Human and animal research often overlap. So it’s not surprising that veterinary virologists at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary medicine are coming close to a coronavirus cure for humans. In other veterinary news, a new study looks at the behavior of cats on weight-loss diets. And the start-up pet insurance company, Pumpkin, covers cats of all colors, but it might have a soft spot for the big orange guys.
Vets Are Working On A Coronavirus Cure For Humans
Veterinary virologists at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary medicine believe they’re close to a coronavirus cure for humans. Using grants from the National Institutes of health, researchers Kyeong-Ok “KC” Chang, DVM, MS, Ph.D., and Yunjeong Kim, DVM, Ph.D., ACVM were looking for a cure for MERS and SARS-CoV-2.
They found that the compound GC376 prevents 3CLpro from replicating. Both 3CLpro and PLpro are essential for viral replication, making them attractive targets for developing drugs that could cure coronavirus.
GC376 is a cure for FIP in cats. Although it’s not available yet in the US, you can order it from distributors in Asia. RGS-5734, the compound used in Remdesivir, which can be a cure for COVID-19, is very similar to GC376.
That GC376 could be a cure for coronavirus came as no surprise to researcher and veterinarian Niels Pedersen. He’s the one who found that the compound cures FIP and, in March, wondered if it could also cure COVID-19
Cats On A Diet Get Grouchy
If you’ve ever lived with a cat on a weight-loss diet, you probably don’t need a research study to tell you this. Cats who think they don’t have enough to eat get grouchy. Very grouchy.
Researchers at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, VA divided 69 cats into two groups. The groups were balanced for gender, age, and body condition and all ate the same diet on the same schedule from electronic feeders.
They got wet food in the morning and dry food in the afternoon/evening. But the cats in the test group were on a moderately calorie-restricted diet and got no more food when they’d eaten their daily allotment of calories.
When the nine-month study ended, the researchers reported that the cats who free-fed ate about 30 percent of their calories in the morning serving of wet food and 70 percent of their calories in dry food over the remainder of the day.
But the cats on the restricted diet gulped down 70 percent of their calories in the first meal, leaving only 30 percent for the rest of the day. During the pre-mealtime period, they were grouchy and short-tempered and tended to fight more. When the study and restrictions ended, they quickly returned to their normal way of eating: 30 percent of their calories at their first meal and the other 70 percent over the rest of the day. And they got a lot easier to get along with.
“Restricting cats’ calories changes their feeding behavior significantly,” veterinarian Michael Nappier of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine told DVM360.com.
“They tend to eat larger meals faster, consuming their allotted calories more quickly. This is compared with the normal feline behavior of multiple small meals throughout the day.“
He suggests using puzzle feeders or serving several small meals a day to slim down a fat cat. We’d also suggest transitioning the cat to an all-wet-food diet. If you’re not going to be home, you can put those extra meals in a timed feeder.
Pumpkin Pet Insurance Sprouts Long Vines
In case you’re wondering, the name Pumpkin Pet Insurance has nothing to do with a beloved orange cat or dog. Pumpkin is one of the most popular nicknames for cats and dogs, CEO Alexandre Douzet told Today’s Veterinary Business. “We picked Pumpkin for the main reason that people are not just pet owners, they are pet parents. We want to tap into the emotional bond between a pet and the parents.”
Despite the cute name, Pumpkin Pet Insurance is big business. The veterinary pharmaceutical giant Zoetis launched it in just a few locations last spring. As of this month, it’s available in all 50 states.
Pumpkin says it offers a “holistic” accident and insurance plan that covers cats and dogs of all ages. What it doesn’t cover though is preexisting conditions, so if your cat already has diabetes or heart disease you’re on your own.
In July, Business Insider called it the best comprehensive pet insurance on the market.
Depending on the plan you choose, annual deductibles are $100, $250 or $500. The reimbursement rate is 90 percent, and the annual coverage limit for cats is $7,000. Unfortunately, that won’t go far if your cat has to spend several days in the ER.
Aside from preexisting conditions, Pumpkin offers coverage for just about everything you might need, including hereditary conditions, gum and dental disease, behavior issues and prescription food in some cases. If your cat would benefit from acupuncture, Pumpkin will pay for it.
Of course, all the basics — coverage for accidents, illnesses, hospitalization, testing and surgery — are there, too.
For an additional fee, a separate Preventive Essentials Pack includes one annual wellness exam, one vaccination and a year’s supply of Zoetis’s parasite treatment. That’s sent directly from Zoetis, so you don’t have to go to the store or the vet’s office to pick it up.
You’re probably familiar with some of Zoetis’s products. They include Revolution, the injectable antibiotic Convenia, Cerenia and more.