Cats in Canada 2017: A Five-Year Review of Cat Overpopulation
Humane Canada has released Cats in Canada 2017: A Five-Year Review of Cat Overpopulation.
From Humane Canada:
While cats are actually found in more Canadian households than dogs, sadly, they do not receive the same care and consideration as their canine counterparts. Education about dog behaviour is prevalent, dog-owner responsibilities are well established in municipal bylaws and canine companions are highly valued by Canadians. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for cats.
In most of the country, there is no dog overpopulation and, in some areas, there is even a shortage of dogs for adoption, while cat overpopulation continues to challenge communities across Canada. The impacts of this overpopulation are serious and include cats languishing in shelters long term, or worse, succumbing to stress-related illnesses. For cats who remain outdoors, risk of disease transmission, as well as illness, injury and death are daily realities.
To read the full report,
Noisy Fireworks No Fun for Pets
When celebrating Canada Day this year, remember that fireworks displays are no fun for pets.
The loud, unpredictable noise and flashing light from fireworks can be a source of stress and anxiety for many dogs and cats. As well, the metals and chemicals used in the manufacture of fireworks can be toxic if consumed by a curious pet.
The Saskatchewan SPCA suggests keeping your pets indoors on those evenings when fireworks are planned in your area.
Before the fireworks start, turn on the TV or play soothing music. Running the air conditioner or fan is another option.
Draw the curtains to help minimize exposure to noise and light, or take your pets to the basement, as far away from the unpleasant sounds as possible.
You might also consider providing a distraction for your pet such as a favourite toy or food treat.
Pets naturally seek small, enclosed spaces when they are feeling stressed. If your pet enjoys being crated, that may be a good option. Your cat may want to find her own special hiding space under furniture or on top of a cupboard.
Make sure your pets are microchipped and licenced, in case they manage to escape.
Your veterinarian may have other useful suggestions for a severely anxious pet.
One final note: Remember that noisy outdoor concerts and public events can also be very stressful for your pet.
Companion Animal Obesity
What is obesity?
Obesity is an accumulation of excessive amounts of body fat to a point where your pet’s body-weight exceeds the optimum for his or her body size by at least 15%. Obese pets do not live as long as their non-obese counter-parts and are at increased risk of a number of health conditions, including: diabetes mellitus, orthopaedic problems, cardio-respiratory disease, heat intolerance, and some cancers.
Why do pets become obese?
Obesity results when your dog or cat consumes more calories than they expend. Certain breeds of dogs and cats have a recognized genetic propensity for becoming obese. Also, there is evidence that spaying or neutering your pet increases their risk of becoming obese. Following alteration, your pet’s energy expenditure may be reduced by as much as a third. As a result, obesity occurs from failing to adjust your pet’s feeding regimen accordingly.
How do I know whether my pet is obese?
The first step in treating your pet for obesity is recognizing that there is a problem in the first place. Unfortunately, the media is rife with images of cats and dogs that are overweight or obese, making it difficult to determine what a healthy weight looks like. Methods for identifying obesity in pets include weighing and body condition scoring (BCS). BCS involves appraising your pet visually and by palpation and subjectively ranking your pet on a scale from one to nine, where one is very thin and nine is very obese.
How can I treat my pet’s obesity?
Targets for weight reduction are generally in the neighbourhood of 1% to 2% of body-weight per week. The primary treatment for obesity in companion animals is dietary modification. Experts recommend feeding a diet specifically formulated for weight loss. These diets are designed to reduce caloric intake and promote satiety. Combining dietary restriction with an exercise regime further promotes fat loss, while maintaining lean tissue mass. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as not feeding table scraps, feeding fewer treats and not making energy-dense, highly palatable foods available free-choice can play a vital role in your pet’s successful weight-loss program.
Your veterinarian can help you devise a weight-loss program for your pet and will help you to monitor the program to ensure that your pet stays on track. It is also important to continue to weigh your pet regularly once his/her ideal weight has been achieved to ensure that the weight that was lost is not regained.
Butterwick, R.F. and A.J. Hawthorne. 1998. Advances in dietary management of obesity in dogs and cats. The Journal of Nutrition. 128:2771S-2775S
Case, L.P., D.P Carey, D.A. Hirakawa and L. Daristotle. 2000. Obesity. In: Canine and Feline Nutrition: A resource for companion animal professionals. 2nd ed. Mosby Inc. St. Louis, MO. Pp. 303-330.
German, A.J. 2006. The growing problem of obesity in cats and dogs. The Journal of Nutrition. 136:1940S- 1946S.
