Good Health for Cats
We recommend a BARF diet for optimum health in carnivors. Here you will find some tips for keeping your cat well and some articles that I have found both interesting and useful.
Alternative Remedies for Common Problems
Citronella oil deters most insects including fleas and lice. You can use it around the home. Eucalyptus oil has a similar effect.
There is no natural alternative to chemical wormers. If you are concerned about worms why not opt for an annual faecal sample test, which your vet will do for around £10. Your kitten has been wormed with Panacur granules before leaving us.
Slippery Elm Powder works wonders for cats as well as humans. Mix a teaspoon of the powder with a little water to form a paste. Then add 100ml of chicken stock and simmer until the liquid thickens. I’ve never known a cat refuse it. It helps to settle vommiting and/ or diarrheoa and can be used with or without other medicine.
Coughs and Sneezes
If your cat starts to cough or sneeze don’t panic. Most bacteria and viruses are eliminated in time without help, you just need to be patient. A healthy animal can deal with most attacks, all by itself. Remember antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections not viruses, so in most cases do not help with colds.. In the case of a bad cold most vets recommend antibiotics to help prevent against secondary infection.
Iron Phosphate (a biochemic remedy known as Ferr. Phos. – available in all health shops and some chemists) is highly effective in assisting recovery from all infections by oxygenating the blood. Give one or two soft tablets 3 or 4 times a day, directly into a clean mouth. The tablets do not need to be swallowed they dissolve in the mouth. Any sign of a cold, get the Ferr. Phos. out!
Propolis, best in liquid form, can also be given to support the cat when suffering from any kind of infection such as a cold. It works as a natural antibiotic but is also thought to be effective against viruses. Give two drops twice a day directly into the mouth.
One Arnica tablet, crushed between spoons and directed into the mouth, immediately after the incident and again 2 hours later. Reduces swelling, minimizes bruising and promotes healing. If a sprain or break is diagnosed (very rare in cats) use Comfrey to promote fast healing. Arnica and Comfrey are proven healing aids and are essentials in the natural first aid box.
General Good Health
Echinacea, a herbal remedy, is thought to boost the immune system. I use it only twice a year for one week at a time, by adding it the animals drinking water.
Probiotics – friendly bacteria, can be given to aid digestion and keep the digestive tract healthy. Cats will love to lap up the occasional teaspoon of LIVE natural yoghurt.
Wheat Grass is a cat’s favourite and again aids digestions. Organic wheat grain can be bought from health shops. Sprinkle over a tray of soft, wet soil. Cover with cling film, pierce holes to aerate and leave in a dark, warm place for about 3 days. Once the seeds start to sprout, remove the cling film and place in the light. The grass will grow very quickly and cats love to chew on it. This is an essential for indoor cats. I also recommend planting cat nip for indoor cats.
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?
Over recent years a contentious debate has surrounded the area of vaccination for domestic animals. Below are two articles which take slightly different stances on vaccination policy. By acquainting yourself with the information contained in these articles you will not only be better equipped to care for your cat, you will also be better equipped to discuss these issues with your vet, should they come up.
An Article by Dr. Don Hamilton
I have made the transition from believing strongly in the protective power of vaccines to becoming continually more certain that they create at least as much illness as they have ever prevented. In truth, I now consider vaccination to be tantamount to animal abuse in most cases. This opinion has two main bases: First, vaccines often do not provide any protection. This may result from poor vaccine performance (as with feline leukemia virus, feline infectious peritonitis virus, and ringworm vaccines), lack of risk (all vaccines at times, but particularly the above vaccines plus rabies), or simply lack of need (as with booster vaccination in almost all cases). Secondly, many vaccines actually induce illness that is much greater than that of the diseases that they are designed to prevent. A further consideration is that vaccination weakens the strength of a population by allowing individuals to survive that otherwise would succumb to natural diseases; these diseases provide cleansing and strengthening for the population under normal conditions. The population is further weakened by immunosuppressive and possibly gene-damaging vaccine impacts. Vaccination likely provides protection from acute, contagious diseases by inducing chronic disease. This trade-off is not a good one and itself amounts to abuse. Obviously there are several issues here that affect an immunization decision. Each is a separate factor with its own issues. I’ll start with booster vaccinations, as this is the clearest area and one with little risk of error. Simply put, there is almost never a need for booster immunization. Once immunized, an animal, as with humans, is protected for life. Further vaccinations do not improve the immunity.
