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The Refined Canine



  Veterinarian Q & A

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

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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.

September 2008

Johanna asks:
I just wanted to ask for your help because I have a kitten of the age of 2 to 3 month old and her eye is really watery and it has gunk at times. What would you recommend for her?

Cat’s have very sensitive eyes that can be irritated by foreign material such as dust or fumes. Red runny eyes can also be caused by viral or bacterial infections. Upper respiratory tract infections often cause conjunctivitis (inflammation lining of the eyelids and surface of the eye) and even ulceration. If left untreated the eye may become scarred and vision may even be lost. Although unlikely, some bacterial causes of conjunctivitis in cats may be transmissible to people, particularly those with abnormal immune systems. A visit to your vet is in order to assess your cat’s condition but in the meantime you can flush the eye gently using contact lens saline solution or eye wash and apply a warm moist compress to the eyelids to remove any discharge. Wash your hands well before and after touching the cat’s eyes.


Darlin is wondering:
My cat has runny white-ish colored feces. I know she has worms and just treated her. Is that a common symptom?

Diarrhea can be caused by dietary changes, intestinal parasites, infectious diseases, stress, metabolic disorders and other serious abnormalities of the digestive tract. If the cause of your cat’s diarrhea is parasites (“worms”) then a fecal examination by your veterinarian is in order to determine the type of parasite and the treatment. Not all parasites are treated by the same medication. Diarrhea can be very serious and even fatal because the cat can become dehydrated. This is especially true for young kittens – for them diarrhea is an emergency. Please consult your cat’s veterinarian to determine the cause of her diarrhea and its treatment.


Judy wants to know:
My cat has an oily streak down her back for the last few days. Could the heat be the cause. She was not near anything oily.

Cats are usually fastidious groomers so it is unusual to have a sudden change in coat condition. Hot weather isn’t the cause but many of the topically applied flea products will cause an oily spot in the area of application (remember: ALWAYS follow label directions and NEVER use a dog product on a cat). Overweight cats who can’t reach to groom themselves often have dandruff and oily fur on their backs. Excessive brushing can also make the coat seem greasy. Some cats, particularly unneutered male cats have a condition called “stud tail” caused by overactive sebaceous gland activity near the base of the tail, neutering usually resolves this. A consultation with your vet will determine the cause and bath with a medicated shampoo may be recommended.


Laurie inquires:
Why do my cats smell each other's pinkies (anus) especially as I setting up food. Woody a black/white shorthair male really likes to "get up in there." He will smell any ones pinkie at any time. No charge!! All 4 of our cats are adopted or rescued. Woody lived next door and was probably a year when he first started coming in our yard. Then his humans moved. Without him. Some people I wish I could do something to.... By the time they moved he was pretty much moved in...anyway, I don't remember any one doing that until he came to bless our house. Thank you from one of the soldiers out here working in the trenches to do all we can to help all animals.

Cats recognize each other by scent and they mark their territory by secreting pheromones from glands on their cheeks, paws and anus. These scent signals are particularly important when cats are establishing their dominance hierarchy. When a resource such as food is presented, the cats must decide among themselves who gets to eat first so they sniff each other to get the pheromone signals. The old cats probably had a well established hierarchy and so they were more casual about signaling but Woody may still be trying to find his place in the group and needs to check the signals a little more often.


Kristin asks:
Why, after two years is my cat using my BED to pee in? I have 5 cats and two years ago I brought home a puppy - who is very calm (mostly new foundland) and is very submissive to the cats. The cats all have free reign to come and go in and out as they please. For the last 6 years I have had no cat box since they are trained to go outside. But as I mentioned, suddenly she is using my bed as a toilet. Any ideas? The urine does not crystallize, nor is there blood or a stronger than normal odor.

I am sorry that you are having trouble with your cat because he is urinating on the bed, I know this is upsetting but it is important to identify the reason for this behavior in order to help preserve your relationship. 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 litterbox or other usual elimination spot, prompting him to try other locations. These conditions require medical attention from your veterinarian. In other cases poor litterbox hygiene or conflict with other cats in the house may make the box less inviting. Since your cat formerly eliminated outside, is it possible that something is making that a less attractive option? Maybe there are other animals outside (dogs, raccoons, other cats) or perhaps another health related issue is making your cat reluctant to make the effort to go outside. Why not offer an indoor litterbox as another option for your cat? Many cats are very particular about their litterboxes 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 litterbox than the number of cats! Please discuss your cat's problem with your veterinarian who can best help you to determine the cause of your cat's behavior and find a solution!

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