June 24, 2020 Cats

Medical Mythbusters: Feline Edition

The Cat Myth Busters poster

Medical Mythbusters: Feline Edition

June is Adopt a Cat Month, and I hope lots of cats will be getting fur-ever homes this month. In honor of our paw-some feline friends, I have devoted all blogposts this month to feline topics. In 2019, I was lucky enough to be invited to Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp as a speaker. Unfortunately, Cat Camp is cancelled in 2020, like most big events this year. In the hope of being a camper at Cat Camp 2021, I am going to reprise last year’s presentation as my final blogpost for Adopt a Cat Month 2020 and dispel some common cat myths.

Feline-safe Vegan Diets

Many humans choose a vegan diet for themselves for their own health and the health of our planet. Some vegan cat families would like their cat to join them in being vegan, but cats are obligate carnivores. That means their dietary requirements can only be met with a meat-based diet. Cats are built to eat meat. Their tooth structure has evolved to optimize tearing and shredding of prey. A feline digestive tract is very short because digesting meat is simple and does not require a multi-compartment stomach like forage-consuming cows. Another carnivore adaptation of cats is their requirement for amnio acids found only in meat: taurine, methionine, lysine, cysteine and my favorite felinine. Other nutrients in high levels in meat include: arachidonic acid, Niacin and vitamins B12, A and D.

In short, a vegan diet is deficient in the protein, amino acids, vitamins and mineral cats require. Not only is a feline-safe vegan a myth, feeding your cat a vegan diet could make her very sick.

Cats Keep Themselves Healthy

It is a common myth that cats do not require any preventive healthcare. Data on feline health suggests otherwise. Did you know that 25% of American cats are obese? 60% of cats have dental tartar? Renal disease is seven times more common in cats than in dogs? And feline arthritis is on the rise. Given all these health concerns, you’d think cat owners would be flooding into veterinary offices to protect the health of their favorite feline, and yet, the average cat goes to the veterinarian less than once a year. To dispel the myth that cats don’t require routine veterinary care, the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners recommend a minimum of an annual veterinary examination for all cats.

Cats Always Land on their Feet

This statement is so pervasive, I can’t trace its origin. It has probably been around at least since the late 1800’s when a French scientist named Etienne-Jules Marey documented falling felines’ righting reflex using a chronophotographic camera. As the weather warms up and people open their windows, urban veterinarians care for cats that have accidently fallen or purposely jumped out of tall buildings. This happens so often that cats injured when falling are described as having “high-rise syndrome.”

Cats with high-rise syndrome sustain the worst injuries when falling from floors 5-9. Cats falling from floors 5-9 are in the acceleration phase of the fall and cannot successfully right themselves. Injuries include facial traumas, fractured legs, trauma to internal organs and leaking or bruised lungs. These injuries make it clear that cats do not always land on their and window screens are necessary when you have a cat. Watch this Washington Post video featuring Maggie and Benny to learn more about the cat righting reflex.

Tags: annual check-ups, cat myths, cats, feline diets, feline wellness, high rise syndrome, wellness exams for cats,

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