Gossellin, J., J.A. Wren and S.J. Sutherland. 2007. Canine Obesity – An overview. Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapy. 30 (Suppl.):1-10.
Laflamme, D.P. 2012. Companion animal symposium: Obesity in dogs and cats: what is wrong with being obese? Journal of Animal Science. 90:2424.
Lund, E.M., P.J. Armstrong, C.A. Kirk and J.S. Klausner. 2005. Obesity in adult cats from private U.S. veterinary practices. International Journal of Applied Veterinary Medicine. 3:88-96.
Obesity in dogs. Available Online. http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health information/article/ animal-health/obesity-in-dogs/845. Accessed April 2016.
Raffan, E. 2013. The big problem: Battling companion animal obesity. Veterinary Record. 173:287-291.
Scarlett, J.M., S. Donaghue, J. Saidla and J. Wills. 1994. Overweight cats: prevalence and risk factors. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. 18(Supplemental):22-28.
Cats and Capacity for Care
Enjoy Cats and Capacity for Care, the presentation made by Dr. Kate Hurley at the Saskatchewan SPCA’s 2014 Animal Welfare Conference.
Antifreeze: What Makes It Unsafe For Animals?
Antifreeze is necessary for the safe and proper operation of your vehicle, but even a teaspoon of the toxic chemical can prove fatal for your pets. Antifreeze is used in the radiators of cars, trucks, tractors, and other motor vehicles to prevent overheating in the summer and freezing over in the winter.
Ethylene glycol is the ingredient used in antifreeze that makes the product deadly to both humans and animals. Ingestion of even a small amount is enough to cause severe medical distress, and even death, in the average sized cat, small dogs, and other wildlife. American figures estimate that between 10,000 and 90,000 animals are poisoned each year. Nearly 88% of animals that come in contact with antifreeze do not survive.
If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned by antifreeze, it is important to take the animal to a veterinarian immediately. Any delay in medical attention greatly diminishes your pet’s chance of survival. “Vomiting typically develops rapidly after ingestion and at this point the animal may also show signs of depression, incoordination, weakness, and faster than normal breathing; as well, they may be drinking a lot, and urinating more than usual,” explains Dr. Sandra Neumann president of the Saskatchewan SPCA Board of Directors. “The animal may seem better for a couple of hours before there is a swift decline in health, six to 12 hours post-ingestion. It can cause kidney failure in cats as soon as 12 hours after exposure,” advises Neumann.
Although some antifreeze is made with propylene glycol, it is not safe for animals either. “It is about three times less toxic in dogs than ethylene glycol, but can also cause signs of toxicity like depression, weakness, incoordination, and seizures if ingested in larger quantities. It can also cause liver failure and kidney insufficiency,” warns Dr. Neumann.
In an attempt to make the antifreeze less palatable, the addition of a bittering agent, such as denatonium benzoate, to the antifreeze may deter animals from consuming the noxious substance. However, even with the bittering agent, the toxicity of the antifreeze is unchanged. According to Dr. Neumann, “There is no real safe antifreeze out there,” recommending it’s best to avoid all types of antifreeze. Dr. Neumann concludes the addition of the bittering agent may be “the best way to go.”
Steps are being taken by governments and manufacturers to insure animal safety. In 2009, the Government of British Columbia passed a regulation requiring the addition of a bittering agent to all antifreeze sold to B.C. consumers. Although it is a movement in the right direction, this regulation does not require service stations and automotive repair businesses to use the embittered antifreeze. Since the auto service industry is the largest user of antifreeze, the majority of antifreeze used in the province’s vehicles does not contain the bittering agent. In the United States, all antifreeze manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to add the bittering agent to their antifreeze products.
Options are available for those in need of antifreeze disposal services. The Saskatchewan Association for Resource Recovery Corporation (SARRC) has a network of 200 collection facilities and eco-centres throughout the province that operate year-round. SARRC collects old antifreeze, used oil, filters, and oil, antifreeze, and diesel exhaust containers. Information on SARRC’s collection facilities and guidelines can be found at www.usedoilrecyclingsk.com.
The prevention of antifreeze poisoning begins at home. Be diligent in the proper disposal of old antifreeze products, including empty containers. Clean up any antifreeze spills using the appropriate equipment and materials. Avoid pouring old antifreeze down storm drains, sinks, toilets, or on the ground. Educate your family and friends on the dangers of antifreeze. Following these suggestions will help safeguard your pets from the disastrous effects of antifreeze poisoning while sparing your family from mourning the loss of a beloved companion.
Creating a Pet First Aid Kit
You can purchase a ready-made pet first aid kit or assemble your own kit with the following items. Talk with your veterinarian to discuss additional items that might be useful for your pet.
