cat looking out

Here’s How to Keep a Cranky Kitty Calm Does your cat hate going to the veterinary clinic? I get it. Lots of cats freak-out with anything away from home. Despite the safety and trust you’ve nurtured in your cat she is a hunter who can also be hunted. A white coated stranger in a funky…

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photo of a cat sleeping in a bed

Yowling, urinating, maybe even some in-the-crate defecating: Are we having fun yet? The anxiety and misery our traveling cats feel, often on the way to the veterinary clinic, needs to light-up. Opting-out of medical care shortens lives. Tune in at 6 PM Mountain Time on Thursday, September 10 for my Facebook Live. I’ll be ready…

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Feline Seniors Need Gentle Care Tony, a grey tabby cat pushing 15, has been ours since he was just a baby. He and I share the belief that we’re still kids but, oddly, he’s developed an age-related problem. Doing my best to cheat the reality of aging I’ve examined him and regularly submitted lab profiles.…

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cat in a carrier

Good Management & Helpful Meds Question: We have a cross-country move at the end of the summer and are curious what recommendations you have for moving with kitties. We have two (11yrs and 4yrs), both of whom we adopted while living here in Georgia. Now we’re moving back to my home state of Minnesota. The…

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old cat arthritis

Older Joints – Never Assume Question: I read that most older cats have arthritis. My 14 year old female spayed cat does not show any overt signs of pain. She is a little overweight (working on it) but is otherwise healthy. I’m planning on getting ramps and stairs for her, a more accessible litter box,…

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Old cat lying in sun

Can Old Cats & Young Puppies Mix? Question: We have a 15 year old cat who is well, happy and calm. In September we will receive a Golden-Doodle puppy from a family member. How can we introduce a good sized, bouncy puppy to our lovable old girl? Dr. Nichol: This could be a tall order…

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Do you live in a litter pan? OK, not really – but does it feel that way when you find cat urine around the house? I feel your pain; one of my cats is prone to this odious behavior. Nobody’s happy. Let’s get serious.

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cat picture

The Right Care Goes a Long Way Question: My 12 year old male cat Prancer was diagnosed with diabetes. He was immediately put on insulin injections. He has his regular blood tests and changes in the insulin dosages. He does not appear to be making very much progress. Will he show improvement in eating and…

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fireworks

Comfort Scared Pets with Good Management Startled by earsplitting blasts, many otherwise stable pets will endure almost continual panic this weekend. Scared dogs may hide, tremble, drool, cry or howl, and even urine soil, vomit or pass diarrhea. Many get clingy but some escape the home and risk getting hit on the road. A freaked-out…

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dog eating

Regular High Quality Pet Food is Best Question: Dr. Nichol, what are your thoughts on grain-free diets for dogs? Dr. Nichol: Well, I thought you’d never ask. Considered a fad diet by many, grain-free has been dogged by controversy from the get-go. There are a small number of dogs suspected of gluten intolerance who’ve improved…

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cat fight

Mutual Disdain Likely to Fester & Explode Question: Apparently this cat found us. She is part of Community Cat Program here in El Paso. She is not feral; she is more of a stray and very social with humans. She’s around 5. We are trying to acclimate her to an indoor environment. Our older cat…

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cat with eye discharge

This Senior Cat could Feel Better Question: The eye discharge in my 15 year old male cat has slightly diminished with Neopolydex ophthalmic suspension. A senior profile exam at Animal Humane revealed a benign thyroid lump said to be common in older cats. He does not stroke his eye with his paw. Can pain be…

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calico cat

Social Distancing is Best Question: My mother-in-law is living in nursing home/hospice. We are seeing her Miss Pearl twice a day for feeding and social time. We would love to move Pearl across the dirt road to our home. She loves our pair of Goldies, but loathes our calico with ululating passion. We are considering…

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COVID19 doesn’t scare our cats but they might get wiggy when we return to work. They thought we were home for good. Finding themselves without us all day could trigger some rather stressful and messy separation behaviors.

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Cat drinking from bathroom faucet

Wet your Cat Question: I have two kittens about nine months old. They have access to water and dry food all day and I give them wet food in the morning and evening. Is that too much? Should I change their feeding habits? I’ve noticed that when one of them visits the water bowl it…

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two cats

Cats can be cranky, pesky, and a bit snarky with other pets. Scolding and water spraying doesn’t teach them better behavior. Instead of reacting badly, kitties can have fun with their people by working for clicks and food.

