Lungworm Infection in Cats – A Cause of Coughing


In previous posts I’ve written about various causes of coughing in cats, particularly asthma. This week I wanted to share information about an under-appreciated cause of coughing – lungworm infection. Please share this with other cat owners to increase knowledge of this disease. Happy reading!

Lungworm Infection – What is it?

Several genera of parasites called nematodes can infect the lower respiratory tract of cats to cause clinical signs, especially coughing. The most prevalent lungworm in domestic cats is Aerulostrongylus abstrusus. This parasite is quite small, measuring only 5-10 millimeters in length and less the 100 micrometers in width. Other commonly encountered lungworms are Eucoleus aerophilus (aka: Capillaria aerophilia), Toxocara cati, Strongyloides felis, and Paragonimus kellicoti.


Microscopic image of Aerulostrongylus abstrusus. Image courtesy of North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Aerulostrongylus abstrusus has an indirect life cycle that involves terrestrial molluscs like snails and slugs. Various critters on which cats prey (i.e.: rats mice, birds, etc.) ingest molluscs infected with A. abstrsus larvae (called L3 larvae). Cats become infected when they ingest infected prey species. The L3 larvae the perforate the cat’s gastrointestinal wall to enter blood and lymphatic vessels to the travel. From these locations the L3 larvae travel to small branches of the pulmonary artery. At this location, the L3 larvae perforate the vessel walls to gain access to the alveoli of the lungs. Within 2-3 weeks, the L3 larvae develop into adults, and females lay eggs in this airway location within one month. The eggs ultimately hatch to release L1 larvae. An infected cat coughs them up, swallows them, and ultimately eliminates them in feces. In the environment, snails and slugs ingest the L1 larvae. In these molluscs, the L1 larvae develop into L3 larvae.


Lifecycle of Aerulostrongylus abstrusus

The life cycles of other lungworms are similarly complicated. Pet parents are encouraged to consult with their family veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary internal medicine should they want more specific life cycle information about other lungworm genera.

Lungworm Infection – What does it look like?

There is no breed, age, or sex predilection for lungworm infection in cats. Clinical signs appear to be related to the larval burden of a specific cat. In other words, cats with few L3 larvae (less 1600) may have no clinical signs. Conversely, those infected with a large number of L3 larvae (more than 1600) can develop clinical signs after five weeks. Common clinical signs include chronic coughing, difficulty breathing, and weight loss. Large larval burdens have also been associated with right-sided heart murmurs (due to right atrioventricular valve regurgitation) and the development of abnormal fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity (called ascites), both presumably due to pulmonary hypertension.

Lungworm Infection – How is it diagnosed?

Lungworm infection should be considered a possibility in any cat with chronic coughing and/or breathing difficulties. After a obtaining a thorough patient history and performing a complete physical examination, a veterinarian will recommend some initial non-invasive tests, most notably chest radiographs or x-rays. In fact, evaluating chest radiographs is typically the first diagnostic test recommended for cats with histories of abnormal breathing and coughing. There are no specific changes on radiographs that are diagnostic for lungworm infection. Radiographic changes vary depending on the larval burden in the lungs. Definitive diagnosis requires fecal testing, typically either a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis or a Baermann technique. Other fecal flotation techniques (i.e.: zinc sulfate) may also be indicated.

Lungworm Infection – How is it treated?

Treatment of cats with lungworm infections is relatively straightforward. Each parasite is sensitive to different drugs that are either administered orally or as spot-on topical medications. Commonly prescribed drugs include fenbendazole, praziquantel, emodepside, selamectin, and moxidectin. Very rarely do cats require lung surgery to remove a segment of lung irreparably damaged by ruptured parasitic cyst(s). Your family veterinarian and/or a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist will be able to guide you regarding the most effective treatment strategy for your pet.


Fenbendazole is an effective treatment for A. abstrusus infection.

The take-away message about lungworm infection in cats…

Lungworm infection is a relatively common and under-appreciated cause of chronic respiratory problems in cats. Obtaining a definitive diagnosis is straightforward. Most cats respond very well to oral or spot-on therapies and go on to lead happy normal lives.

