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The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy

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Veterinary Information

Susan F Moreland MRCVS, GCCF Veterinary Officer
15th May 2019


During the last year over 10 cases of bovine TB (ie Tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium Bovis) have been confirmed in cats and a number of new cases are currently being investigated. The first unusual feature linking these cases is that they all occurred in indoor cats, mainly in pedigree pets. TB in cats due to M. bovis usually occurs in free ranging cats in areas where M bovis is endemic in the wild rodent population and/or in cats with access to raw milk from TB infected cattle. The second feature common to all these cases was that they had been fed frozen raw venison.

Affected cats show a variety of symptoms. Reduced appetite, weight loss and lethargy are common. Other signs often relate to involvement of the gastrointestinal tract (vomiting and/or diarrhoea, swollen abdomen and enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes) or respiratory system (cough, rapid or laboured breathing). The disease may run an acute or chronic course. Some cases present with similar signs to FIP and have been misdiagnosed as such.

If you have been feeding frozen raw venison especially if any of your cats become unwell please seek veterinary advice immediately. Tell your vet that your cat has eaten frozen raw venison and that this food has been linked to recent cases of bovine TB in cats. It is very important you do this as TB is an extremely rare disease in indoor cats and your vet may not consider it as a possible diagnosis. If your vet suspects TB and requires more information about diagnosis and treatment of this disease they should contact Danielle Gunn-Moore FRCVS, Professor of Feline Medicine at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (University of Edinburgh) Hospital for Small Animals. Professor Gunn-Moore is an expert on Feline TB and is leading the research into this outbreak.

Unfortunately it has not yet been possible to isolate M bovis from venison products suspected to have been the cause of these cases. It is suggested that you make an Internet search against "venison cat food recall" and then check whether you have any venison cat food in your fridge or freezer and if so act accordingly.  Further information about the current outbreak can be found in a press release from The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (University of Edinburgh) Hospital for Small Animals on 13th May 2019 via the following link:  https://www.ed.ac.uk/vet/services/small-animals/information-about-cat-tb

If you have any questions or concerns after reading this notice please contact me by email:  tobysdenbengals@hotmail.co.uk


Risk of antifreeze poisoning in cats   

It is a sad fact that, with the arrival of winter comes an increase in the number of cats poisoned by antifreeze.

Cats are particularly susceptible due to their specialised metabolism.  Cats only need to drink a teaspoon or less for it to cause serious illness and even death.  So a curious lick or two from a small spillage could be enough to cause serious poisoning.

For advice on keeping cats safe, click on this link to International Cat Care's website.    


BACs which have incidence of HCM occurring with some frequency in their breed are invited to consider the HCM policy (see Link on the left) to consider options for reducing risk. These can be discussed with the GCCF’s Veterinary Officers and Committee. Contact: suemoreland@gccfcats.org

Levetiracetam shows promise for the treatment of feline audiogenic reflex seizures 

A group of UK-based investigators from Davies Veterinary Group and the UCL School of Pharmacy, who recently engaged the veterinary world with an article defining the previously undocumented syndrome of feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS), have published follow-up findings about the treatment of the condition. Their paper, 'Levetiracetam in the management of feline audiogenic reflex seizures: a randomised, controlled, open label study', appears in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery*.   FARS is a problem of older cats, which typically exhibit myoclonic seizures (brief, shock-like jerks of a muscle or a group of muscles) in response to certain high-pitched sounds. Both non-pedigree and pedigree cats (in particular, Birmans) may be affected.

Lucky escape for 'yellow' cat 

Haggis, a striking Maine Coon cat, had a very lucky escape from lily poisoning after brushing up against a bouquet of lilies, the pollen from which turned hiswhitefuryellow. Had Haggis begun to groom the pollen from his fur, he would almost certainly have suffered kidney damage and may have died.  Haggis’s lucky escape was due to the vigilance of this owner, who checked whether lily pollen could be poisonous. As soon as she discovered that the pollen could cause kidney failure if ingested, she immediately washed Haggis and took him straight to the vet where he was put on intravenous fluids and kept in for two days. Fortunately Haggis developed no problems and was allowed home with no adverse effects.  

