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MSU featured on Animal Planet show
By Cheree Franco
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine will be featured in an episode of a new Animal Planet series set to air Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. CST.
By the time the film crew visited CVM last June, they had been on the road a month, traveling the country in search of unique felines and the people who adore them. The four-person crew came to CVM to learn more about domestic cats and how they differ from their wild counterparts for an episode of a new show titled Must Love Cats.
In March of 2010, a representative from Animal Planet contacted Dr. Kari Lunsford, assistant professor of internal medicine, requesting her help to develop a segment for one of the episodes. Lunsford, who has two cats herself, had been working with colleagues on a form of insulin that could be administered to diabetic felines once a week, instead of the current twice-a-day product. She knew she wouldn’t have concrete conclusions by the shooting date.
“But I didn’t want them to get away,” Lunsford said. “I thought it was a great opportunity for MSU, so I started putting together ideas.”
Lunsford worked with production assistant Heather Scudellari for three months before they settled on a theme. The episode would compare the physiological and behavioral traits of domestic cats and big cats, with Lunsford acting as a liaison between the crew and one of CVM’s clients, Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary in Caledonia.
The show’s host, John Fulton, said he and the crew visited MSU and Cedarhill to find out when and how cats became domesticated.
Dr. Diana Eubanks is an associate professor with an interest in dentistry. She was apprehensive about being filmed but wanted to highlight the importance of veterinary dentistry.
“Many pets can live up to two years longer with good dental care,” she said. “People don’t realize that dental disease is systemic. A bad infection can get in the bloodstream, causing kidney or heart problems. And there’s a pain component. Dogs and cats feel as horrible as we do when they have a toothache.”
For the show, Eubanks handled a domestic cat skull and explained the functions of different teeth.
The crew also filmed third-year CVM students Kim Pluta and Jessica Walker performing a routine teeth cleaning on a cat named Lucy.
Lucy recovered so quickly that the show’s producer decided to film her in a later segment featuring an interview with resident Sarah Lefebvre about feline behavior.