A few days ago, we asked you to send in your feline questions for Dr. Scott Miller, our resident vet at Natusan.
You can watch his video replies here, or read the transcript below:
We have three cats. One of them loves people but hates all other cats. Because of this she spends time in semi-isolation for about half of the day. She now urinates at the door although she has access to her own litter box. How can I get her to stop this habit?
Of course you want to just make sure that it isn’t as a result of a urinary infection, that’s really important so maybe go and speak to your vet. But it does sound in this case as though it is stress-related, it is behavioural so that scent marking territory or spraying in cats.
You may want to consider a pheromone diffuser that you plug in, makes the atmosphere smell nice and calm and relaxing and hopefully will stop them from spraying.
If you are finding that your cat is really stressed then you may want to consider speaking to your vet about some anti anxiety medications that can really help to calm a cat's jangly nerves.
All videos I see online say for your house cat to be happy it should have a companion. I can’t have two cats for various reasons. Will my cat be happy on her own? Am I being horrible? I feel guilty that I can’t give her a friend…
I just don’t think that is true. At the end of the day, cats are solitary animals and in the wild cats are on their own, and they only really come together to mate, so cats can be perfectly fine on their own.
There really is no need to be concerned about bringing another one in, and so often, just like the previous question, two cats might not get along and may actually become more stressed and their quality of life reduced.
I certainly wouldn’t worry, just make sure that your feline friend has lots of attention from you, and lots of interactive toys to play with to keep them entertained.
So often with cats, when you’re not there they will just sleep and then they’ll be excited for you to get home, so why don't you actively play with your cat, and then you’ll feel that you’re putting in all the effort you can to make them as happy as possible.
My cat is very affectionate but she sometimes does this soft biting on my hands or arms, usually if I’m asleep as she wants more attention (I think). But the other day she did it a bit too hard and it hurt! What does this behaviour mean? Is it affection?
No, it is not. We all know that our cats are incredibly intelligent, and they are very strong willed and usually get their own way. In this case I think it is a cat that is just trying to wake up its owner because it wants to be fed.
Our cat for example yowls very loudly at us until we get up and feed him (now he’s an old boy so we’re happy to do that) but if you find that your cat is actually nibbling at you then probably the best thing to do is close the bedroom door and exclude them from the bedroom, because really they shouldn't be allowed to bite you in order to get what they want, and what you’re doing is actively reinforcing that behaviour by feeding them when they bite you.
So you need to make sure that whenever you are bitten, you don’t do what you believe the cat wants, because that is reinforcing that behaviour.
Our female tabby is a year old and she has very temperamental tendencies. She's my partner's shadow and follows him everywhere he goes. She hardly acknowledges me when he’s around but sometimes I can leave the house and she’ll turn on him. Why?
I wouldn’t be majorly concerned that there is anything deep seeded here, but cats are very complicated, very emotional creatures and despite the fact that your cat doesn’t show you much attention, they probably very much still value you and value your smell and your scent in the house - if they turn a little bit aggressive when you’re not there, then clearly they do enjoy your company.
So I would increase the relationship that you have, start encouraging the cat to be stroked and petted, start feeding the cats as well, all the things that will instill that relationship with them.
Playing with them, for example, is a really great way to develop a close bond and a playful one at that, but if your cat is “turning” on anyone, a lot of the time that can be pent-up excessive energy, and playing actively with your cat will burn some of that frustration off, and the need for “prey activity” will dissipate.
Hopefully you’ll then be left with a lovely snuggly moggie and not an aggressive tiger.
Since March 2020 my cat Millie has been used to me working from home. For 8 hours every work day she just sits by my computer while I work. She's 12. Is this bad for her because she's not doing anything else?
Not really, at 12 years of age she’s deserved a good nap. A lot of cats will sleep up to 18 hours a day so that isn’t a worry.
It is a great idea to try and exercise them, when you have a little break from work, try to get her up a motivated, walk her outside if you’ve got a garden, if you don’t try to enact a bit of play with her, anything to get her energy levels up before she has another nap. 8 hours of napping is not the end of the world.
My cat is constantly licking the fur at the bottom of his belly and now there’s hardly any fur in that area and I can see his skin, why might he be doing this?
Almost certainly it is going to be an allergy to something your cat has come into contact with, and that is why it is on the tummy.
I would suggest you go and speak to a vet about this, it can be a number of things; one that is very common is an allergy to dust mites (don’t feel bad about that, dust mites are present in even the cleanest homes) and just one bit can lead to an allergic reaction.
My guess is definitely a contact allergy, it just depends on which one, and treatments can include exclusions, treating with a dust mite spray, antihistamines or medications that can modulate the immune response.
My cat is 13, he's crying a lot, but we have noticed he's being sick too. The only thing that's changed is one of the neighbours has put a white noise thing in his front garden to stop cats going in to his garden.
I don’t think it is that, to me this really screams of a condition in older cats called hyperthyroidism - an overactive thyroid gland. It leads to lots of things; hunger, weight loss, cats can become very vocal and look lean and mangy with their skin and coat condition being affected, it can also cause them to act quite strangely.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that can be managed with medication or surgery or even radiation therapy as well, but this is certainly something I would say to go and speak to your vet about and get a blood test as they will be able to determine if your cat is suffering from Hyperthyroidism.
My cat keeps suffering from urinary infections. There are no underlying health causes as this has been illuminated, vets just can’t seem to give me an answer or ways to prevent/minimise these. He is a very anxious and nervous cat.
There are some medications that can help to improve bladder health, Cystease will reduce the inflammatory element of a UTI.
UTI’s are in the form of bacterial or inflammatory and the inflammatory ones can be brought on by stress - so anti-anxiety medication, from simple supplements all the way to tricyclic antidepressants.