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two cats sharing a bed

Most Cats are Not Party Animals Question: I adopted two female cats a couple of years ago. The younger one has always been energetic and playful. The older cat recently died. I’m now wondering if my remaining cat “needs” a friend. I’d prefer to not adopt an additional cat due to the risk of unknowingly…

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siamese cat

Treatment Matters Question: My cat Harry is very special at age 14, a little flame point Siamese. He suffers from an eye condition that became much worse several months ago. What freaks me out is the brown discoloration in one eye. I’m crippled and stranded, so it’s scary. Despite it all Harry works hard to…

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pomeranian

Don’t Panic-Be Careful Staying home is a real drag but if you have pets you’ll never be alone. We don’t need social distancing from them, do we? Here’s the update which, of course, is subject to change. Idexx Laboratories tested thousands of canine and feline specimens and found no positives for the coronavirus strain that…

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leopards hissing and fighting

Amusements, Separation before Reconciliation Question: I have two cats that aren’t getting along. One is my husband’s and the other one is mine. We moved in together 7 months ago and they still can’t be together. We keep them separated and have been only successful a couple of times in the same room for a…

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cat in a box

Good cats can go bad when petted. Yell at him? Hose him? Just give up on sharing affection with a kitty you love? Much better – find out why a sweet cat would do such a thing and manage the cause. It may not be behavioral – or it might.

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cat drinking from faucet

Water Matters Question: My cats don’t like to drink cold water and since giving them lukewarm water I haven’t had any problems with urinary infections. I used to have a cat with a urinary problem at least once a year. You might want to suggest it to your patients who have a cat with a…

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black cat in a bed

Manage – Don’t Suffer or Punish Question: I have a little cat of horrors. He is a 4 year old black American Short hair and when he is hungry he will attack my feet and hands. I am a diabetic and he leaves long lasting wounds that take forever to heal. None of my other…

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two kittens

Young Cats with Enriched Lives more likely to Succeed Question: I have always had a cat. Several months ago we lost our last cat and we were heart broken. I would like to find two cats/kittens from the same litter. Would it be a problem finding two different kittens that would live together? We want…

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cat meowing

Big Appetite? Weight Loss? Question: What can I do with my cat’s incessant meowing? Myrtle is 18 years old. She’s able to hop up on the furniture. First thing in the morning, she starts around 6 a.m. and will keep it up. I’ve tried ignoring it, and other times shushing her to no avail. She…

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Sphinx cat

Mites or Other Infections are the Primary Cause Question: We took our cat to the veterinarian due to noticing his ear was down and swollen. The doctor reassured us his ear will go back down in time. He did tell us Maurice has ear mites. Once that problem is gone will that help the process…

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You’ve found the perfect pet for someone really special. In your mind you can already see them together! Watching the wriggling box get unwrapped and that look of astonishment and glee – well, it doesn’t get much better than that. Pets can change lives – but not every surprise goes well. Everybody’s needs matter. Let’s…

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cat sitting on sofa

Reduce Temptation; Cat Chewing Done Right Question: My cat Bella Lynne is 3years old and she chews on oxygen hoses. I need help. Dr. Nichol: Cats are predators who need to stimulate the specialized nerve receptors in their faces. The chewy texture of your oxygen hoses is irresistible to Bella Lynne. Set her up to…

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image of cat playing with mouse

Or Purchase the Right Cat Food The raging debate on healthy cat diets continues. Dry vs. canned, high protein or grain free? You could go to the mountaintop and consult Google, that wizened guru. But instead I’ll share current research which, like all good science, continues to shift. Obesity is epidemic for our short eared,…

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Our pets bring us so much joy when they’re active and playful. When these characters are at peace, I am too. But if they have pain or if they struggle with anxiety when home alone something needs to be done to help them feel better. We now have what it takes – and we can…

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photo of cats fighting

Can New Cat Succeed? Question: I have 2 other cats and since I’ve brought the new guy home it is a divided household. My 2 established cats are terrified of this guy or just don’t like him. They hide and don’t come out. They hiss and growl. I have to lock up the new cat…

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Keep it Safe I can’t wait for Thanksgiving: Family, turkey, pie, and political football. Well, maybe for you and me. Keep a close eye on your pets. Tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with ears flattened, the head low, and the tail tucked are important clues. Scared dogs may…

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Cat urine on the rug (yuck), on the sofa (eewww), on your bed (OMG!!!) How about a kitty who howls and yowls when she can’t find you? Beyond the urine messes your cat may be seriously wigged-out when you’re gone. Separation anxiety is a beastly problem for cats.