The following quote, from Ron Schultz, Ph.D., and Tom Phillips, DVM, appeared in Current Veterinary Therapy XI in 1992 (This is a purely conventional textbook, and Drs. Schultz and Phillips are respected veterinary immunologists in the academic community): A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccinations. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal. Successful vaccination to most bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years, allowing an animal to develop a protective anamnestic (secondary) response when exposed to virulent organisms. Only the immune response to toxins requires boosters (e.g. tetanus toxin booster, in humans, is recommended once every 7-10 years), and no toxin vaccines are currently used for dogs and cats. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response as a result of interference by existing antibody (similar to maternal antibody interference). The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy unless it is used as a mechanism to provide an annual physical examination or is required by law. In essence, Drs. Schultz and Phillips are stating that the only reasons for annual vaccination are legal (as with rabies vaccination) or as a means of manipulating guardians into bringing their companions for examinations (rather than simply recommending an examination). They also clearly state that booster vaccines provide no other benefit, including improved or added immunization. Although it has been some years since this was published, the veterinary community has made little headway toward following these recommendations. Some university experts now recommend vaccinations every three years, and other university clinics recommend titer testing to determine need. While both concepts are a step in the right direction, they still do not reflect the actual picture.
With kittens, antibodies (maternal antibody) may be passed from the mother to the kittens via the umbilical cord and via colostrum (the first milk). This antibody serves to protect the kitten, but it also can interfere with vaccination. For this reason, we often vaccinate kittens multiple times, in hopes that we will give a vaccination shortly after the maternal antibody diminishes to a level that will not interfere with vaccination. This is often overkill, as one vaccination can induce immunity in approximately 95 percent of animals if the timing is correct. Multiple vaccination, particularly with combination vaccines, is one of the greatest contributors to vaccine-induced illness. Limiting vaccination to one or two doses of appropriately indicated vaccines could greatly reduce disease from vaccination. In my opinion, this would be a huge step in the right direction for those who are too fearful to avoid vaccines entirely. The next area of concern is that of risk. Veterinarians and vaccine companies frequently use fear to convince others of the need for vaccines. Often, the risk of disease is so small that vaccination is foolish. Many cats are kept indoors, and while this practice is certainly controversial (I believe all animals need exposure to the outside), these cats have virtually no risk of exposure to most organisms (especially rabies and feline leukemia virus, both of which require direct contact with an infected animal). Vaccination is generally pointless for these animals. Even in outdoor cats, vaccines may be unnecessary, as many diseases are not truly contagious. In these cases vaccination is useless since it is not directed toward the cause of illness. These diseases are immune suppressive (often autoimmune) conditions. The immunosuppression occurs first, allowing a virus, bacteria, or fungus to grow. We know this because healthy animals are unaffected by these organisms. This brings us to the question of damage from vaccines. Although this is the most controversial aspect of vaccination, I see this so commonly that I personally have no doubts that vaccines are extremely dangerous. Most of my homeopathic colleagues are in agreement. We believe vaccination underlies a huge percentage of illness that we see today, and especially the rash of autoimmune diseases; these have increased dramatically since my graduation from veterinary school in 1979. I’ll briefly present a case that turned my head many years ago. When I first heard that vaccines might actually cause disease, I was skeptical. Of course, I knew about allergic reactions and other quick responses, but I assumed that these initial reactions were the extent of the problem. I remember a case, however, that opened my eyes. Fluffy was a sweet Persian cat who lived with an equally sweet woman. Fluffy had recurrent bouts of cystitis (urinary bladder inflammation) that were very resistant to conventional and homeopathic treatment. Despite the fact that I liked Fluffy’s guardian (and Fluffy), I hated to hear from her, as it was such a frustrating case. The bladder infections were never under control for long before they would return. One day I was reviewing the record for some clue as to what to do next when I had a stunning revelation. The cystitis bouts were always about a month after the yearly boosters. I suggested to Fluffy’s guardian that we no longer vaccinate Fluffy, and I never needed to treat Fluffy’s cystitis again. I could only conclude that vaccines could indeed cause diseases—even a supposed infection. Once I opened my eyes to the possibility of vaccine-induced illness, I began to see it commonly. It even became clear that certain vaccines could cause chronic illness that resembled the acute disease that the vaccine was intended to prevent. Panleukopenia is a good example. With panleukopenia, major symptoms include inflammation and degeneration of the intestinal tract leading to severe vomiting and diarrhea, severe reduction of white blood cells (leukopenia) leading to immunosuppression, loss of appetite, mucopurulent nasal discharge, dehydration, and rapid weight loss. The chronic diseases we see frequently in cats correspond to many of these symptoms. Inflammatory bowel disease, an autoimmune inflammation of the intestines, is occurring at epidemic levels today. This disease was virtually nonexistent twenty years ago, yet today it is one of the most frequent diagnoses.
