In the News: Aloe Vera and Cats

I found this Q&A online today. Dr. Fox, the animal doctor from the Washington Post, was answering some questions from pet owners. It started off with a question about natural flea control. Another reader was very upset because she had found out that one of her two new cats had a terminal disease called Feline infectious peritonitis, FIP. FIP is a fatal incurable disease that invades and grows in white blood cells causing the immune system to respond with intense inflammation in the containing tissues. It seems that it is very common in places where large groups of cats are kept together (animal shelters). Most common transmission is through the inhalation or ingestion of the virus through feces. The owner wanted to know if there was anything she could do for the cat since she has proven to be sensitive to any medicine.

The doctor responded telling her, “As long as an animal is not suffering and has some quality of life, has a good appetite and enjoys being petted and gentle play, then never give up.” Dr. Fox went on to suggest a raw-food diet and a couple of supplements including (shocker shocker) human grade aloe vera liquid!

I don’t actually find it that shocking that a sick cat would respond to aloe vera liquid in a good way. True, Animal Poison Control and a couple of different sites out list the aloe plant as toxic to felines. They are referring to chewing or gnawing on the plant. However, holistic veterinarian practitioners have found that there are benefits from the juice extracted. There are also studies that have been done using acemannan obtained from Aloe vera to treat the feline leukemia virus.

Acemannan is a compound that is extracted from aloe and is known to have immunostimulant, antiviral, antineoplastic, and gastrointestinal properties.

Feline leukemia is a viral disease that kills all affected cats, 40% die within 4 weeks, and 70% within 8 weeks. In the study I looked at from back in 1991, injections of acemannan were given to cats infected with the virus. After 6 weeks the survival rate and the quality of life of the infected cats were improved. After 12 weeks, 71% of the cats used in this experiment were still alive and in good health! That’s a lot more than 4 weeks. I hear the owners of those cats were very grateful.

Aloe is also being used for the treatment and clinical management of fibrosarcoma in cats and dogs. It has prolonged the survival of the animals.

Well, it seems like aloe’s natural healing properties are not just for humans alone, at least in some forms. Remember, always consult with your veterinarian before you give your cat any supplement!

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