Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Passing of an Animal Advocate

On Monday, the animals lost one of their most powerful and eloquent voices, Senator Robert Byrd. Aged 92 and still in office when he died, Byrd was the longest serving member in the history of the US congress. Senator Byrd will be remembered for his compassion that which he conveyed so well in his many animal rights speeches as he pushed for more humane treatment of our companion animals and of livestock animals. After Michael Vick was indicted on dog fighting charges, Byrd gave a knock-out speech about "the scourge" that is dogfighting. And back in 2001 he addressed factory farming with passion, tenderness and his famous eloquence.

Byrd proposed a provision that would improve the USDA inspection system of livestock operations, and said:

"I realize that this provision will not stop all the animal life in the United States from being mistreated. It will not even stop all beef, cattle, hogs and other livestock from being tortured. But it can serve as an important step toward alleviating cruelty and unnecessary suffering by these creatures."

Some of Senator Byrd’s thoughts on animal rights:

“It is because of my love for animals that I find it alarming to learn that inhumane treatment of pets, and livestock, is still widespread and becoming more barbaric.  One need only follow recent news reports to uncover examples of persistent and remorseless animal cruelty.  In recent years we have seen high profile cases of dog fighting, examples of inhumane slaughter techniques, and sickening stories of individuals who abuse pets.  Such incidents can only lead to more deviant behavior.”  

“We must be vigilant and stand up for the creatures who, since the beginning of civilization, work so hard to ease our burden, guard us against danger, and give us faithful and true companionship.”
“And while we have made progress, we cannot become apathetic to acts of cruelty, especially those aimed at our faithful and beloved pets.  Respect for life, and the humane treatment of all creatures is something that must never be lost.”

To read Senator Byrd’s complete speech on dog fighting and animal cruelty, please follow this link.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Bionic Vet and a Cat Named Oscar

A cat, named Oscar, was referred to Mr. Fitzpatrick, following an accident last October when he was struck by a combine harvester while snoozing in the sun. His back feet were severed by the farm equipment, but thanks to a world-first operation, Oscar has been given two prosthetic limbs!

The new feet are custom-made implants that "peg" the ankle to the foot. They are bioengineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin. The operation was carried out by Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon based in Surrey in the UK. His work is explored in a BBC documentary called The Bionic Vet.

The prosthetic pegs, called intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics (Itaps) were developed by a team from University College London led by Professor Gordon Blunn, who is head of UCL's Centre for Biomedical Engineering. Professor Blunn and his team have worked in partnership with Mr Fitzpatrick to develop these weight-bearing implants, combining engineering mechanics with biology.

Mr Fitzpatrick explained: "The real revolution with Oscar is [that]…we have managed to get the bone and skin to grow into the implant and we have developed an 'exoprosthesis' that allows this implant to work as a see-saw on the bottom of an animal's limbs to give him effectively normal gait." He said that the success of this operation showed the potential of the technology.

"Noel has some brilliant ideas," Professor Blunn added. "And we're continuing to work closely with him to develop new technologies."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Camden Needs Your Help

ACR receives pleas from individuals all the time for financial help for emergency surgeries to help save their cats, and unfortunately, we are unable to financially or physically help everyone. (We wish we could, but resources do not allow.) However, we do try to help in any way that we can; which usually means finding someone or some group that is able to assist with specific kitty needs. And so is true in Camden’s case.

Camden was rescued from the streets of Baltimore over a year ago by a kind-hearted woman. She took him in and gave him a warm cozy home, unlike the cold harsh streets he was used to, and provided him with the vet care he needed. Everything was good until unexpectedly, about a week ago, Camden became sick. The vet explained to Mari that his condition was treatable but it would be costly. So, she weighed the options and held true to her commitment which she made when she adopted Camden; Mari was committed to providing Camden the care he deserves no matter what the cost. (Especially since Camden is a young cat and his condition is treatable.)

Camden’s story especially hit home with ACR staff when we learned that the surgery he needed was to fix a persistent urinary condition. Pumpkin, an ACR office kitty, also underwent the same surgery to correct his chronic urethra blockages, and since he has had the surgery he is a new cat! Pumpkin romps around the office with the other cats and loves to lay in the window soaking up the sun. Being a no-kill organization, we could not imagine putting Pumpkin, Camden, or any other cat to sleep because of financial constraints...especially when a condition is treatable. Therefore, ACR is sharing Camden’s story with you as the least we can do. Please visit Mari and Camden’s blog to learn more about their story and to see how you can help. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Iams Pro-Active Health Cat and Kitten Foods Recalled

It has been announced that Procter and Gamble Company, the makers of Iams brand cat foods, has voluntarily issued a recall of one of its feline diets.

