Upside-Down is Right Side Up

Pierre: When there’s a sunbeam, the only way to feel its rays tickling my tummy is to be upside down.

Pierre is upside-down I love to lounge in the sunbeams while the friendly sunbeams heat up the tiles around me.

Pierre with sunny chinThen I can roll around on the warm tile and feel the sunbeams soaking their heat all the way into me on both sides. There’s nothing better than that!

Pierre's sunny tummyNewton is scheduled to go to the vet tomorrow. Don’t worry, it’s just for a little armpit manscaping to get rid of his mats. I’m planning on laying right here in the sun just like this while he’s gone… and maybe for the rest of the weekend, too!

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Canine Influenza: A Concern for Cats

Families with dogs in Chicago and other parts of the midwest have been taking precautions against an outbreak of canine influenza that has sickened over 1000 dogs. Veterinarians were treating it on the assumption that the flu was caused by a subtype of the H3N8 virus, which first emerged in greyhounds in the US in 2004. Cornell University has announced that they had determined that the outbreak was actually caused by a virus closely related to Asian strains of influenza A H3N2 viruses, currently in wide circulation in southern Chinese and South Korean dog populations.

Should Cat Guardians Care About Canine Influenza?

kittens and border collieBy now, you’re probably checking to make sure you’re on the right blog. Why would you be reading about the dog flu where you normally read only about cats? The H3N2 virus isn’t exclusive to dogs; it can be transmitted between species to cats.

At the beginning of 2010, cats in an animal shelter in Seoul, South Korea caught the H3N2 canine influenza virus from dogs in the shelter who were also ill with the virus. In this first known outbreak of the disease in cats, 100% of the cats in the shelter became ill, and 40% did not survive.

A subsequent study published by the International Society for Influenza and other Respiratory Virus Diseases verified that cats can acquire the H3N2 virus both from dogs and from other cats. Importantly, the study also verified that transmission of the virus doesn’t require direct contact. Cats in the study acquires the virus by respiratory droplet (airborne) transmission, too. Once infected, cats shed the virus, making them contagious, for up to seven days.

Most reported clinical cases of H3N2 virus have been severe, but antibodies have been found in significant numbers of healthy dogs and cats, which suggests that some animals have milder illnesses. Symptoms in cats include elevated temperatures, lethargy, and respiratory signs including nasal discharge, conjunctivitis and abdominal breathing.

Precautions You Can Take

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that sick dogs or those showing signs of respiratory illness be isolated from other dogs. Because dogs are most contagious in the two to four day incubation between exposure and before showing signs of illness, they also recommend isolating dogs known to have been exposed to dogs infected with the H3N2 virus from other dogs. Knowing that this can be transmitted to cats, you can take the same precautions and isolate your sick or exposed dogs from cats, as well.

You can help prevent spread of the virus by good hygiene such as hand washing and by through cleaning of shared items such as blankets and bedding. Influenza viruses do not usually survive in the environment beyond 48 hours and are inactivated or killed by commonly use disinfectants.

References and further reading:

Cornell University, Midwest Canine Influenza outbreak caused by new strain of virus
Journal of General Virology, Interspecies transmission of the canine influenza H3N2 virus to domestic cats in South Korea, 2010
International Society for Influenza and other Respiratory Virus Diseases, Inter- and intraspecies transmission of canine influenza virus (H3N2) in dogs, cats, and ferrets
Iowa State University Center for Food Security & Public Health, Canine Influenza
AVMA, Canine Influenza: Pet Owner’s Guide

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Losing Her Chickens

Ashton: Did you hear that the amazing chicks that Sage sent to me were mysteriously returned to her…. in a box with Newton and Pierre’s paw prints all over it? I’ve been looking for evidence here, but so far, no luck. They’re sneaky boycats. 

Ashton Ashton: So when my friend Cathy Keisha sent me some chicks still in their incubators, I was really excited. At last, chicks to start growing chickens for my chicken emporium!

Ashton and the incubator chicks

 Ashton:  Only now they’ve gone missing, too. I don’t understand it. It’s like there was some chicken-eating monster in the house. I’m supposed to be the only chicken-eating monster around here.

Hey, Newt, have you seen my chicks?

Ashton by metal doorjambNewton: Umm….

Newton paws tiny chickNewton: Huh, no, I don’t see any chicks out here. Did you check under the bed behind the dust bunnies?

Newton with chickNewton: *whispers* It’s just you and me now, little chick. Ashton goes under the bed for hours at a time!

Newton has a tiny chickNewton: I know you are growing and aren’t ready yet, but let’s see how you taste.  * SLURP *  You don’t taste anything like chicken.

Newton licks tiny chickAshton: Can you come help me, Newt?

Newton: I’m kinda busy right now.

Ashton: These dust bunnies are mostly made of your fur, and I can’t see past them.

Newton: * sigh * All right, all right. On my way.  * whispers * And you wait right here, little chick. I’ll be back!

capsized tiny chick

Chicken Leg IconDid you see the rest of Ashton’s chicken capers? If not, you can catch up on her adventures.

