Finding out that a beloved cat has cancer is heartbreaking for cat parents. The sad reality is that cancer is one of the leading causes of death in older cats. According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, 6 million cats will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States alone. However, a cancer diagnosis does not have to be the end of the road. Depending on the type of cancer, Treatment options ranging from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to palliative care may extend the life of cats with good quality for months, and sometimes even years.Continue Reading
An injection-site sarcoma is a tumor of the connective tissues in the cat. These tumors are often called fibrosarcomas, and are most frequently located between the shoulder blades, in the hip region, and in the back legs. They are most often associated with inactive killed rabies or feline leukemia vaccines, or with multiple vaccines given at the same time, but they can also be caused by other injections such as steroids. They have even been associated with microchips. The incidence of these tumors ranges from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 10,000 cats. They can develop as quickly as 4 weeks or as late as 10 years post vaccination.
The first step toward diagnosis is a fine needle aspirate of the lump. Your cat’s veterinarian will insert a small needle directly into the tumor and extract cells. This is an inexpensive and minimally invasive test, but unfortunately, it is also not very accurate and can lead to a high rate of false negative results. In most cases, a surgical biopsy will be necessaryContinue Reading
Thre weeks have passed since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, which was then followed by the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northern Japan. As recovery efforts in the affected areas continue, radiation has contaminated water and soil in Japan, and possibly beyond. This is a developing story, and there are still more questions than answers as to the environmental impact of the crisis.
In the meantime, animal rescue groups are on the ground in Japan, trying to rescue as many animals as they can. One of the biggest challenges rescuers are facing is re-uniting pets with their owners. As The Cat’s Meow blog reports, most shelters don’t allow pets, and pet owners were often faced with making a horrible choice between evacuating and leaving their pets behind, or staying in unsafe homes.
“This is a big calamity for pets, along with people,” said Sugano Hoso of the Japan branch of the U.S.-based United Kennel Club. “Many are on their own, and many more are trapped in evacuated areas where people have left.”
Tamae Morino brought her Persian-mix cat, Lady, to Fukushima city’s main shelter , but Lady is forced to stay outside. Like many of the animal victims of the earthquake and tsunami, Lady is frightened and agitated, and it’s been difficult for her to cope with the sudden change in environment.
“She got sick, and is still very nervous,” Morino said. “She is an important part of our family. But they don’t allow pets into the shelter, so she has to sleep alone in the car. She seems very lonely. We are happy to have her with us, though. So many cats just vanished.”
Thanks to the dedicated work of volunteers from rescue groups in Japan and from around the world, there are a few happy stories in the midst of all this devastation. Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support posts daily updates of their rescue efforts, chronicling both challenges and successes, on their Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) posted a comprehensive FAQ for pet owners about the earthquake in Japan on their website.
And what about the cats and people on Cat Island? Conscious Cat reader Paula has been in touch with several people in Japan, and based on what she’s hearing, the cats and people on the island are okay. According to an e-mail Paula received from a Japanese journalist, the damage in Tashiro was not as big as it was in other parts of Honshu. They had a 16 to 20 foot high wave, and the buildings closest to the port were destroyed. Sadly, some cats near the port were killed, but the rest are fine and are being taken care of by people, just like before the quake. According to the journalist, the Japanese defense forces and the US military have been flying food and supplies, including cat food, to the island.
The following video shows a Japanese woman who was reunited with her cat a few days after the quake:
Conscious Cat reader Paula provided the following translation: “She says that it’s the first time she came where her house was, then she says that she kept a cat. Then she says that she went there when the tsunami hit and she looked for it but couldn’t find it, so she just ran as she stood. Then when they go inside, she explains where the dining room was and then she hears meowing!!! And she says “the cat, it survived.” Kitty’s name is Non and she calls it Nonchan (term of endearment).”
Photo source: JEARS Facebook page. This photo was taken in a small shelter in Sendai. The building was water damaged, and there were overturned cars and debris everywhere. Miraculously, the 60+ cats inside were all okay.
For more on the earthquake in Japan, please read:
Help the animals in Japan
Radiation concerns and your pet
Our prayers go out to the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As the world watches events at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, worries about a nuclear diaster abound, and with it, fears of what radiation exposure might mean to those exposed. Several of my readers, especially on the US West Coast, have indicated concern about what this might mean for pets.
I don’t know much about nuclear energy or radiation, so I look to the experts to get my information, and among them, the consensus seems to be that the only people currently at risk are the workers at the affected plant. Nevertheless, there has been a run on radiation pills in the United States, as reported in this article on AOL News.
Jonathan Links, director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, is quoted in an article on NPR.org as saying that not only do the pills offer limited protection, but the nuclear plant hasn’t released enough radiation to cause health problems in most of Japan, let alone in the U.S. In the AOL News article, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jazcko is quoted as saying “You just aren’t going to have any radiological material that, by the time it traveled those large distances, could present any risk to the American public.”
So any fears for humans or pets appear to be based more on media hype than fact, but that does not make them any less real for those who are concerned about their pets.
The most frequent question I received from concerned pet owners was about potassium iodide, a supplement that is said to have protective properties against certain radioactive isotopes, and whether it can be given to pets as a precautionary measure. I asked a number of veterinarians for their input.
Potassium iodide should never be given to cats, it can have serious side effects. Dr. Jean Hofve, a holistic veterinarian, cautions that commercial pet foods already contain high levels of iodine. Adding the potassium iodide supplement on top of that could cause serious health problems.
Obviously, this is a developing story, but as you follow the news, please use common sense and consider the source before you panic. As with all issues affecting your pet’s health, consult with your veterinarian before giving supplements or medications.
March 17 update: UC Davis released this statement today: Pet owners cautioned against giving potassium iodide to animals
March 18 update: The VIN (Veterinary Information Network) News Service also cautions against giving potassium iodide to pets in this article: Fearing overseas radiation, Americans seek potassium iodide for pets
For information on how to help support animal rescue efforts in Japan, please read:
Help the animals in Japan
Photo credit CNN.com: Two women walk in a tsunami devastated street in Hishonomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 15, 2011