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Q&A Vet Clinic - Cats - March 2014

Q) Why Does My Cat Have Bald Patches?

Hi my cat sometimes gets bald patches in her fur. Someone has suggested to me in the past that this can be flea related but I use frontline regularly so I'm not sure this is the case. The most recent bout seems to have started about the same time my neighbours two doors away got a dog which is in their garden a lot. Could this be a reaction to stress? Is this something I should be worried about?

A) Hi, one of the most common reasons a cat will lose hair is that they overgroom themselves. They can do this if they are itchy (for example if they have fleas), or if they are stressed.

If you are already using Frontline monthly, it could be due to stress. In this case, it can help to use Feliway, a synthetic pheromone that can help reduce anxiety greatly in cats.

You can also try a supplement such as Viacutan

which provides essential fatty acids for improved skin and coat health. If there is no improvement, or if you notice any soreness or redness of her skin, please take her to see the vet.

Q) Alternative to Frontline?

Hi my two tabby cats hate the frontline treatment to keep fleas at bay, is there another way to give this? We have also tried other manufactures equivalents but they are worse. Is there anything that can be given with food? Thanks

A) There is an oral treatment that can be given with food called Program. It works in a different way to the spot on treatments because it prevents flea eggs from hatching, rather than killing adult fleas. Therefore it is best to use when you don't already have an existing problem. It can be used at the same time as a spot on if this is needed to start with. Capstar is another oral option. This will start killing adult fleas within 15 minutes, however it only lasts for 24 hours so is best to be used for a severe initial infestation while a spot on takes effect.

I would also advise using an environmental spray to help control any fleas that have just hatched, before they jump onto your pet.

Q) How to Help Cat with Asthma?

Hi my female cat has asthma not sure of her age is she was a stray. Possibly 5 years! What advice would give to make her breathing easier? Does she have to have medication? Thanks.

A) Hi there is medication available for feline asthma that would have to be prescribed by your vet. In addition, you can help her by reducing triggers, just like for children with asthma. For example making sure the house is vacuumed regularly to help reduce dust mites, not smoking in the house, and avoiding having high pollen flowers in the house.

Q) Mounting Behaviour in Cats?

Hi, I have 2 cats, Lady approx. 3 years old, spayed, and Uno, approx. 18 months, neutered. Sometimes they get along, sometimes not. However, I have notice that, despite being neutered, Uno still jumps on Lady in a 'mounting' fashion, is this normal or should I get his neutering checked by the vet as I am convinced he is still partially intact with this behaviour?

A) Hi this sort of behaviour can become a bit of a learned habit, especially if Uno was neutered after puberty. It is possible to leave some testicular tissue intact during the neutering process, but it would be quite rare. Your vet can do an examination that could give some clues as to whether he is likely to still have testosterone present, and even take a blood test if necessary. Unfortunately, it is the type of behaviour that is very difficult to stop, especially if Lady tolerates him doing it! You could try a deterrent such as spraying him with water when you catch him doing it, but you may end up getting poor Lady as well... It may just have to be one of those embarrassing little things that our pets sometimes do.

Q) My Cat Won’t Eat

My 14 year old cat is being treated for overactive thyroid and also has liver damage presumably associated with his enzyme levels are high and he is jaundiced. He has become really fussy about food and won't touch dried food so I feed him wet food but what he will eat one week he turns his nose up the next and I am at a bit of a loss as to how to get him to eat enough as he really needs to put on weight. He also had a poo in the litter tray the other night and half of it was a clay colour and the back end of it was very dark, not sure if this is usual with wet food or whether he might be bleeding from higher up?

A) I know that it can be very difficult to get a cat to eat when he decides he doesn't want to! There are a couple of things that you can try to increase his intake. The first is to warm the food a little in the microwave - only for 5 seconds. This will increase the scent so he will be more inclined to eat (cats are very driven by scent). The other thing you could try would be to feed him kitten food as it is much higher in energy than regular adult food. Check with your vet first though to make sure that they are happy with this change in his diet. I have had some clients that had success feeding their cats prawns when they wouldn't eat anything else - could be expensive to keep up though!

The colour of his poo may be due to his liver issues, as digestive enzymes are affected. If there is bleeding higher up, the faeces will usually be black and tarry. The only way to know for sure is the have a sample tested at the lab.

Q) Arthritis in My Elderly Cat

Hi, I have a 20 year old cat, he has been suffering with terrible arthritis and constipation. I've been given him lactose every day and for the past 5 years I also given him Synoquin once a day. He eats renal wet and dry biscuits, and he eats every day and drinks ok too. So what else can I do to help him with the pain of his arthritis, especially in his hips!

A) Hi sounds like your cat is doing very well for his age! You can do a couple of things to help him out. For example you can try and help him reach his favourite places without having to jump by giving him steps or ramps. This can be as simple as placing a short footstool next to a bed. Also, giving him a nice, comfy padded bed to sleep on, and plenty of warm spots out of the way of draughts. If you think he is really painful, it would be wise to see your vet. They will carefully assess his health and whether it would be beneficial for him to be on anti-inflammatory painkillers.

Q) How to Help My Cat Lose Weight

My 8 yr old tabby has piled on weight since she was neutered. She eats no more than she has ever eaten. She is like a barrel now. I have tried cutting back on her food but it has made no difference. Apart from that she is healthy.

A) Hi good on you for realising that this is a problem. One of the best things we can do for our pets' health is to make sure they are a healthy weight. Cutting down on calorie intake is the most important step, especially for cats, because it is harder for us to get them to expend calories by exercising! It can make it easier to cut back on calories by choosing a low calorie diet. Something like Hills metabolic diet will help to keep your cat full while having less calorie content than a regular food.

It is very important to follow the recommendations on the packaging to make sure that the weight loss occurs, and weigh the cat every week.

Try increasing her exercise levels by finding a toy that she enjoys chasing. Some cats really enjoy chasing lasers, e.g.

If you have any further questions or need help with weighing her, most vet clinics hold vet nurse-run weight clinics.