Cats are extremely sensitive to noise, crowding and stress -- three things that are in abundant supply in many animal shelters. These adverse conditions often lead to illness in sheltered cats, particularly the most common of all feline shelter diseases, upper respiratory infection (URI).
The good news is that by decreasing crowding and reducing stress, you can drastically cut the incidence of feline URI in your shelter's cat population.
In October of 2012, Maddie's InstituteSM presented Fixing the Feline Housing Crisis: How Shelter Housing Can Make Cats Sick - And What You Can Do About It, a free webcast with Dr. Sandra Newbury of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
The recorded version of this webcast, and information about continuing education credit, is available here.
In the fall of 2012, Maddie's InstituteSM conducted an online survey of executive directors, employees and volunteers from companion-animal care organizations across the country, seeking to assess overall levels of engagement among shelter employees, investigate what factors can increase engagement or disengagement, and provide resources to enable organizations to improve engagement.
Among surveyed shelters, 35 percent of employees and 28 percent of volunteers reported experiencing feelings of emotional burnout, with 18 percent of employees additionally reporting they often think about quitting their jobs.
Interestingly, volunteers who have served in their organization for more than one year appeared more likely to experience feelings of emotional burnout than those who have served less than one year (32 percent versus 11 percent,), but duration of employment did not affect burnout rates for paid staff.
What can help? Recommendations for coping with or preventing burnout include a comprehensive orientation program for new hires and volunteers, as well as ongoing training and supervision.
At the recent 2013 ASPCA/Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Conference, the ASPCA's Jesse Oldham shared her tips and experiences for getting started in TNR.
In the presentation, Oldham explored how TNR programs might differ depending on who is implementing them, the resources available in a community and the desired program outcomes.
Additionally, she covered examples of different program models, the resources needed to start a TNR program and basic program tips (trapping, record-keeping, volunteer management and equipment).
The complete presentation can be viewed on the Maddie's Institute website, or by clicking on the image above.
When shelter workers see bloody diarrhea in a young, stressed, or immune-compromised dog or cat, coccidiosis is one of the first conditions that springs to mind. But not all bloody diarrhea is caused by the Coccidia organism, and not all pets with the parasite show blood in their stool.
That's just one of the tips shared at the 2013 ASPCA/Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Conference by Dr. Danielle Boes, the Janet L. Swanson Intern for Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University.
In her presentation, Dr. Boes reviewed best practices in managing, treating and preventing coccidiosis in your shelter or foster homes.
You can view the complete presentation on the Maddie's Institute website, or by clicking on the image above.
Other resources mentioned by Dr. Boes:
Yunjeong Kim, a research assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, is heading up a multi-discipline team working on developing just that drug.
The project is being funded by grants from the Morris Animal Foundation and the Winn Feline Foundation, and is being conducted in collaboration with with Dr. Niels C. Pedersen at the University of California, Davis.
While infections with these pathogens are often mild and resolve on their own, they can become life-threatening. This is particularly true in animal shelter environments, where vs-FCV may have a death rate of nearly 70 percent.
"We are currently at an early stage and there will be many obstacles to overcome," Kim said in a report posted on the KSU website. "But we are encouraged by the progress we are making toward the goal."
Read the full article here.
Many rescue groups, shelters, and animal welfare organizations try to say too much in their messages to supporters. While it's easy to think that every communication should carry as much information as possible, the fact is, few people can or will absorb more than one request for help in a single message.
The next time you're composing any kind of written communication on behalf of the animals in your care, start by writing down the answer to this question:
What do you want people to do after reading this message?
Your answer should be equally brief. Examples:
After you've decided what you want them to do, sit down and compose your message. After finishing it, go back and delete everything that isn't related to that single, short description of what you want people to do.
It's okay to have additional requests for action in the template of an email -- for example, to have a "donate" button embedded in the right hand column of your email, or a request at the bottom to be followed on social media. The actual body of the message to your supporters, however, should be about only that one request for action, and nothing else.
