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Health - issues related to kittens health, and catteries. We have decided to move some of our best sources for information onto the web site, in order that others may benefit.

Index of articles
Kitten feeding program...our suggested program  - -  link to a PDF file held on this site
Adult feeding program...our suggested program  - -  link to a PDF file held on this site
How often does he really need a rabies shot discussion of overvaccination.  - copy of an article below.
HAND-RAISING ORPHANED OR RESCUED KITTENS --     a link out to other web site.
Strategic deworming for Cats  details protocol we use with queens and litters
Feline Infectious Peritonitis - updated information for breeders  Susan Little DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Feline)
Feeding raw A link to a Michelle T Bernard (PDF) article of interest. We do not follow this program as it involves considerable effort but thought it worth the read. This article is held on this web site, the reader could google the subject for more information.
CCA web link to articles on antibiotics, feral cats, and toxic plants, - - - a link out to other web site
MESSYBEAST CAT RESOURCE ARCHIVE a link out  to a UK based Not-for-profit resources on cat care, welfare, behaviour, breeding, rescue and general interest. This privately run website is not affiliated to any registry, breed society, veterinary association or welfare society.
THINK - -The thoracic deformity best known among cat breeders is FCKS, or Flat-Chested Kitten Syndrome, but FCKS is just one condition.... .  this is a link out  .  There are a number of good web sites that can be found by google'ing "Flat chested cat". including a study by Dr. Susan Little.
Pyometra in Cats --Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia/Pyometra Complex in Cats by Susan Little DVM  a link out but also held on site
The truth about pet food a link out,  or as  held on site as of 23 april 08
Kittening pens

How often does he really need a rabies shot

Morgan is doing all she can to protect her two dogs from overvaccination. "I have a vet who does titer - testing instead of giving shots every year," she says.

“My dogs are five years old now, and the tests show they’re still being protected by the vaccines they had when they were pups." But it's a different story when it comes to  rabies. Morgan lives in a state where rabies shots are required annually, so her vet is obligated to vaccinate her dogs every year, regardless of weither or not they might still be protected  by earlier inoculations.

Teresa, meanwhile, is an apartment-dweller whose cat died after suffering an adverse reaction from a rabies vaccine. "I don't know why I had to get him vaccinated so often when we're seven floors up and he never went out," she says. "The chances of him ever coming into contact with a rabid animal were pretty small."

Serious side effects

It's a dilemma common to animal lovers across the U.S. and Canada. Some regions still require annual rabies vaccines, while many others now allow the three-year
variety, but even that's too frequent when you consider the negative side effects of overvaccination. "Rabies is the vaccine most associated with adverse reactions because it's so potent," says renowned veterinarian Dr. Jean Dodds. "We have a lot of bad reactions, including fatal ones. They usually occur within two to three weeks after vaccination, although they can appear up to 45 days later. Because the rabies vaccine is a neurogenic protein, meaning it affects the nervous system, what you will often see is seizures or seizure-like disorders like stumbling, ataxia, dementia, and some demyelination, where the animals become wobbly and don't have proper motor skills. You can also have an autoimmune-like destruction of tissues, skin, blood, joints, the liver or kidneys." Dr. Dodds adds that animals already ill with immune-related diseases such as cancer can be even more negatively affected. "Often, this is the last thing that causes the animal's demise."

Despite all this, federal law still demands that companion animals be regularly vaccinated against rabies, even if you keep your animals indoors or live in an area where rabies is unlikely to be a major problem. The main reason is that rabies can afflict humans as well as dogs and cats. "Rabies is fatal to all mammals," says Dr. Dodds. "This is an issue to protect the public health, not the animals. The primary goal of the law is to protect people from rabies."

While there's no denying that rabies is a serious disease, and that both humans and animals need protection from it, the question remains: why subject dogs and cats to the potentially serious side effects of the vaccination on an annual or even a triennial basis, when the duration of immunity (DOI) is probably much longer?

