Ask The Expert (11)

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Topics Include:

  • Sneezing Following Surgery
  • Windy Kitty
  • Tapeworm
  • Undescended Testicle
  • Diarrhea
  • Inappropriate Peeing
  • Pulling Our Fur
  • Best Vaccine
  • Cat Eyesight
  • Dry Pads
  • FIP
Topic: Sneezing Following Surgery
My 7 month old male cat was just neutered and declawed last week. Prior to that, he had been treated with an upper respiratory infection. 1 week after the surgery, he has started sneezing - it has been a constant sneeze after sneeze. His eyes are a bit watery but no fever, and he's eating and drinking okay. My vet says not to worry, that something in the house may be irritating him (no new furniture, plants, etc) and I am still worried. Any suggestions? Christina
Answer: It is most likely that this is a recurrence of the upper respiratory infection that was lying dormant in his system, or he picked up a new one while at the vet clinic. Surgery and anesthesia are stressful on the animals and can cause their immune system to be slightly weakened so they would be more susceptible to viral infections. If he's eating and drinking OK and has healed fine from surgery, then it should resolve itself (just like us with a cold) but if he starts coughing or develops green eye or nose discharge then he may need antibiotics.

Topic: Windy Kitty
I have a British shorthair kitten who is 4 months old who has a wind problem and appears to use the litter box excessively (6-7 times a day)producing semisolid stools. She's being fed mostly dry kitten food (Royal Canin Kitten, Iams Kitten) and felix kitten (wet food). Can you suggest what I could do to try and alleviate the problem? Adrian

Answer: Have a fecal test performed (may want to test 2 or 3 times, make sure the stool tested is abnormal in consistency). If they are negative then they might try a broad spectrum dewormer anyway (not just Strongid) and/or a course of metronidazole. Different diet might be an idea as well, such as Science Diet i/d.

Topic: Tapeworm
can you tell me what the symptoms of a tape worm would be? Jennifer

Answer: Often the tape segments can be seen either in the stool (look like rice) or as dried segments around the bum of the cat - these look like sesame seeds. Generally the stools are normal in consistency. Animals will often look "unthrifty" - poor haircoat, thin, potbelly - but this isn't a reliable sign. Fecal flotations are very poor for detecting tapeworm infection. Most of the time our cats will get tapes as a consequence of a flea infestation - fleas carry a tapeworm which are ingested when the cat grooms herself, and infects the cat. So if you are treating for tapes it is a good idea to treat for fleas too.

Topic: Undescended Testicle
I would like your opinion. I have a customer that has a Maine Coon kitten of mine. At 4 1/2 months he was neutered. One of his testicles had not descended at that time. The vet removed from the abdomen what he thought was a testicle. The vet had a biopsy done. The biopsy report said is was a lymph node and not a testicle. Of course now the owners are concerned that a testicle is still remaining in the kitten but do not want to put the kitten through additional surgery at this time. Will removing a lymph node harm the kitten in any way. I have never heard of such a thing. Is it that difficult to tell a retained testicle from a lymph node. What advise should I give the new owners as far as proceeding. The whole matter makes me very angry. I'm assuming the vet had a biopsy on what he removed done, thinking it was a testicle, to check for cancer. I would appreciate your opinion on this. Mary

Answer: Testicles that are retained in the abdomen tend to not develop properly and will often have a different appearance and texture, so it is possible the vet thought the node was a very abnormal testicle (which is likely why it was submitted for biopsy). Removing the lymph node will not be harmful to the kitten. If the original vet had a difficult time locating the retained testicle and confused lymph node with testicle (a testicle should have a large blood supply and the vas deferens should be visible, where as the LN will just be sitting there on its own....) then I'd go to a more experienced (e.g. board certified) surgeon, or if there is a good sonographer in the area then have the kitten scanned to locate the testicle first (less poking around and time wasted in surgery). But that abdominal testicle needs to come out.

Topic: Diarrhea
I have a 9 month old Maine Coon kitten. He has had an ongoing problem with Diarrhea. NO PARASITES!! vet has checked him for them twice. Cindi

Answer: Try with different diets such as Science Diet i/d or similar diet, give him a broad spectrum dewormer anyway, or a course of metronidazole. I'd try the dewormer first.

Topic: Inappropriate Peeing
My cat Bynx I know loves me! She is very sociable and sweet! I can't understand why sometimes she will get up on my lap and pee while she is laying on me! She is only a year and a half old! Please help me figure this out! Jennifer

Answer: If she is actually peeing (squatting and consciously urinating) then this is most likely a behavior problem. If she's resting and the urine is leaking out, then she may have a problem with a leaky bladder. Have her checked for a urinary tract infection first either way.

