Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: July 20, 2023 by Crystal Uys


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!

How to get cat to exercise more?

How do I get my beautiful torti cat to exercise more?? I adopted her when she was 6 yrs. old, was told she came from a home with 7 other cats. She was very timid when she first came home with me, constantly hiding under the bed. I’ve had her for 3 years now and she’s improved a great deal. She’ll even come out by herself to the other rooms of the house briefly. We show her lots of love and do everything possible for her. She lives in our bedroom, sleeps on our bed most of the day. When I try to get her to clean & comb her, however, she’ll run under the bed. At night she has a huge slider window in the bedroom to look out and spends most of her time looking for animals, coming by, but she doesn’t run, hardly plays beyond swatting, when I use a wand toy. When I can get her, I carry her into the living room which is down a long hallway from our bedroom, put her on the couch. When she jumps off the couch I chase her down the hall so she runs. I’ll clap and praise her & then give her a treat or some food. However, that’s the extent of her exercising. She is not exactly aerodynamic, as she has a large, barrel shaped ribcage. Please give me some advice on how she could get some exercise! A friend’s cat developed diabetes, because he wouldn’t exercise. The vet wanted to know if he moved at all. Thank you for your help and all you do for these wonderful animals! – Ariel

Hi Ariel,

First, let me thank you for giving your beautiful girl a loving home and I appreciate your concern about her lack of activity. Some cats are not as active as others, but you are right about wanting to make sure your kitty stays fit.

To begin getting her to play more, you will need to understand what motivates her the most. If it involves food, then throwing kibbles or treats across the room is a wonderful way to get her moving more. Alternatively, you can place the food or treats on top of a table or cat tree in order to encourage her to jump or climb up to reach it. Or, walk around the house and drop treats as she follows you. I like to put a few pieces of food on paper plates and leave them around the house so that the cats have to walk from room to room to find them.

If she is not food motivated you will need to find other ways in which to entice her to play. Using scent as enrichment works for some cats and hopefully, it will work for her too. Sprinkle some silvervine powder or catnip on a few toys and hide them in a corner of the room, underneath a chair, behind a door, etc. and let her sniff the toys out and then play with them.

Have you tried leaving out boxes with the paper packing inside for her to play with? What about bringing in some branches with leaves on them for her to smell and scratch? Some cats respond to laser pointers and chase them endlessly. If you try it and she likes it, make sure to leave a treat or toy for her to catch at the end of the game.

Clicker training is a wonderful way to bond and interact with your cat while teaching her simple tricks to perform. Keeping her mentally fit is just as important as physical fitness is and clicker training is an easy way to get her to engage with you more.

Here are some more tips that may help you entice your precious bundle of fur to play more. Let me know if any of these suggestions work for you or if you have other concerns I can help you with.

Managing Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Chronic Kidney Disease

My cat, Max, is a 5 year old neutered orange tabby. He has IBD and I had been managing it with a diet that doesn’t include chicken or fish. Proteins include rabbit, venison, and sometimes beef or lamb. He also takes budesonide 2x a week.

Recently, he was diagnosed with Stage 2 CKD. My vet wants me to switch him to a prescription hydrolyzed diet to help manage both the IBD and CKD.

I’m trying to transition him slowly, mixing the new with the old. I literally use a Magic Bullet to mix them together because on it’s own, that hydrolyzed protein has a weird gel-like texture.

He’s seems to be ok when I blend both with water, but he’s more likely to eat if I blend with beef bone broth, but should I worry about the phosphorous content?

By the way, I’m not sure if I’m completely on board with the hydrolyzed diet (Hill’s z/d) because I still want to make sure he’s getting enough protein, so that’s the other thing I’m not sure of.

Plus, this Hill’s has chicken liver, which I’ve tried to avoid in the past, so now I’m a bit confused. – Abby C Abanes

Hi Abby,

I am so sorry to hear about your cat’s medical issues but grateful that he has you to advocate for good medical care on his behalf.

Unfortunately, I am unable to answer your questions without having more knowledge about his conditions and I would not want to comment on your current veterinarian’s recommendations without having seen your cat or his lab results.

However, I would suggest you ask more questions of your current veterinarian until you are satisfied with the answers given. Or, seek a second opinion which is always helpful. I encourage clients to get second, and sometimes even third, opinions and recommend you find a veterinarian that you trust completely. Do you have any boarded internists near you?

This is a good time for you to gather the right team together to help you and Max keep both of his conditions under control. Hopefully, he has lots and lots of good, quality years left to live and it would nice for you both to have professionals you can trust to guide you.  Good luck.

Cat screams in the middle of the night

Why does my 16 year old cat yell out in the middle of the night, a blood curdling scream for several minutes. After we speak to her, she calms down. She goes downstairs to do this. Her best friend was put down last month, so it could be grief but she has done this for possibly a year. She is very quiet at all other times. – Margie Love

Hi Margie,

There are several possible reasons for your kitty to have recently become vocal in the night and I would suggest you get her checked out by a qualified veterinarian ASAP. She could be dealing with hypertension, hyperthyroidism, or even senility among other things.

I would recommend a complete physical exam, bloodwork, urinalysis, and blood pressure check be done on her to start. The results should enable your veterinarian to have a better idea as to the cause of her problem. Fortunately, once a diagnosis is made, there are usually treatment options to help.

It would not surprise me if there was an underlying medical issue causing her to cry out at night, especially given her age. Please let me know what that turns out to be.

About the author