The need for new legislation

It's a question that Dr. Dodds and several other professionals asked themselves when they started The Rabies Challenge Fund in the fall of 2005. "From challenge trials, we know the DOI for regular vaccines is seven to nine years, if nQt longer. So why would the rabies vaccines, being so potent, not have an even longer DOI? We decided the thing to do would be to design a study to federal government standards that would determine if the DOI is longer than three years." Challenge studies in France have demonstrated that the rabies vaccine has a DOI of at least five years, but this information is not accepted by federal and state legislatures in the U.S., hence the need for a domestic study.

The Rabies Challenge Fund is a nation-wide effort. Along with Dr. Dodds, who is based in California, the study involves Dr. Ron Schultz of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, and vaccine disclosure activist Kris Christine, who lives in the northeast and has already worked with Dr. Dodds on other vaccine-related issues in that region. "We asked Dr. Schultz to do the study and he was delighted," says Dr. Dodds. The group was even more delighted when the University of Wisconsin agreed to cover almost half the cost of overhead for the study. "It shows they believe very strongly that this is information we need."

How will the study work?

Dr. Dodds and her colleagues officially registered The Rabies Challenge Fund in December of last year. Since then, they have been working diligently to raise the money needed to fund the actual study, which will involve two separate groups of 20 dogs each, one to be studied for five years' DOI, and the other for seven "We'll do the two groups in parallel, and continue 20 of the five-year dogs to seven years." By monitoring the animals' antibodies and other benchmarks, Dr. Schultz will be able to determine the DOI for the rabies vaccine over these periods, thereby showing that the initial vaccines given to puppies and kittens before they're a year old remain fully effective for many years,

perhaps even for life. The fund will also finance a study of the adjuvants used in rabies vaccines and establish an adverse reaction reporting system.

But more money is needed before work can start. "We require $177,000 in the first year," says Dr. Dodds. "So far, we have $65,000, so we're still short of our goal. We also have some pledges that will become active once we achieve 60% of the amount we need. And we've had some substantial donations from Canada, even though what we do might not be accepted there. People still felt compelled to donate."

One of the unique things about The Rabies Challenge Fund is that it's being funded by animal guardians and others who feel passionate about this issue. "Kris and Ron and I want this to be a grassroots program," says Dr. Dodds "We know a company could come ir and give us a whole bunch of money tc do the study, but it's nice to know that the project started and evolved from people in the grassroots."

ed note  apologize to author - forgot to note and so to make reference - but felt issue was important

Strategic deworming for Cats

deworming gif file

Use Strongid  -deals with Toxicaris Cati -  for info see internet

We also use Revolution by - annually for the adult cats. It is available from the Vet and we have provided a link to the product's  web site

A Winn Foundation Health Article On ...
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
NEW! - Purchase the Winn Feline Foundation CD summarizing the latest in news on FIP and the Feline Coronavirus.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis - updated information for breeders
Susan Little DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Feline)

One of the most poorly understood and enigmatic feline viruses is the feline coronavirus - the virus responsible for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). It is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the most feared diseases in catteries. Many catteries that remain operative for several years will have a brush with FIP. Despite the fact that this disease is a shared experience in the cat fancy, affected catteries are wrongly feared and ostracized. All breeders need to make efforts to understand this disease and how to control it.

While the first description of feline infectious peritonitis was reported by Dr. Jean Holzworth in 1963, there are reports of clinical cases that are likely FIP going back to1914. Even though we have known about this virus for a long time, we know frustratingly little about it. However, much new research has been done in the past 5 years that is slowly shedding more light on this ever-present feline health problem. This article is designed to present some of the newer information and change some of the older ideas still found in print and other media.

Feline coronavirus operates differently from any other feline virus in several important ways: a) systemic antibodies have no protective function for the cat and may play a role in the disease FIP itself b) antibody titres are meaningless for diagnosis of FIP or prognosis c) a vaccine is available, but there is no consensus on its efficacy or safety

First, some notes on terminology.