Take a look at your adoption listings, too. Are they full of information on your hours, policies, and advice on the proper care of pets? Delete it. They should be about one thing only: getting people to contact you about adopting that individual pet.
The bottom line is this: No one should be in doubt after they read something your organization writes as to what you want them to do. To make sure you've gotten it right, ask a friend who isn't involved in animal welfare to read what you wrote. Then ask them to tell you what you want them do to. If they're not sure, or if they list several things or get it wrong -- start over!
In his Maddie's InstituteSM webcast, The First 60 Minutes: Animal Sheltering's Critical Hour, Brian A. DiGangi, DVM, MS, DABVP, a clinical assistant professor of shelter medicine at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, says the secret to getting it right can be summed up with the acronym "SCAN."
From the webcast:
S is for slow: "You want to go very slowly when you’re scanning an animal; remember, no more than half a foot per second."
C is for close: "You want to hold the scanner very close to the animal. Think back to the study where they showed as an animal’s body weight increased the sensitivity of the microchip scanner decreased, so you want to be sure that you’re holding it really close to those microchips so you can get a good read on them."
A is for area: "You want to cover a whole lot of area... . You want to start up by the shoulder blades, where you would expect the microchip to be, but microchips can migrate, so you want to be sure that you cover the whole body of the animal. So, it’s recommended to go down a snakelike pattern down the back of the animal. Turn the scanner around and go down each side of the animal as well.
"N is for next steps: "It’s real important to have some next steps laid out in your intake protocol. What is somebody supposed to do when they find a microchip? It does no good if they’ve found it and then they don’t know what to do after that. So, if a chip is found, there should be a plan for contacting the microchip registry company and trying to track down that owner. If there is no chip scanned, for me the next plan is to scan them again, because maybe I missed it."
The discussion of microchip scanning, including video demonstrations of both good and poor scanning techniques, begins at around the 11:11 mark in the recording of Dr. DiGangi's webcast on the Maddie's Institute website.
As the number of animal shelters taking on the challenge of saving orphaned kittens grows, so does interest in new and more effective techniques for preventing and treating their common health problems.
In the spring of 2013, Maddie's InstituteSM conducted an online survey that asked administrators, staff members and volunteers of animal shelters and rescue groups in the United States to comment on their organization's approach to the care of orphaned kittens.
Of nine pre-listed health issues, the most frequently reported in orphaned kittens were the following:
The least frequently reported were:
If you'd like to see how other shelters, kitten nurseries and rescue groups are keeping their orphaned kittens healthy, check out these resources:
In a study presented last month at the Waltham International Nutritional Sciences Symposium in Portland, OR, researchers found that pregnant and lactating cats will, when given the choice, opt for increased fat rather than increased carbohydrate in their diets:
In the study, seventeen adult female cats were offered a choice of three nutritionally-complete wet foods with different proportions of protein, fat and carbohydrate. During pregnancy, the cats significantly increased their total energy intake, and the amounts of protein and fat consumed also increased linearly. When lactating, the cats with large litters of four or five kittens further increased their energy intake, consuming a significantly higher proportion of energy from fat and reducing the proportion of energy from protein and carbohydrate. Total fat intake tripled for the cats feeding large litters, and doubled for cats with smaller litters of one to three kittens.
Previous research has shown that non-reproducing adult cats with normal energy requirements have a limit to the amount of carbohydrate they will consume in a day (Hewson-Hughes et al. 2011). Specifically, cats' "carbohydrate ceiling" was found to be approximately 20g of carbohydrate per day. The present study expanded on these findings and showed that, while cats increased their intake of protein and fat during pregnancy and lactation, their carbohydrate intake did not exceed this limit of 20g per day. The research therefore shows that cats' "carbohydrate ceiling" still applies during the increased physiological demands of gestation and lactation.
Read more here.