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Because we receive more questions then we have space to include here, replies are
published at our discretion. This column is intended for informative purposes only.
In the case of a serious health problem, please consult your own veterinarian.
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Old Age or ?
Sporadic Cough & Congested Chest
Introducing a New Kitten to an Older Cat
Being in Season
Question: Why does my cat knead my lap with its front paws? Ellen
Answer: Kneading is a throwback behavior to what kittens do when they nurse. When a kitten suckles, it will knead its mother's stomach with its paws to stimulate the milk flow. This "milk-kneading" is done slowly and is often accompanied with lots of loud purring. When your cat "kneads" on you, it is indicating it is having the happy, satisfied emotions it felt at it' mother side when it was nursing. Sometimes kittens will salivate a little in anticipation of their meal. Adult cats will sometimes drool while they knead us too :-).
Question: Hello, I was wondering if it is safe to use bactroban on my cat who has some cuts bruises from a fall. The vet gave him some pain meds but nothing for the cuts. Would it be safe to put a human ointment on his cuts to help them heal faster? Josh
Answer: The product should be safe but there is no positive findings (in humans) that applying topical ointments helps cuts and scrapes heal faster, if they are not infected. Some researchers found that the ointment caused more problems by collecting more dirt than if the scrapes were allowed to be dry and open. Because cats will often simply like off any topical ointment, many vets prefer not to try to sooth a cut with an ointment regardless.
Topic: Old Age or ?
Question: I have a 13 year old silver white chinchilla, blue eyed Persian. His immune system has been bad for the past couple of years, and he is deteriorating rapidly. Loss of appetite, dramatic weight loss, hair loss, runny nose, constant sneezy, you name it he's got it. I don't think he has long to go now, which I'm extremely upset about. Anyway, my question is, is it common for the immune system to shutdown in Persian cats? Or is it just because of age. Michelle
Answer: Has he ever been tested for FeLV or FIV? Certainly his age could be a factor, but I'd would want to have some viral and chemistry tests on this cat before just chalking his problem up to his advancing years.
Question: I found my kitten as a 3 week old stray. When she is ready to go to sleep she sucks on whatever is handy, my finger, a blanket, a pillow. I have tried to get her to stop with no luck. Help! Sarah Elizabeth
Answer: The poor baby. She is missing the comforting feeling of nursing at her mother's breast. If you cannot stop her from sucking on whatever is handy, why not redirect her need onto one object - perhaps a small stuffed toy. Let her nurse on that and only that until she is 6-8 weeks old then gradually wean her from it as she starts eating solid food. This is what a mother cat would do. You are an angel for rescuing this abandoned kitten.
Topic: Sporadic Cough & Congested Chest
Question: My 4 1/2 year old cat acts fine except for occasional days where she sounds congested. When I listen to her chest it sounds wet. She coughs and it sounds the same way but louder. I pat her on the back not knowing if it helps but she'll give a final big cough as though to cough up something, but nothing comes up. I have brought her to the vet and by the time we got there he hears nothing. It happens every once and a while. When it happens she seems in distress. Any ideas? Thanks, Mel
Answer: This sounds like it might be feline asthma. To confirm a diagnosis you need to have x-rays performed plus a transtracheal wash with cytology and culture of the wash fluid. Treatment for asthma in cats includes oral steroids (prednisone) and possibly a bronchodilator like aminophylline. Make sure there aren't any smokers in the house because this will make the condition much worse.
Topic: Peeing Inappropriately
Question: I have four cats... two young ones, six months old. One has ever used the sink to urinate in. This week three of them began using the sink and peeing off the side of liter box. George
Answer: How many litter boxes do your cats have? The rule is one more litter box than the number of cats - so you need 5. Your 6 months old are just getting into "adult" age - so that may be what has tipped the scales. I am assuming they have been neutered or spayed, since hormones may also make cats not want to use each others litter box.
In the meantime, leave 2 inches of water in the bottom of all the sinks/tub. They won't use them if they get wet each time they jump in.
Topic: Introducing a New Kitten to an Older Cat
Question: I have a 12 year old female cat who is very loving and gentle. I'd like to purchase a kitten and I think she'll be okay with it but I'm wondering is it better to have one female, one male or both female? Sharon
Answer: Because pet kittens will be neutered or spayed, thus eliminating secondary sex characteristics, there really is no difference between choosing a male or female kitten to join your household. Just pick the personality you like best and that you think will fit in with your resident cat :-).
Topic: Being in Season
Question: My Siamese cat is 8 months old and has just gone into heat for the first time. We plan to mate her when she is about 1-1/2 years old, per suggestion from our Vet. My question is, how long will her heat last and how often will she be going through this? We feel sorry for her, she is not herself, very despondent, sleeps alot, not to mention her yowling, which is unbelievable. Thanks for your help. Electra
Answer: Every cat is an individual regarding how often she will come into season and how long the seasons last. Do you know what the season pattern of her mother was? Daughters often seem to be seasons similar to their mom's heat patterns. It also depends upon the time of year. Some females will go in and out of season constantly. Constant heat periods without being bred can lead to uterine infections and pyometra. You need to consult with a Siamese breeder on how best to proceed (regardless of your vet's advice).
Question: My 8 year old Himalayan cat has been scratching the fur around his neck leaving bald spots. He doesn't have any sores on his skin...yet. Can I put anything on it to relieve the itching? I am trying to determine if it is allergy related. What else can it be? I brought him to the vet and she found no evidence of fleas or mites. Are there other tests the vet should give him to determine what it may be? How long will it take for his hair to grow back? Lorraine
Answer: Your vet can perform allergy tests, but first you may also want to read more about mites in the article, Mite Fight. It is not easy to see mites on you cat even by a vet looking through skin scrapings under a microscope... so the diagnosis of mites is often missed and so a vet assumes it must be an allergy. In fact, the misdiagnosis of an allergy is so common, that many veterinary schools with dermatology specialists will not accept a pet for allergy testing until a trial treatment for fur mites has been tried first.
Question: I have two exotic kittens now 29 days old. They were both born with normal coat but both kittens have lost nearly all their hair. Their skin is very wrinkly as though they have too much flesh. I took them to the vet everything seems to be well with weight, growth rate, temperature normal. Please can you help. Irene
Answer: You kittens may have had an unnoticed high fever that has caused them to lose their hair. As breeders, we see this from time to time. There is no explanation. However, the good news is don't panic, the hair will all grow back normally. Don't worry too much about the wrinkles in the skin, either. If we removed the hair from most kittens they would have a wrinkled look. It is perfectly normal :-).