Ask The Expert (4)

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In the case of a serious health problem, please consult your own veterinarian.

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Topics include:

  • Shaving a Pregnant Mom?
  • Three Week Old Kitten Behaving Oddly
  • What Color Is My Cat?
  • Herpes
  • Shaving Before Having An HCM ultrasound?
  • Writer Needs Referral
  • Signs of Labor
  • Head Bumps
  • Tear Staining on a Maltese Dog
  • Price of a Pet Quality Himalayan
  • Kitten with Diarrhea
  • Greasy Tail and Stomach
  • Kneading
  • Ringworm

Topic: Shaving a Pregnant Mom?
Is it common to shave a pregnant cat to help control matting and possible milk fungus effecting the babies eyes? Thanks, Carolyn

Answer: I prefer to shave my Persian mom's bellies and under their tail and between their legs prior to birth. This allows me to more easily see what is going on during delivery. Shaving also helps the mom stay cleaner during delivery and helps the babies find the nipples easier. It also prevents the babies from becoming entangled in mom's long hair.

I never use a clipper blade shorter than a #7-#10. The #7 blade leaves a 1/2 inch of hair on the tummy which gives the babies enough coat to get some traction traction and something to cling to when nursing. The bit of extra length of hair also protects the momma's tummy from getting sore or scratched by the baby's nails.

Topic: Three Week Old Kitten Behaving Oddly
I have a litter of 4 Himalayan kittens that till now has been doing great.
They are 3 weeks now. Today I noticed that the biggest kitten in the litter was acting like he couldn't control his body he was rolling his head back and forward and when trying to walk he rolled over. He almost had an expression and behavior like he was drunk. I will take him into my vet tomorrow if he is not doing better but I was wondering if you had any opinion about this kind of reaction from a 3 week old kitten with no other symptoms than seeming dizzy or drunk. Brian

Answer: The symptoms your kitten is exhibiting probably means he has a problem in his nervous system. If the kitten has very good doming, it is most likely that the kitten is hydrocephalic (Water on the brain). Such animals occur at odd intervals, usually as a result of developmental mishaps. However, such conditions can be inherited. The spinal fluid builds up inside the skull because the duct that it's suppose to drain into the spinal column isn't developed and functioning. If this is the case, there is nothing you can do to help him.

Anything that might cause inflammation in the brain could also be causing the symptoms your kitten is exhibiting. This would include viral or bacterial infections. Toxins like lead, ear infections, ear mites, low potassium, thiamine deficiency, atlanto-axial-occipital malformations (the bones that connect the head to the spine), or even a head injury are also possibilities. You are right to take him to your veterinarian ASAP.

Topic: What Color Is My Cat?
I recently rescued a Persian from a rescue league. She was in deplorable condition. I've had her since January and she is now looking good. I had to have her shaved. Now that her fur is coming back I'd like to know what color you would call her? She's Gary with dark ends and here and there she has tan and orange, very light and cream - just here and there. Barbara

Answer: She sounds like she is a Blue-Cream Persian. A Blue-Cream is a blue (gray) cat with patches of cream. Sometimes the ends of the blue can appear dark and the cream can vary too - so your girl's color is perfectly normal. To see a photo of a Blue-Cream, take a look at GC, NW Bryn Mawr Georgie Girl. I think it is wonderful that you rescued your girl - you are an angel. :-)

Topic: Herpes
There is a young man who is interested in purchasing one of my kittens so he can show in Jr. Showmanship and regular competition. He and his mother own a young cat (under a year) that they bought to show and with an interest in maybe becoming breeders themselves. The problem: this young cat was diagnosed with herpes, which he had when they bought him. They are working hard to get the condition under control, but I don't know whether I ought to be willing for one of my kittens to go into their home, even if they can eliminate the symptoms in the one they have. They don't want to give him up (they love him - I can't blame them for that!) but they cannot depend on him being showable from week to week. How likely is my kitten to get herpes from the cat they have? Are younger cats at more risk than older ones for catching it? Should I insist that they remove the cat that has herpes from their home before considering selling them mine? They do have other cats in their home aside from the intended show cat, and none of them has contracted the herpes. Jean

Answer: Cats who have been positively diagnosed with Feline herpesvirus-1 can become carriers, so your kitten will be at risk by going to the new household with a cat who has been diagnosed with Herpes. However, in a study of 200 apparently healthy cats in Australia, only 1.5% shed herpes continuously. 25.8% shed the virus in times of stress. Young kittens are at a greater risk, as are cats with other illnesses. However, if your kitten is well vaccinated and has a good immune system, the risk is minimal. Read the article Rhinotracheitis for more information.

