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Science Newsletter

Science Newsletter Vol.7: March 2020

 In This Issue

AVMA’s COVID-19 FAQ’s For Pet Owners | Cats to the Rescue: Can FIP Research Lead to a Cure for COVID-19 in Humans?Lilies and Cats Don’t Belong TogetherIt’s Hip to be a Maine Coon!Siamese Cats and Age-Related DementiaReducing the Stress of a Visit to the Vet | TICA To Deliver Weekly Dose of Good News Amid CoronavirusTICA Announces Weekly Contest With Big Prizes Enter This Week to Win a Stylish Sleepypod Luxury Cat Carrier


AVMA’s COVID-19 FAQ’s For Pet Owners

The novel coronavirus has many pet owners asking questions about the safety of their pets and how to care for their furry friends if an owner gets infected.

To help pet owners, the AVMA has compiled answers to some of the most frequent questions they have received about how the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, relates to pets.

Click here for PDF from AVMA!


Cats to the Rescue: Can FIP Research Lead to a Cure for COVID-19 in Humans?

In the last TICA Science newsletter (December, 2019), we described the success that a new experimental drug, GS-441524, has been having in treating cats with the deadly variant of coronavirus that causes Feline Infectious Peritonitis. A closely related drug, Remdesivir (formerly known as GS-5734), is being used in a clinical trial in China to treat humans affected by the recent pandemic of novel human coronavirus.

Initially developed as a drug to treat the deadly Ebola and Marburg viral diseases, Dr. Niels Pedersen of the University of California at Davis discovered the efficacy of this drug in treating FIP while screening a number of novel candidate drugs in the nucleoside analog class.

This isn’t the first time that Dr. Pedersen has been asked to step outside his feline-focused world in order to help his own species. When the respiratory disease SARS was identified as a coronavirus in 2003, researchers turned to Dr. Pedersen’s expertise, just as they had in the early 1980’s when his knowledge of the feline retrovirus, FeLV, helped early HIV research.

Click here to read more about this new research.


Lilies and Cats Don’t Belong Together

Most cases of lily poisoning in cats occur in April. Chelsea Arnold shares the tragic story of how these beautiful, but deadly, flowers affected her family in a video taped at a recent TICA show. Click here to view the video.

Click here to read more information about lily toxicity.

Maine Coon

It’s Hip to be a Maine Coon!

Data from over 5000 pedigreed Maine Coon cats, collected over a period of 20 years by the PawPeds FHD Maine Coon Health Programme https://pawpeds.com/healthprogrammes/hd.html, was examined to determine the prevalence and heritability of hip dysplasia in this breed.

Although this structural abnormality can be found in any breed, including random-bred domestic cats, Maine Coons are believed to be at greater risk, due to their rapid growth and large size. Severity of hip dysplasia was found to be unrelated to gender, but correlated with increased age and weight of the cat.

The study also concluded that there is evidence that x-ray screening and selective breeding can be successful in reducing the severity of symptoms.

Click here to read the original journal article.


Siamese Cats and Age-Related Dementia

Ingrid Reynolds Niesman, PhD has hypothesized that there may be a link between feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), a syndrome similar to age-related dementia in humans, and Siamese coloration. Her research is based on characterization of the function of the enzyme tyrosinase.

Pointed cats have a gene variant that results in an abnormal, temperature sensitive tyrosinase protein, causing the warm parts of their bodies (the torso) to lack the color of the colder parts of the body (the face, feet, ears, and tail). But tyrosinase has another function as well: to metabolize dopamine, a chemical essential to normal brain chemistry. Abnormal tyrosinase expression has been implicated in Parkinson’s disease, with the symptoms attributed to an accumulation of neuromelanin, which is related to the chemicals that give skin their color. If tyrosinase doesn’t work properly in the warmest parts of a Siamese cat’s skin, could there be an affect on the cat’s much warmer brain as well? We’ll be awaiting news from this interesting line of research! Click here to read more about Siamese cats and age-related dementia.

Vet Week

Reducing the Stress of a Visit to the Vet

Recently, some veterinarians have been prescribing the human anti-seizure drug, gabapentin, for owners to give to their cats 90 minutes before placing them in a carrier to visit their clinic.

Although this treatment was associated with vomiting, hypersalivation, and reduced motor control (which resolved within 8 hours), owners reported that their cats appeared to be less stressed by the veterinary visit. However, the stress indicating hormone cortisol is not significantly reduced in treated cats, indicating that the gabapentin is acting as a sedative, rather than suppressing the pituitary–adrenocortical mechanism of stress in these cats. Click here to read more about reducing the stress of a visit to the vet.

