Crib Cat premieres on March 26th. Check back on WebVet for more of our talk with Carrie!

Photo courtesy of Weintraub Photography and People
 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It’s National Spay Day!

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In honor of National Spay Day, WebVet.com offers the following reminders of why it’s so important to spay — and neuter — your pet!

Did you know??

On average, a fertile cat can produce three litters a year, each with an average of four to six kittens. If you run the numbers, this means that a single cat and her first-year offspring can yield upwards of 150 kittens within a three-year period.  A fertile dog can produce up to two litters a year of six to10 puppies each.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) reports that every year in the U.S., between six and eight million dogs and cats are turned over to animal shelters; of that number, three to four million are euthanized — as many as are adopted. These tragic numbers would be greatly reduced if more pets were spayed or neutered.

And if that’s not reason enough …

Apart from the problem of pet overpopulation, keep in mind that “intact” (i.e. un-neutered) dogs and cats are not the most pleasant companions to have around the house. Here’s why:

  • Intact female dogs will come into heat every six to 12 months with each heat lasting 10-24 days. During this time they have a bloody vaginal discharge which may leave stains around the house. This bleeding is different from menstruation in human females as it coincides with the time the female dog is most likely to become pregnant.  Female dogs in heat may become anxious, and are more likely to fight with other female dogs, including those in the same household.
  • Intact female cats can keep coming into heat every two weeks unless they are mated. They will typically engage in such mate-seeking behaviors as yowling, rolling and urinating in unacceptable places.
  • At maturity — typically at six to nine months of age — male dogs and cats become capable of breeding. Males of both species will “mark” their territories by spraying strongly scented urine on furniture, curtains, and elsewhere around the house.
  • Given the chance, intact male cats and dogs will attempt to escape the house to roam in search of a mate. During this time, they become aggressive toward other males and — in the case of dogs — toward people, and are more likely than neutered animals to engage in fights.

The medical benefits

Apart from helping to ease the problem of pet overpopulation — and making home life more pleasant both for your family and your pet — spaying or neutering your dog or cat carries significant health benefits as well.

Spaying female dogs eliminates the risk of uterine cancer and pyometra — a serious, potentially fatal uterine infection and dramatically reduces the risk of mammary cancer in both dogs and cats, especially if done before the first heat.

Intact female dogs may go into a period called pseudocyesis, or “false pregnancy”, a condition which can occur after being in heat. Their bodies go through all of the usual hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, including milk production, even though they are not pregnant.  This is avoided if females are spayed.

For male pets, neutering eliminates the possibility of developing testicular cancer and reduces the risk of developing prostate illness.

A further benefit to neutering male cats is that it will significantly reduce the risk of infection with Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a virus that causes a disease in cats similar to AIDS in humans. FIV is carried in the saliva and blood of infected cats.

Intact male cats are much more likely than neutered males to roam and fight. A scratch or bite suffered in such a fight from an FIV-infected male carries a significant risk of FIV infection. The majority of FIV-infected cats are intact males. And even if the wounds are not inflicted by an FIV-positive cat, they may nonetheless result in serious injury and infection.

(For informative videos from HSUS about the benefits of spay/neuter, click here and here. For a useful brochure from the American Veterinary Medical Association, click here.)

It all adds up

While spaying/neutering are surgical procedures that carry a small element of risk, the scales are heavily tipped toward the benefits side. The incidence of complications from the procedures is quite low.

On balance, it’s a no-brainer: spaying/neutering is one of the best things you can do to improve a pet’s quality of life. Discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your veterinarian while your pet is still young. You will be doing both your pet and yourself a great service.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stay In Touch With Your Cat On Twitter

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Ever wonder what your cat is up to when you’re not home? A new invention allows you to find out … by receiving updates on Twitter.
 
A new DIY project from America’s Make magazine called Kitty Twitty instructs you to install a sensor box into a specially made cat toy so that when your frisky feline bats at the attached Twitter bird — you receive an update via the social networking site. 
 
Creator Marc de Vinck says that the technique could also be applied to a cat’s bowl or cat door so your cat’s every move can appear between celebrity musings on your Twitter feed. 
 
The invention came about because Vinck’s wife constantly requested updates about their cat’s whereabouts when the two were home together. “She used to ask me for updates, but after a while I realized that I needed to make something that would take me out of the loop, and let the cat communicate with my wife directly via Twitter,” said Vinck. “I needed a Twittering cat toy. And that’s how Kitty Twitty came to fruition, after some basic soldering and crafting with just a few parts.”

Check out the Kitty Twitty:

Photo credit: Daily Mail