Wishing you wet-nosed kisses,


Critical care DVMChristopher G. Byers, DVM, DACVECC, DACVIM (SAIM), CVJ


Conservation body slams lack of govt plan for oiled marine birds


Bird covered in oil. Picture: wikipedia

This follows an 200-400 litres oil spillage at the Port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The South African Foundation for Conservation of Coastal Birds (SACCB) yesterday lamented government’s lack of an oiled wildlife contingency plan, as they clean up some of the wildlife affected by this weekend’s oil spill in the Eastern Cape.

SACCB’s Eastern Cape manager Stacy Webb said they had received the first batch of oiled penguins yesterday following the 200-400 litres oil spillage at the Port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The department of environmental forestry and fisheries confirmed the spill was due to an overflow on Saturday while a bulk carrier identified as MV Chrysanthi S was refuelling.

The department reported that South African Marine Fuels immediately activated an oil spillage control operation to mitigate the oil spread onto the water.

The department added: “The incident is currently considered a Tier one level incident which does not require intervention from the national authorities as local resources are sufficient. The department will provide assistance if the incident escalates.”

Webb said the circumstances surrounding the spill were similar to the 2016 spill that involved a bunkering company.

That spill was 100 litres and 142 adult penguins were oiled, and 30 chicks abandoned.

“With a population of less than 20,000 breeding pairs in the world, we cannot afford a catastrophe like this close to their largest breeding colony.”

Webb said an oil mitigation plan should be a requirement for all companies operating in Algoa Bay.

Source: The Citizen

SA man whipped and beaten while filming animal abuse on Greek island

SA man whipped

Luke Barritt, a campaigner for international charity Network for Animals (NFA), was attacked, assaulted and threatened with death while he was filming abuse of donkeys in Greece. Image: Supplied

What was meant to be an excursion to film alleged abuse endured by donkeys in Santorini, Greece, turned out to be a nightmare for a South African animal welfare worker.

Luke Barritt was brutally assaulted and threatened with death.

“The sheer venom of the donkey owners stunned me. They were kicking me and beating me with the same whips they used on the donkeys. It was a truly frightening experience. The worst thing about this is that I escaped, but there’s no escape for the donkeys,” said Barritt, a campaigner for international charity Network For Animals (NFA).

Barritt had been filming the mistreatment and abuse of donkeys. The animals’ owners exploited them by making them repeatedly climb a 1,000-foot cliff in baking sun with no food, shade or water, according to Miranda Raff of NFA.

“Barritt was documenting broken promises by the Greek government and local officials, who promised last year to improve the treatment of donkeys that are used to carry tourists up its steep cliffs,” she said.

Detailing the gruesome attack, Raff said: “A group of 10 people attacked Barritt and Polish cameraman Wiktor Dobraczynski, who was trying to get footage of the abuse. The enraged donkey owners kicked and struck Barritt, driving him to the cliff edge while threatening to throw him over. Dobrazczynski rescued him but was also attacked in the process.”

The matter was reported to local police who promised to take action, but did not do so, according to NFA.

The attack comes after the NFA exposed the dreadful treatment of about 100 donkeys in Santorini last year, said Raff.  

NFA said that as many as 17,000 tourists disembark each day from giant cruise ships at the base of the cliff, and many ride donkeys to the top. Many of the donkeys become so exhausted that they simply stop walking – which is allegedly when the owners thrash them with whips.

“This shameful cruelty continues, despite last year’s guarantees from local authorities that the donkeys would be treated more humanely. A year later, nothing has changed – many of the animals have spinal or limb injuries from the ceaseless, backbreaking toil in extremely hot conditions,” said Raff.

The NFA also alleged that the abuse of the donkeys included them not being allowed to rest at night. Instead they are made to keep working by clearing refuse and transporting goods across the island in service of the hotels and guest houses in Santorini.