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Chronic Pain can Dog your Cat Do you know anyone “of a certain age” with chronic pain? Most people don’t keep it a secret. Dogs don’t suffer silently either. You’ll notice them limping, slow to jump, or crying when they get up. But cats don’t say a word. If you think they get a pass…

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kitten playing

Toilet Paper Alternatives Question: My name is Courtney and I have a question regarding my cat Remus. My grandmother and I got him a few years ago. He has been causing major problems by tearing up our toilet paper. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can break him of this bad habit?…

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Fear-Free Kidney Care The Nichol family really loves its kitties, Tony and Gaston. They tap into the same part of our hearts as children but there are differences. They haven’t said a word about college. And they don’t speak a human language, which is usually OK. They’ll never blab our personal business but it can…

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Allergies & Smoldering Infection Question: My 10 year old cat has had eye drainage for quite a while. My veterinarian referred us to an ophthalmologist who thought it might be an allergy. Prescription food z/d did not help. He also has recurring sores above both eyes that he scratches open. Dr. Nichol: Your poor kitty…

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image of a cat in a box

Most Do Best Alone in the Jungle Question: I adopted two female cats from the shelter 3 years ago. One was a year old; the other was three. The younger one has always been energetic and playful, while the other’s favorite activities were sleeping, observing, and hiding. The older cat recently died. I’m now wondering…

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Does your cat hate kids? Can you turn that around – safely? You can teach your kids how to stay safe and how to set a cat up for success. Should they approach quietly or wait for the kitty to come to them? I’ll share the do’s and don’ts.

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photo of yawning cat

Observant Pet Parents & Preventive Care Save Lives In the pet popularity contest cats are a close second to dogs, yet they get much less preventive medical care. That’s because of a widespread misperception that they’re lower maintenance pets. That just isn’t so. Oh sure, they can stay indoors, munch from a brimming bowl of…

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Protection for Diminishing Birds Question: I was disappointed in your reply to the owner of the “trophy hunting cat” in the July 19 Albuquerque Journal. While you made good points about diseases transmitted to pets and potentially to humans, you missed the opportunity to address another serious issue: birds, small mammals and reptiles killed by…

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image of cat hunting a mouse

Tularemia, Plague, Rabies, & Hanta Virus Question: Our formerly feral five-year-old cat is now a tamed cuddler, purrer, and a chatterer. Her favorite activity is catching baby rabbits, baby squirrels, lizards, mice and birds. She is proud to bring these finds in, which get tossed out immediately. Could she contract Hantavirus or other diseases from…

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Image of cats about to fight

Fighting Among Household Cats Relationships among multiple indoor cats could devolve into a slugfest. The head banana may lurk in the shadows, pounce, and scare the snot out of an unsuspecting subordinate. Wounds and abscesses can be lanced and irrigated but the fear can last a lifetime. Be observant. Watch for one cat blocking access…

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image of multiple cats eating

A Crowd of Cats Question: One of our foster families has a cat with bladder disease.  She had a UTI, which has now cleared up after medication.  She is now on gabapentin, but is still not always using the litter box.  Her family is using Feliway and is isolating her from the other cats, but things…

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dogs eating trash

Beware of Sugar Substitutes in Prepared Foods Did you know that dogs and cats are not little people in furry suits? They’re like us in a lot of ways. They snuggle, play, and talk to us, sometimes more than other people. Maybe that’s why we keep them as pets rather than, say, cockroaches or earthworms.…

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image of cats fighting

Kitties often Speak Non-Verbally Question: Having watched your Facebook Live on cats who fight, I wonder about how do two cats living in a house communicate with each other? Dr. Nichol: Cohabitating cats communicate almost continually. Sometimes referred to as socially asocial many could as easily survive alone as live in a feline colony. Genetically…

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cat eating grass

Be Wary: Serious Trouble may Lurk Question: What is your view of “cat grass?” Dr. Nichol: I have never used cat grass. I don’t eat it, smoke it, grow it or mow it. On the other hand, the two Nichol family cats, Tony and Gaston, are rather fiendish about it, almost like catnip. But they’re…

