Ask The Expert (6)

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

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Topics Covered Include:

  • Did I let my cat down?
  • Shy Kittens
  • Smokes
  • Constipated Cat
  • Articles
  • Breeding a White to a Bi-Color
  • Price of a Show Kitten
  • Too Fat
  • Tortie Coloring
  • 7 months old and still Nursing!
  • 3000# on Himalayans
  • Calici or Herpes?
  • Small Female
  • Male Calico
  • Prescreening Tests Before Surgery
  • Insulin Injections

Topic: Did I let my cat down?
I found our ten year old cat deceased yesterday. He stayed indoors and showed no earlier signs of illness. He was laying on the floor but there was saliva coming out mouth slightly tinged with blood. How come I didn't realize something was wrong.
Besides being heartbroken, I feel like I let him down. Please let me know what you think. Deb

Answer: I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Please don't blame yourself. 10 years is a good age for a cat to live especially in good health. And in the same way that a person can be feeling fine, then have a sudden heart attack and die, the same thing can happen to a kitty. There are not always signs of declining health.

You ask what I think... I think you and your kitty shared 10 wonderful years. I think you loved him and took fine care of him. Rejoice in what you shared together.

Topic: Shy Kittens
What's the best way to prepare shy kittens for a show career? I have a litter with excellent type... but they seem to scare quite easily :-( Also, are there any secrets to showing hormonal males/females... that once they turn 8 months, they become testy/bitchy in the ring? These babies are 3 months old. Only one of the four is not shy or scared of anything. Noises and strange places (vet's) seem to be their big problem... they do love people though. Both parents were great show cats and have superb personalities!! I think one of our problems is, we live deep in the country and it's VERY quiet. I leave the TV on all day, so they hear some noise. Don

Answer: Personality is a result of genetics and upbringing - so the fact that the parents have good personalities is half the battle won! Now, I know you read the article on helping a cat who is afraid so you are going to follow exactly what it says about desensitizing your kittens to noises first.

I'm a writer and live alone so my kittens lead a very quiet and sheltered life too. I'm going to tell you things I start doing even before the kittens eyes are open. You can do the same thing only you will need to introduce these things slowly so as not to frighten the kittens... you give them just enough of the stimulus so that they feel uncomfortable, but not frightened.

Put them in a cage or a room where they cannot hide (like a bathroom or mud room... not a bedroom where they can hide under the bed. Let it be past mealtime so they are hungry. Have a favorite treat - canned food or I use chicken baby food on a baby spoon and I give them a tiny taste... they love it!. Sit on the floor with them. And the food. Give them a taste.

Then turn a hair dryer (human type) on low. The noise will usually make them scatter... turn it off and get them back... turn it on again... etc... until they will eat your treat with the dryer on low. Proceed to it being louder and louder until they accept the noise.

Before my kittens eyes are open, I roll out my Persian cat dryer (huge) and I run it beside the playpen where they are born. And I just run it... they grow up with a big loud noise in their ear :-)))

I do the same thing with the vacuum cleaner... My cats are so accustomed to the vacuum as little babies that I have to push them off the carpet to vacuum - they don't get up out of the way.

Once you have them accepting one noise... proceed to another. Include hand clapping, shouting and whistling, the radio with the sound getting louder and quieter all the time.

Then proceed to places... and that means going to the vet and having a food treat when you get there... and nothing else (no vet inspection).

Go to a pet store and put them on the counter and ask the staff to pet them...

ALWAYS take the food reward... so that they learn that when they are around things that frighten them, there is a treat involved.

When you take them to their first show, go EARLY well before the show will start - Go up to the empty judging rings, put them in a cage and feed them a treat, take them out on the table - and feed them a treat... over and over again... be sure to disinfect everything when you leave.

The key is the treat. They are young enough for you to turn around. Let me know how it goes :-))

Topic: Smokes
I know a person with a cat that granded as a cream and white and then when the cat started siring, he threw smoke kittens. The breeder went back in his pedigree and it did turn out that he had smoke a generation back. How can this be? I thought the smoke gene was dominant? Brenda

Answer: The degree of tipping and amount of white undercoat can vary with all smokes or shaded cats. Determining the difference between an unsound cream, which would have some lightness or barring at the roots, and a poor smoke undercoat can be difficult, especially if the cat has a very pale cream coat OR depending on the stage of development of the coat. When a smoke is in "reverse" coat, the roots actually have color and the tips are lighter... so especially on a cream smoke, the cat could appear as a very pale cream instead of a cream smoke.