Iams Pro-Active Health cat and kitten foods are being recalled.

The food involved is the canned version of Iams Pro-Active Health cat and kitten foods and includes all varieties of the food in both 3 oz and 5.5 oz cans. The date on the bottom of the recalled cans is 09/2011 to 06/2012. 

The recall involves only the Pro-Active Health canned diet and does not include other types of Iams cat foods. The recall includes all of North America. According to Procter and Gamble Company, "some of this product does not meet quality standards for thiamine".

Signs of thiamine deficiency

Cats and kittens eating the recalled cat food exclusively may develop signs of thiamine deficiency. Symptoms most likely to be seen with thiamine deficiency include:

• lack of appetite
• drooling
• generalized weakness
• incoordination
• ventriflexion (an abnormal flexing of the neck)
• tremors
• seizures

Diagnosis and treatment of thiamine deficiency

Diagnosis of thiamine deficiency is usually based on a history of ingesting a thiamine deficient diet, on clinical signs and on response to treatment.

Thiamine deficiency can be treated with injections or oral supplementations of vitamin B1 or with vitamin B complex which contains vitamin B1.

Cat owners who have purchased the recalled canned Iams cat food should not use the food to feed their cats. For pet owners with further questions about the recalled cat food, Procter and Gamble Company can be reached at their toll-free number: (877)340-8826.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mandatory Cat Sterilization Laws and Why They Do NOT Work

In the past week, I have seen at least two laws set to be voted on that will force individuals to spay/neuter their cats and if the law is not followed, individuals could face fines. The first law comes from Australia, where the government wants to make it mandatory for ALL cats to be sterilized, registered, and micro-chipped, with the exception of breeders. A similar law comes from Rhode Island, where the senate wants to make it mandatory for ALL cats being sold or adopted to be first sterilized, again unless the cat is for breeding purposes. No figures were given for Australia’s penalties if the law is violated, but Rhode Island’s law said violators could be subjected to a $300 fine per cat.
Yes, it would be great to get everyone to fix their cats, so we could end cat homelessness, but creating laws like these will not solve the problem, and it might even make it worse. I am not sure how RI’s bill will work (probably like Australia’s) which says the government will NOT be providing any financial assistance to those who must enforce the law (aka animal shelters/animal control agencies). Although it was suggested that the government consider giving subsidies to low-income individuals to help get their cats fixed (this is what needs to happen!).

In the Australia bill, it was said “the success of the legislation will be dependent on its enforcement.” Which makes sense. However, the law is already setup for failure. The governments who create these laws tell animal control they HAVE to enforce the law (which will not be an easy task), while not providing any financial support. This means animal control agencies that are already “short” in terms of resources (that already cannot respond to every animal-related call) will be stretched even further, making it almost impossible to respond to every incident of a cat not being fixed. Which then means, it comes back to us tax-payers who will be shilling out money to pay people to go around and fine people. (I don’t know about you, but I would rather pay to help someone get their cat fixed.)

In a report regarding Australia’s law, it says it’s not about penalties; it’s about encouraging better pet ownership. Again nice thinking, but this will not “encourage” anyone. People who support sterilization will fix their cats, regardless of the law and in most cases, regardless of the cost. But people who don’t get their pets fixed are those who don’t have the money, just don’t care, or don’t understand the benefits of sterilization (are not educated). Forcing these people will not make them want to get their pets fixed anymore than they want to now. Those who cannot afford to pay $200-$300 to fix their cats will not be helped by being fined. (And forcing people to also micro-chip their cats, adding another $60 in Australia, will turn even more people away.) If anything, and I hate to speak it, but laws like this will only encourage people to abandon their cats or take them to the shelter because they can’t afford sterilization or the fines they will face. (And we all know that “will” help the situation.)

What SHOULD happen is that more spay/neuter programs should be subsidized, making sterilization more affordable, more readily available, and more easily accessible. More mobile clinics should be made available and education programs should be strengthened. Trap-Neuter-Return programs should be supported so sterilization is available to ALL cats, not just owned cats and so these programs can educate more people on cat homelessness and finally, so the cats are being managed. I wish that we would learn that fining people and killing cats is NOT a solution.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Brentwood Day Fundraiser

Thank you to all who came out this past Saturday to support us! The day was filled with fun, food and friends, as we raised donations to keep our programs going.

We handed out lots of helpful information and signed folks up to get their cats spayed/neutered. Thanks again for all who participated and to those who donated. See you next year!

And if you couldn't make it out to see us, remember you can always show your support by making a contribution by visiting our website or by contacting the office during regular business hours. Thank you!

