Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"No Hormones for Me, Please!"

It's a fact of life; we're getting older and many of us are entering that...special time of life. You know the one -- it involves lots of hot flashes, extra body hair, midriff bulge, and mood swings (and those are just the easy parts!).

To cope, many of us have turned to bio-identical hormones, often applied topically in a cream, spray, or patch form. They can reverse menopausal symptoms of aging and make you feel like a kid again! But could they also be harming your cat? Research says...maybe so.

According to a New York Times article last year, veterinarians are increasingly seeing spayed pets showing up with symptoms of being in heat -- behavioral changes, swollen genitalia and a bloody discharge. Yes, even animals with no more ovaries! Some vets have gone as far as doing a second surgery to make sure nothing was missed in the first spay. Male cats are not immune, either: they're showing up with swollen breasts (do they make a kitty "bro"?) and loss of hair.

What's going on? All indications are that repeated exposure to hormones intended for human absorption is causing them to be absorbed by pets. And it's not just women's hormones, either: more and more men are turning to testosterone supplements applied topically. If unchecked, repeated exposure to these human hormones can lead to liver disease, hair loss, and even cancer in our beloved fur babies! Children and spouses have also shown symptoms of the hormones' effects.

But don't worry; you don't have to return to the hormone-less world of night sweats to protect Fluffy. To minimize the danger to your cat, just follow these tips for safe topical hormone use:
  • Minimize Exposure: If you're using the spray product, make sure kitty's not in the room when you put it on. Don't leave your jar or tube of cream open or where your cat can get to it. What looks like a fun toy to the cat can be a dangerous one.
  • Be Diligent: Avoid holding your cat or letting him lick you just after you've applied your hormone product. Always wash your hands thoroughly after applying, and before touching your cat or any food products (yours or the cat's). Lowering kitty's exposure to the product lessens the likelihood of absorption.
  • Use a Barrier: Cover the area where you applied the product for at least 2 hours after applying. This will give your own body time to absorb most of it.
  • Change Locations: Apply the hormone product to an area of your body with which your cat is less likely to come into contact.
  • Change Media: Examine alternative delivery methods. A patch or lozenge may provide the same relief you were getting with a cream or spray, but have less likelihood of dosing your cat.
The thought that the same hormones making you sane again may be harming your precious cats is an awful one. But rest assured that with a few precautions, you can both continue to be healthy and happy!

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