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Two kittens

Adopt Kittens in Pairs Question: I have always had a cat throughout my 60 years. Several months ago we lost our last cat and we were broken hearted. I would like to find two cats/kittens from the same litter. Would it be a problem finding two different kittens that would live together? We want a…

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cat sleeping

Not a Road Map to Feline Health Tony is a 12 year old kitty who started fussing for food frequently. But when his family was petting him they realized that he wasn’t just being pesky. Despite packing away the groceries this feline senior was losing weight. On physical exam Tony’s heart rate was faster than…

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calico cat

Question: Hermione, our 11 year old long haired calico, was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis. She received a month of treatment per our veterinarian. We then made a tough decision to stop all treatment. Two weeks later Minie has increased energy, is eating somewhat better, and is again engaging in household life. But all of the…

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Snuggle Bunnies? Predators? If they’re close to losing impulse control they might actually communicate. Hissing, growling, spitting, ears back, pupils dilated – Cats in this mindset need space. Keep all interactions slow and gentle.

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aggressive cat

Are We Having Fun Yet? Question: I have indoor cats. One of the black cats (Toby) has gotten aggressive with the others and he started to spray about 6 months ago. I have never had this happen before so I am not sure what to do or where to go. I have used Nature’s Miracle…

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sphinx cat

Regurgitation is Dangerous Question: Blue Boy is a Sphynx cat, 13 years old. Ever since he was a kitten he has scooped food into his mouth like a bull dozer and chewed it while growling. After he stuffed himself he would regurgitate it and run away. I fed him tiny amounts at a time and…

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cat up late at night

Cat Daddy as Midnight Toy Question: Stinky, at the age of 5 months, adopted us by walking in the back door. The weird thing is his habit of waking me at 3 AM. He will come back every five minutes to stare at me and give his little pathetic meow. It does no good to…

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Not Man’s, Woman’s, or Cat’s Best Friend Question: I have two 15 year old cats who are both well toilet trained. Recently I moved from the city to the country. Since then I have been getting nightly visits from a possum, she is lovely and I hand feed her my excess veggies (avocados are her…

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caged cat

Born to be Wild, or to At Least Believe They Are Question: I’m trying to help half a dozen cats who are kept in pens.  I would like to see them hunt, climb, chase, choose which cats they associate with, and have more than just one spot to sleep in.  To me, keeping cats in…

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green eyed cat

Don’t Let Your Cat Fool You Do you examine your cat’s mouth? That would mean putting him on a table under a bright light with an assistant gently holding his shoulders as you slowly open his mouth big enough to see all of his teeth. Actually, about the only time that really happens is during…

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dog afraid of fireworks

Pets ready for Fireworks? In the next few days many of us will be treated to (or cursed by) fireworks and even a few skyward gunshots, all to improve our outlook for the New Year. Oh sure, these immature and potentially dangerous antics fall into the category of irresponsible human behavior (explosions must boost the…

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hissing cat

Indoor Cats Freaked-Out by Visitor Question: I have 2 cats, 10 months old. We have recently let them go outside. A few days ago another cat showed up in our garden. I took my cats inside as I was afraid they were going to fight. They kept hissing at each other through the window. When…

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You’re invited to my Facebook Live event called Holiday Worries for Jangled Pets. I’ll share valuable methods for keeping pets peaceful and avoiding hazards on Wednesday, December 19 at 6 PM MDT. You’ll have lots of time to ask me questions. Go to facebook.com/drjeffnichol   JP would scratch and bite his person anytime she tried…

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cat in a hat

Not your Typical Two Step Question: I have a male ginger cat, 9 years old, named Will. For the last 2-3 years he has had to have his anal glands expressed due to constant boot scooting and licking of the area. In the last year I have had his anal glands infused with antibiotics twice.…

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Good Housekeeping Promotes Etiquette Question: My female cat pees like a lady when outside, but inside she stands and sprays the wall. I have had to buy an enclosed litter box to protect the walls. I tried new litter but it did not help. Dr. Nichol: You tried new litter? I thought this was about…

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Prior to JP’s stretch in animal control, where his new person Esther found him, this feline waif had already been through two homes. This good lady wanted to learn how she could give her new kitty the love he needed. He just wouldn’t let her touch him. Esther knew that being touched appropriately as a…

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Petting cat head

Do you know anybody whose adult life could have been easier and a whole lot happier if they’d been treated better as a child? Not only do I know people like that, I’m one of them. In my work I’m fortunate to meet pets and humans with broken and battered pasts. We are not alone.…