If it is a bacterial UTI, then you need to understand why your cat is getting infections in the area and make sure you keep his back end nice and clean and just check his general health as well.
My guess in this case is that it is an inflammatory UTI and the best way to deal with those is rather than treating it as something you can spot-treat and hope to cure, actually instead go for management, and that is something that you can use every single day which will hopefully take the edge off when they are really stressed and their immune systems are weakened.
We have 2 rescue cats aged approx 2 and 3 years. We have had them as house cats since getting them a year ago. They have recently shown interest in going out. They are fully vaccinated. What's the best way to introduce them to the great outdoors?
Of course you have to think of them as purely indoors, if you were indoors and someone suddenly said “okay, you can go out” you wouldn’t know where you were going; you wouldn’t know the neighbourhood, that tree down the road, the shops, the neighbours’ houses, etc.
There are so many things that you wouldn’t recognise and the same applies to a cat. Chaperone them for the first two weeks in your garden, and then always get them in at nighttime.
It’s really important to microchip your cat but also perhaps make sure that they have a collar on which has your phone number, there are also some apps that you can get which can help to track your cat as well.
Why won't my 8 week old kitten drink water? He seems scared of it. Will he grow out of it? Should I just keep adding a little water to his food? If so, how much for each age category?
A lot of cats, you won’t see them drinking. They drink from strange places; cups and sinks and toilets. Outside, cats prefer brackish water so they will drink dirty water.
In this case, as it is a young kitten, just add more water to their food, and don’t worry about adding too much, it is absolutely fine - the kitten will eat or drink as much of that as they need to. Just offer as much as you can, particularly in this warm weather we’re having at the moment it is really key to keep your cats hydrated, particularly if they can’t go outside or find somewhere cool in the home.
My cat LOVES anything dairy; I’ve read it’s bad so I try to keep it off, but sometimes relent and give him a lick of milk or yogurt. It doesn’t seem to affect him negatively and cats have been lapping up milk since antiquity, where’s the truth?
Cats actually are lactose intolerant, that is true.
So a lot of cats will have upset tummies if they drink a lot of lactose but in a case where you are monitoring your cat, and checking that their poos are normal, and they aren’t overly upset with vomiting or diarrhea, then a little bit is fine.
Loads of yoghurt and cow’s milk is not a great idea, if your cat does love milk, then just go for one that is lactose free - whether it tastes as nice? We’ll have to wait and see...
I have two fifteen year old cat brothers. One is getting a bit wobbly. What can I do to help him retain his mobility as he ages? Are there any supplements or special diets I should be using for them?
Absolutely! Cats, like all of us, will have degenerative joints as they get older.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are the active ingredients that are present in a lot of supplements, and you can get those for cats. They can come in a powdered form or a capsule or tablet. Go and speak to your vet, they’ll be able to offer you one of those that will certainly do the job.
Just make sure that older cats’ joints are well looked after, we don’t want to just use non-steroidal anti inflammatories, which will spot-treat the issue, we want to try and improve the joint health, and we will do that after 4-6 weeks worth of using those kinds of supplements.
My boy cat pees standing up. We bought a top entry box to help stop it but he literally has both front feet out and slowly brings one of his back legs out during the process. He's always done this but it does cause a mess! Any tips to help him stop?
I think you’re absolutely right to consider an igloo, there are lots of cats that are not the cleanest of toileters, but getting a big igloo, which means that he has to go right in and the door closes before he can go to the toilet would be the one and only way I would consider to stop this.
I would probably also check that all of his joints are healthy and he’s comfortable and able to crouch down as maybe there’s an issue there and that’s why he isn’t. In this case, as it has been going on for a while, it could just be a bit of a quirk, but a messy one, I understand...
My cat was an outdoor cat before I moved and now he is an indoor cat. He uses a cat litter box for the toilet but stopped using it for a wee and now wees around my flat help me!
Unfortunately, again this sounds like a stress issue. A lot of the time, cats that are used to going outdoors aren’t great at using the litter tray.
Put a litter tray in more than one room, and if there is one place where the cat is urinating a lot, maybe put a little bit of food on some cardboard there - sometimes they won't urinate where they eat. Pheromone diffusers and anti-anxiety medication can help as well.
My cat has a megacolon. Could you please recommend the best feline laxative?
I use Lax-A-Past or Katalax - both of those work really well. They are just paraffin mixed with malt.
My cat had a liver shunt and had a successful operation 3 years ago. Does he need to be on Hepatic food for the rest of his life? Can it come back?
He doesn’t need to be on hepatic food if his liver is now functioning normally.
It won’t come back as the liver is a regenerative organ, and once that shunt (a normal blood supply) has been located, if the liver is functioning normally now, there should be no need to remain on hepatic food.
Extra keratin grows more nails through my cat’s paw pads. Is there anything to help manage them?
Unfortunately, the only way to manage it is through trimming them, there is no way you can prevent it from happening, it is just a matter of managing the condition.
Can cats have episodes of vestibular disease more than once? My cat had 2 episodes 3 months apart that lasted less than 1 hour. Then 4 months later we had one much milder episode now for 24 hours.
Vestibular disease (inflammation of the vestibular system, which controls balance) can make a cat look really sort of drunk and spaced out. The first episode is normally the worst. Hopefully it is just getting milder and milder, most of the time we never find out the cause, and usually it will go away in time, it's just a matter of managing their nausea.
There are medications your vet can provide to give your cat when it is feeling nauseous or stressed when this is happening. If it does continue to happen, you may want to go to the next step, with imaging - particularly a CT or MRI scan.
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21/07/2021 by NatuTeam