Topic: Constipated Cat
My cat, Mort, is about 14 years old and is 17.5 pounds. He has not defecated in the past 10 days. For the first 6 days he would regurgitate every meal he ate. The vet gave me two medications (one an antibiotic, the other something I give him 1/2 hour before he eats) and he's been able to keep his food down (I'm giving him boiled chicken.). Despite his keeping his food down, I don't know where it goes because he still hasn't had a bowel movement. I had blood tests done, but they haven't come back from the lab even though it's been 4 days. A urine test was done, and it did show "crystals" in it and his pH was off (7.2) with too many alkaloids. He's only urinated twice in 4 days. Do you have *any* clue as to what his problem could be that he's not defecating *or* urinating? I'm afraid he's just going to get more and more toxic. I'm giving him distilled water now. Marianne

Answer: Like people, cats are more prone to constipation in old age as the action of the intestines slows down. Cats have a nerve attachment from their colon to the vomit center in their brain that causes them to upchuck when the colon is dilated/expanded, as it would be when filled with hard stool and "clogging up" the lower intestine.

I hope your vet x-rayed Mort to check for obstructions. The x-ray will show if Mort accidentally swallowed something that is lodged in his intestine. Once you are sure Mort is simply constipated, he should then have an enema to loosen the impacted stool. Consult with your vet on a change in diet for Mort to avoid future problems with constipation.

Topic: Articles
Is there a list with the complete articles that I can find on
Answer: Our Subject Index on our home page, left hand column, has all our articles, divided by subject matter. Some articles may appear under more than one category. Our most recent articles appear at the bottom of our home page.

Topic: Breeding a White to a Bi-Color
I have a year old CEW who has a “to die for” pedigree. I would really like to get a complimentary female for him. I really love bi-colors especially blue/white vans. Some people have told me that it’s fine to breed a solid to a bi-color while others have told me absolutely not! Some have told me not to even use a solid blue or cream with him because he is masking Red. And that by doing so it will “muddy” the white. I have also been told that because my cat is tightly line bred that there are numerous lines that just don’t mesh very well with it. What is your opinion?

Answer: I think it's important for you to understand WHY there are pros and cons to breeding whites to bi-colors, rather than just asking 100 different people if you should...

Breeding is an art - like painting. Some people paint with never taking art classes... but most great artists study their craft. The more you know, the better you are at it.

At its most basic, the problem with breeding a white to ANY color that has an extra variable (bi-color, pointed, shaded genes), is that the white masks the other colors... so you may not KNOW what color your white offspring is masking until you breed it.

Especially for a beginning breeder, I personally suggest you not mix bi-colors with whites because it just makes things more complicated for you. Wait until you have more experience and more sophistication as a breeder before making the inherent complexities of breeding more complicated.

You need also to think about what you would like to focus on in your breeding program. Are you a bi-color breeder? Or a CEW breeder? or both? Beyond making breeding more complex/challenging, there is nothing wrong with breeding a white to a bi-color. There certainly have been at least one national winner bi-color with a white parent.

:-) Hope this helps...

Topic: Price of a Show Kitten
I have recently bought a Persian kitten that I would like to show. I bought him from a cattery I found on the Internet. I did visit her house and all the cats seemed exceptionally healthy. I paid 500$ for my boy. She said he was show quality and that she thought about keeping him to show for herself, but I really think she was just trying to sell the kitten. I am brand spankin new to this business and know no difference between a show quality kitten and a house cat. A friend of a friend said that I did not pay enough for a good show quality kitten and I was wondering if that was true? I have visited a couple of shows and I just can not see a difference between the winning and losing cats. And I know nobody really to help me. I tried to talk to the breeder that I bought him from at the last show I went to , but she did not remember me at first and then she seemed really snobby.
Helplessly Confused, S.

Answer: $500 is a low price for a show quality kitten. But perhaps you got a bargain? Did you contact the breeder after the show? Sometimes people are so busy at shows, they seem unfriendly. Try touching base with her when she is less busy.