Topic: Shaving Before Having An HCM ultrasound?
I took my show cat in for a screening cardiac ultrasound to rule out the heart disease HCM. She is a Maine Coon. The vet was aware this was a show cat in competition. They shaved her chest & sides all the way down to below the ribs. Was this really necessary? Her hair is thin on the chest. The vet argued with me that this was the only way to get a good picture. I cannot believe this. I have spoken to other breeders and many say this was not reasonable in a well cat. If the vet would have said, sorry, we made an error that would be one thing. But to insist this is the only way he can do the test is not reasonable to me. What do you think? I am just not sure this vet knows about show/breeder cats. And I do not think he wants to be bothered. It's just a feeling I get when I tell him things that I am aware of, i.e. I have some knowledge. I am also a nurse. How do I approach this? Thank you. Nancy

Answer: You are really asking two questions. Nancy. The first question is, "How much does a cat's chest need to be shaved to ultra sound for HCM - Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy?" I'm afraid you need to understand that the vet/sonographer best knows what he needs to get as accurate an ultrasound as possible to evaluate your Maine Coon for heart disease. Many sonographers do not find shaving necessary when performing an ultrasound on kidneys to look for PKD cysts, but heart ultrasounds present different concerns. Next time, discuss with the vet who is doing the ultrasound prior to doing the test. If the cat must be shaved, perhaps delay the ultrasound until after the cat is finished showing, unless you suspect a problem.

But your second concern is perhaps more important... How do you improve your relationship with your vet? It certainly sounds that you feel like he is not giving you the respect you feel you deserve. The attitude of your vet is a significant factor in choosing the best vet for your needs. If you vet has a superior attitude, or is condescending, or simply refuses to consider the issues that are unique to a breeder of show cats, it may be time to look for a vet who is more willing to work with you... instead of against you.

You may be able to sit down with your vet for a non-medical discussion. Talk with him about how you would like the two of you to be a "team" to provide the best care possible for your cats. If he seems open to a change in your relationship, then you have taken a giant step forward. If he seems unable to adjust his attitude, it is time to look for a new vet. For tips on how to go about it, read the article titles. "How to Choose Your Veterinarian."

Topic: Writer Needs Referral
I am applying for a position at the BBC on a science program. Part of the application involves presentation of the content of a suggested feature; I would like to do a feature on Genetics and Ginger cats (I have a ginger queen myself). Who would be the best person to interview for this feature (UK only), and where would they be based? I think its about time more people found out just how fascinating feline genetics is, and hopefully with your help I can do it! Thanks very much, Lucy Mumford BSc(Hons).

Answer: Perhaps some of our readers in the United Kingdom would be willing to help Lucy? She can be contacted by email at

Topic: Signs of Labor
What does a female cat do before they go into labor and when they are in labor, and how do you know they are pushing? I need all the advice I can get!

Answer: Prior to delivery some cats will show signs that delivery is imminent including frenzied digging in the litter box, repeated squinting, grimaces, pulling back of facial whiskers, episodes of panting, or obvious contractions. Some queens will call to you for several hours before they go into labor. Some queens even seem to wait for you to wake up or come home from work before having a kitten!.

If you check the queen's body temperature daily during the days leaving up to delivery, there should be a notable drop in temperature 7 to 24 hours before delivery.

If the queen passes her "mucous plug", a yellow-pink geletin-like material, delivery is often imminent, though not ALWAYS. Initially pinkish-yellow fluid may be expelled from the vagina or a "bag of water" may protrude.

For a detailed description of the entire birth process, what you should look for, and how you can help, check out the articles titled, "The Birthing Process Made Easy" and "What Should You Have In Your Birthing Kit?"

Topic: Head Bumps
I am wondering about bumps on a Persian kitten's head. I will explain: I have a 4 week old kitten (in a litter of 6) that has a bump on her head when I feel from ear to ear on her dome. You can also feel it when you feel her from her nose to back of neck. I remember the judges check the smoothness of doming when I was showing my Dilute Calico. My question is : is it just an overriding suture like infant/newborn humans get sometimes. . .or in kittens will it stay and be a fault so that I can't show her and achieve anything. She is the best in the litter and really flashy (dark tortie with her flashes of red in all the right places). I was hoping to show her but I don't want to keep her and not be able to. I have never had a bump on the head of either Persian that I have shown but I bought them with the intent of showing so the breeders gave me great quality to work with. I am new with judging my own and don't know if this is something that the kittens usually grow out of or not.

Answer: Some kittens grow out of their head bumps, some don't. If your lines don't usually have a problem with bumps and your kitten has everything else you want, show her. I know many GC with a head bump. Like fashion in clothes, at any one time there is usually something that is "hot" at any one time. It is popular right now to talk alot about Persians having a smooth skull - but it is only one small part of the overall cat... and no cat is perfect.