Cats are also extremely susceptible to immune malfunction and immunosuppression. The immunosuppressive state has been associated with two retroviruses (feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus), and others are suspected. Rather than these being separate diseases, I believe they are the same, but that more than one virus can fill the niche opened by the immunosuppression (remember that with chronic diseases the illness precedes the infection). This is probably the same in people with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) related viruses. Parvoviruses, which include the feline panleukopenia virus, are known to be very immunosuppressive. Additionally, I suspect the feline upper respiratory infections are a chronic state of the panleukopenia virus-induced immunosuppression and the tendency to get eye discharges. Other conditions we see frequently in veterinary medicine today are not so directly traceable to a particular vaccine, but the general connection to vaccination is clear to many practitioners. Hyperthyroidism (increased production of thyroid hormones) was not seen when I first graduated from veterinary school. It was not simply misdiagnosed. The symptoms are so characteristic that the syndrome would have been recognized even if the cause was unknown. The disease did not exist. Could vaccines be responsible? Let’s look at another case: Sheba is a Siamese mix cat. She was nine years old when her guardian first consulted me. One week after vaccination, Sheba stopped eating and developed a rapid heart rate. Her conventional veterinarian suspected hyperthyroidism, although thyroid testing revealed no abnormalities. One dose of Thuja (a homeopathic remedy) reversed the rapid heartbeat and the appetite problems, and her health bloomed after the remedy so that she was better than before she became ill. Clearly the vaccines had caused these problems. I believe she would have developed true hyperthyroid disease if untreated. The status of cats has elevated significantly since the 1960’s. Prior to this most cats received little veterinary care. Since the 1970’s, however, as cat status elevated, the care given to cats has climbed. This has generally meant more vaccinations. And rabies vaccination was often not recommended for cats until the mid-1980s. I believe the massive increase of vaccines in cats is responsible for hyperthyroidism as well as many other recently emerging diseases. Cats suffer greatly from vaccination damage. The most obvious vaccine-induced problem is one that is deathly serious, causing great suffering among cats and cat companions. Fibrosarcomas, a type of cancer, occur more and more as a result of vaccination. The vaccines that are implicated are the rabies and feline leukemia virus vaccines. These cancers arise at the site of injection of one of the vaccines. Researchers have identified vaccine particles within the cancer mass in a number of cases; the link is definite. Many veterinarians now refer to these cancers as vaccine sarcomas. Fibrosarcomas are malignant, and the average life expectancy is less than three years once the cancer has arisen. No treatment has proven satisfactory. Even with aggressive surgical removal, these cancers recur in the vast majority of cats. Some leading veterinarians recommend giving the vaccines in a leg, or even in the tail (ow!), to make amputation a viable option in case the cancers arise. Does this make sense? Obviously, when we reach the point of making recommendations like these, we are out of control. But do we simply avoid vaccinations in order to avoid all risk? Or is there possibly more risk by not vaccinating? Personally, I am opposed to vaccination in virtually all situations, but I will endeavor to give some guidelines that will assist you in making a balanced decision regarding your feline companions.
