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The Refined Canine



  Veterinarian Q & A

Dr. Julie Pomerantz D.V.M, is veterinarian practicing in New York City.

Feel free to submit your questions to Dr. Pomerantz and we will email you when they are posted. Because of the volume we can not answer all questions received.
Click here to submit your question

This information DOES NOT replace professional veterinary care. It is intended solely for educational purposes. Your pet's medical condition should be evaluated by a veterinarian before implementation of any medical or husbandry changes.

If there is a potentially life-threatening emergency involving your pet, take your pet to a veterinarian or veterinary facility IMMEDIATELY!!!! Responses can take 1-2 weeks.

March 2009

Olga asks:
I recently added a female kitten to my small homebased no- cage cattery. She's litter trained by her breeder and uses litter box properly. However from time to time she pees in the middle of my bed. Why does she do it and how can I make her stop doing that?

Inappropriate elimination is a problem commonly encountered by veterinarians and in most cases medical and/or environmental causes are involved. In some cases, bladder infection or irritation may cause the cat discomfort during urination, which he then associates with the litter box or other usual elimination spot, prompting him/her to try other locations. These conditions require medical attention from your veterinarian.

In other cases poor litter box hygiene or conflict with other cats in the house may make the box less inviting. Many cats are very particular about their litter boxes so it is important to keep them very clean and to provide additional boxes to give the cat another option if one box is not acceptable. The rule of thumb is to have one more litter box than the number of cats! Make sure that the cat has some privacy and that he/she is not being tormented by another animal when using the litter box. Use a pet odor neutralizer to clean any soiled areas and restrict access to those areas until the cat is using the litter box consistently. If it is not possible to restrict access to an area then try placing a food dish in that area as cats are reluctant to eliminate next to their food. Even though the cat may resent being confined, it may be necessary to keep him/her in one area that has been cleared of inappropriate “targets” until use of the litter box has been established. Good luck with your kitties and please discuss your cats’ problems with your veterinarians who can best help you to determine the cause of your cats’ behavior and find a solution!


Carole is wondering:
I have a short haired Persian cat. Her eyes run constantly. Is there anything that can be done about that?

The distinctive look of a Persian cat comes from it’s flattened face – this is called brachiocephalic. This facial structure makes the eyes stand out somewhat and may cause the tear ducts to be compressed. If the tear ducts cannot drain properly then the tears run from the corners of the eyes. Like an apple that turns brown when exposed to air, the tears also oxidize and cause a brown stain. Unfortunately for many Persians this problem is built in and the only solution is frequent gentle face washing. Of course your cat’s vet should be consulted if the condition worsens or if the cat is squinting or has yellow or green discharge.


Janice wants to know:
I'm about to become a new cat owner of a Cornish Rex, who will be 3+ months old when he arrives. What is the best piece of advice can you give to a new cat owner?

Congratulations! I am sure you will quickly fall in love with your new feline companion! The most important things to remember when dealing with any youngster – human or otherwise – is to show lots of love and affection, be consistent about rules, and focus on rewarding good behavior (it is never ok to punish a pet for bad behavior - they do not understand).

Two other really important pieces of advice that I have for all pet owners come from my work at a municipal shelter. 1) Identification! Everyday, stray pets are turned in to the shelter, but without identification the chance of being reunited with their families is very slim. A microchip provides permanent identification but it is the responsibility of the owner to make sure that the chip’s registration is kept up to date. A tag on a cat safety collar (with elastic or break-away buckle) is also very helpful as it provides the finder with immediate information. 2) Make an emergency plan for your pet! Please make a plan for your pet in case something happens to you. I see so many animals surrendered to the shelter because their owners have died, gone to the hospital, been arrested, been evicted etc. Many of these pets are euthanized. Make a plan – with a friend, relative, veterinarian or private shelter – to care for your pet if you cannot. Make sure to tell someone what the arrangement is so that your wishes can be carried out.


Sarah inquires:
What are the side effects of Clavamox for a feline?

Clavamox ® (Amoxicillin-Clavulanic acid) is an antibiotic that is commonly prescribed for treatment of a variety of infections in cats. It is generally well tolerated and comes in both pill and liquid formulations. The most common side effects of Clavamox are digestive disturbance – vomiting, diarrhea and decreased appetite. These side effects usually resolve rapidly once the drug is discontinued and may be lessened by giving the medication with food. Although extremely rare, any medication (or food or environmental substance etc.) can also cause more severe adverse reactions such as hypersensitivity reactions (“allergic reactions”), manifested by symptoms such as hives, facial swelling or anaphylaxis or severe skin reactions. These kinds of adverse reactions can be very serious and even life threatening. If you suspect that your cat is having an adverse reaction to the medication please contact your veterinarian who can best advise you about your cat.


Mary asks:
My cats, at times, sleeps on our bed. When my husband started to go to bed he noticed a lot of little brown specs lying on the blanket. Upon closer examination he found many of the specs were moving and looked like tiny little worms . I have a microscope so I looked at them and these things look awful. They are very very tiny, sectioned and have protrusions that look like hairs along the sectioned body. The head appears to have spikes protruding all around it--nasty looking! They are very delicate, about 1/16 inch long and easy to mash when trying to pick one up to place on the slide. The body is brownish and have a bloodiness if mashed. These things have never been seen on the bed or anywhere in our home before now. Could you advise?

Your “little worms” sound suspiciously like flea larvae. You can find many pictures of them on the internet. Adult fleas live on their hosts where they feed on blood. The feces of the fleas can be seen on the skin and often on bedding. It appears as black flecks called “flea dirt”. These flecks turn red if water is applied because they are actually digested blood. The fleas also lay eggs that fall off of the host animal and accumulate on bedding and carpets. The tiny worm-like larvae hatch from the eggs and feed on the flea dirt and other organic debris. The larvae then pupate and emerge as adult fleas. Bring your “worms” to your veterinarian who can confirm that they are flea larvae and advise you on the best flea treatments for your situation. Remember: NEVER use dog flea products on cats and follow all label directions carefully. Some dog flea products can be toxic to cats even if they are just in contact with a treated dog.



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