Ask the Vet: Dr. Kris Answers July’s Questions

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Welcome to our regular “Ask the Vet With Dr. Kris” segment! Once a month, Dr. Kris answers as many of your questions as he can, and you can leave new questions for him in a comment.

Dr. Kristopher Chandroo is a veterinarian, scientist, photographer, animal welfare advocate, and creator of Stress to Success (STS): The Essential Guide to Medicating Your Feisty, Grumpy or Reluctant Cat.  Dr. Kris wants  your cats to be twenty years old. And counting! And he wants to provide medication and therapy to them in a way that respects the bond between cat and human.

Here are Dr. Kris’ answers to some of your questions asked in June. If your question didn’t get answered here, Dr. Kris will answer them on his own website in the future. Subscribe to his updates so you’ll be notified when the answers are published.

Cat pees on nearest wall or other object

Hi Dr Kris,

My 4 year old indoor/outdoor male cat (Hansel Von Whiskerheimer:) has developed a habit of backing up to the nearest wall or other object, looking me in the eye, and urinating with his tail up and a little butt wiggle. This behavior seems to always follow a request he has made that I have not attended to immediately. He will meow and if I don’t feed him or even just give him some attention, he walks over to me, stares right at me, and pees. There has only been one time when the urine has had the “cat marking smell”-otherwise it just smells like urine. Also, he only does this with me-not my husband, sister, or any of the cat sitters.

So far my theory is that he first developed this habit when he had a UTI in the winter and needed to go outside (he prefers to urinate outside) as soon as he felt the urge and it was his way of telling me to hurry up and let him out, but since then it has continued. He has had a urinalysis on multiple occasions and the vet can’t find anything medically wrong with him. This has been going on for over a year at this point. It’s not every day but usually just when I think he has stopped, he will do it again. I have added a couple more cats to my household, so I could see that being a trigger. I don’t want to be reinforcing the behavior by giving him food/treats/cat nip on demand, but I also don’t want my house to be covered in pee! before this particular behavior began, he would knock over as many things as he could if I did not meet his meow request immediately.

I thought that was annoying, but I would take a spilled cup of water or broken vase over a urine soaked yoga mat any day. Do you have any ideas for behavior modification? I just started giving him extra attention all the time since he now has other cats to compete with, but other than that, I really am at a loss. Thanks!

Hansel Von Whiskerheimer!

Ha! Love the name!

Take a video of the Von Whiskerheimer (with that name, you know he loves to be in front of the camera!).

Show it to your vet.

I can’t tell you how many times a video has revealed what words and urinalysis could not! Your first task is in fact to confirm if this is marking behaviour.

If so, they can provide you with some steps from there to resolve the soggy yoga mat.

Good luck

Dr. Kris

Treating hyperthyroidism with homeopathy

What are your thoughts about treating cats with homeopathy?

My rescue cat has most recently been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. I am trying a remedy, but thinking I will do the traditional meds. Also, he has tested positive for exposure to the Corona virus, originally the vet thought he definitely had FIP, but now she doesn’t. Can you please comment on the Corona virus? It is my understanding that many are exposed, but in only a few does it mutate into FIP.

Hi!

Someone who is considering homeopathy is someone who is thinking about their cat.

Someone who is thinking about their cat is someone who will treat their cat.

Someone who will treat their cat will go through a process to see what works best for their cat.

So even though people debate homeopathy, I’m more interested in someone’s mindset. Where they are coming from, and what their cat means to them.

So, I won’t find fault in someone trying.

Putting in the effort.

That is pretty special, because many people don’t. I can guarantee you that, and their ain’t many guarantees in vet medicine.

If you want to use a non-conventional treatment for hyperthyroidism, it becomes simple. Find someone trained in homeopathy, try it, and re-test their blood in 4-6 weeks. If it’s working, you’ll know because their excessive thyroid level will start to normalize.

If you don’t see that happening in a convincing way, switch gears. Quickly. Because untreated hyperthyroidism damages many organs in the body, and some of us believe that in fact it’s a source of kidney damage.

Dr. Kris

Resident cat is upset at new kitten

We received a new 11 week old kitten. My 2 1/2 year old cat hissed at him and seems upset. What can I do to unite them?

