Tag Archive: cat health

  1. Protecting Every Life

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    How We’re Helping Save the Most Fragile Kittens

    Cody on his first day in his foster home at age six weeks.

    Cody on his first day in his foster home at age six weeks.

    When the teeny kitten Cody first opened his eyes just nine days after he was born last August and saw the world around him, his first sight was likely the soft nest his mother created under a bush in a Laurel, Md. yard. Next, he probably saw the humans who found him—and whom he would grow to know well.

    When Cody was found, he was neonatal, meaning that he was too young to survive without his mother’s care or the equivalent. If the mother of neonatal kittens is present, the kittens should always be left with her if it’s safe. When neonatal kittens are raised by people, they’re called “bottle babies.” It sounds cute—but it is much more. Watching a tiny kitten drink from a miniature baby bottle is a heartwarming sight. Caring for newborn kittens is also an incredible amount of work—and requires a special knowledge of neonatal kitten care.

    Cody has been raised by humans almost his whole life, and you can tell by his personality—he’s ridiculously social and loves people. Like all bottle babies, Cody had to be bottle-fed a special kitten formula around the clock—including in the middle of the night. He was meticulously cared for and weighed daily since it’s crucial that infant kittens consistently gain weight. Bottle babies may even need to be burped after their feedings, much like human babies. This is just the beginning of what it takes to care for a neonatal kitten.

    Caring for bottle babies can seem like a daunting task, and Cody is lucky that his foster parent-turned-adopter (an Alley Cat Allies employee) was up for it—and knew how to care for him. As a result of his top-notch care during those critical months, Cody is a strong, healthy kitten loving his life.

    Many kittens aren’t so lucky. People who encounter neonatal kittens don’t always know how to care for them. They often take them to a shelter or a veterinarian. Unfortunately, many veterinarians aren’t trained on how to treat unweaned kittens, and if a kitten as young as Cody is taken to an animal pound or shelter, he is almost always “euthanized” (i.e., killed). It’s heartbreaking that these young kittens who have their whole lives ahead of them don’t have a chance in the vast majority of shelters.

    Alley Cat Allies believes that every cat—no matter what her age—deserves to live and be safe. That’s why we’re working to protect the lives of these especially vulnerable kittens—one of the most underserved populations in shelters and rescue groups. Thanks to the continued support of our donors, we’ve launched a series of webinars on neonatal kitten care, with sessions geared toward veterinary staff, rescue organizations, shelter staff, and others who want to help save kittens. We want to make sure that anyone who cares for orphaned kittens is ready to provide the food, love, and care these babies need to survive—and to thrive.

    Our webinar series is hosted by Feline Outreach, Rescue, & Education Co-Founders Rosemarie Crawford, a licensed veterinary technician who has worked in high-volume shelters and large veterinary practices and regularly fosters ill kittens, and Susan Spaulding, who has fostered thousands of neonatal kittens and advises numerous shelters on neonatal kitten care. From decades of experience, Crawford and Spaulding have learned countless tips for caring for kittens, including many practical, resourceful approaches.

    “I’ve walked out of numerous shelters with neonatal kittens stuck in my blouse,” says Spaulding. “Body heat is one of the best ways to warm them!”

    Attendees will learn the basics of feeding and housing neonatal kittens, how to identify when immediate critical care is needed to stabilize kittens, and how to recognize early symptoms of illness. They’ll even learn how to make a simple emergency kitten-saving kit so they’re prepared if they find an orphaned kitten. The expert advice and guidance in the webinars will help everyone from veterinary staff to community members save the lives of the youngest, most underserved kittens.

  2. Does TNR Make You a Better Veterinarian?

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    An Interview with Shelter Veterinarian Adam Corbett, DVM
    adam_corbett
    Adam Corbett, DVM, always wanted to be a veterinarian. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2007 and is now head of surgery at the Pennsylvania SPCA (PSPCA). A vocal supporter of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), Dr. Corbett collaborates with Alley Cat Allies to advocate for policies that support this humane and effective program.