    * FIP is the term for clinical disease associated with feline coronavirus infection.
    * The common benign form of feline coronavirus is referred to as FECV (feline enteric coronavirus).
    * When FECV has mutated into a disease-causing form, it is then referred to as FIPV (feline infectious peritonitis virus).
* Feline coronaviruses in general are referred to as FCoV.

FECV is a very common, highly infectious feline virus. It belongs to the genus Coronavirus, which has members that infect other species (man, swine, cattle, birds, dogs). The majority of cats with FECV (about 95% or more) remain healthy. But in a small number of cases, FECV infection is the first step in a chain of events leading to FIP. This happens because coronaviruses are made of large numbers of nucleotides, the basic unit of genetic material, and they are very prone to mutations. As a virus reproduces itself, errors are made in copying these nucleotides. The more nucleotides, the more errors are possible. While most of these errors are harmless, some will have the effect of giving FECV the ability to cause disease. These mutant FECV strains are called FIPV.

Recent research has shown that mutant FECVs arise within an individual cat. Thus, we now know that the vast majority of cats do not "catch" FIP, but they develop it themselves from their own mutant FECV. Transmission of FIP from cat to cat is considered to be rare. This fact has caused leading FIP researchers to state that cats who are ill with FIP are unlikely to be a risk to other cats and thus do not need to be isolated.

It has been estimated that in multi-cat households where FECV has been introduced, 80-90% of all the cats will be infected. Catteries are especially likely to be FECV positive since traffic of cats and kittens in and out of the establishment is common. However, the incidence of cases of FIP is quite low in comparison. Generally, most catteries experience far less than 10% losses to FIP over the years. Rare instances have been documented where an apparent epidemic of FIP is associated with mortality rates of over 10% in a short period of time. One possible factor in these epidemics is the shedding of virulent virus, an uncommon situation. Usually, losses are sporadic and unpredictable. The peak ages for losses to FIP are from 6 months to 2 years old (with the highest incidence at 10 months of age). Age-associated immunity to FIP appears to be possible. Transmission of FIP from a queen to her unborn kittens has not been shown to occur.

What are the factors that predispose a small percentage of cats with FECV to the development of FIP? Research is currently trying to find more answers to this question, but some facts are becoming clear. Dr. Janet Foley and Dr. Niels Pedersen of the University of California at Davis have identified three key risk factors: genetic susceptibility, the presence of chronic FECV shedders, and cat-dense environments that favour the spread of FECV.

A genetic predisposition to the development of FIP was identified by Drs. Foley and Pedersen in 1996. They examined pedigree and health data from 10 generations of cats in several purebred catteries and found that the heritability of susceptibility to FIP could be very high (about 50%). It is likely a polygenetic trait rather than a simple dominant or recessive mode of inheritance. Inbreeding, by itself, is not a risk factor. Selecting for overall disease resistance is a helpful tool for breeders. The likely defect in immunity to FIP is in cell-mediated immunity. Therefore cats that are susceptible to FIP are also likely susceptible to some other infections as well, especially fungal and viral infections. This finding gives breeders the ability to achieve success in reducing the risk of FIP by using pedigree analysis to select breeding cats from family backgrounds that have strong resistance to FIP and other infectious diseases.

Research has shown that there are two main patterns that occur with FECV infection. Most cats will become infected and recover, but will not be immune. They are susceptible to reinfection the next time they contact the virus. A small number of cats become infected but do not recover. They become persistent shedders of FECV in the cattery and are the source of reinfection for the other cats. Therefore, the key to eliminating FECV (and thus the risk of FIP) in a cattery would be the identification and removal of chronic shedders. Currently, however, there is no easy way to determine which cats in a cattery are persistent shedders. The traditional antibody titre for FECV cannot be used to determine which cats are chronic shedders. The most effective and practical tool is PCR analysis of feces for the presence of FECV, a test which is not yet widely available.

