Submit your questions for the Cat Doctor!

cat at computer

Go ahead, tap on the bright box. It’s all you do anyway.

At the end of this week we will be interviewing Dr. Tracy McFarland  for our podcast, and we are absolutely thrilled.

Dr. Tracy is an top-notch vet who specializes in the care of felines. She’s also our very own vet. We’re going to talk about all things cats, and hear her advice on cat care, including feeding, vacinations and the perennial indoor or outdoor question. At the end of the conversation, if there’s time, we’ll pass on a few questions from our reader/listeners.

So please leave your cat-related questions here. We can’t guarantee they’ll be answered, but we’ll try. It’s best not to leave questions about specific cases (e.g. “My cat Mr.Muffinpuff has a purple spot on his ear…”) because this simply isn’t the correct forum for such things. Keep it general.

Cats!

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32 Comments

  1. 1) My cat has perpetual dandruff (not flea eggs) around her back hip area and her coat looks separated, not exactly greasy. I feed her grain-free wet and dry food, and she gets brushed and combed daily. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? She is 4 ½ yrs old DSH calico. We live in NM (if that is helpful info!)
    2) My cat displays what we call “the heebeegeebees” sometimes before being fed or right afterwards (racing around biting at her back with skin rippling). What’s going on? She is fed 2x daily and her food taken up after an hour. She always finished the wet food.

    • I have a clue for your second question, Allison. Feline hyperesthesia. There’s a nice write up about it at Cornell U. but the link was too long to post.

      I’ve had 3(!) cats-over 30 years-that touching on the lower back could trigger seizures. Since it was also brought on by self grooming it was pretty hard to avoid-especially in the days before flea drops.

    • Thank you Rheather for the suggestion. I have read about this but not the Cornell study. Your comment does make me think of another question though –
      What is the best least toxic flea control? What about diatomaceous earth?

    • Because I live in humid central Texas or because I wasn’t thorough enough, I could never keep the older/frail health animals free of fleas so I just use topical drops- Frontline until the fleas developed resistance and now Advantage (or Advantix-I think they’ve changed the name.) I re-apply only when I see fleas or flea dirt which is much less often than the recommended monthly dose.

      For a holistic approach I’d try Christie’s way. http://www.caberfeidh.com/Fleas.htm (She does mention she’s not updated this site in a while but I think this is still valid.)

  2. Two cats, two separate requests for advice (because no two cats are the same).
    Cat #1: Elderly indoor cat, has thyroid regulated with medication, but I’d love to stimulate her appetite further. She’s still underweight and while she loves certain soft foods, she doesn’t always finish her portion and could use more calories!

    Cat#2: VERY sensitive tomcat (4 y/o) who gets very wacky when there’s any disruption to our schedules (we had workmen at the house and he’s been a nutcase). Once the ‘danger’ is over, he gets hyper and nips at ankles and hands for days afterward. Any tips for helping him feel calm and safe when we have work done at the house or overnight visitors?

  3. Do cats meow exclusively at humans, or are meows also used to communicate with other cats (and other species) as well?

    • I would also love to know about this! I have one cat that meows at me every time I look at him, and we can have full on conversations, but I don’t think he meows at the other cats.

    • I would love to know how to deal with a cat that is just a bully to another cat. I know the standard advice is to put one cat in a room, introduce slowly, blah blah blah, but that doesn’t work for me.

      I’ve got a female cat, Gale, who’s about 7. She’s shy, prefers to be alone less the occasional pet, and prefers to be outdoors. Bacon is a male, about 3, and on a mission to make Gale’s life hell. The moment he sees her, he chases her away. I have to carry Gale inside and put her in a separate room so she can eat, in which Bacon sits outside the room just waiting for her. He has no issues with the 3rd cat.

  4. I thought when I first so the picture that Mr Kitty was going to answer the questions:)

    How can I slim down a fat cat. Simon is 18lbs.He eats 1/2-1 can of fancy Feast/day and around 1/2 cup of high quality dry food/day. His brother eats the same and weigh 12lbs.
    Simon is more sedentary and I try to work with him every day to get him moving.
    They are both 5 years old.

  5. Do female cats spray? I’m having a problem in my laundry room that has a cat door. Is it my 6 yr old female or is a neighborhood cat coming in at night?

  6. I would love to hear about arthritis in cats–any new research or treatments; also, ways to support kidney health in older cats. thanks!

  7. I have too many cats and not enough money to take one to the vet every time I have a concern or one starts acting a little different from normal. I’ve picked up a few clues from my vet – check the color of gums for example – but are there any resources that can teach me some basic cat first aid and home care that can help me decide what really needs a vet visit and what doesn’t? Any help is welcomed.

  8. What ever happened with your composting cat litter experiment? I want to try this, but my spouse needs evidence that it will work.

    • I’ve come up with a system that works for us– details in this post:

      https://www.rootsimple.com/2013/08/cat-litter-compost-installment-3/

      In a nutshell, using pine litter and special cat boxes, I’m able to separate out the pee-soaked sawdust and put that in our compost pile, but the poo goes to the landfill. The sawdust mixes with our kitchen waste in a slow compost pile. It works well, but it’s admittedly a very idiosyncratic system. 😉

  9. We have a few cats that have goopy mucus around the eyes. Is there a general eye wash that we could give for some relief?

