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.
Why is my cat overgrooming?
Hi, my name is Crystal Stewart and I’ve been having some problems with my 12 year old Tuxedo cat. She constantly bites, itches, rubs to she has some of her fur off completely in places. Her muzzle is the worst place. It is literally rubbed so raw it’s pink. Been to the vet many times and all they can do is give her antibiotic shot and a steroid shot which only lasts a month then back to square 1. We’ve changed her bowls from plastic to metal and glass, tried grain-free food which she hates and now we just took her off fish in her wet cat food. Kept dry cat food the same. My family and I suspect skin allergies since she had this for quite some time. The vet said she doesn’t have fleas. Can you please help get relief for my cat with suggestions? – Crystal
Hi Crystal, thank you for writing in with your questions about your Tuxie girl and I am so sorry to hear she is constantly itchy. You mentioned she has had this for quite some time – are you referring to years or months. How long exactly has this been going on? At what age did it start, and is it seasonal or year round? Do you have any other pets in the home, and if so, what type? Is she healthy otherwise or does she have other medical conditions as well?
In this situation, I would want to make sure your kitty has had a skin scrape to look for mites and that she has had fur plucked and grown on a culture to look for ringworm. These are two easy and inexpensive tests that would be the first place to start in trying to diagnose the problem. It is also advisable to make sure she has had a good oral exam (under anesthesia) with dental radiographs to make sure she is not rubbing her face due to oral pain. While allergies commonly cause skin problems, there are so many other causes that make cats itch, it would be important to look for those first.
Are there any veterinary dermatologists in your area? Since they deal strictly with skin issues, I would encourage you to seek a second opinion from one. The best way to get long-lasting relief is to figure out what is causing the problem in the first place.
I hope you are able to get to the bottom of your beloved kitty’s problem. I know it is bothering you as much as it bothers her. Good luck.
Chronic ear problems
My Siamese, Theodore, has been suffering for over a year with some kind of fungus in his ears (not an infection that can be treated with antibiotics). Over and over the vet cleans the ears and treats with Claro otic but it keeps coming back. (I’ve tried, but He will not let me put anything in his ears at home.) He’s eating no-grain food (Fancy Feast Salmon, Trader Joe’s cat tuna, freeze dried food on top with Three Seeds drops. No dry food. I’ve been to two vets with no success – Maxine
Hi Maxine, I am so sorry to hear that Theodore is having issues with his ears and I understand your concern. What exactly is the problem? Is it in both ears? What symptoms is he showing? Does it cause him discomfort?
You mentioned that he has some kind of fungus – do you know what kind? What exactly is the diagnosis and have any tests (like ear stain or culture) been performed to figure out what is going on? Did either vet do a good ear exam with an otoscope, and where they able to visualize deep into the canal to look for polyps or other underlying problems? Sometimes, it takes a little sedation to get that accomplished but it is well worth it and the vet can do a deep ear cleaning at the same time. It would be helpful to know whether Theodore was dealing with an entirely new infection each time he was seen by the vet, or is it the original infection that never really went completely away.
Ideally, you should seek a second opinion from a veterinary dermatologist. They are skilled at dealing with these types of conditions and many have specialized equipment like a video otoscope to help diagnose the problem. There is no need for Theodore to suffer and I am confident his condition will resolve with the proper diagnosis.
Best water for cats with kidney disease?
What is the best bottled water for cats with kidney disease and with a ph of 7. Thanks – Gladys Gauci
Hi Gladys, theoretically, distilled water has a pH of 7; however, as soon as it is exposed to air it becomes more acidic and after a couple of hours will likely be around 5.8. I am sure you probably already knew this which is why you are asking about other bottled waters. I found the following website https://ionizers.org/bottledwaterph.php that gives a long list of common bottled waters along with the pH of each. There are several that come close to your intended level of 7. I hope you find this helpful.
Good hydration is certainly critical for helping the kidneys to stay healthy and I appreciate you writing in and asking your question. Thank you and best of luck in keeping your cat’s renal disease under control.
Male cat peeing since move
I’m having trouble with one of my boy cats peeing since I’ve moved. – Stephanie
Hi Stephanie, could you be more specific with your question? I am not sure how to answer you without knowing more about your situation. How old is your kitty? How many other cats do you have? Is he having trouble urinating, etc.
My first piece of advice would be to have him seen immediately by a veterinarian. It is important to make sure that he is not dealing with a urinary tract infection or other medical problem. Once you have visited the vet, please feel free to write back if you still need help. Thank you for reaching out.
Comment from Ingrid: Stephanie, you may find this article helpful: Litter Box Issues: A Round Up of Solutions for a Frustrating Problem
Cat with irritable bladder
Is there anything to help (cure?) Irritable Bladder. I’ve been told my cat has this and it seems I’m throwing my money away. Constant tests, Meds/antibiotics that don’t work. Is this a condition that is hard/impossible to treat? (Karen)
I am sorry to hear your cat is having medical issues and thank you for writing in. I am unsure of what you mean by Irritable Bladder as I am not familiar with that diagnosis. Cats frequently suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome which is a problem with the gastrointestinal tract or from Interstitial Cystitis which is associated with the bladder. Since those are two entirely different conditions, I would really need to know more before answering your question. Please let me know which one your cat is suffering from so I can attempt to help you more.
Comment from Ingrid: Karen, you may find this article helpful: Does Your Cat Have Pandora Syndrome?
Dr. Bahr will be taking a break from our Ask the Cat Doc column for the months of November and December, but she will be back to answer your question in January!
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Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.