Topic: Tear Staining on a Maltese Dog
I would like to know if you can use any of your products for tear stain on dogs also, or is it only for cats? I have a white Maltese I show and boy what a time I have with tear stains on him. I have not heard of Tylan drops and where can I purchase them and are they safe for dogs and cats. Please Help. Rosemarie

Answer: All the products and techniques used to prevent eye staining in cats can also be used to prevent eye stains in dogs... so you have a lot of options to try. Because the hair on a Maltese is "harder" that the hair on a cat, you will have less of a problem with drying or brittleness, so it is even a bit easier to deal with stain removal on a dog than on a cat :-).

You don't buy Tylan eye drops - you make them :-)! Complete instructions are available in the article titled "Tylan Eye Stain Formula".

Topic: Price of a Pet Quality Himalayan
My girlfriend would like a Himalayan and I don't know much about them. I was wondering if you could tell me what a fair price would be for one and anything I should look out for when purchasing one. Mike

Answer: Oh dear.... one of those questions that's hard to answer!! Price is too dependent on location - I'd say on the West Coast of the United States, $350 would be an average price for a pet quality Himmie. Of course, some breeder ask prices that are some lower, some higher. On the East Coast, the average is probably more.

One thing I want to mention is that your girlfriend needs to be involved with the process of choosing the right kitten. Don't make it a "surprise". Reputable breeders won't place any of kittens without first meeting the ultimate owner... so make sure your girlfriend knows you are looking for a kitten and allow her to pick it out.

Topic: Kitten with Diarrhea
I have a 2 wk old kitten that has diarrhea. She was 65 grams at birth, has 3 brothers who are very large and I have been supplementing her with goats milk. I didn't realize the goats milk has turned sour and gave her some a few days ago. She has been getting fresh goats milk since. Would I be able to give her a quarter of a 100 mg. amoxi tablet, crushed, in case she has a bit of a bowel infection, and how long would I give it? If you recommend different treatment, please advise. Thanks for your help. Lorna

Answer: Antibiotics are not a good choice for diarrhea since they can actually upset your kittens tummy more. They make the situation worse by actually kill the bacteria in the baby's intestinal tract which helps her digest the milk.

Give her a meal "off" to allow her intestines to get back to normal. A touch of yogurt or lactobacillus added to her supplement would be helpful. Then supplement her bigger siblings for a few meals so mom has more milk for the little one.

Topic: Greasy Tail and Stomach
Will bathing my male Himalayan that is now 9 months old help to control the greasy tail and oily looking stomach coat?
What kind of products will help this?Pauline

Answer: The tried and true and most popular degreaser recommended by cat fanciers is GOOP, available from most hardware and department stores. Some people prefer slathering it on to a dry coat, some people pre-dampen the coat. I prefer microwaving the GOOP slightly to make it a bit more liquid which is easier to work into a dry coat. I then scrub areas that are extra greasy with a baby toothbrush - behind the ears, chin, base of tail, paws, working the GOOP down and around the roots of the hairs. Let it remain on the cat for 5-10 minutes. For more options that will help reduce the greasiness of your cat's coat read the articles titled, "How Do I Degrease My Cat?" and "Chin Acne and Stud Tail".

Topic: Kneading
Why does my cat knead me all the time? Also, why does he insist on having his back paws in my hand? This is really strange. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. Louise

Answer: While no one really knows why a cat kneads, it is certainly the same action that newborn kittens make with their front paws when they are nursing. Animal behaviorist have theorized that instinct causes nursing kittens to knead at their mother's teat which in turn stimulates stimulates milk flow. The kitten then associates kneading with the pleasurable experience of feeding, being happy and satisfied. So when you cat kneads on you, he is expressing his happiness with you... and how he sees you as his "mom" :-).

Topic: Ringworm
My white Persian recently escaped while she was in heat, and the result is that she has contracted ring worm. The first we knew about this was when her fur began to fall out. We have quarantined her, and she is having griseofulvin (prescribed by the vet) every day. My question is this: is there anything I can add to the shampoo to help rid us of this terrible thing? Patricia

Answer: Shampoos have not proven to work particularly well against ringworm. You need to discuss with your veterinarian about using the oral flea medication, Program, to combat ringworm. It represents the newest breakthrough in treatment of ringworm and gives better results than any other treatment previously available. Because of its extremely low toxicity combined with its effectiveness, Program should be the first step in your battle against ringworm. Program (lufenuron) is administered at 40-50 mg per pound every two weeks. If you still want to put something on the "outside" of your cat, the only topical treatment proven to be effective in controlled laboratory studies against ringworm is lime sulfur dips (1:32 or 1:16 dilution). For more information, read the article titled The Ringworm Battle Plan. Good luck!
More Expert Questions & Answers

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