Your 2.5 year old was living the life of a millennial. Finished school late, tonnes of debt, so he moved back home. Part-time job.

But…he’s more socially conscious, more likely to become an entrepreneur, makes purchases with his smartphone, and stays updated with brands through social networks. He would suffer more from losing a phone than losing a car.

Your kitten is a big ol’ baby boomer. He is dramatic social change on four paws. Counterculture.

He values individual identity over group think.

When you stick a baby boomer and a millennial together really quickly, and say make something great happen, what you hope for is Hathaway and Deniro in “The Intern”.

But sometimes instead, you get Hathaway and Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”.

Watch those movies!

See, it can take weeks or months for relationships to form, and it’s complicated.

Separate them after the conflict.

Give them a chance to get to know each other on their terms.

Make sure they don’t compete over anything.

Take it slow. Their time. Not our time.

It’s an old formula Hollywood knows well!

Dr. Kris

Gabapentin for arthritis pain

Dr Kris, my 9 year old cat is already on prednisone twice a day for arthritis in the rear spine/hips/legs but was still limping so the vet gave me Gabapentin to give to her, in liquid form, 1.5ml twice a day. She had no side effects but I had trouble giving her the liquid form so I asked for it in pill form. She was prescribed 50mg twice a day but all anyone had was the capsule form that I could not cut in half. After speaking to the vet about it, She just increased the dose, in capsule form to 100mg every 12 hrs. Her first dose she got that drunken sailor syndrome, balance was off, she couldn’t walk straight. Is this normal until a few doses? I’m wondering if that dose is too high for her starting off. Several blogs I read only had cats on doses of no higher than 50mg a day! My vet had increased her prednisone to twice a day since she was still limping and added Gabapetin saying sometimes you have to initially hit them hard in the beginning with higher doses then wean them back. Need some advice, I think the dose is too high, but I’m not a Dr. Thanks

100mg is the sedation dose I use with specific cats in specific circumstances.

It will make some cats sleepy, wobbly, and less emotionally reactive (which is the goal in that situation).

I use it when life is really rough for a cat, whose fear, stress or anxiety needs to be managed before they come see me in a vet hospital setting.

If I’m using Gabapentin for arthritis, I’m going to start low, then increase it until the kitty feels better. If the patient gets drowsy, I might tolerate that temporarily, but I don’t want a drunken sailor 7 days a week. Since I’ve never seen your cat, I don’t know what low is relative to what your cat is dealing with. But 100mg is my sedation dose.

There are alternatives to prednisolone and gabapentin, but myself (and anyone else) would need to know a lot more about your cat (hands-on) and the specific rationale for the choices so far before recommending anything else. It really is that individualistic, and what works for some really doesn’t work at all for others.

I know I keep saying this but I will create an “arthritis masterclass” for cats. It’s just squeezing the time to make it happen. But it’s on the list. If people want this, fill the comments with what specifically you would like to see in it.

Dr. Kris

Feeling guilty about not being able to afford care for a sick cat

I have a male cat that I gave a home off the street for about 14-15 years. He has elevated liver and kidney enzymes as well as too many white blood cells. There is no money available to give him an ultrasound and whatever treatment he may need which probably won’t help. Now all I have to do is wait and he is still eating and functioning except that he no longer sleeps with and stays on my bed as he always did. I feel guilty even though I prevented him from having a life on the street where he wouldn’t have lived this long.

Don’t feel guilty.

It sounds like from your description that he is really ill.

There might not be anything you can do about that.

But let’s talk about this:

“And whatever treatment he may need which probably won’t help…”

Say no to that.

You don’t need that way of thinking.

Your cat doesn’t need that way of thinking.

Maybe it’s true, that treatment won’t help at all.

But so what.

You don’t know until you try.

It’s never the outcome, because none of us get out of this game alive.

It’s the journey. Your choices when life got rough.

And trying does not have to mean an ultrasound, expensive or complicated – you need a team of people that understands that.

That understands that when you take a cat off the street, give it a home for 15 years, they deserve something.

And you deserve the feeling that comes when you try.

