Ask the Cat Doc: Cat Sucking on Tail, Spraying Cat, Cat’s Personality Changed and More

Ask-the-Cat-Doc-with-Dr.-Lynn-Bahr

Welcome to our regular “Ask the Cat Doc With Dr. Lynn Bahr” segment! Once a month, Dr. Bahr answers as many of your questions as she can, and you can leave new questions for her in a comment.

Dr. Bahr graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. Unlike most veterinarians, she did not grow up knowing that she would become a veterinarian. “It was a cat who got me interested in the practice and I am forever grateful to him,” said Dr. Bahr. Over the course of her veterinary career, Dr. Bahr found that the lifestyle of cats has changed dramatically. As the lifestyle of cats has changed, so did Dr. Bahr’s client education. In addition to finding medical solutions, she also encourages owners to enrich their home environments so that their cats can live long, happy, and healthy lives.

This new understanding led Dr. Bahr to combine her passion for strengthening the human-animal bond with her veterinary background and knowledge of what animals need and want to start her own solution-based cat product company, Dezi & Roo, inspired by two cats of the same names.

For more information about Dezi & Roo and their unique and innovative cat toys, please visit their website.

Cat’s personality changed after being on Prednisolone

Hi Dr. Bahr, In February my 17-year-old male kitty started on 8mg daily Methyl Prednisolone to treat GI disease. He’s tolerating it well, has gained back some weight and his personality has perked up too. Perhaps as part of his feeling better he’s started picking fights with my other kitty, a 7 year-old female. I think it’s to get attention – he wants the bed she’s lying in usually. I have read your article about kitty boredom and I am working in more play time with him, but do you think he could be experiencing a bit of ” ‘roid rage”? I realize this is kind of a weird question, but wanted to find out if this medication could cause personality changes. Thanks! – Louise

Hi Louise,

Congratulations on having a 17-year-old cat. You are blessed. I am so happy he is gaining weight and feeling better but sad to hear he has now started to pick fights with your other kitty. While most cats tolerate steroids well with few side effects, there is no reason to believe they have absolutely no ill effects on the body, physically or mentally. If this is a completely new behavior and the only thing that has changed in your cat’s life is the addition of medication, then it is possible it is making him a little crankier. There are certainly many other possibilities as well. It is not uncommon for me to see cats that have become feeble or those dealing with chronic diseases to begin feeling more vulnerable and less tolerant of housemates. Perhaps they lash out as a way to show their strength and hide their weakness, or they could just be feeling more stressed because of their weakened physical condition. It is hard for me to know exactly why your kitty has become grumpier and I would suggest you watch closely for any other signs of possible pain or distress. If these fights occur simply over a bed then it might be helpful to acquire a few more so that everyone has their own. Older cats benefit from heated beds or those that retain heat and you might want to invest in one of those for your wonderful old man. Good luck and thank you for writing in.

Cat is peeing and spraying all over the house

Dr.Bahr, we have two cats, a Siamese that is 9 and female, and a handsome blonde barn cat that is 8, and male. His name is Kitty. He is bad. He is peeing and spraying in the house. This is not new but this phase has been the worst. He has been to the vet each time his behavior gets worse and there is nothing wrong according to the ultrasounds and tests. He pees on shoes that are left on the floor, he sprayed on the dining room table the other day. I have covered all the windows so he can’t see out at night. We live in Florida and he is allowed to go out on our screened in patio and he loves it. He gets a lot of attention from all three of us humans. He is mean to our siamese, Mischa. I have used pheromone plug ins, feliway spray, a calming collar, lavendar on cotton balls placed in area where he pees. I am afraid he is going to ruin our house which we will have to sell one day. He talks ALL the time, and we listen, and we answer him. I don’t know what else to do. He also goes outside of the litter box both pee and poop. We have 3 litter boxes. – Lynne Wyre

Hi Lynne,

I completely sympathize with your problem and understand your frustration over it. It sounds like you have done all of the common things to remedy the situation but to no avail. From your brief description, it sounds to me like there might be an underlying issue with some major stresses between Kitty and Mischa. Kitty may be uncertain of his relationship with her, causing him to feel insecure and seek ways to assert himself better. However, I cannot diagnose the actual problem or give you a remedy with the little information I have at hand and am just guessing at this point. I believe this is a good case for contacting a feline behaviorist and allowing them an in-home visit to assess your situation more thoroughly. They may find solutions for the problem or, if indicated, they may refer you back to your veterinarian for some behavioral modification medications to either reduce Kitty’s stress or build up his confidence. Good luck and let me know how it turns out for you.

Ingrid’s note: If you can’t find a local behaviorist, I can highly recommend Mikel Delgado http://www.felineminds.com/ and Daniel Quagliozzi https://gocatgosf.com/ Both offer remote consultations.

Cat does not want to go out in safe yard

I finally have a beautiful, safe yard for my 12 year old Tuxedo to play and do her business outdoors. However she will have no parts of it, not even curious, wont go near the door, however, my 11 year old male tuxedo is loving life to the fullest. Both are fixed, not related and get along with her has the alpha cat. Got any suggestions on how I can coax her outside, Ive tried everything, like carrying her, staying with her, letting her smell the flowers, just leaving the door cracked open for her. Am I wasting my time, in that are some cats just “inside” cats? – Jeanette Eads

Hi Jeannette,

Having a safe yard for your cats to enjoy is a luxury most owners would love to have. It is nice that one of your babies is able to enjoy it. Do not worry at all that your other beautiful Tuxey girl wants no part of it. It is wonderful that you are allowing each of your cats the opportunity to choose how they want to live and she is letting you know she wants no part of it. Respect her wishes and let her enjoy life inside where she knows she is safe and loved dearly.

