Ask The Expert (12)

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

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Topics Include:

  • Hyperthyroid and Cancer
  • Grinding Teeth
  • Licking
  • Tongue Hanging out
  • Biting
  • Gravol
  • Wetting
  • Sudden Death
  • Eye Ulcers
  • Tipping Ears
  • Prolapsed Rectum
  • Sleeping Kittens
  • Dewclaws
  • Eye Brows
  • Cannibalism

Topic: Hyperthyroid and Cancer
My cat was recently diagnosed as being hyperthyroid but also has cancer and a heart murmur. We're having trouble diagnosing the cancer (for which he takes prednisone) because he recently went into bilateral heart failure (he now takes lasix and spironolactone).

I'm trying to decide if I should push for the vet to address the hyperthyroid issue which he's not doing because he said that tapazole is heart toxic. My cat is refusing to eat so I have to force feed him but I can't get any weight to stay on him which I assume is due to the cancer and being hyperthyroid.

I'm probably grasping here but I'm concerned about the hyperthyroid situation being a complicating factor in making him comfortable. Kathy

Answer: Being hyperthyroid is heart toxic. I would want to ask what kind of cancer your cat has and how did they determine he has cancer? Why did they put him on prednisone? I am also curious why this kitty is on two diuretics but no other heart medications such as benazepril.

If his heart is truly failing, he may need to go to kitty heaven. I'm so sorry, I wish I could give you better news.

Topic: Grinding Teeth
question: Is it possible for cats to grind their teeth? If so, what would cause them to do so? Jo
Answer: Cats can definitely grind their teeth. If you have a cat who grinds its teeth there is a concern about there being a possibility of dental disease or a lesion in the mouth causing pain.

Topic: Licking
My cat licks everything in sight! When I got her she would always lick my hand, but now she licks the the furniture and everything else. How can I get her to stop? Kelly

Answer: Firstly, you need to make sure there isn't a medical reason for the cat licking everything, such as dental disease or an otherwise sore mouth, or anemia. A low blood count can cause cats to have a condition called "pica" where they eat/lick strange stuff. I once saw a cat who was licking the bathroom tile grout - her blood count was down by 50%. If your cat's blood count and mouth are normal, then it is probably behavioral (especially if she's a Siamese), and short of spraying bitter apple on everything, there probably isn't much you can do.

Topic: Tongue Hanging out
I have an 11 year old part Siamese. About 3 months I noticed that her tongue was constantly hanging out, and she would drool thick stuff. What is wrong? Wade

Answer: Especially as cats age they frequently begin to exhibit problems with their teeth that can result in excessive drooling among other symptoms. Definitely get her into the vet to have her mouth checked. She might have severe dental disease such as an abscessed tooth, or it might be something more serious such as an oral tumor.

Topic: Biting
I have a Persian cat who is very well behaved, except that on short notice, or no notice at all, he will bite me, even if my hand is inches from him. Can this be remedied? Boo

Answer: This could be the cat equivalent to "love nibbles". Probably not much that can be done. You might try behavioral modification. Check out the article "Helping The Cat Who Is Afraid" for tips on how to discourage your cats biting and encourage a more desirable behavior.

Topic: Gravol
Can I give my cat Gravol? We have to move and would like to sedate her lightly to make the trip easier for her. She is 15 years old and very hyper. Mallan

Answer: Gravol doesn't often work too well in cats, and indeed sometimes it makes them more excited. I would be very cautious using any sedatives in a 15 year old cat. Should she have any underlying heart, kidney or liver problem it will be not so good for her.

Try Rescue Remedy, which is a mixture of 5 flower extracts and is available in most "natural" pharmacies or health food stores. How well it works varies depending on the individual cat but it would be much safer for your kitty..

Topic: Wetting
I have a one year old 3/4 Persian - one part Rag Doll female cat. Over the last 6 months or so she has suffered from cystitis and crystals - leading to frequent wetting around the house. She has been to the vets countless times and they have done tests on her and an exploratory operation but have found no reason for the continued problem. She has had antibiotics and is currently on food for cystitis and tablets. She is still prone to wetting round the house. Is this common in Persians and is there some recommended cure which I could try? Also how can I best stop her from wetting on bedding and seating? She has a litter tray which she also uses and has access to the garden. I would be grateful for any help /tips!! Judy
Answer: Inappropriate elimination can be a very common problem in cats that have suffered from lower urinary tract disease. The cats associate the litter box with painful urination, and so develop an aversion to it. I am assuming that there is no current urinary tract infection/inflammation or crystals.

If everything is normal then the first thing I would do is put out 1 or 2
other boxes, with different kinds of kitty litter.

Make sure the boxes are spotlessly clean, Scoop several times daily if needed. Place the boxes in different spots that her usual place. Make sure the location is quiet and easy to get to.

Covering the beds and furniture with plastic drop sheets may be necessary during the retraining phase. In some cases medication can be tried (such as clomipramine) but there must be no current lower urinary tract disease present before using them.

If she has recurrent blood in her urine with negative cultures and crystals, then injections of a drug called "Cartrophen-Vet" which is polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (PS-GAG) may be beneficial.

