Warning about dangerous bird furniture

As a bird owner, it irks me whenever I shop at my favorite pet store and still see fabric huts/tents/snuggies marketed for birds. Parrot tents have been responsible for more avian injuries and deaths than any other product type sold.
Here are the three reasons why:
1 – Crop impaction
2- Entanglement
3- Hormonal issues (prolapse, chronic egg-laying, etc.)

Crop impaction is not just an issue with fuzzy types of huts. With denim, there is a less likely chance that a bird will pick and chew on them, but either way, any birds subject to these dangerous toys are ingesting microfibers that naturally shed from fabric. Whenever your bird even lightly brushes against the fabric, invisible fibers stick to its feathers, and after the unfortunate bird preens, the fibers are swallowed and collect over time in their gut— until one day, you wake up and find your bird dead at the bottom of their cage and without ever being warned as to why.

Here’s the thing. Denim is treated with chemicals to improve its durability, which means the fibers persist in the environment for a long time, We don’t know exactly what chemicals. That’s proprietary information and it’s hard to know because different chemicals are used for different processes. Researchers at the University of Toronto say they have even found denim microfibers in sediment taken from the Great Lakes!

Human-made microfibers include fibers from natural sources such as cotton and those from synthetic sources such as plastic-based nylon and polyester. One study discovered that used jeans shed about 50,000 microfibers per wash. Please, please don’t take the chance with these products like hundreds of clients have. As cute as they look, it’s not worth the damage they are doing to your birds.

Entanglement happens faster than you think. It can be difficult to see the level of destruction that takes place inside the small openings. Some people opt to continually trim the excess fray from the fabric, but they can’t control what happens when their birds are in their cage unsupervised. Dangerous fraying can occur in a single afternoon.
The stories on the internet of horrific experiences are everywhere. I know that it will be hard to take away something that your bird loves so much, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that because they have not yet begun chewing on the tent, they will not do so in the future, especially when they get “nesty” during a particularly hormone driven breeding season.
It isn’t worth the gamble. The moral of this article is: Don’t buy or use happy huts. There are alternatives: Pvc tubes, seagrass houses or tunnels made from mats, and hanging coconut toys. These all have a bottom, however, which can cause hormonal behavior, so I’d encourage you to DIY or buy the bottomless “SafeCorner” by ‘Furnibirb’ instead.
We need to provide our pet birds with attention, enrichment with toys, a large enough cage that allows for exercising their wings, and a safe area to retreat.

Understanding Chronic pain in Cats

Chronic pain in cats often goes undetected. Acute pain is easier to detect since it is a drastic change whereas chronic pain happens gradually and the cat and the owners both adapt to those changes. Sadly, there are many misconceptions about how cats express pain and the direct influence that pain has on their behavior. Cats live in the moment, hence, when they experience pain they also develop anxiety and behavioral disorders due to their expectation of living in that state of pain in a continuum. Therefore it is up to us and their loving owners to find out if they are in pain and address it.
One of the common cat health issues we see in practice involves behavioral changes, inappropriate elimination, inter-cat aggression, over-grooming, insomnia, lethargy, decrease appetite, and changes in routine. After a thorough physical exam and performing diagnostic tests like bloodwork and X-rays, we can rule out many conditions and rule in pain as the root of the behavioral issues. All declawed cats eventually develop chronic arthritis and joint pain from the abnormal gait created by the amputation of the third phalanx aka their fingertips. Luckily, declawing is becoming a thing of the past, and many cat advocacy organizations like the American Association of Feline Practitioners are taking a stand against it due to increasing evidence and research on the chronic pain it causes. Other signs of chronic pain include reluctance to jump, and increase hiding. Although osteoarthritis is the most commonly recognized cause of pain, other conditions like bad teeth, interstitial cystitis, ulcers, dermatitis, diabetic neuropathy, pancreatitis, cancer, and IBD can create chronic pain.
Treating Chronic pain and arthritis in cats has always been a challenge due to their sensitivity to medications like NSAIDs. The most popular prescription for pain is gabapentin because a lot of oral, and osteoarthritis pain have a root in neuropathic pain signals. New advances in pharmacology have resulted in better products like Zorbium topical pain control that lasts 4 days. The only FDA-approved NSAID for use in cats is called Onsior and it is a very effective oral pill given for three consecutive days. Another new product that we are super excited to carry is the FDA -approved frunevetmab injection called Solensia, the first monoclonal antibody (mAb) new animal drug approved by the agency for use in any animal species. This is a once-a-month injection given at your veterinarian’s office that will work with your cat’s immune system to reduce the pain signals and it is paving the way into a future with safer pain control for our kitties. Solensia will work after the first injection but most studies revealed the optimal control comes after 3 months. All chronic pain can benefit from this treatment even though it is marketed for cat osteoarthritis.
Of course in our practice, we use the integrative approach which includes acupuncture, laser, and herbal therapy in addition to other pain control medications as needed. Chronic pain management requires a multi-modal approach for a successful outcome.