You do need to develop your own "eye" for judging a cat. Read (and memorize and analyze) your written standard. Visit websites and look at the difference in National and Regional winner cats compared to Grand Champions, compared to cats with no titles. If a website has no cats with any titles, you can usually assume that breeder is not producing grand quality cats.

Also, when someone says show quality, ask them if they mean the cat is grandable or not? Some people just mean it is championable - which is not high enough quality to use a male in a breeding program in my opinion. You need a grand quality male to start with.

And join PandEcats to learn more :-)))

Topic: Too Fat
My cat is huge. She eats a lot and she is bulimic. However, my main concern is that she cannot clean her anus and it gets pretty disgusting. Any suggestion. Chris

Answer: Just like people, being overweight and especially grossly overweight is a huge health risk. There are diet cat foods available and you need to put her on a diet immediately with veterinary supervision. In the meantime, if she cannot clean her behind, take a damp cloth and do it for her until she has lost enough weight that she can help herself.

Topic: Tortie Coloring
A friend of ours currently has two tortie kittens. A confusing situation arises! The one little girl is distinctly black & cream, while the other the usual black & red. As far as my genetic knowledge goes, this is not possible - she should be blue & cream. I could only think she might actually be black & red with polygenic influence on the intensity of the red? Could you perhaps shed some light? Quinton

Answer: Your thinking is right on target Quinton. The tortie whose red patches appear cream must indeed actually be red - but may have a paler red that is appearing cream colored. Also, since the underlying tabby markings that all cats have can show "through" on a red cat, you may also simply be seeing the lighter background of the tabby pattern that is showing up on the tortie girl.

Topic: 7 months old and still Nursing!
I have 3 kittens who are 7 months old and still nursing. They are nursing on their mother and two aunts and my stud cat. This seems to be a habit now. I have tried separating them and putting bitter apple on the tits of all the adults. My question is this: Will this nursing behavior interfere with the breeding of all the adults. I appreciate all the help I can get on my happy little dysfunctional family Joni

Answer: It's time for your kittens to cut the apron strings! You may have to separate them from other cats until they break their bad habit. Depending on how many cats you have, you can put sweaters on everyone (Made from socks or sweater sleeves)) to make the nipples inaccessible to these "kittens". While the nursing behavior in itself will not stop your females from cycling, it will certainly be a problem as they start to milk up.

Topic: 3000# on Himalayans
At a recent cat show, I heard the term "Himi 3000" used by a breeder. What is this? Marcy

Answer: Although I've never heard the term "3000 Himi", I have heard people refer to "3000 Persians". Basically, what this refers to are non-pointed Persians with a Himalayan somewhere in their background (also called a CPC, or Colorpoint Carrier). The term came about because when the Himalayan was integrated into the Persian breed, the CPCs were given a separate registration number so that people would know there was Himalayan in the background. Those numbers were based on the Persian numbers, but in a "3000" series... So, a black Persian male's number is 0108, and a black CPC male's number is 3008. Once a cat has a 3000-series number, all its offspring will carry the 3000 number, no matter how far back in the pedigree the Himalayan may be, and no matter whether the cat actually carries the pointed gene or not.

Topic: Calici or Herpes?
I have a URI in my cattery. One cat has ulcers on the nose. Tests for herpes virus came back negative so we think it must be calici. Will my cats become chronic carriers? All of the cats that got it were current on vaccines. Should the cats be altered and removed from my breeding program? Cherry

Answer: Calici virus does not cause ulcers on the nose. It is more likely that herpesvirus is the problem despite the negative test. Vaccination can protect cats against serious illness with herpesvirus, but it cannot protect them from the infection itself. Cats can become carriers. However, cats chronically infected with herpesvirus tend to shed virus only when they show clinical signs, but not when they appear to be normal... so you may elect to keep them in your breeding program. 250 to 500 mg of Lysine daily helps keep the herpesvirus infection inactive, although the higher dose can irritate the tummies of some cats.
Topic: Small Female

Question: I am interested in purchasing a female Himalayan that has all of the qualities that I'm looking for, except she only weighs 5 pounds at 8 months. How much can I expect her to grow before reaching adulthood? My boy is 9 1/2 pounds and I want to produce good size kittens. ML

Answer: Ideally, we all want big huge Persians, male and female... but since the ideal cat has yet to be born, usually we have to accept some faults in every cat :-). 5-6 pounds is a small female, but acceptable in a breeding program if you love everything else she has to offer. The key would be to breed her to a male with good size. Some of her kittens may be small like her, but simply choose her larger offspring to keep in your program.

