Covered or uncovered litter boxes – which do most cats prefer?

Inappropriate elimination of urine or faeces around the home is considered to be the most common behavioural problem seen in small animal practice and a major reason for cats being relinquished to animal shelters. Owners are often advised to allow their pets access to uncovered litter boxes, although there appears to be little published evidence to support a recommendation on uncovered as against covered boxes. The authors earned out a trial involving 28 cats which were provided with a choice of toilet facilities and the owners recorded which was used most frequently. The majority of cats showed no preference either way and of those eight cats that did use one type more commonly, four preferred the covered and four the uncovered tray. They suggest that cleanliness is a more important factor in determining a cat’s preferred choice of litter tray and that soiled litter must be removed promptly, with daily cleaning a minimum requirement. They note that there was some evidence that a minority of cats may avoid using covered trays when filled with scented litter. 

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 15(4): 280-284. 

Emma Grigg and others, Ross University, St Kitts, West Indies

Comparison of three systems for maintaining body warmth during small animal surgery

Anaesthesia can contribute to the development of hypothermia in surgical cases by interrupting the feedback loop controlling thermoregulation, leading to decreased metabolism and generalised vasodilation. The authors compare the efficacy of three different intra-operative systems for maintaining body temperature. Used in a total of 238 procedures, they found no significant differences in body temperature when using circulating water blankets, forced air warming or warming panels. But there were differences owing to the type of surgical procedures; with more variation in body temperature in dogs undergoing coeliotomies. 

Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 48( I): 18-24. 

Michelle Franklin and others, Oklahoma State University

Role of disinfectant-filled foot mats in controlling bacterial transmission in clinics

Carriage of bacterial pathogens on the footwear of veterinary staff is one possible route for disease transmission within a clinic. The authors assessed the value of phenolic disinfectant-filled foot mats in controlling the transmission of Salmonella enterica organisms around a veterinary teaching hospital. There were significantly higher bacterial counts in the large animal hospital area than in a common use corridor irrespective of whether the mat was present. Overall, it appeared that the mats were not uniformly effective in reducing bacterial load or mechanical tracking of bacteria from contaminated areas to other parts of the hospital, 

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 242(8): 682-688. 

Faye Hartmann and others, University of Wisconsin

Factors affecting mental health in female veterinarians

Work-related stress is known to have a considerable impact on the mental health of veterinary surgeons and other professional groups. The authors carried out a survey to identify those factors influencing the development of anxiety and depression in 1,017 female veterinarians. Up to 37 per cent of those questioned acknowledged that they were facing minor psychological stress as a result of their work environment, with long working hours cited as a principal cause of problems. Those women who had two or more children reported less anxiety and depression than those who were childless or had never been pregnant, 

Australian Veterinary Journal 91 (4): 123-130.

Adeleh Shirangi and others, University of Western Australia

Fibre concentration in dry and canned commercial dog foods

Guidelines on the labelling of pet foods in the US require the manufacturers to display crude fibre concentrations but the accuracy and relevance of such measurements has been questioned. The authors compared the reported maximum crude fibre, measured crude fibre and measured total dietary fibre concentrations in dry and canned dog foods. They found that crude fibre concentrations were significantly lower than the measured total dietary fibre concentration for all the products tested owing to differences in detecting some insoluble and all soluble dietary fibre components. In the absence of such information, the crude fibre values are not a reliable indicator of the composition of those diets, 

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 242(7): 936-940. 

Amy Farcas and others, University of California, Davis

Use of thermographic imaging in assessing painful conditions in cats

Pain in cats will often go undetected because the behavioural responses in this species are so subtle. The authors investigated the potential value of thermographic imaging in pain detection by comparing the findings with the results of an owner assessment of the animal's behaviour and of their pain levels. There was little agreement between the owner's assessment and the findings from the imaging procedures; but there was some correlation between those images and the results of palpating the cat’s body. Thermographic imaging, therefore, may have some value as a clinical tool for detecting and screening cats with painful conditions. 

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 15(2): 124-131.