“These donkeys are essentially worked to death. It’s clear that the promised improvements have not been made. It’s an utter disgrace and I urge tourists who plan to visit Santorini to think again until this cruelty stops,” said Barritt, who is now recovering at his Cape Town home.

Source: Sowetan Live

Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

Why do cats sleep

Image: Chris Isherwood / via Flickr

by Yahaira Cespedes

Cats sleep an average of fifteen hours a day, and some can sleep up to twenty hours in a twenty-four hour period. Which raises the question: Why do cats sleep so much?


The first thing you should realize is that cats are most active between dusk and dawn, which means that they sleep mostly during the day and become active around twilight. This can come as quite a shock if you’re bringing a new kitty home for the first time. Your cat will waste no time investigating and getting into trouble — usually while you’re fast asleep!  But as soon your cat is done with breakfast, as the rest of the world winds up for action, you’ll find him winding down for a long day of slumber.


Cats have the physiology of a predator, meaning that they’re hardwired to give chase and hunt — mainly at night. Large cats such as lions have a similar pattern of sleeping during the day and hunting at night. Although they have been domesticated for the most part, housecats still retain that wild streak. Even cats at play will display the feline primal instincts of creeping about in the shadows and, without a whisper of warning, pouncing on their target prey.

And hunting prey takes an amazing amount of energy. Whether your kitty is hunting for outdoor prey or tackling a catnip toy, all that sleep he gets is reserve energy for running, pouncing, climbing and stalking.


Like people, cats either doze in a light sleep or sleep very deeply. When your cat dozes (which lasts about fifteen minutes to a half hour), he will position his body so that he can spring up and into action at a moment’s notice.

During deep sleep, cats experience rapid (or quick) brain movement. Deep sleep tends to last about five minutes, after which the cat goes back to dozing. This dozing-deep sleep pattern goes on until the cat wakes up.

Kittens and older cats tend to sleep more than the average-aged adult cat.


It should come as no surprise that felines are affected by the weather, just like us. Cat behavior can vary greatly, depending on their breed, age, temperament and overall health. But, whatever your kitty’s usual disposition, it has been observed that cats sleep more when the weather calls for it. Yes, even if your kitty is an exclusive indoor-dweller, a rainy or cold day will have him (and probably you) yawning and looking for some shut-eye.


Cats are crepuscular — which means that they are most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. They tend to lay low in the darker night-time and day-time hours, when other predators may be hanging about. Some cats may be active at night as well, especially when they’re kittens. But, cats are also sociable and highly adaptable. This means that a cat is apt to adjust his sleeping habits so he can spend more time with his loved ones — meaning you. Cats will also adjust their sleep patterns to their feeding schedules, which is why an indoor cat sleeps more than a cat that roams outdoors.

Whether your cat is a spry kitten or a mature feline, his level of interaction and activity depends a lot on whether he’s constantly recharging his kitty battery.

Cats may sleep a lot, but when they’re awake, they sure make the most of their time!

Source: Pet MD

What South Africa’s laws say about bringing an ’emotional support animal’ to work

What SA's laws

There is an increasing trend to own an ’emotional support animal’ – a pet that provides comfort to it’s struggling owner.

According to Lauren Salt, an executive in ENSafrica’s employment department, for a pet to ‘legitimately’ be considered an emotional service animal, it needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a mental illness.

A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, for example, must decide that the presence of the animal is needed for the mental health of the patient. The owner determining that this is the case would likely not be sufficient, she said.

“The key difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal is whether the animal has been trained to perform a specific task or job directly related to the person’s disability.

“The tasks need to be specifically trained, not something instinctive the dog would do anyway,” she said.

What South Africa’s laws say

Salt said that emotional support animals are not currently regulated in South Africa.

“However, in some jurisdictions, the rights of service and emotional support animals to access public areas (such as shopping malls, air carriers etc) are specifically regulated,” she said.

“Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must provide ‘reasonable accommodations’ to employees with disabilities and there is an ongoing debate in US courts as to whether reasonable accommodation is limited to allowing service dogs into the workplace, or whether this would extend to emotional support animals,” she said.

