Need an early warning signal that shelter cats may be getting sick? Here’s a simple one

March 23, 2017

Eating and eliminating correlated strongly with overall behavioral wellness. Two simple metrics to measure that can be red flags for cats that are failing to adapt.

Wouldn’t you like an early-warning signal that a cat in your shelter isn’t adapting, and may be about to head into a bout of stress-related illness? “Eating and eliminating normally are strongly correlated with overall behavioral wellness,” said Million Cat Challenge co-founder Dr. Kate Hurley of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program.

Tracking those two metrics can alert you that a cat is suffering from stress, and allow you to take measures to alleviate it — with better places to hide, a move to or from a colony room, placement in a foster home or shelter office, etc. — before respiratory or lower urinary tract illness sets in. Tracking baseline and changes in your feline population’s eating and eliminating frequency and habits is well worth the investment in time and procedure development.

In one study published in 2011, researchers looked at the incidence of lower urinary tract illness — itself a risk factor for shelter surrender, suggesting shelter populations could be at higher risk even than stressed cats overall — and stress from external events. The complete article is available at the link below.

Stella JL, Lord LK, Buffington CA. Sickness behaviors in response to unusual external events in healthy cats and cats with feline interstitial cystitis. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2011 Jan 1;238(1):67-73. doi: 10.2460/javma.238.1.67.

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