Outdoor Cat Enclosure

My fiancĂ©’s dad built a large outdoor enclosure for his two cats to enjoy during the warm weather and they love it! He used simple materials like 2’X4’s, wire mesh, and a large tarp. He kept the design simple and added little extras like a rope-covered post for scratching and an astro-turf like material (that was meant for scratching) but the cats decided to use it as a nice sleeping spot.

There are different perches at different heights and in one corner he built an enclosed box for extra privacy and protection from the elements. There is a spot for a litter box and an area for food and water. There is a large door on the front to allow for easy access and he has planted sunflowers along the outside parameter to help camouflage the enclosure.

With such an enclosure, the cats get to enjoy their “natural” environment. They get to experience the sites, sounds, smells, touch and tastes of nature, while you’re not worrying about their safety or the safety of other animals. Squeezy and Tiger love to lie in the sun, sniff the fresh air, munch on stalks of grass and chase bugs. These kitties couldn’t be happier and all it took was a few simple materials (gathered from local home improvement stores), a little planning, and some elbow grease. I hope this post will help you get some ideas for outdoor enclosures for your kitties. They will thank you for it!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Summer Pet Tips: Vacationing

When planning your vacation it will be necessary to decide on your pet’s care and whether to leave your pet or take him along. Your pet’s personality and the length and distance of your trip are important things to consider when making your decision.

Not Taking Your Pet Along:

Boarding your pet or hiring a pet sitter are options if you decide to leave your pet behind. In either case, here are some general tips.

- Ask your vet or other pet owners for recommendations of reputable boarding facilities or pet sitters.
- If boarding, visit the facility to meet the staff and to check the safety and cleanliness of the operation. If hiring a pet sitter, meet him/her in your home to see how he/she and your pet interact.
- Make reservations well in advance of your trip, especially during holidays, for facilities fill up quickly.
- Be sure your pet is current on all vaccines required.
- If your pet is on medication, be sure to leave an ample supply and clear instructions.
- Leave an ample supply of food and complete feeding instructions. Also, discuss your pet’s regular exercise and potty routines.
- Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification tags; make sure cats have safety collars on.
- Leave information on your vet’s office and emergency numbers.
- Also, leave a phone number where you can be reached.

Taking Your Pet Along:

- Call ahead to be sure your pet will be welcome at the hotels, motels, homes and/or parks where you will be staying and visiting.
- Be sure your pet has all required vaccines and a current health certificate. Be sure to take along his medical records as an extra measure.
- It is also a good idea to know where a few local vet office are located near where you will be vacationing, in case of an emergency.
- Take along your pet’s regular food, a supply of water if needed, any medications, and if there is room his favorite bedding and toys.
- Be sure your pet has a collar with an ID tag with your name and telephone number on it. It also helps to carry a photo of your pet in case he is lost while traveling.
- Be sure to keep your pet leashed and/or caged/confined at all times. New smells and surroundings entice pets to wonder.
- If traveling in a vehicle with your pet, it is safest for you and your pet to keep him confined to a carrier. Never let your pet ride in the back of a truck.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Summer Pet Tips: Bites and Stings

Just as humans are bothered by pesky biting and stinging insects, so are our felines companions. Some insects are more troublesome than others, and some cats experience severe reactions while others only display very mild symptoms. Cats that like to play outside and chase bugs and other critters are especially susceptible to receiving bug bites. Even less active cats are likely to suffer from a bug bite during the course of their lives. Besides and fleas and ticks, other bugs can also bite or sting cats, including mosquitoes, bees, and spiders.

In most cases, you will not actually witness your cat being bitten, and will only have the aftereffects to go by to figure out what is troubling your cat. When bitten or stung, your cat is likely to display at least some sign or symptom, but the type of symptoms exhibited and their severity will depend upon the type of insect responsible as well as the characteristics of your individual pet. Even in circumstances where the reaction is quite mild, your cat will likely be more than happy to receive some relief from irritation caused by its bug bite. For this reason, it's helpful to recognize some of the more common symptoms of cat bug bites so that you can quickly identify the problem and provide appropriate treatment and relief.

Other than flea and tick bites, we are back to mosquitoes. Mosquito bites can be uncomfortable for your pet and can cause hypersensitivity. While flea bites can occur in small or large numbers, mosquito bites tend to occur just one at a time. The site of the bite will likely become red, itchy, and slightly swollen.

In the case of bee or wasp stings, swelling is very common and the sting site may become warm to the touch. These insect stings can also be quite painful for your pet. Often, the stinger will be left behind at the site of the sting and will be visible. (Removing the stinger should be done by gently scraping the stinger away from the injection site. Scraping tends to be better than using tweezers, as the second method can cause more venom to enter into your cat's system.) More severe reactions to bee stings can be very dangerous and require immediate veterinary attention. Warning signs of a more serious reaction include rapid swelling, redness around the eyes and lips, respiratory distress, vomiting, and staggering. If your cat displays these symptoms, take him or her to a veterinarian right away.