We had a saying back in school. When you have a very sick cat, who is trying to survive, you can always try to give them X. You want to try and give them X before you euthanize them if people want to try. Because sometimes it works.

Your vet should know what X is.

Dr. Kris

Cat with diarrhea

I have a four year old that was sick with diarrhea a few months ago. Now still a little wet giving probiotics every day much better but not normal Like before .could this be stress?

It can be stress plus: http://www.iwillhelpyourcat.com/dr-kris-qa/#/when-your-driving-in-a-chevy-and-its-getting-kind-of-heavy-diarrhea/

Needy tortie is screaming all the time

Hi Dr. Kris,

I have a very sweet 8 year old Tortie. We rescued her from my Mom 4 years ago. I love her to death but she is so needy. I understand she wants to be fed a 1/2 hour to an hour beforehand but she will not drink from her water bowl unless we show her there is water in there and she is not getting it from the faucet. She does not like watching her drinking but I tell her I am not leaving till she drinks it. You would think after 6 years she knows the drill. She screams all the time and makes me feel like I am not a good pet parent. Her daddy screams at her back. I tell him she is female you cannot win an argument with her. I am afraid her screaming is going to get us kicked out of are apartment well it has not for 4 years. What to do?

“I tell him she is female you cannot win an argument with her.”

Best line of the day!

Seriously though, there is much to unpack in your question, and many questions that I would have to ask to figure it out. I would want to know the floor plan of your home, feeding times, feeding stations, number of scratching posts and other entertaining things that your cat might have.

It can get really detailed and specific, but also really solvable at the same time.

Best thing to do?

I’m serious.

Counseling.

Mikel Delago does it, check her out here: http://consciouscat.net/2017/08/07/ask-cat-behaviorist-mikel-delgado-june-julys-answers/

Do you have a question for Dr. Kris?
Leave it in a comment and he’ll answer it next month!

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10 Comments on Ask the Vet: Dr. Kris Answers July’s Questions

  1. Tom
    August 24, 2017 at 7:43 pm (4 weeks ago)

    I have a general knowledge type of question, not a medical question, but I don’t know who else to ask. Are “fixed” male and female cats identical in behavior or do some gender-related traits remain. For example, relating to outdoor cats, males have much larger ranges than female cats. Does neutering make any difference to things like that, or is a male cat still a male cat except for ability to reproduce, and ditto for females?

    Reply
  2. Beth
    August 24, 2017 at 10:24 am (4 weeks ago)

    Dr. Kris,
    I really enjoy your monthly Q&As and love the idea of you doing an “arthritis masterclass”. My current cats do not have an issue, but both of my previous cats seemed to have issues during their last years (17 and 18). We moved things around, changed the litter box set up(s), put steps & kid stools near the windows, and basically tried to make it easier for them to get around and still be cats.
    It would be so beneficial to know what to look for and how to you tell if your cat has arthritis. What are the early signs? Is there anything we can do to prevent it? What are the options with medicine and homeopathy? What else can we do to help them so that they can still enjoy being cats?
    Thanks for all that you do.

    Reply
  3. Kate
    August 23, 2017 at 11:11 pm (4 weeks ago)

    I have a senior cat with advanced chronic kidney disease. She only has one functioning kidney; however she is still playful and full of spunk for a 15 year old cat. I am not a fan of feeding those “prescription” foods. I am currently giving her premium wet food with the phosphorus dry matter basis below 1%. I understand the lower the phosphorus level, the better. I also understand that I should watch her sodium levels in her food. My question is (1) What is the acceptable sodium percentage on a dry matter basis? (2) What other minerals, vitamins and amino acids should I monitor in her food on a dry matter basis percentage?

    Reply
  4. Melody Carnell
    August 22, 2017 at 9:45 pm (4 weeks ago)

    Hi Dr. Kris, it’s me again with the Gabapentin for arthritis question. I will talk with my vet again about the 100 mg of Gabapentin being too high but since then, Sweet Pea (maybe 10-12 years of age said my vet because the arthritis in her rear spine and hips shows prominently on her xray) has been taken off the prednisone and is now still on the 100 mg Gabapentin and had her first acupuncture which from the look on her face was mind blowing! It appeared to work quite well! I have never seen her in such bliss, made me cry, she deserves it!!!
    My question now is, I’ve heard long term use of prednisone in cats has a high risk of causing diabetes, does that also apply to Gabapentin? It that harmful with long term use? Should I just try the acupuncture alone? Do you know of any non-medication things I can do for her to help with the arthritis? I have asked my vet about the Assisi Loop but shes not familiar with it and wants to read up on it before prescribing. Thanks for any assistance!

