Saturday, 14 April 2012

“Robotic cat” illness mystifies vets

Sci­en­tists are on the hunt for a path­o­gen they say may be caus­ing a mys­tery con­di­tion af­flict­ing cats: they are start­ing to walk like robots.

Felines in Scot­land and pos­sibly north­ern Eu­rope have been af­fect­ed.

Walk­ing with an odd gait with stiff, ex­tend­ed tails, the an­i­mals – dubbed robotic cats due to their move­ments – are a vet­er­i­nary odd­ity un­seen be­fore, sci­en­tists say. Cats with a slightly dif­fer­ent but pos­sibly re­lat­ed con­di­tion have been spot­ted in Swe­den and Aus­tria, where it has been re­ferred to as “stag­ger­ing dis­ease.” 

Vet­eri­nar­i­ans have pub­lished a re­port on the phe­nom­e­non, cen­ter­ing on 21 cats seen from 2001 to 2010 at Strath­bo­gie Vet­er­i­nary Cen­tre, Huntly, and Mor­ven Vet­er­i­nary prac­tice, Al­ford, both in north­east­ern Scot­land. The re­port ap­peared Jan. 11 in the ad­vance on­line is­sue of the Jour­nal of Fe­line Med­i­cine and Sur­gery.

The cats seemed to have a slowly-pro­g­ress­ing neu­ro­lo­g­i­cal dis­ease, and to have de­vel­oped it start­ing at a late age, the re­search­ers said. The ill­ness did­n’t kill any of the fe­lines, they added, but over time ap­peared to make their lives so mis­er­a­ble that some own­ers de­cid­ed to have them put down.

Continued with video:

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