Cat show exhibitors are cautioned, however, that using any medication to sedate a cat for showing purposes is considered intent to deceive under show rule 216.10: “A judge shall disqualify any cat showing evidence of intent to deceive the judge by artificial means. Should a judge suspect fraud in any classes previously judged, he/she may reopen and rejudge such classes.” Judges are trained to recognize signs of unusual behavior in cats that may be indications of drug use. This rule is enforced not only for purposes of “fairness”, since socialization, conditioning, and selective breeding for acceptable temperament is an important aspect of our hobby, but also because any substance that interferes with a cat’s natural behavior may result in a dangerous situation for a judge. Cat bites have resulted in hospitalization of judges, due to the high potential for infection and other complications.


Hudec CP, Griffin CE. Changes in the stress markers cortisol and glucose before and during intradermal testing in cats after single administration of pre-appointment gabapentin. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. Vol. 22, Issue 2 Feb. 2020.

van Haaften KA, et al. Effects of a single preappointment dose of gabapentin on signs of stress in cats during transportation and veterinary examination. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. November 15, 2017, Vol. 251, No. 10.

Blue Globe Name Cat No Website 

TICA To Deliver Weekly Dose of Good News Amid Coronavirus

We all can agree that these are challenging times. We are being asked to suspend all cat shows and events, social distance away from friends and family outside our home, work and learn from home, and the list goes on.

TICA would like to give our members a little good news each week and is currently suspending our monthly newsletter to deliver our weekly TICA GOOD NEWSletter.

Starting March 27, TICA members will receive a Friday newsletter that will highlight inspiring stories about clubs helping others during these difficult and uncharted times.

A weekly contest will also be included where you can win TICA cat swag, including Sturdi and Sleepypod carriers, Dr. Elsey’s Cat Products, Doc&Phobe indoor hunter feeding system, and PetKing Brands Animal Health’s ZYMOX® Dermatology, Ear Care and Oratene® Brushless Dental Care products, among others. Winners and finalists for each contest will be announced in the newsletter the following week.

The newsletter hopes to serve as a beacon of light and help motivate and inspire us is to move through these hard times together so we can come out even stronger. 

Enter to Win

TICA Announces Weekly Contest With Big Prizes Enter This Week to Win a Stylish Sleepypod Luxury Cat Carrier

Every Friday, TICA will host a new contest in our TICA GOOD NEWSletter. Contests will range from submitting special theme photos, brief essays, and maybe even a scavenger hunt or two.

First up this week is how your cat is helping you get through social distancing. Our worlds have been turned upside down as we are all asked to minimize our contact with others and stop socializing due to the coronavirus. However, our cats are benefiting from having their humans available all day as playmates and cuddle providers. If cute animals can’t help us get through this trying period, what can?

With that in mind, TICA announces our first weekly contest. Show us your cat enjoying social distancing with you.

Enter by emailing a high resolution – 300 dpi preferred - photo of your cat helping you enjoy social distancing along with a catchy caption to newsletter@tica.org. Entries must be received by 11:59 PM ET on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

One grand prize winner and two finalists will be chosen at random and featured with other top entries in the March 27 issue of TICA’s GOOD NEWSletter and on TICA social media pages. The Grand prize winner will receive one stylish Sleepypod luxury cat carrier. Two finalists will receive a TICA tote bag.

CONTEST RULES: 1. Animals and humans in the photos and the photos themselves must be owned/taken by you. If the animals aren’t yours, you must have written and signed permission from the owners. You cannot enter the contest for someone else. 2. Send only previously non-published photos and photos that have not won previous photo contests. (Photos must not have appeared before in a print publication.) 3. All entries must include a caption, your name, email address, phone number, and the pets’ name and breed (if known). 4. Finalist photos will be judged based on production values (in focus, good lighting, high enough resolution — 300 dpi preferred), adherence to the themes and appeal. 5. You must be 18 or older to enter. Employees and relatives of The International Cat Association (TICA) are not eligible to enter. 6. Winners will be announced the following week in TICA’s GOOD NEWSletter. Winners will also be posted on our social media. TICA will have the rights to use all entry photos and winners’/pets’ names, city/state/country plus any text provided in all print media, websites or social media owned in perpetuity by TICA. 7. The photo contest is open to legal residents of the District of Columbia and the 50 United States. 8. Void where prohibited by law.

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