    Reply
  5. Jenny French
    August 21, 2017 at 7:46 pm (4 weeks ago)

    Your arthritis masterclass would fill a void, since cats are living longer and arthritis is so common and yet drugs often seem to be the only answer. I want to understand everything I can about pain management. I’m looking for alternatives to the pain medication (Buprenex) the vet gave me for my 14-year-old female. X-rays revealed arthritis along her spine. Interestingly, the images suggested her body seems to have fused the vertebrae, which would explain her stiff gait. She takes Amlodopine for high blood pressure but nothing else. A recent blood test showed all other values within healthy range. I’ve tried to make the home comfortable for her. I pick her up with a lot of support. She is very sensitive to touch on the lower back, so I avoid stroking her there. Buprenex makes her sleepier than usual, even for a senior cat, and wobbly too. And is long-term use advisable anyway? I need other options to try. She’s a loving cat and I want to repay that love with the best life possible.

    Reply
  6. Silvia Shanahan
    August 21, 2017 at 5:23 pm (4 weeks ago)

    About that drinking problem…..I read in a book that some cats do not like their water next to their food…they consider food prey and it could contaminate the water. mine did not want to drink much, but when I moved their water bowls elsewhere, they now drink a lot.

    Reply
  7. Patricia
    August 21, 2017 at 12:14 pm (4 weeks ago)

    Hi Dr. Kris, can you recommend a good way to get my cats acclimated to taking the flea drops on their neck? I got scratched up pretty good the last time. I have to get through this as my cats are indoor and my dog is indoor outdoor. Protection against fleas and other pests is important. Please advise..

    Reply
  8. Louise Ayers
    August 21, 2017 at 11:14 am (4 weeks ago)

    I would love to hear about those senior cats. It may be to late for mine by the time you respond, but my vet I trust explicitly said I will always want to do whatever I can or beat myself up if I don’t try. My female cat is in hospice care with us, and each day may be her last. 20 is a good number to live, she has never eaten table food, or treats, just her good quality cat food, now all wet. This has been her choice. It doesn’t make it any easier as she is a very picky eater. She has in the last couple months developed a tumor that has grown rapidly under her ribcage. She had a biopsy on it and though large it doesn’t spread to her other organs. When we started the procedure to remove it and find out for sure where it was attached, we did the initial bloodwork. We found out she had anemia, with a value of 15, 2 days later it was 16 after the liver supplement, then Saturday it had dropped to 8 so we put her on Buprenorphine to help her pass normally, as we figured it was only a matter of days. She is still eating and drinking, though seems nothing has progressed so far that she is ready to go. Our bed has been on the floor for 2 months, her cat tree was disassembled to a floor model now, so she wouldn’t hurt herself jumping. Just wanted to say, which ever path you choose for your baby has to be the right one for you. Do not grieve and wonder what if, do the best you can.

    Reply
  9. Sue Lamothe
    August 21, 2017 at 6:52 am (4 weeks ago)

    Would you recommend Lysine as a supplement for a 6 yr old cat diagnosed FIT + ? ( never been sick)……if so, which Lysine brand / form do you prefer? thank yoh

    Reply
  10. Sonja R Copley
    August 21, 2017 at 4:19 am (4 weeks ago)

    I have a blind cat that started having what I called night terrors, take to vet,put him on phenobarbital, didn’t help much. Finally videoed it, took him back, this time they put him on lorazepam, which did help alot. But then he went right into one when I gave him the pill.the episodes have changed, you can visably see him getting shocks, can’t afford nurologest, started giving him CBD OIL, it helps, doesn’t seem to get shocks when I do. It’s heartbreaking to see him go through these.any ideas?

    Reply

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