Dr Mike Cathcart

Director of Clinical Education


University roles and responsibilities

  • Chair of the assessment working group
  • Equine species lead in veterinary clinical practice
  • Section lead within Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies

    Affiliations and memberships

    British Equine Veterinary Association
    European College of Equine Internal Medicine
    Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons


    Research interests

    My teaching

    Courses I teach on

    My publications


    M Cathcart, PR Murcia (2012)Hide and seek: Diagnosing equine viral diseases using molecular biology techniques, In: Equine Veterinary Journal44(4)pp. 379-381 Wiley

    The horse, and the complexly diverse and international equine industry of which it is the foundation, are under constant threat from a variety of viral diseases (Table 1), which not only has a significant impact on animal welfare throughout the world, but also maintains a persistent economic burden on the industry. In the 21st century, where international transportation of horses for competition, sale and breeding is commonplace, and in a rapidly changing environment that is breaking down barriers for the geographical confinement of infectious agents, the role of the equine veterinary practitioner in the control of viral disease is also changing. The identification and diagnosis of any infectious disease must not only serve as the basis for appropriate therapeutic intervention at the individual or group level, but must also be considered an imperative step for appropriate disease control, quarantine and prevention, and for national disease surveillance. In order to achieve these measures, however, practitioners must have at their disposal readily accessible, reliable and affordable diagnostic tests that can provide results within a time frame that is both compliant with the demands of daily practice and allows prompt and appropriate intervention.

    M Cathcart, H Thompson, DGM Sutton (2013)Spontaneous oesophageal perforation secondary to idiopathic muscular hypertrophy of the oesophagus, In: Equine Veterinary Education25(6)pp. 282-286

    Idiopathic muscular hypertrophy of the oesophagus (IMHO) is reported in equids as an incidental post mortem finding, infrequently associated with clinical signs of oesophageal dysfunction or additional oesophageal abnormalities. Clinicopathological and post mortem findings are presented from a 15-year-old gelding that developed a spontaneous perforation of the distal, intrathoracic oesophagus, in association with IMHO. The majority of oesophageal perforations documented in the equine literature have been related to external or iatrogenic trauma resulting in rupture of the cervical portion of the oesophagus. In this case, the early presenting features included pyrexia and inappetance, and progressed over a 4 day period to include signs of tachypnoea, tachycardia and endotoxaemia due to the development of a fatal septic pleuritis and pleural effusion. Oesophageal obstruction was not a presenting feature. Diagnostic investigation in cases of unexplained septic pleural effusion should include oesophageal endoscopic evaluation to rule out perforation of the intrathoracic oesophagus. IMHO may represent a clinically significant, primary disease entity with the potential to lead to oesophageal perforation.

    The analysis of biomarkers in exhaled breath (EB) and exhaled breath condensate (EBC) may allow non-invasive and repeatable assessment of respiratory health and disease in mammals. Compared to human medicine, however, research data from EB and EBC analysis in veterinary medicine are limited and more patient variables influencing concentrations of EB/EBC analytes may be present. In addition, variations in methodologies between studies may influence results. A comparison of the approaches used in veterinary research by different groups may aid in the identification of potentially reliable and repeatable biomarkers suitable for further investigation. To date, changes in acid–base status and increased concentrations of inflammatory mediators have been the main findings in studies of pulmonary disease states in animals. Whilst these biomarkers are unlikely to represent specific and sensitive diagnostic parameters, they do have potential application in monitoring disease progression and treatment response.

    Analyses of exhaled breath (EB) and exhaled breath condensate (EBC) are non-invasive modalities for assessing the lower airways but these methods have not been applied to Thoroughbred racehorses in training. The aims of this study were to determine whether EB and EBC could be obtained from Thoroughbred racehorses in the field and to investigate the effects of exercise per se and during different ambient temperatures and humidity on exhaled concentrations of nitric oxide (eNO), carbon monoxide (eCO) and EBC pH. EB and EBC samples were obtained from 28 Thoroughbred racehorses pre- and post-exercise during warm (n = 23) and/or cold (n = 19) ambient temperatures. eNO was detected in 19/84 EB samples. eCO was measured in 39/42 EB samples pre-exercise (median 1.3 ppm) and concentrations decreased significantly post-exercise (median 0.8 ppm, P < 0.005) and were associated with ambient temperature. EBC pH was 4.51 ± 0.23 pre-exercise and increased significantly post-exercise (4.79 ± 0.59, P = 0.003). The study documented the collection of EB and EBC from Thoroughbred racehorses in a field setting. Alterations in concentrations of volatile gases and EBC pH occurred in response to exercise, and were likely to have been influenced by environmental factors.

    M Cathcart (2012)Effects of Metformin on insulin sensitivity assessed using a combined glucose insulin test in 11 horses with equine metabolic syndrome, In: Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, vol.26, issue 2: Abstracts of the 5th Congress of the European College of Equine Internal Medicine26(2)pp. 428-429

    Purpose of the study: Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is a common condition in horses that is associated with insulin resistance (IR) and high morbidity and mortality in affected cases that develop laminitis. Metformin is used in humans with IR and may be of clinical benefit in horses with EMS. The aim of this study was to determine whether the administration of metformin, in conjunction with dietary restriction in horses with EMS, results in increased insulin sensitivity (IS).

    M Cathcart, S Love, DGM Sutton, TDH Parkin, KJ Hughes (2012)The application of exhaled breath analysis in racing Thoroughbreds and influence of high intensity exercise on concentrations of nitric oxide and carbon monoxide and pH in exhaled breath, In: Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, vol.26, issue 2: Abstracts of the 5th Congress of the European College of Equine Internal Medicine26(2)pp. 437-437

    Purpose of the study: The analyses of exhaled breath (EB) and exhaled breath condensate (EBC) have been established as methods for the diagnosis and monitoring of lung inflammatory diseases in human medicine. The application of non-invasive diagnostic techniques in the investigation of lower airway inflammation in horses holds much appeal. The aims of this study were to (i) investigate whether both EB and EBC could be obtained from Thoroughbred racehorses in the field setting, and (ii) investigate the effects of exercise per se on the concentrations of exhaled nitric oxide (NO) and carbon monoxide (CO) and EBC pH.

    AG Whittaker, S Love, TDH Parkin, M Duz, M Cathcart, KJ Hughes (2012)Assessment of the impact of collection temperature and sampler design on the measurement of exhaled breath condensate pH in healthy horses, In: The Veterinary Journal191(2)pp. 208-212 Elsevier

    The pH measurement of exhaled breath condensate (EBC) may provide a non-invasive method of assessing the lower airways of horses but the methodology used may influence findings. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of two sampling devices and three methods of condensation surface cooling (ethanol slush, −100 °C; dry ice, −75 °C; water ice, 0 °C) on EBC pH. Each method was tested 30 times using six healthy ponies. Sample pH was determined before and after de-aeration with argon for 10 min. Sampler design was found to significantly affect pH. Samples collected as a liquid had a significantly higher pH than samples frozen during collection (P < 0.05). De-aeration resulted in significantly higher pH (P < 0.05) with less variation. This study has shown that device design and condensation surface temperature will influence EBC pH, which will prevent a direct comparison of results when different methodologies are used.