Cold Symptoms in Kittens

    Colds in kittens are usually caused by a virus.  Calicivirus and Feline Herpes Virus 1 are usually the culprits.  The most common clinical signs are sneezing, runny eyes, loss of appetite and a runny nose. Ulcers on the nose and lips are also seen with calicivirus.  These symptoms last 7 – 10 days.   Sometimes, the ocular discharge is so bad that it actually glues the eyelids together.  Without treatment, the eye might rupture leaving the kitten blind.   
    The good news is that it is easy to prevent viral infections with a few precautions.  First, vaccinate the queen before she becomes pregnant and immunity will pass from her to the kittens through her milk.  Second, vaccinate kittens against these viruses.  Depending upon the situation, I start kittens on their boosters at 6-8 weeks.  Third, do not expose kittens to other cats until they have received all of their boosters.  Wash hands thoroughly before working with young kittens and make sure you are wearing clean clothes.  When I raise orphan kittens, I wash my hands for ten minutes and put on a protective gown before working with them.  

Here is a link to a video I did for on this topic. 

Helping Blind Cats

In my experience, blind cats learn how to ‘see’ with their other senses and live happy lives without much help from people.  In fact, many people don’t even know their cat is blind until I tell them!  This seems unlikely I know but it happens because their cat is doing everything like normal.  Here are three things you can do to help a bind cat enjoy life even more.  I learned them from my own cat, Radar, who was born without eyes.  He is pictured below hanging out on a chair under my kitchen table.

First, remove all dangers from their environment.  Lock the doggy door to prevent escapes and close off open stairwells.  Falls from high spaces are the most common kind of trouble blind cats suffer.  Also, keep them away from dangerous animals including grumpy housemates.

Second, establish a home room.  This can be a small room or a large crate that contains everything the cat needs – food, water, a resting place, toys and a litter box.  The cat will use the home room as their base from which to explore the environment.  Mark this space with a special scent like lavender, to help the cat return.

Third, give blind cats plenty of toys to enrich their lives.  Balls with bells inside are a favorite.  Radar liked a large plastic ring that looked like a small innertube with a ball inside.  He sat in the middle of it and stuck his paws through holes to push the ball around.  When the ball came to rest, he could find it easily because it was contained in the plastic tube.  

Now here is a picture of radar who is the star of my second book Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love.  It will be published later this year. 

Here is a link to a video I did for eHow on this subject.

Coati Mundi at Iguazzu Falls

Coati mundi are small omnivores that are cousins of the raccoon.  I met this mother and son pair at a snack bar while hiking at Iquazzu Falls in Brazil.  Unfortunately, these animals have become dependent upon handouts from tourists.  They congregate around food stands begging for food.  The female below tried to grab an ice cream bar out of my friend’s hand.  They have totally lost their fear of humans, instead viewing people as vending machines for food.  In Argentina, the park officials posted signs warning people about the coati mundi.  If a tourist is bitten, they blame the person for ignoring the posted warnings instead of euthanizing the animal.  I wish the United States would take a lesson from these park managers.  Educate the people instead of punishing the animals. Scroll down to see the warning sign.   


Criollo Horses in Argentina

On my recent trip to Argentina, I was introduced to the Criollo breed of horses. These horses originated from stock brought over by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers.  The breed is now considered native to Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay.  Criollos stand between 13.3 and 14.3 hands tall.  They are compact well muscled horses that are known for unbelievable endurance.  When I first saw a Criollo, I thought the horse was a mix between a Quarter horse and some sort of pony.  I had the privilege of riding a Criollo on a short trail ride.  The horse had great agility, turned on a dime but bounced me around a bit during the trot and gallop.  All in all, I was impressed by the health, demeanor and ability of this breed. 

More information about this breed may be found at

You Make The Diagnosis: Lameness In A Dog

The X-ray below was taken of a large breed dog who looked like a cross between a Rottweiler and a Labrador Retriever.  The dog was a stray that had been hit by a car and then rescued by a good Samaritan.  When I first met ‘Lucky’, he held his R rear leg high off the ground.  His right hip was dramatically swollen.  When I tried to move the leg, he cried in pain.  Review the x-ray and then name this orthopedic condition.

Diagnosis:  Right Coxofemoral Luxation (Hip Luxation)

The coxofemeral joint or hip as it is more commonly called, is a ball and socket joint in dogs and cats.  The ‘ball’ is the head of the femur that fits into the ‘socket’ or acetabulum of the pelvis.  A thick, tough ligament keeps the head deeply seated inside the acetabulum.  The force of the car, tore the ligament and popped the hip out of joint.  ‘Lucky’ had surgery to repair his damage joint and is doing well. 


Help For Tazmanian Devils

Tamanian Devils are being decimated by an infectious disease called ‘Devil Facial Tumor Disease.”  This soft tissue carcinoma causes severe disease of the face then spreads throughout the rest of the body.  This non-viral disease is spread through fighting, something Tasmanian Devils like to do.  Sadly, it is estimated to have decreased the population of Tazmanian devils by 70% since 1996. 

In 2003, a Save The Devil program began experimenting with treatments for Devil Facial Tumor Disease.  Nothing worked until QBiotics offered to treat them with EBC-46 derived from the tropical forests of Australia.  Veterinarians have been using it with success in dogs and cats, so the compound was injected into the lesions of four Tazmanian Devils with advanced disease.  According to Dr. Stephen Pyecroft, “There was either regression or palliation of all the tumors in the animals.”

Although EBC-46 will not prevent the disease in wild devils, it can be used to extend the life of affected animals.  In particular, treatment of pregnant or nursing females allows them to raise their offspring before succumbing to the disease.  Eventually, EBC-46 might even help people affected with carcinomas.  As a cancer survivor, I am excited by that prospect. 

Money, L. “Drug trial offers hope for decimated devil population”, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 1, 2013. 

Comment on Taming Feral Cats

Wow, you have made great progress with all of the cats.  I am sorry to hear about Tuki but happy to hear about Klein.  In my experience, feral cats have a tough time being picked up.  To condition Klein for this, start by lifting one leg off the ground for a few seconds while rubbing his chin.  When he is comfortable with that, pick up the front half of his body but leave his back feet on the ground.  Eventually, you will be able to pick him up entirely.  If the goal is to bring him inside, I would not introduce him to the larger enclosure until after he is comfortable in the house.  To keep Zambezi and Calypso safe, I would introduce them to the large enclosure.  I would not trust them outside on there own.  

Overall, you have done a remarkable job with these cats.  Thanks for the update and please keep up the good work.