Salt said that there is a similar obligation in South Africa’s Employment Equity Act (EEA), which requires employers to provide ‘reasonable accommodation’ to people with disabilities.

Bringing your dog to work

As this system can be open to abuse, Salt said that the first question to ask is whether the employee truly has a disability.

“The EEA defines people with disabilities as those who have a long-term recurring physical or mental impairment which substantially limits their prospects of entry into, or advancement in, employment,” she said.

“Where there is doubt, an employer should ask for medical proof that the employee’s condition is a disability in the context of the EEA and whether the emotional support animal is required in the management of the disability.”

Salt said that if an employer is satisfied that the employee is covered under the EEA, the next step is to inquire whether the accommodation of having the emotional support or service animal in the workplace is reasonable.

“Reasonable accommodation is defined as any modification or adjustment to the job or the working environment that will enable the person with a disability to have access to or participate or advance in employment.

“However, the EEA does not expand further as to what the limitations on ‘reasonable’ are in the context of accommodation,” Salt said.

“The Code of Good Practice on Employment of Persons with Disabilities – which provides guidance to employers drawing on international legislation and best practice – provides that the employer need not accommodate a person with a disability if it would impose an unjustifiable hardship on the business of the employer.

“An unjustifiable hardship, in the circumstances, would be an action that requires significant or considerable difficulty or expense. This would involve considering, among other things, the effectiveness of the accommodation and the extent to which it would seriously disrupt the operation of the business.”

Link between animal and capacity

Salt said that in the case of an emotional service animal, there must be a link between the animal and a reduction in the impact of the impairment of the personal capacity to fulfil the essential functions of their job.

However, even if such a link exists, the request to allow the animal into the work environment may still not be reasonable, she said.

“Allowing any untrained animal into the workplace that creates a safety hazard would likely not be reasonable, regardless of its impact on the owner’s impairment.

“The employer may be required to grant the request where it relates to a well-behaved dog (but one that has not been specifically trained to perform tasks for the disabled person) which does not disrupt the workplace, if it results in a reduction of the impact of the individual’s impairment in the performance of his or her duties.

“Conversely, if the dog barks, causes unpleasant odours, is disruptive or hinders co-workers’ performance of their jobs, the employer would likely be entitled to decline the request for accommodation.”

If there is another way to accommodate the employee’s disability or the employee has other alternatives, such as medication that would be as (or more) effective, this may also render the request for accommodation unreasonable, said Salt.

Employers will have to take the request seriously

If the service animal is the only viable option, and where the possibility exists that the request may be reasonable, the employer will have to carefully consider the request – even if it is for a ‘comfort hamster’, said Salt.

“The employer may need to allow the animal in the workplace on a trial basis to monitor the impact it has on the working environment,” she said.

However, she cautioned that doing so may lead to an influx of requests for comfort animals.

“No matter how absurd the request for a comfort goldfish sounds, employers should not dismiss requests for emotional support animals out of hand,” she said.

“However, this does not mean that every request for accommodation will be genuine. Any employees just looking to bring their pets to work should be kept on a tight leash and employees looking to take the mickey out of this trend should take heed, as this will likely land them in the dog box.”

Source: Business Tech

Proptosis of the Eye – When Your Dog’s Eye Pops Out!


Eyes are beautiful, truly unique, and colorful. Unfortunately, accidents involving the eyes happen. One of the more common mishaps is proptosis of an eye. This week I’m sharing information about this unique problem to help raise awareness. I hope you find the post insightful and helpful. Happy reading!

Proptosis – What is it?

Proptosis is the term used to describe a scenario in which the eyeball moves forward beyond the borders of the eye socket and eyelids. In fact, the eyelids get stuck behind the globe, thus preventing the eyeball from returning to its normal position. The abnormally exposed eye subsequently becomes inflamed and dry, often resulting in ulcers of the cornea.

Proptosis of the eye is most commonly caused by trauma, most commonly motor vehicle accidents, animal fights, choking accidents, and aggressive scruffing. Small brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs are over-represented since they have naturally prominent eyes. There is no age or sex predilection.