  10. Can you please ask about barn cats? I have 4 (or possibly more) barn cats and I am concerned about them getting any medications for worms or fleas they might need. It is not possible to catch them without baiting and trapping.

    Thanks,

    John

  11. My cats are 3 years old. Occasionally when one or the other sits on my lap, besides doing the “kneading” thing they will actually suck on an article of clothing like my shirt sleeve. Why are they showing nursing behaviors at this age? They did come from a large litter.

  12. 1. Even though we feed our cats “high quality” commercial food, I’m concerned that it’s still a pretty crappy diet. What does the vet recommend? Any DIY solutions? Ways to supplement a commercial diet?

    2. Any thoughts on probiotics for cats with irritable bowel problems? Any other digestive aids?

    3. I worry that our 4 indoor cats (ages 10-14) don’t get enough stimulation. Any new tricks or new research on this subject?

  13. My indoor, male cat sneezes all the time, spraying giant, green, gross boogers all over his face and anything in front of him. He also seems to have difficulty breathing. How do I help him get over his cold/allergies/upper respiratory infection? Our vet had us give him nasal drops for almost a month, and there was only a slight improvement, but now we’re back to a very gooey normal. This has been going on for at least a year, and had happened previously when he was a kitten (5 years ago).

    Thanks

  14. We have two male cats, 18 mos. and 9 mos. old. The younger one eats faster than the older one and when finished, will begin to eat the older one’s food. I realize that separating the cats while they eat is the only way to ensure that the older cat gets to eat in peace, but I’m wondering if there’s any way to change the behavior of the younger cat. The older one is a picky eater in general, so feeding is a point of stress on several fronts.

  15. I’m allergic to cats (and don’t like them anyhow) so I guess I won’t be tuning in this week… all the joy to the cat-lovers out there 🙂

    I’m really looking forward to that ebook about bread-making though (dough?) , Erik! And I was wondering whether you still regularly use your adobe oven or rocket stove?

  16. In an effort to reduce antibiotic resistant bacteria, I’ve had success treating two cat bites (by cats, on cats) with honey – one almost immediately upon discovery (no swelling or inflammation) and the other sometime later (swelling, heat, some pus).

    I know, most (conventionally educated) vets would probably freak out but really, we’re doing a huge disservice to our world by over-reliance on antibiotics.

    That said, I don’t really want my cats to die from infected bites (abscesses can be REALLY bad)… are there other non-antibiotic options?

    I’m already limiting my cats’ exposure to the neighborhood bully who is out mostly at night, but sometimes they do cross paths and I’d like to know home-care options.

    Thanks

  17. My 1 yr old speyed cat is an insatiable hunter, sometimes catching 2 birds or mice a day. Even weighed down with a big bell, with a collection of toys and despite my attempts to overfeed him into fat laziness he remains lean and keen to bring in dead or half dead prey to romp around the house with. Any tips for suppressing the hunting instinct?

  18. Are raw food diets the cure-all for cats? I tried giving my cat raw food and she is a grazer, so it will sit around for too many hours a day. I’m not around to constantly be putting the food out and waiting for her to nosh on it and then put it back in the fridge. If the glowing health claims from raw food are worth it, I’ll give it another try though. Thanks for the advice.

    (I just found your blog via Kirsten Dirksen’s Youtube videos. Thanks for your funny, smart advice. You’ve emboldened me to try and transition my totally ornamental garden to the permaculture/food forest realm!)

    • Hi Biki! I can’t speak to raw food, but we’ve trained our cats to eat their wet food all at once. We can’t leave it down for similar reasons–plus if one doesn’t eat, the others will take it, so we end up with fat and skinny cats. But now they gobble it all down in about 5 minutes. We were just firm when we transitioned off of kibble grazing. The food goes down, and it goes away after a set period. If they go hungry for a day, so be it. They catch on quick. Feeding more than 1x a day helps, too, I think. It gives second chances, and less to eat in one sitting.

  19. Hope this isn’t too late !
    Ear mites -new treatment, least toxic to the cat, easy /fast /cheap? It’s the problem that goes round and round here.

  20. Hi, I am interested to know about gum and teeth health for cats. What are the best practices and do cats need a mix of dry and wet food for good oral health?

    Thanks for this!

  21. We have two cats, a male and a female, both around 1 1/2 yrs old. The female has been peeing around the house on occasion. We think it’s a behavioral issue (she’s been checked by the vet – no infection). We’ve tried pheremones, washing anything she’s peed on etc. We’re not sure what to do at this point. She also has a habit of eating holes in fabric, which has been diagnosed as pica – we gave her prozac for a while but it didn’t make a huge difference. What to do?

  22. We have a friendly and loving cat that is great with me and my wife, but when we have visitors she is often aggressive (sometimes hissing or scratching at their feet, not cool with petting). She usually settles down a bit when we are there with visitors, but is worse when we are out of town and someone else is taking care of her. What are the best ways to reduce cat aggression towards visitors?

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