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Scared Dog

Halloween can be Scary and Dangerous The idea of Halloween is rather appealing. It’s fully legal and socially acceptable to assume a different identity. If you are underage you can arrive uninvited on the doorsteps of total strangers and feign poverty or threaten to trick them if they don’t cough-up unhealthy snacks. Many dogs, being…

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golden retriever puppy

Hey – wasn’t that settled a long time ago? The oversupply of pets hasn’t gone away. The behavioral benefits of spaying and neutering are clear. Roaming, urine marking/spraying, and aggression between intact (unneutered) males are greatly diminished. Early-age sterilization prior to adoption has been quite effective in reducing the glut of unwanted pets. During the…

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Fear can be Learned just Once Question: New Mexico Animal Friends has a spayed female foster cat, Twyla, a young tortoiseshell shorthair, who has become difficult at adoption clinics. We think she may have had a bad experience. She snarls and swats at people and acts as if she is “guarding” her cage. At the…

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As Lily headed toward the bedroom she glanced at her cat as a way of getting a read on his mood. She loved Omar but he could be impetuous. At times he was a sweetheart but he could bite – hard. His history included violent reactions when his person brushed him.

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blind cat

Quality of Life is Central Question: My cat Kayla just turned 23 years old and suddenly went blind. When do I know that it’s too much for her to handle and make the choice to put her down? My heart is breaking. Dr. Nichol: You must have given Kayla wonderful care for her to have…

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As Lily headed toward the bedroom she glanced at her cat as a way of getting a read on his mood. She loved Omar but he could be impetuous. At times he was a sweetheart but he could bite – hard. His history included violent reactions when his person brushed him.

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fat cat

Moving is Painful & Stressful Question: My fiancé and I are having a house built. I have an enormous 20# tabby male cat named Tortellini. Should I kennel him for a couple of days? He hates going into his carrier; I have never kenneled him. Tortellini has peed on me in my bed and on…

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cat bites when petted

Lily had just finished putting away her groceries when she walked past Omar, her 2 year old Ragdoll cat. This good lady relied on her fuzzy house mate for more than she might readily admit. They lived alone together in a normal house on a normal street. She seldom went out; Omar never did. As…

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Question: I recently moved to Albuquerque from Colorado. I have two yellow Labs. They have always shed hair, but it seems to have gotten worse since the move. I brush them daily. Do the supplements advertised in pet supply catalogs actually work to minimize shedding? Dr. Nichol: Naw. A supplement would help if you fed…

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Itchy cat

Food & Airborne Allergens take their Toll Question: Pippi, my 4 year old Maine Coon cat first suffered with indolent ulcers at six months of age that has been controlled with z/d diet. Since January Pippi has formed stools for weeks and then reverts to “little cow pies”. Lately, she startles with itching and then…

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blind cat

Basic Obedience Skills will make a Difference Question: How do you improve the quality of life for a blind cat? Dr. Nichol: Caring for this special needs cat can be rewarding. Instead of adopting a Seeing Eye dog for her you can motivate her with food and guide her with your voice. Start with the…

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Cats fighting

Cats are a unique species. They’re not 10# people in furry suits and they’re certainly not dogs with short ears. Despite those differences, or maybe because of them, their presence is essential to my wellbeing and maybe to yours too. In fact, I love cats so much I’d adopt more of them but I know…

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Dog scared of fireworks

Restrictions on fireworks won’t stop the earsplitting blasts that turn otherwise stable pets into trembling, panting emotional disasters. Some will get so overwhelmed that they‘ll drool, cry or howl, urine soil, vomit, or pass diarrhea. Most get clingy but a few may escape the yard and risk getting hit on the road. A freaked-out dog…

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Cat sleeping in litter box

Better Alternatives will mean Better Choices   Question: My cat has a thing about sleeping in her litter tray even when it has been used. How can I get her to stop without her not wanting to use it for what it’s for?   Dr. Nichol: Cats find boxes irresistible but your girl, sleeping in the…

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There are lots of remedies for this phobia. Beyond recommending drowning out the noise with fans and music, pheromones (Adaptil), and food toys to promote foraging, I urge you to dispense Sileo gel (dexmedetomidine). I have a whole lot of happy pet parents who have reduced their dogs’ fear of loud noises with this quick…