Topic: Sudden Death
My cat recently passed away suddenly. When we got to the vet her nose was bleeding? We just picked her up and placed her in the box to take her to the vet. There was nothing around her, she just looked like she does when she takes a nap. What could have been the cause of death? Violetta
Answer: Usually blood from the nose means something bad has happened to the heart and/or the lungs, such as a "heart attack". The cat must have died very suddenly. There would have been no suffering.
Topic: Eye Ulcers
I have a flame point Himalayan with eye problems. He has ulcers in both eyes. He has had one operation to have the first one removed one year ago. I was told then that chances of that happening again were next to none. He now has one in both eyes plus a cataract. He also gets eye infections on a regular basis. I do not want to lose my cat. He is only three years old. So far I was told that nothing more can be done except have both his eyes removed and I could not live with that thought in mind. I would be suffering as much as he would. Could you please tell me if any thing can be done to save his eyes. He is a great love in my heart. Thankyou. Yvette
Answer: I am assuming that the cat doesn't have a problem with entropion, inturned eyelids? If he does have even a mild entopia, then have that corrected. If the eyelids are 100% normal, then please have the cat's eyes cultured and have them do a conjunctival biopsy, looking for herpes and other chronic infections. There are good medications that can treat this viral infection. Removing both eyes seems like a drastic step. Consult a feline eye specialist is at all possible.

Topic: Tipping Ears
One of my young Persian males had developed a rodent ulcer on his upper lip and was given a steroid shot of depo-medrol. Now I notice that his ears are tipping over like a Collie dogs. What is going on? Linda

Answer: Folding of the tip of the ears is something I occasionally see in cats who are being treated with corticosteroids such as depo-medrol, prednisone or dexamethasone. It is a a side effect of the drug and will disappear with time.

You may want to review your cat's dosage with your vet. A slightly lower dose may eliminate the side effect.

Topic: Prolapsed Rectum
I have a kitten that developed a prolapsed rectum. What causes this and can I use the cat for breeding? Lanie

Answer: Rectal prolapses usually occur in kittens under 4 months of age and are usually caused by prolonged episodes of diarrhea or urinary tract disease. Foreign bodies, cancer of the bowel, dystocia or FLUTD can also be contributing factors.

The severity of symptoms associated with a prolapsed rectum varies. Some kittens appear to be in pain while others act as if nothing is wrong.

Treatment is detailed in the article Prolapsed Rectum and includes reducing the prolapse manually (pushing the prolapse back inside the kitten) and using a purse-string suture in the anus to hold it in place. The suture remains for 7 to 10 days and then removed. The cat is should be given a low-residue diet and stool softeners for a few weeks to eliminate the possibility of straining in the litter box.

If the prolapse is more severe or is reoccurring, the colon is sewn to the abdominal wall internally so it cannot prolapse. In severe cases, if the tissue that is prolapsing is badly damaged or necrotic, it may need to be amputated.

Manx cats have been noted as being prone to rectal prolapses.

Topic: Sleeping Kittens
How many hours of sleep are kittens supposed to get? Taylor

Answer: Lots! :-) Seriously, the sleeping habits of kittens are similar to that of human babies. They need a lot of sleep - between 16 and 18 hours is not unusual.

Topic: Dewclaws
Hi, I was interested to read your article about Dewclaws. Would this be considered a fault in the show ring? Thank you. Ellen.

Answer: Incorrect number of toes is a disqualification in the Persian standard. I suspect this was written more in a reference to discouraging polydactyls cats rather than a reference to the occasional vestigial hind dewclaw discussed in the article. Polydactyls is genetic. The hind dewclaw is a throwback.

Topic: Eye Brows
When sculpting the Persians head/face, should I get rid of the eye brow whiskers? If yes do I remove is by tweasing or cutting? Should I do it when they are wet in the bath? Taralyn

Answer: The "eyebrows" usually have several very long and coarse hairs and then several shorter finer hairs. Those "eyebrows" can be distracting. If I had my personal preference, I would remove the eyebrows for a more "polished" look. However some judges object to a cat having no eyebrows - so I always leave a couple. I pluck out the long hairs and all but two of the finer hairs. I prefer to pluck them out, holding my thumb lightly over the root of the hair as I pluck so that it doesn't hurt too much. You can use scissors if you take care to trim from the root of the hair and not to cut the adjoining hair. I always due this on a dry cat. I hope this helps! :-)
Topic: Cannibalism
My Siamese cat had a litter of kittens 12 months or more ago and when they were 4 to 5 weeks she killed them and ate them! The kittens father was a moggy. She got pregnant again and the kittens were born premature and she did the same thing again. Now she is pregnant again and I'm worried she will do the same thing again, please help? Brooke
Answer: I think you girl is telling you she doesn't want to be a mother. You will need to take her away from her kittens at birth and hand-raise them. If you have another momma-cat who is nursing a litter she might accept the new babies along with her own. But you really must consider removing this cat removed from your breeding program.
More Expert Questions & Answers

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