In addition to selecting disease-resistant breeding stock, breeders can initiate husbandry practices that discourage the spread of FECV and development of FIP. Cat-dense environments favour the transmission of the highly contagious FECV. Dr. Diane Addie of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, recommends that the ideal way to house cats in catteries is individually. However, since this is not always possible, she recommends that they be kept in stable groups of no more than 3 or 4. Kittens should remain in groups of similar ages and not be mixed with adults in the cattery. Any measures that reduce environmental and social stress in the cattery population will have a beneficial effect.

FECV is spread primarily by the fecal-oral route and, to a lesser degree, through saliva or respiratory droplets. The virus can persist in the environment in dried feces on cat litter for 3 to 7 weeks, so scrupulous cleaning of cages and litter pans is important to reduce the amount of virus in the environment. It is important to have adequate numbers of litter pans available and that they be scooped at least daily and dumped and disinfected at least weekly. Litter pans should be kept away from food bowls and spilled litter should be regulary vacuumed up from the floor.

Dr. Addie has also described a method for early weaning and isolation of kittens born to FECV positive queens. It involves rigorous barrier nursing techniques to prevent the spread of the highly contagious FECV, and so is not for every breeder or cattery. The procedure involves first isolating the pregnant queen in a separate area to have the kittens. When they are 5-6 weeks old (at the time when their maternal immunity to FECV is waning), the kittens are removed from the queen and isolated by themselves. Some of the difficulties with this method involve the strict infection control procedures needed and possible difficulties in socializing kittens. When properly practiced, not only can FECV-negative kittens can be produced, but the kittens are often less prone to respiratory diseases and other common kitten ailments.

As with so many aspects of FIP, testing remains problematic. To date, there is no way to screen healthy cats for the risk of developing FIP. Antibody titres are poorly correlated with risk of FIP and should not be used to screen cats. As well as problems with interpretation of these antibody tests, there are problems with laboratory quality control. There are newer DNA-based tests offered by a few labs that are purported to be FIP-specific. However, these tests are considered unvalidated by experts as they have not been subjected to scientific scrutiny by researchers outside of the labs that offer them. In addition, there are no published studies that have identified the genetic difference between FECV and FIPV. An article was published by the Cornell Feline Health Center in 1998 warning that the so-called FIP-specific ELISA tests are based on insufficient data and the assays are not yet validated.

The fact remains that we have no screening test for FIP in well cats. Neither do we have a fool-proof way to diagnose FIP in a sick cat. The gold standard remains a biopsy or findings at necropsy. Recently, Dr. Andrew Sparkes and his colleagues at the University of Bristol, England, have suggested that combining several test results (globulin levels, lymphocyte counts) with clinical findings and antibody titre can help rule in or rule out FIP with some degree of certainty. It remains true, however, that a negative antibody titre does not rule out FIP. Neither does a positive antibody titre rule in FIP as a diagnosis. One benefit of the new DNA-based tests may be their use on body fluids, such as effusions from the chest or abdomen of a sick cat. If virus is found in these fluids, it strongly supports the presumptive diagnosis of FIP.

Probably one of the most controversial areas in any discussion of FIP is Primucell FIP, the vaccine made by Pfizer Animal Health, available since 1991. The vaccine is a modified-live termperature-sensitive viral mutant licensed for intranasal use in cats at least 16 weeks of age. The manufacturer recommends annual revaccination although no duration of immunity studies are available. The vaccine stimulates local immunity and will also produce an antibody titre. Evaluation of the risks and benefits associated with this vaccine is a difficult venture and has engendered much controversy.

Since FIP is a severe and fatal disease, the safety of any vaccine is a paramount consideration. Dr. Fred Scott of the Cornell Feline Health Center, concluded in a recently published paper, that the risks associated with the Primucell FIP vaccine are minimal in most situations. He notes that the vaccine has been in use for 7 years with no increase in the incidence of FIP. Troubling reports of a phenomenon called "antibody-dependent enhancement" (ADE) of infection arose from several labs, where cats vaccinated with FIP vaccines and challenged experimentally with virus developed accelerated disease instead of being protected. It is not known whether the phenomenon of ADE occurs in the real world and there is no easy way to find out. If it does occur, it is likely an uncommon event, but the possibility remains troubling.