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Avoid the Mess: Set your Cats Up for Success – The scent of urine in all the wrong places is a drag on everybody’s wellbeing – your cats’ and yours too. They need easy access to clean litter pans because they really hate stepping around in a stinky soggy mess, holding their little noses to…

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Happy cat

There are a lot of different reasons for nefarious urinating. Cats don’t stink up our homes because they secretly hate our guts. They’re not spiting their people as retribution for some off-color joke made at their expense. Most cats who are guilty of this crime suffer serious stress. Getting your arms around the feline bathroom…

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kitten playing with cat food toy

Predatory Aggression can be Redirected Question: Like the cat you wrote about last week my 7 year old neutered-male craves affection but will viciously and without warning bite me. I was sitting on the couch, typing on my iPad and he was snuggled on my arm. I wasn’t petting him and everything seemed peaceful. Suddenly…

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Kitten stuck in tree

Lifelines come when they are needed the most Surprises happen on the Rio Grande irrigation system. Gaston had already been watching us when he called out for help. He had to take a chance. Frank and I might be his only shot at survival, especially in his current state: wet, cold, thirsty, hungry, and a…

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kitten

Lifelines come when they are needed the most Gaston had already been watching us when he called out for help. Rather than panicking and running toward us with abandon he held back a bit, knowing it was a gamble. Still, he had to take a chance. Frank and I and our relaxed but active dog…

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cat meowing

Soldering Infection may be at Fault    Question: I have a 10 year old male orange tabby. He has always been a vocal cat and enjoys “talking” back and forth with you. A week ago he lost his voice. He seems healthy otherwise, but is a bit sad and perplexed about not being able to speak.…

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prong collar

Download a .pdf version of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) position statement on The Use of Punishment. Giving dogs and other creatures a clear reason not to engage in bad behavior would seem like a quick and simple way of solving a problem. But when a dog or cat gets a painful…

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choosing the right kitten

Science reduces the Guesswork You’ve decided to adopt a kitten and you’ve been a careful, detached observer of a litter. You’re chafing at the bit, just itching to snuggle and cuddle those fuzzy little cuties. OK, it’s time to get physical but remain objective just a little longer. You really want the right cat for…

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1.3.18 NMVMA listserve Behavior Tip #30   Hi colleagues- Here is the story of a cat who was sweet at home but scared to the point of serious reactive aggression in the veterinary clinic. I hope you find it helpful. All the best, Jeff   This is the story of Sherman, a cat who learned…

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choose the best kitten

Is this possible? Can you choose the great feline friend who will be the faithful excellent companion you have always wanted? I think you can but there are many “ifs” involved. This is an issue that is both simple and rather complicated all at once. I’d like to start by asking whether you are a…

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cat injection

My excellent and, sadly, late colleague Dr. Sophia Yin presents a wonderful method for giving injections to cats. The pet parent with this diabetic kitty can learn to make it a good experience rather than a source of fear. Complications like Urinary Infections Derail Good Control Question: I have a 14-year-old cat who was diagnosed…

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dog veterinary exam

Ask Questions & Make Informed Choices Question: I am writing to you to vent my frustration toward the excessive fees charged by veterinarians. We took our pet for a routine annual physical and were charged $206.01. (For my last physical, I paid $135.75.) Today, we took her to have her teeth cleaned and paid $276.08…

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Cats scratching furniture

It would seem logical to correct or punish a destructive cat but these apparently nefarious acts are actually part of the normal feline behavioral repertoire. Feliscratch is a synthetic analogue of the scratching pheromone that cats feel compelled to spread around their territories. Applying liquid Feliscratch, where you want your cat to scratch, will communicate…

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Declawing is so ‘90s (actually ‘60s) There is a definite calming influence that comes with having a cat sharing my home. They are delightful creatures but even the best-behaved kitty isn’t perfect, though, is she? When I list the reasons for this love affair, like companionship, affection, entertainment, and a great example of living in…

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Cat Scratching Furniture

Declawing is so ‘90s (actually ‘60s) Question: I am 72 and have had cats since I can remember. We recently lost our last cat and I feel lost without another companion but my wife insists that any new cat be declawed. I just can’t agree to that. What is your advice?   Dr. Nichol: I…

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Our American tradition of conspicuous Christmas consumption isn’t just for humans. Your pet can be a pig even without being a pet pig. Edibles: Alcoholic beverages, chocolate, coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans), spoiled and fatty foods, onions, onion powder, salt, yeast dough and marijuana are all dangerous and potentially deadly for pets. Plants:…