There are four criteria that are at the center of any vaccine decision. One should only consider administering a vaccine if all four criteria are met:
1. The disease is serious, even life threatening.
2. The animal is or will be exposed to the disease.
3. The vaccine for the disease is known to be effective.
4. The vaccine for the disease is considered safe.
Feline panleukopenia virus is very serious and the vaccine is quite effective, but most cats will not be exposed to the virus and the disease generally affects kittens only. Only those cats that are likely to be exposed would benefit from vaccination, and one vaccination between the age of ten to twelve weeks will protect 95 percent of cats for life. (Schultz) With the feline upper respiratory diseases (calicivirus and rhinotracheitis virus as well as feline chlamydia), most are not serious except in very young kittens. These kittens generally contract the disease before vaccines would typically be administered, so the vaccine is not often beneficial. If you choose to immunize for these, use the intranasal form, and do not vaccinate for chlamydia. The chlamydia fraction produces poor immunization. In summary, my first recommendation is avoidance of vaccination whenever possible. If the risk is great, one panleukopenia vaccination will adequately protect the cat in almost all cases. The intranasal rhinotracheitis-calicivirus vaccine is relatively effective, but very few cats will benefit from this. Finally, rabies is legally mandated, but one vaccination will generally protect cats that are at risk. I never recommend vaccines for feline leukemia virus, feline infectious peritonitis virus, Chlamydia, ringworm, or the feline immunodeficiency virus. And I never recommend booster vaccines; these are always unwarranted.
Vaccination Decisions by Susan Wynn, DVM
In 1995, an article appeared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association entitled “Are We Vaccinating Too Much?” The veterinarians interviewed included Dr Schultz, Dr Dennis Macy of Colorado State University, Dr Leland Carmichael, and Dr Fred Scott of Cornell University. These leading veterinary immunologists admit puzzlement at the current situation but stop short of making recommendations, since no studies have been done to show maximum duration of immunity. When asked directly what should be done, Dr Macy recommends continuing to follow vaccine label instructions, but to pressure the USDA to determine the optimal vaccination schedule. The other experts interviewed did not make specific recommendations but emphasized the need for veterinarians to rationally analyze the individual situation and vaccinate accordingly. In general, they felt that cats should be immunized every three years for both FVRCP and rabies, not annually. Papers and textbooks over the last 15 years indicate that annual revaccination for some diseases was probably not necessary (see Appel 1972), (Green 1990), (Olson 1997), and (Carmichael 1981).
After over 15 years of questions about our vaccine practices, things are changing. Veterinarians acknowledge that yearly vaccines have indeed worked to nearly eliminate some illnesses, but now ask, “do we have to vaccinate yearly to get the same results?” In 1998, the American Association of Feline Practitioners published an official report compiled by an expert panel recommending that yearly re-vaccination be reconsidered. For viral diseases that induce long lasting immunity, it’s recommended that vaccines be done only every three years in cats. The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American Animal Hospital Assocation endorsed the recommendation, and some veterinary schools began recommending three-year vaccine intervals for both dogs and cats (excepting those vaccines that are known to have short durations of immunity, such as feline leukemia vaccine, leptospirosis, kennel cough). Aside from the question of whether yearly revaccination is necessary, there is the possibility that the practice has caused harm. Increasingly, veterinarians are recognizing the possible connection between viral vaccines and immune-mediated disease (Duval, 1996), (Kass, 1993), (Kelton, 1981), (Axhelm , 1987), and (HogenEsch, 1997). We know, for example, that yearly vaccines are associated with malignant tumors in cats. We suspect a connection between vaccines and autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Do we need more problems before we change a practice that we suspect to be unnecessary, anyway? Alternatives to Yearly Vaccination One argument against vaccination has been that if we keep our animals perfectly healthy, feed raw diets, good water, and give them a perfect lifestyle, they will never succumb to these diseases when exposed. Because it is my belief that we cannot provide our pets with perfectly healthy environments and bodies (or even determine whether that is possible), it should be clear that we need to increase the odds in favor of our pets. Nosodes Nosodes may be one way to protect them; unfortunately, there is no convincing evidence that nosodes work. A few