    We spoke to Dr. Corbett recently about his involvement with TNR.

    Q. How did you become so involved with Trap-Neuter-Return?

    A. As a shelter veterinarian, and especially spay/neuter surgeon, TNR is part of my everyday life. Spay/neuter programs have long worked to help not just indoor pets and their owners, but also community cats and their caregivers. We understand that pet cats, shelter cats, and feral cats are a fluid and connected population, and we must address all these sub-populations. In all the spay/neuter clinics I’ve worked with, feral cat caregivers have been a significant portion of our clientele.

    I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the people and cats who make up a thriving TNR community, and I’ve spent a lot of time educating myself on the best way that we can address the health of our cat and dog populations and allow shelters to be as effective as possible.

    As organizations and municipalities look to figure out ways to best address feral cats, it’s important that those of us who are most familiar with these issues speak up. My veterinary background can sometimes bring a different perspective to those looking to understand this issue. The Pennsylvania SPCA is not only a shelter and humane law enforcement organization, but also an advocate for animals. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to use the knowledge I have about TNR and my position with the PSPCA to speak up for cats and TNR programs.

    Q. A veterinarian’s involvement can make or break a TNR program—what would you say to vets who are on the fence about getting involved?

    A. I’d remind them of why we all became veterinarians in the first place: to help animals and the people who care for them. We can participate in reducing the number of cats in shelters, finding homes, improving the lives of outdoor cats, and saving lives. For veterinarians interested in improving their skills and knowledge, I’d remind them of how often surgeons involved with TNR programs are at the forefront of new medical and surgical techniques. Multimodal anesthesia/analgesia (smaller doses of multiple drugs to induce sedation and pain control) is a technique long favored by spay/neuter and TNR clinics, and is now considered the best quality of care. Many safer, faster, more effective surgical skills have been developed in the pursuit of helping to efficiently alter more animals. Finally, I’d remind them of the benefits to our community at large. Strong TNR programs lead to healthier cat populations for everyone in our community, including our own pets. When we help out TNR programs, we’re contributing to good health practices for people and animals.

    Q. How do you think your work with TNR and feral cats has enhanced your veterinary skills?

    A. One thing about TNR is that you do a LOT of surgeries. And you can’t do a lot of anything without becoming better at it! The speed and skill I’ve developed performing spays translates to all kinds of surgeries. I get to teach students, and I love showing them things I’ve learned and developed that aren’t always taught in schools. Pedicle ties, the modified miller’s knot … all sorts of little things that make me feel like a more adept and well-rounded surgeon. It’s also caused me to stay on top of new and effective anesthetic techniques, the best cleaning protocols, and how to identify and treat infectious diseases.

    Perhaps most importantly, it’s encouraged me to educate myself in areas that are less clinical, but important for a shelter veterinarian: population-management techniques, political impacts, organizational programs like fostering, and outreach. Having this more global understanding allows me to better perform and lead in an organization like the Pennsylvania SPCA, which participates in so many aspects of animal welfare.

    Q. What do you hope to see in the future of the Trap-Neuter-Return Movement as more municipalities and more veterinarians get on board?

    A. What I’d really like to see is a more collaborative, holistic way of addressing the issue. We’re more effective when we all work together. I feel like in the past, veterinarians were sort of detached from shelters, and animal control didn’t work with rescues, and advocacy groups didn’t necessarily connect with the people on the street. More and more, I see groups and individuals working together to figure out the best solutions. We all have our part to play in helping cats. I know I’m not going to be the best person to go out trapping, but hopefully I can get the surgeries done as quickly and safely as possible. Someone else might not be great at making sure legislation makes sense, but they’ll know how to reach out to the dedicated cat caregivers. I think as we all work together, more people will get involved, and TNR will become more known and better understood. TNR should be the norm, not a mystery—I still have friends who know what I do, but call it T&R! As I correct them, I have to point out—you’re missing my whole part in this!