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Fearful cat

I recently shared the story of Sherman, a well-loved cat with long-standing defensive-aggression in veterinary clinics. It was so bad that his people quit taking him for routine wellness exams. As a result his kidney failure wasn’t diagnosed until its advanced stage. Cats have become the most popular pets in America because busy people assume…

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Aggressive cat in veterinary clinic

This is the story of Sherman, a well-loved cat with long-standing defensive-aggression in veterinary clinics. It was so bad that his people quit taking him for routine wellness exams. As a result his kidney failure wasn’t diagnosed until its advanced stage. It wasn’t that Sherman’s people didn’t feel that medical care was important; he just…

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Angry cat

When I met Sherman he was a sporty little black and white feline youth of about 8 weeks. During my first exam room encounter with him he stood up for himself. I respected his strength of character. I vaccinated and neutered Sherman, events that left our professional relationship unscathed. His family consisted of Bonnie and…

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dogs and cats who dread Thanksgiving

It’s Easy to Give them a Break & Keep them Safe Thanksgiving is great fun, isn’t it? Family, football, turkey, pie, and beer. Well, maybe for you and me. Keep a close eye on your pets. Tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with ears flattened, the head low, and…

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Thanksgiving hazards for pets

Thanksgiving is great fun, isn’t it? Family, football, turkey, pie, beer. Hey – let the good times roll. Well, for you and me, sure, but maybe not for everybody. Badly unsettled dogs and cats may carry out some unhealthy behaviors. Watch for tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with…

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Dogs Lightening Phobia

Dogs who freak-out during storms, fireworks, and airborne events like the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta have true phobias. There’s nothing logical about these fears. Just like humans with unfounded anxieties, these pets need special consideration. Hiding, trembling, and nervous panting indicate serious misery. Kindness is called for in big doses. These poor dogs are in survival…

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Chocolate is Dangerous for Dogs Halloween is great, isn’t it? You can go incognito and so can your dog. And the snacks, oooh, they’re to die for, aren’t they? But if it’s a dog who indulges – even a little- chocolate can be fatal. Of the vast array of goodies consumed in mass quantities during…

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A ScareCrow will Prevent Intrusions by Neighbor Cats        Question: I have a spayed female cat who mostly stays indoors and but likes to go out in the evenings. There are a couple of male cats who wander into her territory. The angry, fighting, howling cat words are loud and scare me. My first tendency would…

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Careful Evaluation & Dosing are Critical to Success Question: I have a 14-year-old diabetic cat. She was healthy and stable; her insulin (glargine) dose was 1.5 units. About a month ago she became lethargic and indifferent to food. Her fructosamine was 400 and there was sugar in her urine. Her insulin was increased to 2…

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Itchy Cat

Atopic and Zylkene can Help Question: Our cat is a bit of scaredy cat but is also aggressive towards me and my husband. He was poorly socialized as a kitten. I love him to death but am so saddened by him. He can be so mean when all we want to do is love and…

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This is the story of a cat I named Faith. She was important not just because we loved her but because she taught some important lessons. A box was pushed into the arms of Martha, our front office manager. Inside was a shorthaired brown tabby cat with a mangled and bleeding lower jaw. When Martha…

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Pets who eat nonfood items can pay a big price for their curiosity. Swallowed linear foreign material, like yarn, ribbon, or dental floss, can saw holes in the intestinal wall leading to septic peritonitis. We can protect these little guys by cat–proofing the house. Keep an eye out for innocent but potentially harmful household items.…

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There are important reasons to keep a close eye on our cats. They tend to hide their illnesses and injuries. It’s just who they are. Their genetically programmed reality puts the responsibility for their well-being on their people. Cats are wonderful pets but in many respects they are very different than we are. Unlike people…

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High Protein, Low Carb Question: Sometime back you suggested feeding cats over 12 pounds canned kitten food. Our cat weighs about 18 pounds. He eats canned food and dry. You recommended kitten food because of the protein. What brand or brands and how much? I am confused because the amount of calories is what causes…

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Comfort Scared Pets with Good Management Startled by earsplitting blasts, many otherwise stable pets will endure almost continual panic this weekend. Scared dogs may hide, tremble, drool, cry or howl, and even urine soil, vomit or pass diarrhea. Many get clingy but some escape the home and risk getting hit in the road. A freaked-out…