Haggis’s story came to light as part of the charity International Cat Care’s (iCatCare) Keeping Cats Safe campaign, which during the month of September is highlighting the danger lilies pose to cats.  Lilies are frequently used in flower arrangements for their attractive appearance and fragrant flowers, however many people are still unaware of the danger they pose to cats. Eating any part of the lily – flowers, leaves, stem or pollen – or even drinking the water from a vase with lilies in it, is extremely dangerous to cats. Once ingested the toxin causes severe damage to the kidneys and in severe cases the kidneys fail completely. Signs of poisoning include drooling, vomiting, refusing food, lethargy and depression and a vet may find enlarged and painful kidneys on examination. 

The message of iCatCare’s campaign is that if you own a cat, never keep lilies in the house and should you suspect that your cat has been exposed to lilies, you seek immediate veterinary advice. Claire Bessant, Chief Executive of iCatCare said: ‘The unusual thing about the case of Haggis is that the outcome was good, which sadly is quite often not the case. Many owners are still unaware of the danger of lilies to their cats and cats often die as a result of poisoning. We hope that this campaign and the case of Haggis will highlight the danger.’  iCatCare has put together information for owners and veterinary professionals on its website, including a downloadable ‘lethal lilies’ poster. The charity will continue to raise awareness of this campaign and will be working more closely with supermarkets and florists on clearer labelling of bouquets and flower arrangements which contain lilies. 

For more information about lily toxicity see: http://icatcare.org/advice/keeping-cats-safe/lilies.  Full details about the Keeping Cats Safe campaign can also be found at: Keeping Cats Safe



Following an incident in which 4 Burmese cats suffered serious injury (including one fatality) following contact with accidental spillage of Persil concentrated laundry liquid, I would like to warn cat owners and veterinary surgeons of the danger of all brands of concentrated laundry liquid for pets.

The high concentration of chemicals in these products is extremely irritant to skin and mucous membranes. Skin contact can result in serious burns and if the liquid is ingested it will cause severe irritation of the lining of the gastro-intestinal and respiratory tracts. Cats are especially at risk because of their instinctive tendency to remove any contamination from their fur by licking.

The more costly branded concentrated laundry liquids containing 15-30% anionic detergents are particularly dangerous. Cheaper products containing 5-15% anionic detergents are less dangerous but still irritant.

See full details here


All owners and breeders should be aware of the danger of Permethrin poisoning in cats. Permethrin is the active ingredient of a number of over-the-counter spot-on treatments for the control of fleas in dogs. Permethrin is extremely poisonous to cats. It affects the nervous system and causes severe neurological signs eg fits/seizures and even exposure to small quantities can be fatal. There is no specific antidote.

Many cats have been poisoned as a result of owners failing to read the product instructions properly and applying to cats in error. Cats can also be fatally poisoned by coming into contact with dogs who have been treated by licking the product off the skin or even just by skin contact.

International Cat Care has been very active in persuading the maufacturers to improve the labelling of these products and most do now carry clear conspicuous warnings of the danger to cats on the packaging.

All cat owners should take care that any over-the-counter flea treatment they buy is one that is marketed for use in cats and should always read the label and product literature carefully. It is also strongly recommended that cat owners do not use products containing Permethrin on their dogs. The risk of accidental contact is high, treated dogs pose a risk to cats for up to 72 hours after treatment and plenty of cat-safe alternatives are available. If owners require advice on choice of flea treatment for cats and dogs or control of fleas in general it is recommended they consult their veterinary surgeon, or veterinary pharmacist.

Sue Moreland MRCVS

GCCF Veterinary Officer

4th June 2010

Bristol University Cat Study  (Updated September 2021)

The Bristol Cat Study has stopped recruiting kittens now, but data was collected and analysed from over 2,200 kittens and has formed the basis for many papers and posters, including some published recently.  These can be found via the link below: