SSP/TAG: Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) DATE: 1Aug06
VETERINARY ADVISOR CONTACT INFORMATION:
Name: Nadine Lamberski, DVM, DACZM
Address: San Diego Wild Animal Park, 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, CA 92027-7017
Phone: (day) 760-291-5406 (evening) 760-522-3066 (FAX) 760-747-3168
PATHOLOGY ADVISOR CONTACT INFORMATION:
Name: Karen Terio, DVM, PhD, DACVP
Address: University of Illinois, Zoological Pathology Program, LUMC Bldg 101, Rm 0745, 2160 S First St, Maywood, IL 60153
Phone: (day) 708-216-6183 (FAX) 708-216-5934
MORBIDITY (Significant illnesses/issues facing this species in 2006):
- Renal disease/failure secondary to amyloidosis
MORTALITY (Causes of death in 2006):
Cause of Death SB # Sex Age
- Subacute myocardial necrosis and suppurative myocarditis; moderate subacute gastritis with intralesional bacilli (SB# 137, male, DOB 15May97, DOD 28Jan06)
Current total AZA Institutions: 12
Current total male population: 15
Current total female population: 14
Number of pairs recommended for breeding: 9 (including 3 by AI)
Number of pairs bred: One pair in 2006, 2 pairs bred in 2005
Number of births: 3
MALES: mother-reared: 2 hand-reared: 0
FEMALES: mother-reared: 1 hand-reared: 0
- Medetomidine (30 mcg/kg) plus ketamine (3 mg/kg) with or without butorphanol (0.3 mg/kg). Antagonize with atipamezole and naltrexone. Significantly higher doses are necessary for free-living cats.
- FRCP (Fel-O-Vaxä), Fort Dodge, all killed product) at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. Cats should be revaccinated at one year and then every 2-3 years at the time of the routine exam or based on antibody titer. Kittens that are not mother-reared should receive vaccinations starting at 6 weeks of age.
- Rabies (Imrabä killed product or Purevaxä nonadjuvanted, recombinant product, Merial) at 16 weeks, one year and then every 2-3 years at the time of the routine exam or based on antibody titer.
ACTIVE RESEARCH PROJECTS:
- Health assessment of free-ranging black-footed cats (Felis nigripes) and prevalence of selected infectious diseases in sympatric species as part of a larger conservation strategy to determine the ecology, reproductive biology, genetics, and health of the black-footed cat in the Northern Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa. See project description under Information from the Field below.
- Antemortem diagnostic tests for amyloidosis are being investigated by Dr. Alex Sliwa, Dr. Arne Lawrenz, and Dr. Philip Zimmermann from the Wuppertal Zoo. Please save serum on any anesthetized black-footed cats for future studies.
- Dr. Karen Terio requests adipose biopsies from black-footed cats for ante-mortem diagnosis of amyloidosis (adipose biopsy protocol attached).
- Genetic analysis of the captive and free-living populations (blood and tissue biopsy protocols attached).
- Cats are typically fed a commercial meat diet plus whole prey items. Prey items should be as varied as possible; however, the feeding of chicken is not recommended (due to possible exposure to avian influenza and Salmonella spp.).
NEW HEALTH CARE RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Routine health exams are recommended every 2 years or more frequently based on the medial history of the individual cat or collection.
- Routine health exam should include physical examination, microchip identification (placement or verification), body weight determination, dental exam and prophylaxis, survey radiographs (whole body), blood collection for complete blood count (CBC), serum chemistry panel, serum bank, routine serology (FIV, FeLV, FeCV, canine distemper, toxoplasmosis), vaccine serology (feline parvovirus, feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus, rabies), heartworm antigen testing in endemic areas, urine collection for urinalysis, culture if indicated, and urine protein:creatinine ratio, fecal collection for parasite screen, research samples as noted below, and vaccinations as noted above.
- Adipose biopsy at time of the routine exam (see research protocol above).
- Whole blood collection and tissue biopsy samples for genetic studies at the time of the routine exam (see research protocols above, supplies should be obtained in advance).
- Heartworm and flea prevention recommended for endemic areas.
NEW SSP/TAG PROTOCOLS:
- Additional information can be found at www.aazv.org, www.aza.org, and www.felidtag.org.
- Necropsy protocol (see attached document)
- Gamete rescue (see attached protocol)
- Whole blood and tissue biopsy for genetic studies (see attached protocols)
- Adipose tissue biopsy (see attached protocol)
INFORMATION FROM THE FIELD:
Health assessment of free-ranging black-footed cats (Felis nigripes) and prevalence of selected infectious diseases in sympatric species is part of a larger conservation strategy to determine the ecology, reproductive biology, genetics, and health of the black-footed cat in the Northern Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa. A pilot study was initiated in 2004, the first field season was in 2005, and the second field season is planned for November 2006.
This project is endorsed by ZSSDs Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (#223), AZAs Felid TAG, the Black-footed Cat SSP, and the Black-footed Cat EEP. The project has also been submitted to the South African National Park Service (SAN Parks) for endorsement. This is a collaborative effort by Dr. Alex Sliwa (General Curator, Wuppertal Zoo, Wuppertal, Germany), Dr. Jason Herrick (Gamete Biologist, Cincinnati Zoo/CREW), Dr. Corne Anderson (ecologist, McGregor Museum, Kimberly, Northern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa), Beryl Wilson (technician, McGregor Museum, Kimberly, Northern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa), Dr. Oliver Ryder (Geneticist, ZSSD/CRES), and Dr. Nadine Lamberski (Senior Veterinarian, San Diego Wild Animal Park). Funding has been provided by the Cincinnati Zoo, the Zoological Society of San Diego, and by the individual researchers.
The black-footed cat, or small spotted cat, is a small (~2 kg), endangered felid with a limited range in Southern Africa. This species is included on Appendix 1 of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and is ranked as the most vulnerable of the Sub-Saharan cat species by the Cat Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Despite its current conservation status, the black-footed cat has received very little attention by the conservation community. In fact, studies of their basic ecology by Dr. Sliwa represent the only detailed information available for this species in the wild. Critical information such as the species current distribution and the existence of distinct sub-species is still unknown. Information from captive animals is similarly limited. Captive management is hampered by poor reproductive success (currently just 2 breeding pairs) and high rates of mortality among young (4-7 yrs) adults of breeding age. A review of necropsy reports from US institutions indicates that 75% of all deaths in captive animals are due to kidney failure, with amyloidodis as the most common cause (Lamberski, unpublished data). It is still unclear whether the incidence of amyloidosis in captivity reflects the genetic predisposition of the species or an adverse effect of the captive environment. As natural habitat disappears, populations of black-footed cats may become genetically isolated, which is known to impact the reproductive success of various species. In addition, wild carnivores are coming into contact with an increasing number of domestic dogs and cats carrying a variety of diseases. Black-footed cats share their territory and infectious disease susceptibility with many small carnivores, including genets, caracals, African wildcats, yellow mongoose, slender mongoose, suricates, Cape fox, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackals, and striped polecats, providing numerous opportunities for disease transmission. If wild populations of black-footed cats are facing similar disease and reproductive challenges, the conservation status of this species may be more critical than currently believed.
The overall goals of this study are to:
- Better characterize the current distribution of the black-footed cat, especially in the western regions of South Africa.
- Determine current genetic diversity among various populations to determine the extent of isolation and the possibility of sub-speciation.
- Obtain biological samples (hair samples, skin biopsies, and whole blood) that will provide a long term renewable resource of genetic material including DNA samples for studies into the conservation genetics of this species.
- Identify infectious diseases could threaten wild populations of small carnivores in Southern Africa.
- Investigate reproductive status of wild male cats, as the effects of reduced genetic diversity are most easily seen in ejaculate quality.
- Establish baseline health and reproductive data that can be used to evaluate the current captive populations. The health of free-living black-footed cats (Felis nigripes) will be assessed by physical examination and collection of baseline data (body weight, complete blood count, serum chemistry panel, urinalysis, pharyngeal swabs, viral serology, fat biopsies for amyloid detection, and screening for ecto- and endoparasites).
- Increase the viability of captive populations without removing animals from their native ranges by using cryopreserved spermatozoa from wild males for in vitro fertilization procedures involving captive females.
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