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 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)

Hi 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!

Do you have a question for Dr. Bahr?
Leave it in a comment!

6 Comments on Ask the Cat Doc: Why Is My Cat Overgrooming, Cat with Ear Problems, Best Water for Cats with Kidney Disease, and more

  1. One of my cats will not poop in the cat box, she only pees. So, I started putting down dog pee pads and she poops on them!!! What is wrong with her. I have 3 other cats and she only gets along with one of them. The other one likes to fight with her, so we keep them separated at all times.

  2. My cat Eebie has been throwing up on & off for years. He is on Hills prescription i/d. Tried changing his food to blue buffalo grain free fish & potato, but it didn’t work & he didnt like it. He has bartenella & when changed his food to the blue buffalo he started scratching again & now he also shakes his head often. The vet ruled out fleas. Within the past few months he started lying on his stomach uncomfortably mostly after he eats or drinks, but now it’s become more frequent, even not after eating or drinking. The vet tried told me to go on to wet food twice a day but he threw that up too. I’m now thinking an xray should be done or another test, to make sure it’s not something serious. Would appreciate your advice. Thank you, Devorah

  3. My one cat also has had an overgrooming problem for most of her life. She is 17 and now I don’t think the fur will ever completely grow back. She has health problems and has been on meds most of her life for a heart issue. She tends to over groom when there is a change in her environment i.e new pet, work being done on the house. Also found she is sensitive to fish in her food (which will also cause her to vomit). Have to be very dilligent in reading labels in wet food, dry food and treats. Have to do this for all food fed to to the cats in the household, since she will finish up any uneaten food. Look for labels that state fish oil, salmon oil , menhaden oil(a type of fish), any type of fish in All eaten items. This has made a world of difference. Be careful when foods say they are reformulating their food, they can change any of the ingredients. It limits what I can feed my cats, but anything to help her be more comfortable and keep her off of additional meds.

  4. I want to thank the Dr. for addressing my cat’s problem. Don’t know the age it started. Hasn’t been going on for years. It’s year round. No other pets at home. No medical conditions. She’s a healthy cat. We have 1 vet in the area with emergency hours(25+miles away from where we live). Not sure if our vet is a dermatology vet or not. If not there isn’t one in the area. Last time she was at the vet they checked her ears no mites.

  5. My kitty Rudi has been spraying all over our walls since we moved. He’s a nuertered male 11 year old rescue. He’s been checked for urinary tract infection and other illness and is healthy. We are also transitioning him from an indoor/ outdoor cat to strictly indoor kitty. Any advice or suggestions would really help as I feel Rudi is really unhappy.

  6. Why does my 1 year old kitten eat my hair? She will also bite at my fiancé and my feet when we are trying to sleep. Is this something she will grow out of? Or is this something that I need a cat behaviorist to address?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.