Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Appleton stray cat carries International Mystery

Today I was stumped by an egg. An egg in a stool sample from a young stray Appleton shelter cat.  After 25+ years of examining parasite eggs under a microscope, I thought I could not be stumped.  But this week, after some head scratching and internet researching and some denial, I sent this sample to Marshfield Lab Parasitology Dept for expert identification. The test results.....( Drum roll please.....)
This stray cat's  fecal analysis revealed many tapeworm eggs called Diphylobothrium Latum.  The mysterious question is why is this Wisconsin cat  carrying a tapeworm found only in foreign parts like Thailand, Japan, Russia, Norway, Scotland?

Detective work unearthed the facts.  This tapeworm, called the Fish Tapeworm, has an interesting life cycle.  It starts as an egg in a mammal (cats, dogs, and yes, humans).  The egg finds its way into the water supply and is ingested by a small water kritter, and up the food chain into large tasty fish (like salmon).  If this salmon is ingested uncooked or undercooked, the parasite grows to adulthood in the fish-eating mammal (Fluffy, Fido, or you/me).  A trip to the local grocery's fish section solves the International Mystery:  shrimp from Thailand, cod from Norway, salmon from Scotland - we now have a global food supply at our fingertips.  And also  international  parasites :)

The moral of the story is two fold.  Even your indoor cat could be carrying parasites so have an annual stool sample checked as recommended.
AND always, always, always cook fish completely before consuming....(sushi-eaters beware!)
Dr. Maureen Flatley

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dog Cats and Why we LOVE them.

Peabody is a dog-cat. If you have met Peabody (he lived at the Fox Valley Cat Clinic for the first year of his life before retiring to my home in 2010), you would probably agree. The "dog-cat" personality is fascinating to me because in many ways these cats are more canine than feline.   Dog-cats are social creatures, enjoying strangers, kids, and dogs and new cats.  They come when called.  They fetch toys (and actually bring them back).  Peabody can be held like a baby for an indeterminate period of time.  Although it has not been tried, I am certain he would willingly accept being dressed up like a doll.  He willingly accepts bathing, nail trims, grooming -anything that involves human contact.

So in a species noted for their aloofness,  where does this social trusting personality come from?  In Peabody's case, I believe it was created.   He was brought to me at 6 weeks of age by a local rescue.  He was severely ill from feline distemper, and required long days of forcefeeding , and medicating.  He was too weak to use a litterbox, clean himself or eat on his own.  It was weeks of TLC and constant gentle handling  before his strength gradually returned.  Every day he got stronger, and more responsive.  He started to purr and kneed anytime he was handled.  When not being handled, he would talk, and talk, and talk until being handled again.  Looking back on his early life, I believe that the constant care he required to regain his health allowed him to develop this social, interactive dog-like personality.
So, it was a happy-ever-after story for one tiny sick little resuced tabby named Peabody the dog-cat.
Dr. Maureen Flatley