Remember to check the contents of the kit periodically to replace any expired or depleted supplies.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association recommends that your pet first aid kit include:
blanket for pet transport
no-stick sterile wound dressing
hydrogen peroxide (3% strength)
sterile rinse solution (saline, used as a wound flush or eyewash)
clean syringes (1 cc and 5 cc)
splinting item (e.g., a wooden coffee stir stick or tongue depressor can be used for small pets)
first aid ointment or cream
Pet Friendly Emergency Planning
Click here to download the Pet Emergency Kit Checklist.
Wildfires were one of the biggest stories of the summer of 2015 in Saskatchewan. While you may not live in an area where there is a danger of wildfire, that doesn’t mean you can be complacent. Consider the possibility of severe flooding. A tornado. A major chemical spill. Severe winter weather. An extended power outage.
What if you were forced to remain in your home for several days until emergency help arrived? What if you had to evacuate your home suddenly?
The bottom line is that a bit of preparation now can make a world of difference, just in case of disaster.
People living in urban areas may find the following tips useful in creating a pet-friendly emergency plan. Livestock producers and farmers may also wish to review the information on the
provincial government website.
Start with the basics
While the prospect of creating an emergency plan can seem daunting, it doesn’t really have to be. It’s a matter of common sense and thinking realistically about the potential dangers that might be encountered in your area.
As a responsible pet owner, you are probably already doing many of the things you need to do to protect your pet in an emergency situation.
Emergency supplies for pets
Experts recommend having a family emergency kit with water, food, medicines, and other items that will help you and your loved ones manage for a minimum of three days. If you have pets, you need to plan for their needs as well:
Ensure vaccinations and identification tags are current and make sure your pets wear a collar with an identification tag at all times. Consider having your pets microchipped to provide permanent identification.
A picture is worth a thousand words, especially if you ever have to try to locate a missing pet. Grab your cellphone or camera and snap some colour shots of your pet; make sure to get pictures of any unique identifying marks or features. And while you’re at it, take a picture of you and your pet together. It’s a simple way to help establish ownership if your pet becomes separated from you for any reason.
Monitor your pet’s health and seek veterinary care promptly if you notice any signs of illness or serious injury. Consider taking a pet first aid course, where you can learn how to handle and transport a sick or injured pet.
Create a pet first aid kit suitable for use at home or when traveling. A sealable plastic container, a tackle box or a small tool kit can be used to keep the contents clean and organized. Remember to store the kit safely out of the reach of children and pets.
Changing weather conditions can be stressful for some pets. Animals may become agitated during a storm and try to run away to hide. Bring your pets inside and cover bird cages when there are storms in the forecast.
Gather all these items in one location and store them in an easy-to-transport box or duffle bag. You might not be home when disaster strikes, so make sure all family members know where to find the pet emergency supplies.
In case of an evacuation
If it becomes necessary to leave your home, try to take your pets with you. However, depending on the circumstances, that may not always be possible. Always follow instructions from the local authorities in charge of the emergency response in your area.
Depending on the severity and the duration of the emergency, evacuation centres and other temporary services may be established in your area. In general, pets are not allowed to stay at evacuation centres.
In some situations, you may have sufficient warning to self-evacuate prior to the emergency. You may be able to stay with pet-loving friends or family who live outside the immediate emergency area. Hotels and motels that accept pets are another option; have a list of phone numbers ready so that you don’t have to scramble during an already stressful situation.
You may need to board your pets in the event of an emergency. Kennels and some veterinarians may be able to care for your pets. Remember that you will likely be asked to provide proof that your pet has had all the appropriate vaccinations.
If you are ordered to leave your dogs or cats behind, leave a sign in the window of your home indicating that there are animals inside. Do not tether or cage your pets. Leave a generous supply of food and water in the house for them, ideally in battery-operated timed dispensers. Also, you may want to leave the toilet seats up as an additional source of clean drinking water for your dog. http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/plns/ptsndsrvcnmls-en.aspx
When the emergency is over
Once the danger has passed, you still need to be diligent. You may want to put your pets on a leash for a few days to keep them away from downed power lines, wild animals or other hazards in the area. Talk with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about behaviour issues in your pet following an emergency.
Our pets depend on us to protect them from harm, every day. A bit of advance planning can make the world of difference to you, your family and your pets in the event of an emergency.
For further information
Government of Saskatchewan website for detailed information for homeowners, farmers, rural landowners, and municipalities.
The Government of Canada’s website,
Canada.ca, provides useful information on identifying potential safety hazards, making a family safety plan, and creating emergency kits.