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What’s Out There?

Pierre: Oohhhhh….

Pierre peeks out window

Sometimes I have to lurk like the jungle creature I am to keep from scaring these off, but it’s totally worth it. So close, yet so far away!

squirrel in grassI can almost taste him already. If it weren’t for the window, he’d be mine!

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Behind Door Number Two

Ashton: This is where I hide every night so that Newton doesn’t pick on me at bedtime. Behind the door is a special place where I’m invisible both to cats and to people. That’s why you can’t see me.

Ashton behind the doorDo you have a special place where you are invisible, too?

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Sibling Day

Sibling Day starts out like any other day at our house….

Newton: Oh, hey, check it out, it’s the catnip egg. And it’s so full that there’s catnip spilling out onto the floor. SCORE!

Newton sniffs the catnip eggNewton: Oh! Hey, Pierre. I didn’t see you over there. what’s happening?

Pierre: You’re playing with my catnip egg.

Newton: YOUR catnip egg? I didn’t see your name on it.

Pierre sees Newton with catnip eggPierre: Do you see it now?   * GRAB *

Newton: !!!!!

Pierre grabs NewtonNewton: Okay, okay, your catnip egg is over there. You can just–

Pierre: The egg will wait. I’m not through with you yet. 

Newton: What are you DOING down there?

Pierre bites NewtonThat’s pretty much how Sibling Day — and every day — goes in our house. How about in yours?

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Heartworms: Not Just for Dogs

April is Heartworm Awareness month. You probably know that dogs can be infected with heartworms, but did you know that cats can get heartworm disease, too?

Puppy and kitten with stethescopeHeartworm disease is different in cats than it is in dogs. While both cats and dogs are infected through the bite of a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae, cats typically only get a few worms, while dogs can harbor hundreds of heartworm larvae.

Heartworm in cats is often undetected because most heartworms in cats die before they reach adulthood, and the standard blood tests to diagnose heartworm only detect adult worms.

Some cats with adult heartworms have mild symptoms, such as vomiting not related to mealtimes or trouble breathing that resembles asthma. Because heartworms act on the cardiovascular system, cats can also die suddenly from pulmonary thromoboembolism or develop congestive heart failure.

How common is feline heartworm infection? In areas of the country where heartworm disease is most common, an antigen study found 10% of cats in shelters had been infected with heartworms. Areas of the country where heartworm disease was less common still found 2% of shelter cats carrying antigens indicating heartworm infection.

Is your area of the country one where there is elevated heartworm danger? The following map from the American Heartworm Society shows the frequency of reported heartworm infections in 2013.

Heartworm incidence map

Many people think that keeping their cat indoors is enough protection from heartworm, but a study at North Carolina State University found that 25% of heartworm cases occur in indoor-only cats. Mosquitoes get into your house more often than you realize.

Heartworm in cats does not have a good treatment approach, and a single heartworm can have devastating impact on a cat’s health. The approved medication for heartworm in dogs isn’t safe for cats. As a result, it is recommended that preventative treatment be considered for cats living in areas of the country where heartworms are common, especially if they go outdoors. Your veterinarian can advise you whether a monthly preventative treatment is appropriate for your cat.


Journal American Veterinary Medical Association, Heartworm Infection in Cats: 50 cases (1985-1997)
The Merck Veterinary Manual, Overview of Heartworm Disease
Companion Animal Parasite Council, Feline Heartworm
American Heartworm Society

Photo credit: depositphotos/gurinaleksandr

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Chicken Delivery

Ashton: Check cashing…. cheerleading…. cheese….

Ashton reads yellow pagesNewton: What are you doing, Ash?

Ashton: I keep hearing a chicken in the house, but I can’t find it. I can’t count on finding it in time, so I’m trying to figure out who will deliver chickens for my chicken emporium. Everyone keeps telling me that those strange, pink chicks won’t be ready to taste for a while, and I’m running out of options.

Newt: But why are you looking in there?

Ashton: I’m not sure. Pierre told me I had to let my fingers to the walking in the yellow pages. I don’t even have fingers!

Ashton and Newton with the yellow pages

Newton: Maybe he meant turn the pages?

Ashton: Oh… maybe so. If I can figure it out, I’ll have chickens brought right to the door!  Which is good, since I’m pretty scared of stuff outside.

Ashton licks her chops over the yellow pagesAshton: Chemical cleaning…. chess instruction…. childcare…. WAIT A MINUTE! There’s no chicken delivery service listed? Now what?

Ashton beside yellow pages

Chicken Leg IconDid you miss some of our chicken capers? You can catch up any time!

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The Magic Word

Ashton: Did someone say CHICKEN? I thought I heard the magic word.

Ashton's FaceI’m on my way! Whatever I was doing isn’t as important as that.

Ashton walks toward camera

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Busted Again!

Pierre: You did NOT just catch me again using the computer to surf for ladycat photos. Really.

Pierre caught websurfing

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