Siamese cat is sucking her tail

Hello, I’m Carol , and I have a Siamese that is now ten years old & her name is Jenni Leigh & she keeps on sucking her tail why is that? Jenni Leigh also has a problem with screaming when she goes to the Loo & she is on dry food from the vet. – Carol Graydon

Hi Carol,

It is not typical of cats to scream when eliminating and I am concerned that Jenni Leigh may be experiencing some pain and discomfort that is causing her to do so. Please have a veterinarian check her out thoroughly. If she were my patient, besides getting a complete history, I would perform a rectal exam, check her anal glands, palpate her spine, and collect urine, stool, and bloodwork. In this situation, I consider x-rays to be very important and one of the best ways to evaluate her tail, spine, pelvis, and entire skeleton. As a side note, Jenni Leigh might benefit from the introduction of canned foods into her diet if not contraindicated by another disease process she could be dealing with. Since I am not sure why you are feeding a dry food from your vet, I do not have enough information to make a comment on her diet at this time. Hopefully, the proper diagnostics will reveal the cause of Jenni Leigh’s problems and she will find relief soon.

Cat overgrooms her belly

This is a question for the cat doctor. My spayed female cat has odc. She over washes her area around the spayed area out to her anal area. She has over wash so much, her skin is very red. How can I get her to stop ODC, over washing that area and let it heal? – Patricia

Hi Patricia,

Was your cat recently spayed or did that occur a long time ago? It would be important for me to know in order to address the issue. I have seen many cats overgroom their belly for a variety of reasons. If she is an older girl, I would first look for evidence of abdominal pain from conditions like IBD, pancreatitis, or kidney disease. It is not uncommon for cats with urinary tract infections to present with bald abdomens and a urinalysis will help rule that out as a cause for your kitty’s problem.

Allergic dermatitis is a very common reason cats obsessively lick their bellies and she should be evaluated and treated for that possibility if indicated. Finally, some cats that are extremely bored or stressed will spend their time grooming as a way to alleviate their anxiety. This should only be determined once all medical reasons have been ruled out.

If she was recently spayed and is compulsively licking, I would examine her closely to see if there are any sutures left in the incision site or if this is a reaction to the sutures.

A visit to your veterinarian should help you find the answer to why she is over grooming and will be more helpful than simply trying to stop her from doing it. Hopefully, it will be a simple solution and she will be a happy girl with lots of new hair on her tummy soon.

Do you have a question for Dr. Bahr?
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7 Comments on Ask the Cat Doc: Cat Sucking on Tail, Spraying Cat, Cat’s Personality Changed and More

  1. Carly
    June 11, 2018 at 10:00 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Dr!

    I have two bengal cats, Theo (4) and Max (1). We moved from an apartment into a town home two Augusts ago this August. At first it was an amazing change for Theo to see outside, etc. but then we realized our connected neighbor two doors down has tons of cats she keeps outside. There are two that are really aggressive and spray outside our house and attack our glass doors. Theo in result started spraying at the doors inside and now it has gone to numerous other places and is ruining our entire house — spraying in the fireplace, on the kitchen table, etc. anywhere he can and we are at a loss for what to do.

    We have taken her cat issue to our home association, to that owner, to the town, etc. but it is not a quick fix unfortunately. My fiance and I both work all day and we can’t be home to watch him at all times. He is also obsessed with watching for them.

    We did fog all of our glass with stickers and that has seemed to help A LOT! But then he seemed to get worse again out of no where. We are afraid he actually hasn’t seen one in a while but it has now become a habit. Is there any hope for us in fixing this??

    Thank you!!

    Reply
  2. Rachelle Kaufman
    May 6, 2018 at 10:10 am (1 year ago)

    We moved to Israel last November with our cat. I started packing and preparing for the move last June. About 2 months later, I noticed that Nene had bald spots on one side. I assumed that the vet had shaved her there when they gave her rabid shots and withdrew blood for tests. Over the next months the area got bigger and she started doing the same on her belly. In Israel, I have brought her to the vet 5 times. She was put on prednisone for a week, given shots for parasites (the mites are gone now) and she is still licking the same areas until she’s sore. I have tried leaving window open and keeping her amused! I had her wearing a cone for 4 months, hoping it would break the habit but now that it’s off, she’s back to the same behaviour. She is about 7 years old. What next?

    Reply
  3. Souzan Hattar
    May 4, 2018 at 10:00 am (1 year ago)

    I have male cat about 2 years old very active goes in and out a lot i found him last year near my house , he got him self injry under his eye poss come out, i cleaned it but still poss come out under his eye. what can i do to help him i cant go to vet for help i do not have money to spend ,is their home ramady i can do for him Please let me know Thank you .

    Reply
  4. Vanessa
    April 30, 2018 at 8:25 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Dr. Bahr. I have a cat that is diabetic and in the early stages of CKD. Are there any up to date therapies for cats with CKD and do you see a cure anytime soon for cats that are experiencing this disease??

    Reply
  5. Janine
    April 30, 2018 at 8:15 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks for answering Patricia’s question about her cat over grooming her belly. Mine does the same thing.

    Reply
    • Patricia
      May 1, 2018 at 4:39 am (1 year ago)

      I have a friend whose cat is doing the same thing. He has already taken his cat to the Vet for this problem and it is happening again. I have taken my cat to the vet, since asking this question. Our cat are both neutered, mine 2011, and his 2013 and they have no fleas or any health issues. Both of our vets said they could be have an allergy to fleas, to even one flea. My cat is currently on Prednesole and his cat was on that too the first time he went to the vet, but his cat is having the same problem again.

      Reply
      • Patricia
        May 1, 2018 at 4:45 am (1 year ago)

        My cat is female and lives with 6 other cats and his cat is male and does not live with any other cats.

        Reply

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