On the other side of the issue, the benefits of the Primucell FIP vaccine appear to be small. The best reported efficacy for the vaccine is seen when FCoV negative cats at least 16 weeks old were vaccinated twice (3 weeks apart), in a study by Dr. Nancy Reeves published in 1995. In this study, FCoV antibody-negative cats were vaccinated before entering a large cat shelter where FIP was endemic. The vaccinated cats experienced a significantly lower mortality rate than unvaccinated cats. The efficacy of the vaccination was calculated to be 75% (preventable fraction).

In catteries where FIP is endemic, studies have shown the vaccine had no effect on the incidence of disease. One reason may be that most kittens in catteries are infected between 6 and 10 weeks of age, long before the 16 weeks of age the vaccine is licensed for. Once a cat is infected with FCoV, the vaccine has no benefit. Some cattery owners have been using the vaccine at ages younger than 16 weeks to get around this problem. Dr. Johnny Hoskins has outlined a vaccination protocol for catteries experiencing FIP losses in kittens under 16 weeks of age. He recommends giving the vaccine at 9, 13 and 17 weeks with annual revaccination afterward. Use of this protocol must be made with the knowledge that no controlled studies have been done on kittens under 16 weeks of age and that this is an off label use. It would appear that the use of the vaccine according to the manufacturer’s directions is limited to the vaccination of FCoV antibody-negative cats entering high risk situations, such as catteries and shelters.
Recommended Reading

   1. Addie DD. The control of feline coronavirus and feline infectious peritonitis in cat colonies. Feline Focus (European Society of Feline Medicine newsletter) 5 (Summer): 5-7, 1997
   2. Cornell Feline Health Center. Is the FIP-specific ELISA test specific? Feline Health Topics for Veterinarians, Vol 13(2): 7, 1998.
   3. Foley JE, Pedersen NC. The inheritance of susceptibility to feline infectious peritonitis in purebred catteries. Fel Pract 24(1): 14-22, 1996
   4. Foley JE et al. Patterns of feline coronavirus infection and fecal shedding from cats in multiple-cat environments. J Amer Vet Med Assoc 210(9): 1307-1312, 1997
   5. Foley JE et al. Risk factors for feline infectious peritonitis among cats in multiple-cat environments with endemic feline enteric coronavirus. J Amer Vet Med Assoc 219(9): 1313-1318, 1997
   6. Horzinek MC. Update on feline infectious peritonitis. Feline Focus (European Society of Feline Medicine newsletter) 5 (Summer): 1-4, 1997
   7. Hoskins JD. FIP vaccination. Feline Focus (European Society of Feline Medicine newsletter) 5 (Summer): 4-5, 1997
   8. Legendre AM. Feline infectious peritonitis - an update. Proc 16th Amer Coll Vet Intern Med Forum, San Diego CA, 1998.
   9. Norsworthy GD. Feline infectious peritonitis, in Norsworthy GD et al (ed): The Feline Patient: Essentials of Diagnosis and Treatment, Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, 1998, pp. 200-203
  10. Pedersen NC, Addie DD, Wolf A. Recommendations from working groups of the international feline enteric coronavirus and feline infectious peritonitis workshop. Fel Pract 23(3): 108-111, 1995
  11. Scott FW. Evaluation of risks and benefits associated with vaccination against coronavirus infections in cats. Advances Vet Med 41:347-358, 1999
  12. Sparkes AH, Gruffydd-Jones TJ, Harbour DA. An appraisal of the value of laboratory tests in the diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis. J Amer Anim Hosp Assoc, Vol 30:345-350, 1994.
  13. Various authors. Report from the International FIP/FECV Workshop, University of California, Davis CA, Feline Practice Vol 23(3): 1995
  14. Weiss RC. Feline infectious peritonitis and other coronaviruses, in Sherding RG (ed): The Cat: Diseases and Clinical Management, second edition, WB Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1994, pp. 449-477

