The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery is one of my favourite publications and the premier one for all things feline. Excellent news for colleagues in practice is that from the start of 2023 the journal will become a Gold Open Access journal. This means that all articles will be published under a Creative Commons licence and will therefore be available on line open access and free of charge immediately upon publication. JFMS will then be joining its sister title JFMS Open Reports, which is already open access.

In the latest volume of JFMS is an article that I think may interest all colleagues with an interest in feline medicine, but particularly those involved in caring for shelter cats.

Behavior and adoptability of hoarded cats admitted to an animal shelter Linda B Jacobson, Jacklyn J Ellis, Krysten J Janke and others Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery First published June 20 2022

The aim of this study, from colleagues at the Toronto Humane Society, was straightforward –to analyse the behavioural characteristics and success of adoption for previously hoarded cats. Hoarding is a well-known problem and its consequences of multiple disease potential will probably be familiar to most colleagues in small animal practice. The focus of this article was on the psychological aspects of being transferred from a hoarding situation to a shelter and then to a permanent home.

The study included 195 hoarded cats of which 174 were adopted. Statistics were collated for 164 cats at intake, 5-10 days post intake, less than a week post adoption and greater than a week. Finally adoption returns were compared between hoarded and non-hoarded cats. Of the 164 cats 52% were scored as ‘friendly’ at intake. 45 cats had sociability scores for all the time points. Of these 87% were scored  ‘super-social’ or ‘social’ at the shelter but this decreased to 47% at home after a week but then increased to 84% at home at the later time interval. Most cats that were scored as ‘tense’ at intake had super-social or social scores at home. Adopters noted ‘neediness ‘ in about half the cats, but almost 100% expressed positive feelings for the adopted cats, and relationships with other household pets were typically positive.

10% of hoarded cats were returned post adoption compared to 7.1% of non-hoarded cats. An interesting statistic is that out of box elimination in either the shelter or the home was noted in around 10% but virtually none in both.

The authors concluded that hoarded cats had high adoption rates, high adopter satisfaction and the potential for good emotional well-being in adoptive homes. Behaviour at intake and out of box elimination in the shelter may not reflect post adoption behaviour. Behaviour-based outcome decisions for these vulnerable animals should be deferred to allow them time to habituate. Many studies have shown that cats habituate to a shelter in an average of 5 days, although it remains to be seen how a hoarding background might influence this figure.

When Open Access begins colleagues will have the ability to look through back issues of JFMS. Once I have read an article I generally check what others have been published by the same author(s). JFMS allows you to do this. For example the lead author in the above article is Linda Jacobson and I was interested in a publication she was involved in from 2017.

Comparison or real-time PCR with fungal culture for the diagnosis of Microsporum canis dermatophytosis in shelter cats: a field study Linda B Jacobson, Lauren McIntyre and Jenny Mykusz Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery First published March 7 2017

Fungal culture requires at least 14 days for a final result, compared with 1-3 days for PCR. This study compared a commercial real-time dermatophyte PCR panel with fungal culture in cats in a shelter setting for (1) diagnosis of Microsporum canis infection and (2) determination of mycological cure.

132 cats with suspected dermatophytosis lesions were enrolled on the study. Each cat was sampled for fungal culture and PCR prior to treatment. 21.2% were culture positive and 78.8% were culture negative. PCR correctly identified all culture positive cats and these were sampled at weekly intervals until two negative culture results were obtained. At the first negative culture PCR tested positive for 14/17 (82.3%) cats and at the second 11/17 (64.7%)

The conclusions and relevance of the study is as follows:

  • PCR showed high sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of canis dermatophytosis compared with fungal culture
  • PCR was unreliable for identifying mycological cure with false positive results being relatively common
  • Fungal culture remains the test of choice in determining mycological cure
  • There were no false negative PCR results indicating that this is a reliable test to rapidly establish that a suspect animal is not infected

Linda Jacobson graduated from Pretoria in 1986 and subsequently completed a residency in small animal internal medicine and a PhD on canine babesiosis. She has postgraduate qualifications in shelter medicine and joined the Toronto Humane Society in 2010, where she is currently the senior manager in shelter medicine advancement. Shelter medicine appears to be booming in North America with almost limitless research material available to benefit animal welfare, as these articles demonstrate.