Canadian Red Cross:
St. John Ambulance:
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association:
food (enough for each pet for at least 3 days)
water (enough for each pet for at least 3 days): allow 4l/day of water for each dog; 1l/day for each cat
food and water dishes and a manual can opener
a pet first aid kit
medicines and medical records for your pet
an extra leash and collar
crate or carrier lined with blankets or towels
plastic garbage bags and paper towels
newspapers, pet litter and a litter box
for birds: a catch net, blanket or sheet to cover the cage, and a cage liner
for small pets such as gerbils and hamsters: a salt lick, an extra water bottle, a small box or tube for the pet to hide in, and a week’s worth of bedding.
Obesity in Cats and Dogs
PLEASE, DON’T LOVE ME TO DEATH!
Obesity in Cats and Dogs
As humans we have developed countless ways to show our love and affection. Sharing food is just one of them. Since many of us consider our pets family members we have a tendency to also include them in this food sharing experience. Often we forget how much our pets consume during a regular day and we all have to admit that quite often we get a bit carried away using food as a reward and treat.
Recognizing weight problems
How do you know whether your cat or dog is overweight? Pet food manufacturer Purina has published informative body condition scales for cats and dogs.
Look at the pictures and read the description for each body condition score (BCS). Then look and touch your pet. You will be surprised at the results. For an ideal body condition you should easily be able to feel the ribs. Be objective! Try not to enter the land of denial. If you have to push hard to feel your pet’s ribs – that’s not muscle – that’s fat!
Over the years I have heard a lot of explanations (or should I say excuses) for overweight cats and dogs. “He’s just a big boy.” “It’s all muscle.” “He’s big boned.” Well, no. He’s obese. And being overweight your pet enters a vicious cycle of obesity and inability to exercise which in turn makes weight loss rather difficult. What is even more concerning, with obesity comes a whole array of diseases that will shorten your pet’s lifespan.
The reason for weight gain
What makes our pets first chubby and then fat? We do. We feed them too much, sometimes the wrong thing, and provide them with too little exercise.
Do not overfeed your pet. Make sure all family members are consistent with the feeding schedule and your pet is not fed two or three times a day by accident. Do not leave food out all the time. There is no need to do that.
Too many treats in addition to regular food can be a real problem. Not too long ago a lady came to my clinic with a cat weighing in at 18.6 lbs. and a BCS of 8. That’s pretty big. She said she only fed the cat one-quarter of a small can of wet and one-eighth of a cup of dry cat food a day. That should not have caused her cat’s obesity. However, when I asked her a few more questions she admitted that she also fed about 25 to 30 cat treats per day. Now we found the culprit. Instead of giving a lot of treats as rewards, remember that dogs and cats are as happy with praise (well, most anyway).
What and how much should you feed?
There is no universal answer to how much you should feed your pet. It depends on your pet’s metabolism and lifestyle. The dog living in a family with four young kids gets considerably more exercise than a dog living with a senior citizen. And it is very difficult to provide an indoor cat with enough exercise to burn off the calories it consumes even when fed only very little. The amount of food has to be adjusted to your pet’s unique circumstances. That’s where the body conditioning system comes in handy.
Aside from feeding too much we often are also feeding the wrong food. Cats are obligatory carnivores; they are built by nature to digest protein and fat (as found in small rodents and mice). Living with us most cats are fed a dry kibble diet high in carbohydrates. Result – obesity and with it all the other problems like diabetes mellitus, pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease, to name just a few. Dogs can handle carbohydrates better than cats but still most do not get enough exercise to work off the high caloric intake carbohydrates provide. The medical consequences of obesity in dogs include but are not limited to joint disease, intervertebral disk disease, diabetes mellitus and heart disease.
In regard to obesity it is better to feed a low carbohydrate diet that is high in protein and fat, unless your pet has been diagnosed with a disease that requires a specially formulated diet. Your veterinarian can advise you on this.
More exercise, please!
Last but not least increase your pet’s exercise. Consider taking your dog to agility, fly ball or simply out to the off-leash park. Provide your indoor cat with lots of interactive toys and if you give the occasional treat, make kitty work for it.
If despite changes to your pet’s feeding schedule there is no improvement in his or her body condition, there may be a medical problem present and you should consult your veterinarian.
But let’s face it – for both humans and pets, being overweight is mostly the result of an excess of food and a lack of exercise. The first step is to recognize that there is a problem and the second step is to address it with a healthy dose of common sense.
Good luck to you and your pet.
By Dr. Sandra Neumann
Feral Cat Management Resources
The following are useful links to resources about feral cats: feeding, sheltering, management of colonies, trap-neuter-release programs and more: