Ask the Cat Doc: Begging Cats and More

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

After a three month hiatus, we’re delighted to welcome back Dr. Lynn Bahr and our “Ask the Cat Doc” 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!

Cat continues begging for food after eating

Hi Doc. I have a 3 year old calico cat named Meeka. She is well behaved, until it comes to eating. She meows and caterwauls until fed. Even after we feed her, she returns to meowing once she finishes eating. She has plenty of fresh water, and is fed regually 1/4 cup of dry cat food, one scoop in the morning and one scoop at night. How can I stop her from meowing so much and begging for food even after she is fed? – Sarah

Hi Sarah,

Thanks so much for your question and for giving me the opportunity to discuss the topic of begging cats. Hopefully, my answer will not only help you but will help others as well.

A cat that begs for food is typically hungry, bored, or has a medical issue that has caused an increase in appetite. To “fix” the problem, you will need to determine the cause first. Given that Meeka is a young girl, the likelihood of a medical issue as the reason for her begging is low, but she should still be checked by a veterinarian. I would look at her diet and daily routine first to see if this is where her problem lies.

Are you feeding her enough? Calorie content can vary widely from one brand of cat food to another. Not all brands will disclose calorie counts on the label, and you may need to visit the brand’s website to find the information. General recommendations range from 24 to 35 calories per pound of body weight per day to keep an average adult cat at a healthy, normal weight.

What is her weight and body condition score (BCS)? This is important information to know when deciding on how many calories Meeka should be fed daily. Since every cat is different, weight and BCS is essential for determining every cat’s ideal caloric intake.

feline-body-condition-chart

Click on image to enlarge

Cats, like many humans, may also eat out of boredom. If this rings true for Meeka, then enriching her life with interesting ways to stay active, engaged, and entertained will help to decrease her begging a lot. Indoor cats rely solely on their guardians to provide them with opportunities to exercise and play and both are important for maintaining health and happiness. Indoor cats need appropriate outlets to release energy and to improve their mental well being.  So, even if this isn’t the cause for Meeka’s meowing, adding enrichment to her life will contribute positively to her physical and mental health.

On a final note, if there is any way you can incorporate wet or raw food into Meeka’s diet, she would benefit greatly from it. Perhaps, you could alter her routine of dry in the morning and evening by adding in a can or two in the middle of the day and before you go to bed. I bet she would love that and may even stop her annoying begging behavior.  Here is a blog I recently wrote on this subject that you may find helpful: https://deziroo.com/blogs/pawsitive-connections/is-your-cat-eating-right.

Let me know if by feeding Meeka more food, more frequently, helps her become more satiated and less of a beggar.

A note from Ingrid: I strongly encourage you to transitoin Meeka to an all wet food diet. You can find helpful information on how to transition cats to a healthier diet here and my general recommendations for the best food for your cat here.

 Cat with bulging disc

Hi Dr. Bahr,

About 3 weeks ago, our cat’s tail was suddenly hanging limp and he was in pain/moving slowly. We took him to the emergency vet, where they took x-rays but didn’t find anything and gave him Onsior.

He was doing much better for about 2 weeks, when he was in obvious pain, constipated and wouldn’t eat. Since our vet was closed, we took him back to the original emergency vet and they gave him an enema and more pain meds.

Finally, after he kept getting worse, we had him see a second emergency vet this past Friday. We had an upcoming neurology appointment at the same practice, but didn’t feel he could wait until the scheduled appointment. The ER vet gave him a stronger dose of gabapentin (50mg) and buprenorphine. They suggested crate rest. (We’ve been doing bed rest in a small bedroom with no furniture since the visit.)

We took him back for his scheduled neurology appointment. They did an MRI and found he had a bulging disc. They suggested continued crate rest for 4 weeks and continued gabapentin. (He had already shown great improvement after a couple of days of bed rest.) They said they were optimistic that conservative treatment would work for him because his symptoms were mild (he retained the ability to use his back legs and use the restroom, although he did have difficulty jumping and some constipation which we’re treating with Miralax) and he had already improved greatly since the ER visit on Friday.

Although we talked the vet and have tried to read a little, we’re still unclear about this problem and the prognosis. These are the specific questions we have:

Would a bulging disc fall under IVDD, or is that a separate condition?

Would there a possibility of the disc fully healing?

If he’s doing better after crate rest, how serious of a problem does this present for the future? The vet said we would have to make lifelong modifications to restrict jumping, etc.

We’ve read varying things, but the outcome seems to depend on the severity of the problem.

Thank you! – Becky

Hi Becky,

I am so happy to hear your boy is feeling better and appreciate the extent to which you went to get him well. You are a pawsome pet pawrent!

Since disc disease is not that common in cats, it often goes undiagnosed until the symptoms become severe. You, and your cat, were lucky that have diagnosed the problem before it became more severe and untreatable. Bravo!

IVDD (intervertebral disk disease) is the medical term used for a “bulging”, “slipped”, or “herniated” disc. It happens when the disc (for whatever reason) begins to put pressure on the spinal column thus causing neurologic deficits. Cage rest along with anti-inflammatory and pain medications are how most cases are treated initially. Surgery is an option for more extreme cases and the prognosis depends on the severity of the impediment.

Conservative treatment generally produces favorable outcomes. However, 30-40% of cases recur depending on the extent of the bulge and I am unable to say whether your guy will completely heal or not. Only time will tell.

I would recommend you contact a trained veterinary rehabilitation specialist to guide you during this time of recovery. Their expertise will go a long way in helping to assist you with exercises and environmental modifications to prevent recurrence.  You can locate a specialist in your area here https://rehabvets.org/directory.lasso.

Good luck. Please let me know how your boy does in the future.

7 Comments on Ask the Cat Doc: Begging Cats and More

  1. Becky
    February 22, 2021 at 9:16 pm (2 months ago)

    Thank you so much for answering my question about Dillard! He was much better after bed rest but unfortunately his back has flared up again at the beginning of January. We recently began doing laser therapy through our vet and the difference is amazing! He is so much calmer and active after the treatments.

    Thank you for the information about rehabilitation specialists. I am planning on reaching out to one in our area, especially after seeing the results we’ve had with the laser therapy.

    Reply
  2. Millicent P Hollins
    February 15, 2021 at 9:23 pm (2 months ago)

    Our 2 yr Highlander (long-haired) unneutered male cat, dislikes being held or picked up. He received hours of attention and petting as a kitten. Now, we need to wear protective gloves to pick him up long enough to place him in a cat carrier. Our vet gave us Gabapentin, yet he will run away when I attempt to approach him. We have two other Highlanders males who are very affectionate. The Feliway and catnip do not help calm his aggressiveness towards being handled. Our vet must give him a sedative to do an exam or grooming. He will use all his strength to get out of my hands even if I hold him with a towel or behind the neck. He is a 100 percent indoor cat. I need to get him neutered this year. Is there anything that I can place in his food or treats that would calm him down to place in the cat carrier?

    Reply
  3. Phyllis Edwards
    February 15, 2021 at 9:50 am (2 months ago)

    My male cat, nearly 2 years old, routinely pees on any cloth rug in the bathroom. Thankfully, he only does that in the bathroom where his litter box is located. How can I get him to stop? I’d love to be able to have a bath mat or throw rug over the cold tiles!

    Reply
  4. Diana
    February 15, 2021 at 8:56 am (2 months ago)

    Hi, We have these little cat toys that look like springs, that our cats love. One of our cats, Sparky, will take a spring in his mouth and then walk around howling extremely loud, and then take the spring and place it in his bowl of food before eating the food. I’m always taking out 3 or 4 springs from the dish everyday !! Why do you think he would do this ?

    Reply
  5. janine
    February 15, 2021 at 8:42 am (2 months ago)

    Becky, I hope your baby is doing better soon.

    Reply
  6. Abby
    February 15, 2021 at 4:57 am (2 months ago)

    Regarding allergies, I have a couple questions:

    1) If a cat is allergic to fish, could they also be allergic to shellfish (e.g. shrimp, crab) or fish oil?

    2) If a cat is allergic to chicken, could they also be allergic to other types of birds (e.g. duck, turkey, pheasant or quail)?

    Reply
  7. angiesrecipes
    February 15, 2021 at 4:26 am (2 months ago)

    Not sure if I should ask about cat skin/fur problem here. My cat Coco (13 years old) has been having skin problem since many years. We brought him to the vet for ‘i-don’t-know-how-many-times’ for the same issue. He scratches himself very bad, very often I saw blood on his face around eyes and ears. Sometimes tails, and paws. The vet used a blue lamp to check whether he had a fungus, but didn’t see any. Before I fed him wet food(no grain) and since he usually got chicken, so I suspected that he has an allergy against chicken and changed to beef, rabbit, and duck…but didn’t really help. SO I have changed his food and fed him raw beef and salmon…but haven’t seen the improvement yet…Poor thing has to wear a collar and I feel so guilty about that…any idea why?

    Reply

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