Related Links:

    * Updates on Feline Infectious Peritonitis - Winn Feline Foundation
    * New Tests Being Commercially Marketed for FIP Detection - Winn Feline Foundation
    * Feline Infectious Peritonitis - Virus Shedding and Infection - The British Experience (Virus Excretion of Feline Coronavirus) - Winn Feline Foundation
    * Feline Infectious Peritonitis - Virus Shedding and Infection - The American Experience - WInn Feline Foundation
* FIP Frequently Asked Questions - UC Davis

kitten pensKitten  pens for birthing to weaning - measurements basically 5 'wide /2 ' high/ 20"deep ( interior dimensions) makes 2 pens from  3 pieces of 4X8 1/4 ' plywood, 1x2x 3/4   for frames and doors . quarter round  on the seams and 1/2 " wire cloth on the main doors. Bottoms reinforced with 1x2 pine on edge  & around outside and filled with 1.5" styrofoam sheet.  Joining with 1" wood screws and glue or stapled and carpenters glue. Painted with high gloss paint.
Supplies: to make 2 cages
3 pieces 4x8x1/4 plywood good at least 1 side
have cut length wise in half   giving 2x8 - -  6 pieces -have these cut  4 at 5 ' long and 2 at 5'1/2 " long
20 pieces 1x2x8' strapping  actual  5/8 thick -- finger joint is good
8 pieces 1/4 round -- finger joint is good
2 pieces 2'x8'x1.5" styrofoam
syrofoam glue  1 tube for calking gun
1 tube 50 year latex caulk  for same gun
1 bottle carpenters glue
12 small hinges
1 box #5  3/4 wood screws
1 box 1" wood screws
1 box 1.5" wood screws
3/4 and 5/8 staples for air gun as needed
1 roll 2'x10' x1/2 " square wire cloth
8 'full turn buttons' and 2 small door bolts
4' of 1x 4
paint to suit  1 gal. primer is used    total  cost  $ 200 -250
bottom1bottom 2
The bottom using 5'x2' plywood  cut to 20and3/4" deep and strapping  - -note 3/4 lip at front - -strapping is attached using glue staple gun and 3/4 x1/4 staples
foam is cut fit and glued
basebase 2
build base if needed - - 5'1/2" long by 21"wide  by 2' high  - -triangle brace in corner measures 5" on the long side
side 3cut sides from smale piece plywood  20 and1/4' wide  by 2' tall
attach sides  glue and staple  - -align as shown  protrudes 1/4' at back
attach back using 5"by 2' piece.
Using staples  temporarily align and attach back to sides.
Using 1/4 round,  fix to base, then to top in preparation for top piece,
then 1/4 round the verticals to permanently fix the corners. Glue and staple.

Cut top piece of plywood using 5'1/2" length  cut to 20" and 1/4 deep.
Fit top in place and attach. Again glue and staple.

using 2'X3' piece of plywood,  cut partition -   should be 20' deep and height to fit -

portal is 4" wide, 7.5" from floor and 6.5" high -suits a Burmese  - - - placement  15.5" from end wall

attach 1/4 round and then install - ensure front is flush with other pieces

install quarter round in preparation for face frame, then intall face frame  use glue and 1" screws
and oh yes the partition piece is a 1X 4   - -  install door stops from scrap.
build doors to fit using 1x2 strapping  a compound mitre saw is most helpful ;-)).
Glue , fix in place, and screw through joint  - top and bottom. Try to keep it square.
Cut and attach wire cloth screen use 5/8 staples  kitten door is not screened  - use a piece of remaining plywood
fit and attach doors.
We use wood putty to fill any imperfections on the exterior surfaces and the off side of the partition.
We calk the seems, and paint all with primer. Then min. two coats of latex high gloss paint, sanded between.