Friday, January 15, 2010

Cases of Rabies are Increasing in Arizona

Now here is some sobering news: according to an article by John Faherty that appeared in The Arizona Republic on January 2nd, 2009 was a record breaker for reported cases of rabies in animals. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 261 animals tested positive for rabies statewide. That is 85 more animals than in 2008. Keep in mind, these are just the animals that were captured and tested. There were probably more infected with the disease that were never tested.

Not only does the Arizona Department of Health Services recommend staying away from wild animals, especially those who appear sick – always good advice – they are also recommending that pets be vaccinated.

Even though rabies is rare in cats, it is a fatal disease without any treatment. It is also a zoonotic disease, meaning it is transmittable from animals to humans. Therefore, rabies in your cat exposes you, your family, and other pets to the disease. Additionally, cats are more likely to have rabies than dogs. In fact, one of the animals diagnosed last year was a cat in Maricopa County. While there is a treatment option for humans, the infection must be caught very early and treatment is very painful and extensive.

Although the rabies vaccine is not required for cats by the State of Arizona, the American Association of Feline Practitioners considers it a core vaccine. This means that all cats should be vaccinated for it. Here at the Scottsdale Cat Clinic, we always recommend vaccinating for Rabies, even for indoor only cats. It only takes a moment for either your cat to slip outside, or for the outside to slip in.

In Maricopa County, the wild animals most frequently found with rabies are bats. Bats can be anywhere outside and can even get into houses. As cats are hunters, they would likely have contact with a bat that came into their yard or house. Since the rabies virus is transmitted through saliva contact, not even a full bite is necessary for infection to occur.

Fortunately, rabies vaccines are very effective. We use the Purevax vaccine made by Merial. We chose this vaccine because is it much less likely to cause an adverse reaction. The Purevax vaccine is a modified live recombinant vaccine that uses a canarypox to stimulate the cat’s immune system to make antibodies against rabies. This differs from other rabies vaccines that use an adjuvant to stimulate the immune system leading to inflammation at the site of injection. The use of adjuvants in vaccines is believed to be the cause of fibrosarcomas that have been found at previous vaccination sites.

The Purevax vaccine is an annual vaccine, meaning it must be given to cats every year to keep their immunity against rabies strong.

To schedule an appointment for your cat to have his or her Rabies vaccine, please give us a call at 480.970.1175 or email us at

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Value of Microchipping

There is a lot of discussion about whether or not microchipping is an effective tool for reuniting lost pets with their owners. We here at the Scottsdale Cat Clinic do believe it is a very valuable tool and advocate microchipping. In fact, we include a Home Again microchip registration and one year of premium registration with our kitten packages. And of course, we have mentioned the importance in several of our blogs.

We chose Home Again as our microchip partner because they offer a number of benefits to pet owners enrolled in the premium membership including a strong support system to help if your cat gets lost, pet health insurance if your cat is injured while he or she is lost, as well as much more. More importantly, when your kitty is microchipped with Home Again, he or she is registered for life, whether or not you decide to continue the premium membership. And they allow for updating registration information, such as address or phone numbers, at any time through their website:

We recently ran across an abstract on a study conducted by the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University to research the effectiveness of microchips in returning lost animals to their owners. We found the conclusion very interesting. Basically, the study concluded that while the number of animals returned to their owners due to microchips supports its promotion and use, the registration issues continue to undermine the system. If your kitty has a microchip, please make sure to check the information the registry has on file for you is current and up-to-date.

The actual statistics of the study were quite interesting as well. The study looked at 7704 animals with microchips entering 53 different shelters over a year and half time period. 53%, of the total number of animals were classified as strays, meaning they were not surrendered to the shelters by the owners. Of those just over 4000 strays, 3425 animals were returned to their owners because they were implanted with microchips (most of those were dogs). However, for over 800 animals owners were not found and this was largely due to disconnected phone numbers, owners did not respond, or the animal was registered to another group rather than to an individual.

In addition, there were 1,943 animals that had microchips belonging to a specific registry (such as HomeAgain). However, only 1,129 (58.1%) were registered in the database. In other words, the registry acknowledged that the microchip was one of theirs but the owner of the animal had never completed the registration process to add the animal and owner information to the database.

Many rescue organizations that offer microchips do not complete the registration paperwork, instead relying on the owner to do so. This is probably what leads to the type of discrepancy seen in the study. Scottsdale Cat Clinic wants to ensure that the kitties we microchip are registered in the HomeAgain database. We also understand our clients have a lot of things on their minds and don’t need more paperwork in their lives. This is why we include the initial registration as part of our microchipping service.

If you are interested in having your cat microchipped, please give us a call at 480.970.1175 or email us at to schedule an appointment.