<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Silent, But Insidious Cat Killer in Our Woods 

Before I get into this post, let me post another couple of pics of the new babies after we let them out into the house. Taffy, Laura's mother's basset hound has taken to "mothering" them, something she has never done before. You can just see her nose in the first pic. Did Princess send a part of her spirit into Taffy? We have openly pondered that? You can decide for yourself. All we know is that she has never shown this kind of interest in babies before.

We had yet another sad day here yesterday. The 3 kittens we rescued from the woods are now down to one. We lost another one yesterday, but not before an emergency run to the vet to try and save that baby. (The other one died within about a day of us catching him/her, but was so covered with the seed ticks that we blamed it on anemia and didn't think much more about it.) However, this last one, whom we named Miracle yesterday in the thinking that it would take a miracle to save him, was at first only thought to be suffering from worms because there were some observed in the diarrhea. That condition was promptly treated, and we thought that would be that. When he was not better the next day, had not passed the worms, and was only getting weaker, it was obvious that an emergency run to the vet was in order. Thanks to donations received last week, we had the needed funding to do this.

The diagnosis was terrible, leaving Laura in tears. In all of her 25 years of rescuing animals, she had never heard of this silent killer, nor had I or anyone else we had talked to, not even at the feed store we buy often supplies from.

So, after writing letters to the editors of both local weekly papers, now we are devoting the rest of today to try and get this information out to as many people as possible so that they and their cats do not suffer the way we and these kittens did.

One of the first things Laura did after getting home from the vet was to do a search on the problem to try and determine more about what we were dealing with. She found several articles on it, but the best-researched one with citations and slides of what it does to the organs was found here.

Excerpts from this page follow (this is part of the letters to the editors we wrote, and she defined the medical terms in brackets so that they are easier to understand:

Cytauxzoon felis is a relatively new pathogen in the United States. It was first reported in Missouri in 1976. Parasitism with this organism has sometimes been overlooked or the parasite had mistakenly been identified as another organism, such as Haemobartonella felis. However, the two parasites are easily distinguishable: H. felis organisms are located extracellularly within invaginations [infolded so as to form a hollow space within a previously solid structure, as in the formation of a gastrula from a blastula] of the plasma membrane.

Because of the extremely rapid course of illness associated with cytauxzoonosis, a diagnosis is often made by postmortem examination. Grossly, dehydration, generalized pallor, and/or icterus (jaundice - a liver problem)) may be observed. Other common findings at necropsy include enlarged, edematous [full of fluid], and reddened lymph nodes; distended abdominal veins (especially splenic, mesenteric [any of several folds of the peritoneum that connect the intestines to the dorsal abdominal wall], and renal veins); petechial [small purplish spot on a body surface, such as the skin or a mucous membrane, caused by a minute hemorrhage] and ecchymotic [passage of blood from ruptured blood vessels into subcutaneous tissue, marked by a purple discoloration of the skin] hemorrhages of abdominal organs, heart, and lungs; large dark spleen; and congested, edematous [full of fluid] lungs.

Historically, diagnosis with cytauxzoonosis has a very poor prognosis. Until recently, this disease was considered to be almost 100% fatal despite attempted treatment. A current study has suggested that treatment with certain antiprotozal drugs may control or eliminate cytauxzoonosis in cats. Seven of eight treated cats survived and cleared C. felis infections when treated with either diminazene aceturate or imidocarb.

(Our vet used Nuflor and gave him fluids, but that is only because these new drugs were discovered in a very small clinical study involving only 8 cats and probably aren't widely available yet, even if vets know about them.)
In contrast, another study reported 18 cases of cytauxzoonosis in cats from Oklahoma and Arkansas in which the cats recovered without antiprotozoal therapy (although some cats remained parasitemic and could be a potential source of infection for native cats). Experience (KSL, PMR) at The University of Georgia indicates that cytauxzoonosis in cats has been increasing in frequency with a greater distribution of the parasite. In previous decades, most cases of cytauxzoonosis occurred in the Brunswick, Georgia area. More recently, cats with the disease have been observed within the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. However, the parasite seems to be adapting to domestic cats because the disease course is sometimes less severe and more protracted. As the parasite continues to adapt to domestic cats as hosts, more animals may be expected to survive infection. Regardless, the fact remains that many of the cats that develop cytauxzoonosis do not survive. Therefore, cat owners should be educated that the disease may be prevented by tick control and restricting animals from tick infested areas during the warmer months of the year.

The rest of our letter talked about the importance of spaying/neutering companion animals and how to find ways to do that, even on a limited income through rescue groups, mobile spay/neuter clinics, and the like.

Two more articles were cited in the letters, but we thought that the first was the most informative.

The main thing to stress here is not only the obvious need and responsibility for guardians of companion animals to spay/neuter their companion animals, not to mention not to dump them in the woods! We also wanted to make sure to inform as many people as possible about this problem. We didn't want Miracle to die in vain. Help us to spread the word by letting everyone you know have this information to protect your and their cats from this insidious killer.

On a side-note, Princess was seen clearly to come with the brother of this baby to receive Miracle. She and the other kitten were in green grass and looking happy. Whether you believe in things of this nature or not, that doesn't make it any less true. Animals DO have spirits, and they DO come back, just as they watch over you and await a reunion with you. We hope that gives all of you, especially rescuers like us, at least a measure of comfort to know. It's nice to know that Princess' spirit is still there watching over the babies, even though we did not want her to go from us. Obviously, though, she is still here in a way, watching over the situation.

I want to give an extra special thank you to the people who sent in the donations that made the trip to the vet possible so that we could learn about this and inform others. I also thank the people that put that information up on the Net for all to find. If it were not for either of those situations, we would never have known that a tick-borne parasite was the true killer.

We will spend most of the rest of the day spreading the word about this. We hope that you do, too. As one of the websites said, "Cytauxzoon felis is a protozoal parasite that causes fatal disease in cats. It is carried by ticks and is almost 100% fatal." And hardly anyone knows it lurks out there or that it is spreading...

Please protect your cats and kittens. Please spay and neuter them. And please pass on this information. Who knows how many lives it may save and how many tears and heartbreaks it may prevent?

For the animals---
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