Spider bites are relatively uncommon among cats, but they can occur. Generally, these bites will not be particularly dangerous and will likely only cause slight swelling, itching, and a minimal amount of pain. Unless your cat is hypersensitive to insect bites or stings, most such incidents do not require significant treatment. Despite this, your pet will likely be very grateful to receive some form of relief from troubling symptoms such as itching and irritation; see your veterinarian for itch relief ointment.

In most cases of insect bites or stings, your vet will prescribe an ointment to treat the irritation. In severe cases, specialized treatment may be necessary. No matter what type of insect bite or sting your cat is suffering from, it's important to try to prevent your pet from biting or scratching at the affected area, as this can cause further irritation and can potentially lead to infection. Besides obtaining an ointment from your vet, you may want to try some of these home remedies to help with the irritation. Try using aloe to sooth your pet’s skin. You can use from a house plant or buy an aloe vera gel at your local pharmacy. Mashed plantain applied as an infusion or poultice can also provide significant relief. These natural substances and other plant and herbal components can also be found in a variety of homeopathic products. All of these substances have a variety of properties that assist with reducing inflammation while soothing pain and irritation. So if your cat is unfortunate enough to be the victim of an insect bite or sting, there are numerous ways to help reduce the irritation and other symptoms that are likely to trouble your pet.  

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Summer Pet Tips: Heartworm Disease

Mosquito season is just about here, so it is time to think about heartworms and prevention. Most people think of dogs when they think of heartworms but cats can also get the disease, even indoor cats. Heartworm disease is a parasitic disease that involves long thin worms that live in the blood vessels and heart of infected pets. The worms will grow until they reach a length of 10 to 12 inches at maturity. Heartworm disease causes lung disease and heart failure and is often fatal. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and can infect both dogs and cats.

According to, “cats that are indoors may actually be at higher risk than cats that go out. In fact, up to 33 percent of reported cases are in cats who are described by their owners as ‘strictly indoors.’ Males are a bit more likely than females to be affected. Age is not a risk factor; cats of any age can be affected, with cats as young as 1 and as old as 17 having been diagnosed.”

Heartworms can be found in most parts of the United States and Canada, particularly near bodies of water like oceans, lakes, rivers. Remember, heartworms are transported by mosquitoes (who need water to survive), so that is how the disease is spread. The highest rate of infections is found in subtropical climates like those of the southeastern United States, the Gulf States, and Hawaii.

”When compared to dogs, cats are naturally resistant to heartworms (estimated at about one-fifth as likely to become seriously infected as dogs in the same region); however, heartworm disease in cats is often more severe than in dogs,” says

Either way, both dogs and cats (whether indoors or out) are capable of getting Heartworm Disease. Luckily, it can easily be prevented, so individuals living in high risk areas should talk to their veterinarian about starting a heartworm preventative. In most cases, a chewable or pill is given daily or monthly. However, in other areas, it may be recommended that pets be on a heartworm preventative through the year.

Have your dog tested for Heartworm Disease and talk to your veterinarian about having your cat tested, if recommended. Do NOT use your canine heartworm medicine for your cat. The drug dosing is very different between species. Speak to your veterinarian about the need for preventative therapy, administration guidelines and when to start and stop prevention treatments.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Summer Pet Tips: Fleas and Ticks

With the warmer weather, these parasites are particularly prevalent. Discuss the various methods of flea and tick prevention with your veterinarian (once-a-month topical products, powders, sprays, collars, etc). Watch for signs that your cat or dog may have fleas (or ticks) – which may include excessive grooming, constant scratching and biting, hair loss and skin irritation. Another sign your cat or dog may have fleas is a sudden change in behavior, including agitation, edginess, and restlessness. Look through your pet’s fur (and sleeping spots) for fleas, flea dirt and/or ticks.

If your pet becomes infested with fleas, you must treat your pet AND the pet’s environment. Speak to your vet about flea treatments for your home (flea bombs) and treating feral cat colonies (oral treatments can be crushed into food and powders/sprays used to treat bedding).

If you find a tick on your pet, it should be removed right away and disposed of. Use tweezers to gently pull the tick from your pet’s skin, making sure to remove the head and mouth parts. Some ticks can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. In heavily wooded areas or areas where ticks are prevalent, discuss the Lyme vaccine with your vet.

ALWAYS discuss flea and tick prevention methods with your vet PRIOR to using a particular product. In some cases, pets have had adverse reactions to some flea and tick treatments. Just because a product is over-the-counter does not make it any safer than those prescribed by a veterinarian. For your pet’s sake, and your sake, please do you research.