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 Dezi and Roo on Etsy.
Do you have a question for Dr. Bahr?
Leave it in a comment and she’ll answer it in next month’s column!
Arthritic senior cat stopped grooming himself
When my senior cat began to get mats I was surprised, but realized the was developing arthritis and simply could not reach everywhere to groom the way he had. During a trip to the vet for a check up, one of the vet techs (vet nurses) took care of the mats with amazing speed. She had a particular comb she said was her tool of choice. I found one, and agree. I have a 16 yr-old cat with arthritis now, and use the comb to take out the mats over her hip areas, https://www.chewy.com/safari-shedding-cat-comb/dp/155272*. I know it’s for “shedding,” but this is the best for removing mats I’ve found. I don’t try to get them all in one sitting / evening. I work until Bennie says, “That’s enough!’ In another day or two, another evening, I work some more. – Cheri Collins
Congratulations on finding a good comb for mats and sharing your experience with us.
Arthritic pain does limit a cat’s ability to groom hard to reach parts of their body since it requires a lot of flexibility. It is a very common reason for unkempt hair coats and matting in cats that suffer from it. Fortunately, we now have many beneficial modalities to help cats in pain, especially for those suffering from arthritis. Did your veterinarian prescribe any treatments for Bennie? Hopefully, you were given several therapeutic options to consider and that Bennie is being treated appropriately and feeling much more spry now. If not, I encourage you to find a feline veterinarian that will be proactive in treating his pain.
Your suggestion to work on the mats “a little at a time” is excellent and I am sure Bennie appreciates your patience. Do you end the grooming session with a treat or something positive like playtime? It’s a good way to leave him with a positive feeling that can make the experience much more tolerable.
Your comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks for writing in.
Cat occasionally poops outside the litter box
Hi Dr. Bahr, I have a 15 year old declawed in the front cat who recently has begun defecating behind my TV. I have had her since she was 9 years old and was already declawed and has always used the litter box, never an accident. She pees and poops in her litter box still, but does some pooping behind the tv. I put some small furniture behind the tv so she cannot do her business there and she has not chosen another spot. Why would she do this? Will this always work? – Jo Klein
Anytime you notice a difference in your cat’s habits, it is a good time to pay attention to why such a sudden change would happen. Your cat is exhibiting a behavior that is new and different than her norm, and she is certainly letting you know something is amiss.
When was the last time she was at the vet? Has she had recent (within 6 months) bloodwork? What is the consistency of the stool (is it hard, soft, or normal)? Is she showing any other unusual signs that are different than her regular routine? These are all questions I would start with to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical problem causing her to go out of box.
Once medical issues like arthritis, constipation, kidney disease, dental pain, etc. have all been ruled out, I would then consider re-evaluating her litter box situation. Is the box big enough for her, is it located in a convenient and easy to reach location, and is it always clean? Are there times when the litter is too deep, causing her to sink? Does she live with other animals that sabotage her?
Is it possible she is starting to become senile? This is a fairly new topic in veterinary medicine and we are now finding that animals, like people, can succumb to senility as they age. I would recommend you discuss the possibility with your veterinary and if warranted, formulate a plan to help her function easier in her surroundings.
I encourage you to work with your veterinarian to discover the cause of your cat’s sudden departure from using her litter box consistently. She is letting you know something’s up and you are wise to pay attention to it. Good luck!
*FTC Disclosure: The Conscious Cat is a participant in Chewy.com’s affiliate program. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links,
we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.