Entries in Cat (4)


Oregon Teen Discovers Trick to Avoiding Cat Allergies

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For anyone who has ever wanted to have a cat for a pet but was prohibited by allergies, one Oregon teen may have found a solution.

Savannah Tobin, 17, is a high school senior in Oregon who volunteers at a local humane society. Savannah's love for cats was never a question, but she could never keep one as a pet because both she and her mother suffer from allergies. Her work at the Willamette Humane Society in Salem, Ore., made her wonder whether there were certain types of cats that would not affect her or her mother.

After doing some research, Savannah found out that it isn't hair or dander that causes allergic reactions, but rather the cat's saliva that prompted her allergy attacks.

"As they groom themselves, they're covering their body in that protein. So we're actually allergic to the saliva and it's not the hair," Tobin says.

Now, Savannah can perform swab tests and analyze a cat's saliva to determine which of her furry friends are hypo-allergenic. Her idea won her the Intel bio-chemistry award this year. This autumn, Tobin will attend the University of California-Davis.

No word yet on whether she will bring along a furry friend.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Tiny Tim, Houston's Beloved Fat Cat, Has Cancer

Courtesy Southside Place Animal Hospital(HOUSTON) -- Tiny Tim, the hefty Houston feline that gained national attention for his overweight figure and subsequent strict diet and exercise plan, has been diagnosed with cancer in his leg that could prove fatal.

Dr. Alice Frei, who has been monitoring the 30-pound cat's progress at the Southside Place Animal Hospital, Thursday announced Tiny's "aggressive tumor" on his Facebook fan page, "Tiny Tim at Spah."

"Tiny Tim has cancer," Frei wrote. "There is no radiation or chemotherapy for such an aggressive tumor."

Frei said Tiny was rushed to Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine for treatment on Wednesday after SPAH staff noticed his elbow was swollen and pathology results showed cancer. A&M veterinarians confirmed the pathologist's findings, and "said the cancer was so rapidly growing that they could not define the cell of origin," Frei wrote.

Tiny is scheduled to have a CAT scan on Friday to see how far the tumor has spread and assess a treatment plan, but options for the beloved cat seem dire.

"If Tiny Tim's CAT scan does not show [the] tumor has invaded his chest, we have decided that the only course of treatment is to have the leg amputated," Frei wrote. "If the tumor has spread to his chest his treatment options are basically zero."

They are now waiting to see if Tiny Tim will need surgery, but even that will be a difficult decision for the staff.

"Surgery for Tiny Tim is a huge risk because of his size, and if he makes it through the surgery he has a long road back," Frei wrote. "It will be rough. With it he may die. Without it he will die."

Tiny, who's about 9 years old, weighed in at a hefty 35.2 pounds when he arrived at the animal hospital around Christmas 2011, but testing showed that Tiny was otherwise healthy. When a search for his owner proved unsuccessful, the hospital took him in as a permanent resident -- provided he'd lose weight.

By New Year's, the "super sweet cat" had been placed on a strict diet for the year.

"He has been on a very, very regimented diet -- measured meal plans, the whole works, and he is at 28.6 pounds," SPAH manager Debbie Green told ABC News in a recent interview. "He weighs in twice a week, and he gets meals measured in little bags throughout the whole week, so we know exactly what he's eating."

Tiny is fed a precise 307 calories per day, and his team of doctors would be "really, really excited if he got closer to 20 pounds," Green said.

Earlier this year, Tiny seemed to plateau at 30 pounds. The cat, somewhat ironically, lives in a food pantry in the animal hospital because he is too big for the normal cat cages at Southside. A staff member figured out Tiny had clawed a small hole into a bag of food and had been having midnight snacks.

Tiny's doctors make sure Tiny exercises by making him work for his bed and board. He is carried to the front of the clinic at least three times a day, and he has to walk the 50 feet back to his room for meals.

"He doesn't voluntarily walk around the office," Green said. "He used to move 10 steps and then sit down. Now he can get from the front to the back, which is about 50 feet, without much trouble at all."

Tiny's cancer hasn't been the only health concern for the SPAH staff. He is also at risk for feline diabetes or thyroid problems in the future because of his weight, Green said. They believe arthritis could become a problem for him too.

Regardless, the popular feline is pretty quiet and prefers the peace of his pantry to the business of the hospital's waiting room, but he enjoys the attention and brushing he receives from friends and fans who often stop by to visit him.

On Thursday night, he remained at the A&M veterinary hospital, where "he is doing fine, has the entire cat ward to himself and is getting lots of attention," according to his Facebook fan page.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cat Litter Box Germ Linked to Suicide Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A common parasite that can lurk in the cat litter box may cause undetected brain changes in women that make them more prone to suicide, according to an international study.

Scientists have long known that pregnant women infected with the toxoplasma gondii parasite -- spread through cat feces, undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables -- could risk still birth or brain damage if transmitted to an unborn infant.

But a new study of more than 45,000 women in Denmark shows changes in their own brains after being infected by the common parasite.

The study, authored by University of Maryland School of Medicine psychiatrist and suicide neuroimmunology expert Dr. Teodor T. Postolache, was published online today in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study found that women infected with T. gondii were one and a half times more likely to attempt suicide than those who were not infected. As the level of antibodies in the blood rose, so did the suicide risk. The relative risk was even higher for violent suicide attempts.

"We can't say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies," said Postolache, who is director of the university's Mood and Anxiety Program and is a senior consultant on suicide prevention.

"There is still a lot we don't know," he told ABC News. "We need a larger cohort and need a better understanding of the vulnerabilities that certain people have to the parasite."

Suicide is a global public health problem. An estimated 10 million attempt suicide and 1 million are successful, according to Postlache's work.

More than 60 million men, women, and children in the United States carry the toxoplasma parasite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but very few have symptoms.

Toxoplasmosis is considered one of the "neglected parasitic infections," a group of five parasitic diseases that have been targeted by CDC for public health action.

About one-third of the world is exposed to T. gondii, and most never experience symptoms and therefore don't know they have been infected. When humans ingest the parasite, the organism spreads from the intestine to the muscles and the brain.

Previous research on rodents shows that the parasite can reside in multiple brain structures, including the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, which are responsible for emotional and behavioral regulation.

Postolache collaborated with Danish, German and Swedish researchers, using the Danish Cause of Death Register, which logs the causes of all deaths, including suicide. The Danish National Hospital Register was also a source of medical histories on those subjects.

They analyzed data from women who gave birth between 1992 and 1995 and whose babies were screened for T. gondii antibodies. It takes three months for antibodies to develop in babies, so when they were present, it meant their mothers had been infected.

Scientists then cross-checked death registries to determine whether the women later killed themselves. They used psychiatric records to rule out women with histories of mental illness.

Postolache said there were limitations to the study and further research is needed, particularly with a larger subject group.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sharing Bed with Pets Can Bring Disease, Parasites

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DAVIS, Calif.) – If you think bed bugs are scary, health officials warn that what your pet may be bringing into your bed could be much worse.

A new study, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, notes that your pets could be bringing a variety of parasites into your bed.

"Sharing our resting hours with our pets may be a source of psychological comfort, but...sharing is also associated with risks," wrote authors Bruno B. Chomel of the University of California, Davis, and Ben Sun of the California Department of Health.

According to the report, around 56 percent of dog owners and 62 percent of cat owners regularly allow their animals to sleep in their bed. But as the reports points out, humans can contract such diseases as the bubonic plague and MRSA, the multi-drug resistant strain of strep. Pets can also carry hookworms and roundworms in their fur, which can be transferred to their owners through close contact.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio