Many of America’s cats may be suffering during the pandemic – and the problem could be too much love.
“It’s all about stress behavior in cats,” says Jenni Grady, DVM, who works at the community medical center that is part of Tufts University’s Cummings Veterinary Medical Center in North Grafton, Mass. Dr. Grady says stress in cats may mimic a urinary tract infection, where cats go in and out of their box a lot.
“Any change that’s unusual, even if it’s a positive change, can be stressful,” she says. “And cats who have been alone, but suddenly find a lot of people around because of the pandemic, that could be stressful. Dogs thrive on all that extra attention, but cats? Not really.”
In other words, the Covid-19 pandemic, with its lockdown, changed work patterns, and homeschooling hasn’t been easy on our pets, either. Vets across the country report an uptick in stress-related ailments, as well as things like kennel cough and a bacterial disease called leptospirosis, caused by exposure to standing water. Cats, in particular, may have found themselves in situations they’ve never seen before in their lives – like too many people who want to hug them.
Here are the pandemic trends vets tell us they’re seeing:
An increase in some immunizations, especially for leptospirosis and kennel cough. Kerry Young, DVM, with Rutherford Veterinary Clinic in Dallas, says she is advising patients to pay particular attention to shots for their locations, like Lyme disease if they will be in the Northeast.
Busy clinics and emergency rooms in some parts of the country. Traffic was down as much as 25 percent at the beginning of the pandemic, reports the AVNA, but quickly rebounded. Dr. Young says she hasn’t seen that in Dallas, but Drew Sullivan, DVM, says it has been common in his Chicago practice, part of the University of Illinois clinic. During the early days of the pandemic, restrictions meant vets scheduled fewer appointments, while an increase in puppy and kitten adoptions last year meant more patients to see. Says Dr. Sullivan: “We’ve been crazy busy, and that’s been a surprise.”
Continuing well care, and especially for heartworms and fleas. Owners have not stopped giving treatments, despite the cost. Dr. Grady reports that flea topical remains popular for cats.
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