Daily Archives: October 1, 2018

KAMLOOPS — There’s no denying people are passionate about their pets, but how many pet owners take the time to consider the impact their pets have on the environment, or what impact that environment can have on their pet? One TRU researcher is considering that question and asking for input from the Kamloops community to help her in that research.

Denise King is a cat person, and it’s that love for her feline friend that guided her into her current Master’s research project at Thompson Rivers University.

“Well, it started with my love for cats,” King said in an interview on campus Tuesday. “I’ve always loved them, and you always want to start your research with a passion, and then you lead it to a question.”

That question was why are there so many unwanted cats who end up feral, or in the care of shelters such as the SPCA?

“I realized this isn’t just about cats,” King said. “It’s about cats and their owners, and the impact cats, when they’re allowed to roam freely outdoors, have on our environment.”

From there, King has been reviewing the literature that already exists, some of which suggests cats may be having a negative impact on certain wildlife populations throughout North America.

“Cats have an impact on the wildlife, with respect to catching the birds,” King explained. “Some of those birds might be at-risk species, or they might change their habitat due to the presence of cats in the area. There’s also a risk to the cats when they are outdoors.”

According to one Kamloops veterinarian who specializes in treating cats, the answer isn’t confining your cats indoors.

“When a cat is outdoors, they see things, they hear things. It’s very exciting for them,” Dr sandy Jamieson explained. “It has a huge health benefit on cats to enrich their environment, especially if they can get outdoors.”

According to the BC SPCA, one of the best ways to lessen the impact of cats on the environment is to ensure they’re spayed or neutered.

“Cats aren’t all as domesticated genetically as dogs are,” Amy Morris, BC SPCA Manager of Public Policy and Outreach said, in a phone interview from Vancouver. “In some cases, cats don’t thrive in an indoor environment and that’s why it’s so crucial to spay and neuter and feed them adequately. A spayed and neutered cat will keep weight better, and won’t roam as far.”

King says her the goal of her research is to help people better understand their relationship with their cats

“It’s sort of about building relationships with people and their cats,” King said. “I’d like people to sort of think about why they have a cat, and what sort of relationship they have with that cat.”

While making it safer for cats and the world those cats live in.



Diabetes in Cats, Part 1: Symptoms & Diagnosis

/ by Dr. Justine Lee

If your cat was just diagnosed with diabetes mellitus (DM), don’t despair. In this two-part blog, I’ll explain all you need to know about diabetes in cats.

As an emergency critical care veterinarian, I see a lot of diabetes in cats. That’s because an estimated 1 in every 200 cats is thought to be affected by this endocrine disease (likely due to the growing prevalence of obesity). (

So, what does it mean if your cat was recently diagnosed with diabetes? With DM, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is the hormone necessary to push sugar (“glucose”) into the cells of the body to be utilized. Without insulin, the body (and all the cells) are starving for sugar, as the sugar can’t get into the cells. The body is stimulated to produce more and more glucose in an attempt to feed the cells, leading to a hyperglycemia (or elevated blood sugar). This ends up resulting in a lot of the clinical symptoms of diabetes, and ultimately can be fatal without treatment.

Two types of diabetes in cats

Veterinary medicine sees two types of diabetes mellitus.

Type I DM

Type I DM, which is most commonly seen in dogs, occurs when the body fails to produce insulin (a hormone that is normally produced in the pancreas and that regulates blood sugar). This type requires life-long insulin therapy delivered via a syringe twice per day.

Type II DM

Type II DM, which is most commonly seen in cats, occurs when the body produces some insulin but in inadequate amounts (that’s why you need to give more insulin with a syringe). Likewise, Type II DM occurs when something is interfering with the body’s ability to use insulin (for example, due to insulin-resistance from obesity). With Type II DM, diabetes can be transient (e.g., months), and may not require life-long insulin therapy. The more aggressive you try to treat your cat’s insulin (in conjunction with weight loss, follow-up with your veterinarian, blood sugar monitoring, etc.), the better the likelihood that your cat’s diabetes could potentially go away (what we call “going into remission”).

The excess sugar that is produced by the body results in the clinical signs seen with DM. Untreated—or unregulated, meaning the blood sugar isn’t controlled well—this results in electrolyte abnormalities, fatty changes to the liver, cataracts in the eyes (mostly in dogs), peripheral neuropathy (abnormalities in the nerves, making cats walk “down in their hocks”), and a predisposition to urinary tract infections.

Which cats are at risk?

We most frequently see DM (meaning it is over-represented) in the Siamese, male cats, and older cats—typically 8-13 years of age.

Symptoms of diabetes in cats

Make sure you recognize the early signs of diabetes mellitus. This is important because the sooner we recognize the signs, the sooner we can identify and treat diabetes, and the less expensive and dangerous it will be for your cat!

Symptoms include:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive thirst (or filling the water bowl more often)
  • Drinking out of unusual places (such as the bathroom sink or toilet)
  • Excessive urination (clumps in the litter box bigger than your clenched fist!)
  • Poor skin condition (like excessive dandruff or an oily hair coat)
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Dilute urine
  • Weight loss (most commonly over the back), despite an overweight body condition
  • Increased hunger
  • Obesity but still feeling “boney” and muscle-wasted
  • Walking “down in the hocks” (what we vets called plantigrade with a very flat angle to the back legs)
  • Sweet “acetone” breath when in diabetic crisis

How do we diagnose diabetes in cats?