Proptosis – What does it look like?

As mentioned earlier, the globe extends forward beyond the borders of the eye socket. The conjunctiva is typically reddened and swollen. Blood may be present in the anterior chamber of the eye (the area between cornea and the iris). The cornea may be discolored, and the muscles that control eye movement are often torn.


Proptosis of the left eye in a Dalmation as a result of head trauma.

Proptosis – How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis of eye proptosis is straightforward and based on the appearance of the globe protruding out of the eye socket. Given proptosis is often the result of trauma, a veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination in an attempt to identify other injuries. Blood and urine, as well as diagnostic imaging tests, may be recommended to evaluate the health of major organ systems.

Proptosis – How is it treated?

Proptosis of the eye is considered a surgical emergency. Given this condition is typically the result of a traumatic accident, patients must be appropriately stabilized prior to anesthesia, potentially necessitating a delay of surgery. The severity of the proptosis and the length of time to surgery dictates the type of surgical intervention. Those without severe injuries may be treated by a veterinarian replacing the eye in the socket. The doctor temporarily closes the eyelids via a procedure called a temporary tarsorrhaphy and prescribes ophthalmic antibiotics and multimodal pain medications. See the video below to watch this procedure.


A veterinarian will often treat severely damaged eyes (or patients for whom surgery had to be delayed due to a need for stabilization) via surgical removal of the globe (called enucleation). The eye and orbit tissues are removed, and the eyelids are permanently sewn closed. Prognosis for vision is always poor. Patients who have surgery within a couple of hours of the accident have the best chance for having their vision saved.

The take-away message about proptosis in dogs…

Proptosis of the eye is a common ophthalmic injury most often due to a traumatic accident. Although prognosis for vision is always poor, stabilization and timely surgery are the best strategies for potentially saving vision.

Wishing you wet-nosed kisses,


Critical care DVMChristopher G. Byers, DVM, DACVECC, DACVIM (SAIM), CVJ


New Zealand Now Recognizes ALL Animals As Sentient Beings!

By: Sophie McAdam

New Zealand

A laughing owl. Flickr, by merec0

New Zealand has just set a great example to the world by recognizing what animal lovers have known forever- that our furry friends are as sentient as we are, and (obviously, dur) they have feelings just like we do. It’s a theme we have covered time and again here at True Activist, but this landmark ruling by NZ is the first time this shift in perception and policy has been extended to all animals, not just chimpanzeesorangutans, or dolphins.

The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, passed last month, aims to make it easier to prosecute people in animal cruelty cases, as well as banning animal testing and research.

Animal rights activists have celebrated the decision. “To say that animals are sentient is to state explicitly that they can experience both positive and negative emotions, including pain and distress,” said Dr Virginia Williams, chair of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee. “The explicitness is what is new and marks another step along the animal welfare journey.”

New Zealand Veterinary Association president Dr Steve Merchant said the bill greater clarity, transparency and enforceability of animal welfare laws, according to the country’s regional newspaper the Nelson Mail.

“Expectations on animal welfare have been rapidly changing, and practices that were once commonplace for pets and farm stock are no longer acceptable or tolerated,” he said. “The bill brings legislation in line with our nation’s changing attitude on the status of animals in society.”

You can read the entire Bill here. Let’s hope the rest of the world follows suit!

Source: True Activist

First litter-trapping stormwater net launches in Gansbaai

First litter

Published by  

Gansbaai Harbour has long struggled with excessive pollution. However, thanks to a little inspiration from Australia and the dedicated efforts of Wildfred Chivell, founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, this area finally has a hope of fighting back against plastic pollution.

Chivell realised the need for a net system over one of the storm water drain outlets in Gansbaai, and inspired by a successful Australia project with similar aims has managed to install a much-needed system in the area.

First litter

Litter collected by the newly-installed net system.