Topic: Pulling Our Fur
My cat is pulling out his fur . He is almost completely bald on his back . What causes this ? Cathy

Answer: Could be flea allergy or stress - the 2 most likely. If there are no scabs and there are no fleas, then it is probably a stress response (aka feline psychogenic alopecia) and I have had pretty good success treating these guys with 20mg of depo medrol (a steroid).

Topic: Best Vaccine
We have 4 indoor cats, some are purebred, do you recommend the modified live vaccine, killed vaccine, or heska modified live intranasal.......I've always had the modified live vaccine, with no problems? Thanks Kel

Answer: The most important thing to remember is that there is no longer a "one-size fits all" approach. The risks must be assessed for each cat and decisions about which vaccines to use must be made individually.

The modified live vaccine is a good choice for your circumstances and since you have had no problems with it I would continue using it. For more information see the article Vaccination Protocols.

Topic: Cat Eyesight
Could you please tell me if cats see in color or black and white? Thank You. Taylor

Answer: Cats see things in a grayed version of colors... more shades of gray than a human sees, but not exactly a full range of bright colors.

Topic: Multiple Fathers
Can a single litter of kittens have multiple fathers?
Answer: Yes indeed :-)! Cats are induced ovulators. this means that an egg is released for fertilizations after breeding. If bred by one male, an egg is svailale to be fertilized by his sperm. If bred by a second male while still in heat, a new egg is released and could be fertilized by sperm from the second male.

Topic: Dry Pads
My cat's pads of his feet look very dry. Almost to the point of scabbing over like they might have bleed at a point by his toes. He is strictly an indoor cat and runs on the carpet quite a bit. It is also quite cold in Wisconsin this time of year. Is there anything I can topically put on his feet that might help and would not be harmful if ingested, or anything orally I could do to help him. I don't think they hurt him, because he would be licking them if they did. I just want to prevent them from hurting if they get too much worse. Thanks for your time. Amy

Answer: Is this something new that has just happened? Any change in diet? Different kitty litter? Anything you rub into your cat's feet is going to be immediately licked off....could try straight vitamin E rubbed into the pads, or add an essential fatty acid supplement into the food. Is this an old cat? Had any blood tests done lately? If this is an indoor cat then a cold Wisconsin wouldn't affect him unless the owner doesn't heat their home - if this is something that happened last winter too then it could be related to the furnace (or if he is usually an outdoor cat but in the winter is indoors, then it maybe the carpet .... lots of variables).

Topic: FIP
I was wondering we had a young cat get sick a few years ago from what the vet thought was FIP disease and we put him to sleep,,,,it was hard and we were terrified about our other indoor cats who used to play with the one who got sick...we always get my cat's the fvrcp distemper vac, (never the leukemia shot or any other), but for the first time cause we were nervous and wanted to protect them, we got the FIP Intranasal vaccine, 2 doses 3 weeks apart,,,,,anyway they were a little less playful after those vac's for a while, but then they started acted themselves again, and playing, question is I've heard some vet offices and people are now saying how unsafe and ineffective that FIP vac Intranasal is,,why do they make such an unsafe product. I called Cornell about this, cause this talk has been worrying me, and a vet said not to worry, it probably did no harm and no need to use that vaccine again....the vet that used it believes in it,,,but the vet where I now go, feels its not necessary in most cases.......I've heard people say their cat got sick from FIP soon after that vac..........but I've heard experts say that is not proven..... its been a year, if we never use that vaccine with my cat's again, will the FIP intranasal vaccine leave their system or has it left already. They acted strange and less playful for about a week after the 2nd dose was given. Please give me some advice about this......thanks kay.........

Answer: Lots of issues here. Most likely the vaccine has done no harm to the cats. The vaccine itself doesn't stay in the system for very long (I don't know the actual time frame) and over time the effects of the vaccine wane (antibody levels decrease). I wouldn't be worried about any long-term side effects from 2 intranasal doses.

When a new vaccine is being developed for animals, the rules for what has to be proven before a license is granted are pretty lax, and the rules are a little different between Canada and the US. A product doesn't have to be very effective, it just can't make a majority of the animals sicker. The only exception is with rabies - those vaccines are very carefully tested and need to have basically 100% efficacy. With all that is currently known about FIP (I really prefer to call it feline corona virus) no ethical vet should be administering the vaccine. While we are on this subject....a new vaccine for FIV has been developed and licensed - I definitely do not recommend this vaccine because there is no way to distinguish on blood tests between cats that are infected with FIV and those that have been vaccinated.

So this means that if you pick up a cat from the SPCA and take it to your vet and have it tested for FeLV and FIV and the FIV is positive - you can't tell if it's really got FIV or if its had the vaccine in its previous life.

More Expert Questions & Answers

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