    Q. Thank you for your time and for everything you do to help cats.

    A. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. I’ve loved getting to work alongside Alley Cat Allies and learning more about the impact we can have outside of our shelters and our communities. I love that I’m working in a time when veterinarians really are part of this community. I know we have so much to offer, and I think veterinarians, shelters, and advocates all can learn from each other. Working together we can accomplish so much more than we can separately.

     

  3. Does TNR Make You a Better Veterinarian?

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    An Interview with Shelter Veterinarian Adam Corbett, DVM
    adam_corbett
    Adam Corbett, DVM, always wanted to be a veterinarian. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2007 and is now head of surgery at the Pennsylvania SPCA (PSPCA). A vocal supporter of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), Dr. Corbett collaborates with Alley Cat Allies to advocate for policies that support this humane and effective program.

    We spoke to Dr. Corbett recently about his involvement with TNR.

    Q. How did you become so involved with Trap-Neuter-Return?

    A. As a shelter veterinarian, and especially spay/neuter surgeon, TNR is part of my everyday life. Spay/neuter programs have long worked to help not just indoor pets and their owners, but also community cats and their caregivers. We understand that pet cats, shelter cats, and feral cats are a fluid and connected population, and we must address all these sub-populations. In all the spay/neuter clinics I’ve worked with, feral cat caregivers have been a significant portion of our clientele.

    I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the people and cats who make up a thriving TNR community, and I’ve spent a lot of time educating myself on the best way that we can address the health of our cat and dog populations and allow shelters to be as effective as possible.

    As organizations and municipalities look to figure out ways to best address feral cats, it’s important that those of us who are most familiar with these issues speak up. My veterinary background can sometimes bring a different perspective to those looking to understand this issue. The Pennsylvania SPCA is not only a shelter and humane law enforcement organization, but also an advocate for animals. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to use the knowledge I have about TNR and my position with the PSPCA to speak up for cats and TNR programs.

    Q. A veterinarian’s involvement can make or break a TNR program—what would you say to vets who are on the fence about getting involved?

    A. I’d remind them of why we all became veterinarians in the first place: to help animals and the people who care for them. We can participate in reducing the number of cats in shelters, finding homes, improving the lives of outdoor cats, and saving lives. For veterinarians interested in improving their skills and knowledge, I’d remind them of how often surgeons involved with TNR programs are at the forefront of new medical and surgical techniques. Multimodal anesthesia/analgesia (smaller doses of multiple drugs to induce sedation and pain control) is a technique long favored by spay/neuter and TNR clinics, and is now considered the best quality of care. Many safer, faster, more effective surgical skills have been developed in the pursuit of helping to efficiently alter more animals. Finally, I’d remind them of the benefits to our community at large. Strong TNR programs lead to healthier cat populations for everyone in our community, including our own pets. When we help out TNR programs, we’re contributing to good health practices for people and animals.

    Q. How do you think your work with TNR and feral cats has enhanced your veterinary skills?

    A. One thing about TNR is that you do a LOT of surgeries. And you can’t do a lot of anything without becoming better at it! The speed and skill I’ve developed performing spays translates to all kinds of surgeries. I get to teach students, and I love showing them things I’ve learned and developed that aren’t always taught in schools. Pedicle ties, the modified miller’s knot … all sorts of little things that make me feel like a more adept and well-rounded surgeon. It’s also caused me to stay on top of new and effective anesthetic techniques, the best cleaning protocols, and how to identify and treat infectious diseases.

    Perhaps most importantly, it’s encouraged me to educate myself in areas that are less clinical, but important for a shelter veterinarian: population-management techniques, political impacts, organizational programs like fostering, and outreach. Having this more global understanding allows me to better perform and lead in an organization like the Pennsylvania SPCA, which participates in so many aspects of animal welfare.

    Q. What do you hope to see in the future of the Trap-Neuter-Return Movement as more municipalities and more veterinarians get on board?

