In mid-February, 31 of CCF’s resident cheetahs, underwent her annual workups. Our veterinarian, Dr. Arthur Bagot-Smith, has retired so we called on the services of a veterinarian from the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., Dr. Carlos Sanchez. Each cheetah underwent an endoscopy as part of our ongoing study on gastritis in captive cheetahs
Most all our cheetahs came through with no signs of irritation on their stomach lining. All cats were given their annual vaccines against rabies and other feline diseases; Frontline was applied to keep her free of ticks and fleas.
During this workup, 15 of our cheetahs, from different age groups were chosen, to be a part of a study by Dr. Sanchez to try and assess a reliable method of diagnosing renal failure in captive cheetahs at an early stage, when measures such as further diagnostics, more intensive screening programs, and changes in management or even treatment can be implemented. These measures may be able to slow down progressive renal damage and preserve adequate renal function. Renal failure is considered the leading cause of death in captive cheetahs; in a study of 29 zoos in the USA, renal disease was found in 82% of cats; in South Africa, the prevalence rate is 80%.
By injecting a metabolite, insulin, which goes in and out of the body unchanged by the kidneys, and drawing blood before the injection and at intervals after the injection, Dr. Sanchez can determine the level of glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which will help in the diagnosis of renal failure. This part of the study done at CCF will help establish the baseline parameters of GFR of insulin.
These cheetahs were under anesthesia for three hours, with blood being drawn at 15, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 and 180 minutes after the injection of insulin. All our cats recovered beautifully and are back running semi-wild in their enclosures.