Mari Vainionpaa and others, University of Helsinki, Finland

Effects of different disease conditions on people’s willingness to adopt dogs and cats

A proportion of the animals arriving at welfare shelters will have significant medical or behavioural conditions which may be expected to influence the willingness of potential owners to adopt them. The authors assessed the opinions of 424 animal owners and 97 veterinarians on the likely impact of different conditions on the probability of the affected animals finding a new owner. Veterinarians classified pets with 120 different conditions as healthy, treatable, manageable or unhealthy. There was a significant level of agreement between the veterinarians’ views on the significance of the disease with the willingness of potential owners to consider adopting that animal. 

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 242( I): 46-53.

Molly Murphy and others, Iowa State University

Priorities for improving the welfare of dogs in the UK

Significantly less research has gone into monitoring the welfare of companion animals than that of livestock and so opinions may differ on the major challenges for improving standards. The authors surveyed stakeholders from education, government, industry, charities and veterinary practice on what they regard as the main priorities for improving canine welfare. Exaggerated physical features, inherited disease, obesity and inappropriate socialisation were considered important, along with puppy farming and status dogs. There are some issues that have received little attention but that respondents did consider to be serious, such as a lack of mental stimulation and inappropriate environmental conditions. 

Animal Welfare 22(2): 239-253.

Emma Buckland and others, Royal Veterinary College, Hertfordshire

Population structure and genetic heterogeneity in popular dog breeds

The reproductive isolation imposed by the breed specifications of registered pedigrees is likely to promote breed- specific genetic disorders. The authors investigated
the levels of genetic diversity in 13 popular dog breeds in comparison with that in crossbred animals. Boxers and West Highland white terriers showed the lowest level levels of genetic diversity, while Jack Russell terriers showed a degree of genetic variation that was comparable with that of crossbreed animals. The authors found evidence that some dogs have been wrongly classified, such as Golden retrievers with the genetic features of Labrador retrievers. 

The Veterinary Journal 196(1): 92-97. 

Richard Mellanby and others, Roslin Institute, Edinburgh

Antimicrobial and biocidal susceptibility of canine Staphylococcus pseudintermedius strains

Increasing evidence of antimicrobial resistance in S. pseudointermedius has focussed attention on finding alternative methods for controlling the pathogen. The authors evaluate the susceptibility of bacterial isolates to a range of topical biocides, including chlorhexidine digluconate, benzalkonium chloride, triclosan, accelerated hydrogen peroxide, geranium oil, tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract. Triclosan demonstrated excellent activity against all bacterial isolates with no growth at less than 0.5 ug/mL, while grapefruit seed oil was the least effective biocidal agent. All the isolates tested were also found to be susceptible to the antimicrobials mupirocin, fusidic acid and bacitracin. 

Veterinary Dermatology 23(6): 493-496. 

Becky Valentine and others, University of Guelph, Ontario

Risk factors for euthanasia of cats after entry into welfare shelters

More than half the stray and unwanted cats entering Australian animal shelters are likely to be euthanased. A better understanding of the characteristics of animals entering such shelters may assist in finding strategies for reducing the numbers of unwanted cats and the animal welfare and economic costs of dealing with them. The authors looked at the electronic records of more than 33,000 cats entering RSPCA kennels. While 65 per cent of those cats were euthanased, the risk was lower for kittens and those that had been neutered before admission. Stray cats were more likely to be adopted than those surrendered by their owners. 

Australian Veterinary Journal 91(1 -2): 35-42.

Corinne Alberthsen and others, University of Queensland

Alternatives to conventional antimicrobial drugs for controlling staphylococcal infections

Growing problems with antimicrobial resistance is generating interest in different approaches to controlling bacterial pathogens. The author reviews the prospects for novel strategies such as the application of antimicrobial peptides to attack microorganisms and modulate immune responses; or the use of bacteriophages or their lysins to eliminate bacteria. He notes that while research on such methods may generate new options in disease control, it is unlikely that it will yield usable products within the near future. So there is a continuing need to nurture existing agents through accurate diagnosis, rigorous hygiene and prudent antimicrobial dispensing. 

Veterinary Dermatology 23(4): 299-304. 

David Lloyd, Royal Veterinary College, Hertfordshire

To cite this article use either

DOI:10.1111/vnj.12056 or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 28 pp 259-260

• VOL 28 • August 2013 • Veterinary Nursing Journal