    A. What I’d really like to see is a more collaborative, holistic way of addressing the issue. We’re more effective when we all work together. I feel like in the past, veterinarians were sort of detached from shelters, and animal control didn’t work with rescues, and advocacy groups didn’t necessarily connect with the people on the street. More and more, I see groups and individuals working together to figure out the best solutions. We all have our part to play in helping cats. I know I’m not going to be the best person to go out trapping, but hopefully I can get the surgeries done as quickly and safely as possible. Someone else might not be great at making sure legislation makes sense, but they’ll know how to reach out to the dedicated cat caregivers. I think as we all work together, more people will get involved, and TNR will become more known and better understood. TNR should be the norm, not a mystery—I still have friends who know what I do, but call it T&R! As I correct them, I have to point out—you’re missing my whole part in this!

    Q. Thank you for your time and for everything you do to help cats.

    A. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. I’ve loved getting to work alongside Alley Cat Allies and learning more about the impact we can have outside of our shelters and our communities. I love that I’m working in a time when veterinarians really are part of this community. I know we have so much to offer, and I think veterinarians, shelters, and advocates all can learn from each other. Working together we can accomplish so much more than we can separately.

     

  4. When to Spay? Early!

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    Kittens can be safely spayed or neutered at eight weeks, or as soon as they weigh two pounds (and are healthy). The Humane Alliance’s When to Spay Campaign educates pet owners on when they should get their pet spayed/neutered. Featuring videos and a social media campaign, When to Spay provides the facts and stats on early-age spay/neuter in a fun format. The When to Spay crew even organized a flash mob in Asheville, N.C. (yes, there’s a video)!

    The When to Spay site features testimonials from veterinarians who support early-age spay/neuter and Vet Corner blog posts from Boyd Harrell, DVM on the health benefits of early-age spay/neuter.

    “Early age surgery is safe with fewer post-surgery concerns, is less stressful on the patient, provides a quicker recover time, and is generally less expensive than later age spay/neuter,” says Dr. Harrell.

    Here are just a few of the benefits of early-age spay/neuter:

    • It’s an easier, faster procedure.
    • Patients recover more quickly.
    • Patients have fewer complications.
    • It provides the highest level of prevention of litters.
    • It produces the most prevention per dollar invested.

    When to Spay is a great resource to share with veterinary professionals—and anyone else—who is not yet convinced that early-age spay/neuter is the way to go.

    Check out the When to Spay campaign here.
    Read more about the benefits of and techniques for early-age spay/neuter on Alley Cat Allies’ website.

  5. Winter is Coming! Prepare Feral and Stray Cats for Cold Weather

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    As the temperature outside drops, compassionate people around the nation are caring for the cats they see living outdoors in their communities. As many of you know, feral cats (unsocialized to people) live outdoors in all weather conditions, and have strong survival skills. But, they don’t mind a helping hand.

    Though cats grow a thicker coat in the winter, you can still help them stay warm by building a feral cat shelter where the cats can escape the wind, snow, and rain.

    Providing specially-built shelters guarantee the cats a warm spot to escape the harsh winter weather and deter them from places where they may not be wanted, like your neighbor’s shed.

    There are endless variations for building or providing cat shelters. See a variety of options in our shelter gallery and find guidelines for building your own shelter.

    It is also important to keep the cats’ food and water from freezing. Feeding the cats canned food in insulated containers is most ideal for winter, as it takes less energy for cats to digest than dry food—and cats can use the extra energy to keep warm.

    Keep water drinkable by using bowls that are deep rather than wide, and placing them in a sunny spot. Refill the bowls with warm water or add a pinch of sugar in the water—both keep it from freezing as quickly. Alternatives include heated electric bowls found in many pet shops.

    A little extra help during the winter months can go a long way to help protect stray and feral cats and allow them to co-exist with neighbors in their communities.

    Learn more at alleycat.org/WinterWeather
    Read the Press Release.