The diagnosis of diabetes mellitus is based on physical examination findings and blood work changes commonly seen with the disease.

Recommended tests include:

  • A complete blood count (CBC) to look at the red blood cell count (looking for dehydration or anemia) and white blood cell count (looking for underlying infection)
  • A chemistry panel to evaluate how high (or low) the blood glucose is and look at the kidneys, liver, electrolytes, protein, and other bodily functions. Normal blood glucose in a cat ranges from approximately 80-150 mg/dL, but when cats are stressed (by going for a car ride, seeing the cat carrier, etc.), they get a temporary increase in their blood sugar (called a “stress hyperglycemia”). This means their blood sugar can spike up to 200 or even 300 mg/dL in severe cases! Persistent, repeated elevations in the blood sugar are consistent with diabetes mellitus in cats
  • A urinalysis (UA) to look for the presence of sugar spilling over into the kidneys and bladder, supportive of DM. Normally, there shouldn’t be any sugar in the urine
  • A urine culture to rule out a urinary tract infection
  • A serum fructosamine blood level, which looks at the effect of blood sugar on the body’s protein levels and gives us a general idea of how well the blood sugar is regulated
  • X-rays of the chest and abdomen to rule out underlying medical problems like cancer, pneumonia, bladder stones, etc.
  • An ultrasound of the abdomen to look at the architecture of the organs (like the pancreas), to rule out metabolic problems, fatty changes to the liver, cancer, etc.

In next month’s blog, I’ll talk about how we treat diabetes in cats.

Is your cat diabetic? What signs did you notice and how is your cat responding to therapy?


  1. Greco D. Diabetes mellitus without complication – Cats. In Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine & Feline.  Eds. Tilley LP, Smith FWK. 2007, 4th ed. Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa. pp. 374-375.
  2. Webb C. Diabetes mellitus without complication – Dogs. In Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine & Feline.  Eds. Tilley LP, Smith FWK. 2007, 4th ed. Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa. pp. 376-377.




Don’t be fooled by the famous pop culture images of cats lapping up milk. It turns out that cow’s milk isn’t actually all that good for cats. In fact, cats are more or less lactose intolerant because their digestive systems aren’t able to produce enough enzymes to properly digest cow’s milk. But does that lactose sensitivity extend to cheese? Can cats eat cheese?

Can cats eat cheese? The basics

An orange tabby kitten sniffing at a cheese board with small hearts on it.   Can Cats Eat Cheese? Get the Facts About Cats and Cheese An orange tabby kitten sniffing at a cheese board with small hearts on it

Can cats eat cheese? Photography © Okssi68 | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Jenna Mahan, Director of Claims for Embrace Pet Insurance, says that — in small amounts — cheese made from plain cow’s milk is safe for cats. Cheese isn’t a healthy part of a cat’s diet … but it’s also not a dangerous treat.

So, why isn’t cheese healthy for cats? Think back to the aforementioned lactose sensitivity. Most cheese has cow’s milk and cow’s milk is hard for kitties to digest. “Cats become lactose intolerant after weaning, so any rich dairy, such as cheese, should be offered only sparingly,” cautions Emmy award-winning veterinarian, Dr. Jeff Werber.

Can cats eat cheese that’s not made from cow’s milk?

But can cats eat cheese that’s made from something other than cow’s milk? Goat’s milk is a bit easier for cats to digest, so goat cheese is a slightly better snack option for your cat.

Can cats eat cheese — as a treat?

So, can cats eat cheese — even in small amounts, maybe as a treat? Small amounts of cheese are safe for cats and might be useful if you need your cat to do something she doesn’t like to do, like take medicine.

Always consult with your veterinarian before feeding your cat cheese in this manner, but with most cats you can hide a pill in a small amount of cheese.

What cheeses should cats not eat?

So, the answer to, “Can cats eat cheese?” seems to be that it’s safe to share a little bit of cheese with your cat on occasion. But are there types of cheeses you shouldn’t share with your cat?

Jenna says that cat parents should avoid feeding their cats blue cheese. The good thing is that blue cheese is a type of cheese that isn’t likely to attract most cats.

In addition, Dr. Werber says that sticking with the simplest cheeses are best. The richer the cheese, the more you should avoid sharing it with your cat, he advises.

Quantity is also a big concern when it comes to giving cheese to your cats. If you give your cat cheese, only give your cat a very small amount.

What are the side effects of cats eating cheese?

“Since cheese contains lactose it may affect some cats with noxious side effects, mainly gas and diarrhea,” explains Jenna. Because cats are lactose intolerant, some cats will experience dietary upset with cheese.

My youngest cat loves the occasional cheese snack and thankfully has never had any dietary upsets from cheese. If your cat shows any signs of sickness after eating just a bit of cheese, try another snack instead.

Thumbnail: Photography © ElenaBoronina | iStock / Getty Images Plus. 

About the author:

Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author whose novels have been honored by the American Library Association and the Lambda Literary Foundation. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor who shares her home and writing life with three dogs, two bossy senior cats and a formerly feral kitten. Learn more at .

Read more about what cats can — and can’t — eat on Catster.com:



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