Topic: Male Calico
I have a 4 month old, male, tricolor calico kitten. The staff at the Vet clinic we use made quite a fuss over his rareness. They suggested I make inquiries into Universities involved in genetic testing before we neuter him. Do you have any suggestions? L
Answer: Rare does not necessarily mean valuable. Normally, a male cat has 2 sex chromosomes - an "X" and a "Y". A female is normally "XX". Because calico/tortoiseshell or Blue-Cream is a sex linked color needing 2 "X" chromosomes, a male kitten of these colors kitten has an extra X chromosome and so is an "XXY". It is well understood genetically. In some associations such as TICA these males can be shown for titles. In other associations, such as CFA, they cannot. These males are usually (though not always) infertile and so would be of little interest or value to a breeder.
Topic: Prescreening Tests Before Surgery
I was calling all the local veterinarians today trying to get quotes on how much it will cost me to get two of my male cats neutered. I also asked about pre-screenings to make sure my cats don't have any bad reactions to the anesthesia. I found that the more expensive vets who offer pre-screenings were quoting me roughly $400.00 to get it all done. And I found that the less costly vets do not offer pre-screenings at all. My mom is an RN and she said there is no way to screen even human beings to see how they react to anesthesia. So, getting to my question.... is the prescreening even necessary? Why do some vets offer it and others don't? I am very nervous about putting my babies through any surgery. Unfortunately it's necessary. I will go to the expense of the pre-screenings if they'll truly be able to tell me anything. I greatly appreciate any info that you may have. Thanks! Kelley

Answer: There are some things we can screen for - like liver and kidney function, anemia, abnormal blood proteins, sugars and electrolytes. There are some things we can't screen for, like allergic reactions to drugs. The pre-anesthetic screening is useful as it can give your vet important knowledge about the health of internal organs, which may affect the choice of anesthetic drugs used. For example, in a cat with decreased liver or kidney function, ketamine should not be used. There are also different "levels" of screening - some panels are more comprehensive than others, which can greatly affect the price. A minimum level of information which is useful would include PCV (packed cell volume, a measure of the number of red cells so can detect anemia) and hemoglobin levels, as well as chemistry tests including BUN and Creatinine (for kidney), glucose (sugar), ALT and ALKP (for liver function), and total protein. Checking the concentration ("specific gravity") of a urine sample helps to confirm kidney function and can differentiate between dehydration and decreased kidney function.
There is often a price difference between clinics that send samples to an outside lab compared to clinics that are able to test the samples on site. If you have concerns, at the minimum ask for the mini panel, iv fluids and no injectable anesthetic - just isoflurane.

Topic: Insulin Injections
My 12 yr. old cat is on insulin. Is it OK to let her eat before & after her shot? I am new at this. She just started taking the drug on the weekend. Gayle

Answer: In the "old days" it used to be we were told to give the injection just before we fed the cat - which raised the problem of what if the cat doesn't eat or what if she vomits. Now we are told that it doesn't matter when we feed the cat in relation to giving the injection because most insulins take many hours to take full effect in cats. So feed your cat at the same time(s) every day and give the insulin at the same time(s). If the cat doesn't eat 2 meals in a row then call your vet however!
NOTE: Your cat should ideally be on a higher-protein/lower-carb diet, canned if she'll eat it, such as CNM's DM formula. If she is REALLY fat feed her a canned weight-loss diet such as Hill's r/d or w/d until she reaches an ideal weight then switch to the DM. Cats use protein more efficiently for energy rather than carbs - and carbs require insulin for the body to use as an energy source. So if you feed a diet high in carbs, you are effectively raising the cat's body's requirement for insulin. Canned food has a different soluble vs. non-soluble fiber profile vs. dry food and in one study there were a number of cats whose diabetes could be controlled with canned higher protein diets alone.
More Expert Questions & Answers

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