Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Great Wall of China Cats

In May of 2012, I took a trip to China.  While in Beijing, I made plans to visit the Great Wall, of course.  A few weeks before my trip, I sent an e-mail to my tour guide, Vivie, telling her that I was a cat veterinarian and that I like to encounter kitties in whatever country I’m visiting, if possible. She said she’d ask some of her friends and colleagues about trying to maximize my chances of encountering cats while on the trip.  A few days later, she wrote back, informing me that a friend of hers told her that there’s a colony of stray cats that lives behind the ticket booth at the Great Wall.  She said that they tend to be out and about early in the morning.  I told her that I definitely wanted to get there early and see if I could encounter them.  
When I did eventually get to Beijing, Vivie took me to the Great Wall early, as promised.  Armed with a ziploc bag full of bacon that I had swiped from our hotel’s breakfast buffet, I scouted around the base of the ticket booth, and I did indeed encounter about 7 or 8 cats.  They were sweet and friendly, and I fed and patted them all. 

In November of 2013, clients of mine (Todd and Christine P.) told me that they were going to take a long (four weeks!) trip to China.  They had always wanted to visit China, and they had read my blog posts that described the sites and experiences that I had while there, which they said had only reinforced their desire to visit. (This was flattering to hear.)  On my recommendation, they hired the same tour guide, Vivie.  A few weeks later, toward the end of their trip, I received an e-mail from Todd and Christine.  Embedded in the e-mail was a photo of several cats at the base of the Great Wall ticket booth, chowing down on some kibble.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Potential New Blood Test to Detect Cancer in Cats

A Potential New Blood Test to Detect Cancer in Cats

The thymidine kinase (TK) test has great potential to help diagnose and monitor the most common form of cancer in the cat. 

                Lymphoma is the most common malignancy in cats, accounting for approximately 33% of all diagnosed cancers in cats.  Diagnosis is usually achieved either via cytology, where a needle is inserted into the affected tumor or lymph node and cells are removed and evaluated on a microscope slide, or via biopsy, where a small piece of the tumor or lymph node is removed and then examined by a pathologist. 

                In some instances, a diagnosis can be elusive. For example, some cytology samples end up being non-diagnostic; the cytologist may indicate that the cells look suspicious for – but cannot be conclusively identified – as lymphoma, and that a biopsy specimen is needed to be certain.  In some cats, obtaining a biopsy specimen can be problematic, since procuring a biopsy specimen requires anesthesia, which may entail unacceptable risk if the cat is in frail health or has a cardiac condition that precludes anesthesia.  Performing a surgical biopsy can be expensive, and may be cost-prohibitive for some cat owners. 
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