studies published in homeopathic journals suggest that nosodes may decrease the severity of active disease and possibly prevent the spread of epidemics, but these studies are not controlled. The results of one well controlled study suggest that parvovirus nosodes are completely ineffective in preventing parvoviral disease under experimental challenge conditions (Larson, 1996). Until well designed studies are completed and thousands of pet owners make a concerted effort to help with potential retrospective studies, nosodes remain an unknown quantity, and I do not recommend using them as a sole strategy for disease prevention. I recommend that puppies and kittens undergo an initial vaccination series and that annual vaccination be continued for a year or two, depending on the individual. Unfortunately, many dogs and cats begin developing signs of allergy or other disorders early in life. It is not recommended that sick animals be vaccinated, and chronic illness may include the gamut of every day conditions like atopic skin disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or spondylosis. If we don’t want to risk vaccination, and we don’t know whether nosodes work, what next? Titers One strategy being used by many veterinarians is to test antibody levels in the blood of our pets. Antibody levels may suggest (but not conclusively prove) how much immunity that pet carries against a specific disease. For many diseases, antibodies are the prime source of protection against disease, and a high level suggests that the animal may adequately respond to the agent causing that disease. Conversely, low levels indicate that the pet may be susceptible to contracting the disease in question. Unfortunately, antibodies tell only part of the story, and an animal may be perfectly immune to some diseases, but have low antibody levels to that disease (canine distemper may be one example). These antibody tests are not perfect indicators of immunity, and most immunologists suggest that we do not place total reliance on them. They are, however, the best tests we have, and can give the pet owner a rationale for not submitting a pet to vaccination, should there be any argument. Many veterinary school diagnostic laboratories are capable of doing vaccine titers for your pet. Most private practitioners also have access to Antech laboratories, which will run an abbreviated test for a reasonable price. Cats should have titers to feline panleukopenia tested. Be sure to advise the lab specifically of your interest in antibodies to vaccination. The lab should, in this case, change the normal testing technique by starting at lower serum dilutions to give a more accurate answer. Once a number has been provided, how is this information interpreted? If the levels are in the “protective range” (understand that this is still a fuzzy number, due to the novelty of this technique in clinical practice), you can assume that the pet has made an adequate immune response to those diseases in the past. As wishy-washy as this statement may sound, this information is a much better indicator that the pet is protected than the simple act of vaccinating. Sticking a needle full of vaccine under the skin does not tell us that the pet is automatically immune—not all animals are genetically identical or live in identical environments. Scientists have no idea how each and every pet is going to respond to vaccination. Is the pet going to be protected by vaccination? No way to know for sure, but titers can help. If the titers look adequate, why vaccinate? Sticky situations For people who board their pets in boarding or veterinary facilities that require annual vaccinations, protective antibody levels actually provide more precise information about a pet’s immune status than a simple history of receiving vaccinations. Animals receiving nosodes may or may not develop antibody titers, for reasons that would require pages more to explain. Suffice it to say that a nosode protected animal with sufficient antibody titers should still be considered adequately immunocompetent by facilities asking for this information, and for those animals receiving nosodes that do not develop titers, this rather inconvenient situation remains the same—one cannot prove the dog or cat is immune. For pet owners whose veterinarians still insist on yearly vaccinations, I would carefully consider whether the pet is fully healthy or not. Allergies? Inflammatory bowel disease? Hypothyroid? These are illnesses, and sick animals should never be vaccinated. It says so, right there on the vaccine label. Antibody titers are not going to save you any money, and they should still be done every 1-3 years, until we know how long these antibodies actually last in the blood. These annual tests will give us peace of mind, while at the same time helping to establish just how long vaccinations actually protect the average dog or cat. Knowledge of how to more safely and judiciously vaccinate our pets will save many thousands of pets unnecessary illnesses caused by our well-intentioned vaccine programs.
©The Original Puddha Cats