The first net design was sponsored by Marine Dynamics Tours and project leaders Hennie Otto from Marine Dynamics and Benjamin Kondokter from the Overstrand Municipality. The net was installed on World Oceans Day on June 8.

Unfortunately, the net tore during a rainstorm due to a design flaw and incorrect oyster net used. Otto and Kondokter didn’t stop there, though, and approached Ian Wessels of Wildegans Fishery. The fishery kindly lended their expertise in stitching work and sardine purse seine net for free, so the system could be reinstalled on July 3 – which also happened to be Plastic Bag Free Day.

The net’s design aims to prevent pollutants and solid waste from being carried from local road networks into the storm water system, and eventually the marine environment.

First litter

All the litter successfully collected by the new net system.

“We noted the pollution from the storm water drain in the Gansbaai harbour, whilst on a clean-up,” said Wilfred Chivell. “The outlet leads straight to nearby rock pools and into the ocean. The kelp that traps some of the waste makes it difficult to clean and this too is ultimately washed out to sea. We have been doing cleans up for twenty years and 80% of the waste is plastic. Dyer Island Conservation Trust is the first port of call for marine animal rescues and strandings in the Gansbaai area and we have witnessed first-hand the impact on our marine wildlife.

“We hope that through this project we can minimise this impact by reducing the amount of waste entering the marine system. Unfortunately, most of the waste will probably not be suitable for recycling, but we will do this where possible. This is a worldwide problem and our dream is to roll this out in the Overstrand and in South Africa,” he added.

The net will be monitored by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust team as the project continues, and the collected litter will be assessed. There are a total of 63 storm water outlets in the Gansbaai area alone, and if successful, the project will hopefully extend to more areas and become a long-term collaboration with the Overstrand Municipality, starting with more problematic areas being dealt with.

Grant funding applications have been made by the committed teams at Marine Dynamics and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and plans are to turn the collected litter into artworks and educational displays going forward.

Cape Town has a huge number of concerning pollution hotspots that could benefit from similar project, be it Black River or Liesbeek River, and hopes are that this project is not only successful in Gansbaai but will spread across the Mother City in years to come.

You can find out more about the Dryer Island Conservation Trust and how you can support them here.

Pictures: Hennie Otto, Marine Dynamics


Outrage over zoo spending over R1.5 million to acquire new elephants


Lammie and the new elephant bull, Ramadiba, are separated by a fence as part of the soft introduction at the Johannesburg Zoo. Photo: Sarah Konin

Ban Animal Trading (Bat) and the Elephant Reintegration Trust (ERT) are outraged that the Johannesburg Zoo has spent just over R1.5 million to acquire two new elephants on 13 June.

This amount was revealed through a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request to the Johannesburg Zoo.

Director of ERT Brett Mitchell said the City’s funds have been grossly overspent through this transaction.

Bat’s Smaragda Louw described the decision as unethical. “Given the urgent issues facing the City, surely this kind of problematic and excessive expenditure is irregular and would be far better spent on service delivery.”

Bat is calling on the public to boycott the zoo. “We will not stand back and allow Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo to continue in this manner and we will do everything within our power to get all three elephants out of the hell hole called the Johannesburg Zoo.”

Mitchell said that the new elephants are probably in a worse situation than they were before, having moved from a free-contact system that during the day allowed them to roam freely within a natural environment to being in a full protection contact system with considerably more restrictions and confinement than before.

Mitchell also stated that the size of the enclosure at the zoo is unacceptable.

“The living area for the elephants is 0.55 hectares with a dangerous moat system and no enrichment. If one was to equate this to a human, it is the same as being locked up in a single-room house for the rest of your life.”

He went on to say that ERT, Humane Society International Africa and EMS Foundation had sent the zoo a proposal shortly after Kinkel’s death last year to remove Lammie from the zoo and rehabilitate her back into a secure wild system to live her remaining years with dignity as a free elephant.

“Had the zoo really had Lammie’s well-being at heart, they would have engaged and embraced the proposal which would have placed them on the right side of history,” said Mitchell.

Source: Rosebank Killarny Gazette