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An Ovarian Remnant May Be Lurking Question: Pepper, aka Ms. Incorrigible, was a newly spayed rescue. After 6 weeks, she went into heat behavior. A second spaying procedure found 25% of an ovary which was removed. 9 months later she displayed the same behavior-insisting on getting out at night, vocalizing, climbing screens, etc. Of course…

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Frequent Brushing Benefits Skin & Emotional Well-Being Question: I have two cats, Snowball and Alfie who were rescued as newborns from a box in a feed store 8 years ago. Although they are brushed each day they both leave lots of cat hair everywhere. Their coats are healthy and shiny and they seem to be…

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Dirty Restroom Facilities Create Trouble Question: Sadie is a large, four year old, spayed calico cat with a big rump. Consequently, she goes outside her box because she backs into a corner to do her business and hangs over the side. I would like to get a box with a cover but I have heard…

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The Road to Fatty Liver Disease Question: Hermione, our 11 year old long haired calico, was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis. She received a month of treatment per our veterinarian. We then made a tough decision to stop all treatment. Two weeks later Minie has increased energy, is eating somewhat better, and is again engaging in…

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An Enriched Indoor Life would Improve Kitten’s Well-Being Question: My daughter has a 6 month old Tonkinese kitten.  She brings any toy with catnip in it to her food bowl.  She has to clean them off.  She is doing her residency in anesthesia and leaving food out is necessary.  What can she do to stop…

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Consider Mouth Pain from Dental or Kidney Disease Question: My long haired cat (Ragdoll) will be 16 this month. He gets badly matted. I have tried cutting out the mats, but they just come back worse than ever and around his rear which he doesn’t like being messed with. I’ve called groomers and veterinary clinics…

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Ear Mites Cause Pain & Injury Question: Hey my name is Christina and I live in North Carolina. I have a tom cat his name is Checkers. Tuesday I saw that his inner pinna has swollen. I was wandering is there anything I could do to help with the swollen part? Dr. Nichol: Hey Christina…

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A Safe Haven Before Visitors Arrive Question: My cat Haley is 10 years old. When I have visitors she will attack them even when they are sleeping. She has attacked 2 babysitters. After 2 years she finally is ok with the current sitter. Yesterday my 16 year old had a friend over. The death growl…

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The Right Medication can make the Difference Question: Marley is a 2 year old, male tabby with his right rear leg amputated at the hip. He is getting around amazingly, a few weeks after surgery, full of speed and grace, but about every hour, his backside spasms for a few seconds- he hops involuntarily backwards,…

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The holidays are great fun, aren’t they? Singin’, dancin’, and carryin’ on. For you and me, sure, but maybe not for everybody. Badly unsettled pets can engage in some unhealthy behaviors because they’re nervous or scared. It’s part of our job as caring pet owners to help them feel better. You’ll need to be observant.…

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Patience, Zylkene, & Feliway Question: My 6 month old kitty came from Animal Control when she was 5 weeks. She was definitely scared but settled in with me in a day or so. I live alone so besides veterinarians she’s had no other company. She runs and hides whenever anyone comes over. My wonderful cat…

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The Link is Strong but it can be Broken Garfield the comic strip cat, famous for his obsessive eating, is not alone. Just this morning our cat Tony, having ripped a hole in an unopened dog food bag, was caught happily gorging. Jokes abound but an expanding feline girth can be lead to heartache. Obesity…

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Testing Cats can Assure Human Safety Question: I have friends that have macular degeneration. One is legally blind. I have read Internet articles telling that cats can carry the parasite Toxoplasma gondii (cq). One of them states that Toxoplasmosis is the most common cause of eye inflammation in the world. Could this be causing the…

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Question: Will the mist of an essential oils diffuser bother my two male cats? How long is a cat’s memory?  I will be gone for a month as my daughter is getting married in Little Rock, AR. Is there anything I can do to help them remember me? Dr. Nichol: Essential oils are fine for…

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Question: I have a nonprofit cat rescue, ForeclosurePets, here in Washington State (I am a NM native). I currently have a mom, who is very friendly, and her 3 kittens. They are about 9 weeks. I got them 2 weeks ago. The kittens will play at a distance with a teaser, and I have gotten…

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Vaginal Foxtail Awns cause Infection & Misery Question: My cat Mystic is a 3 year old spayed female. She scoots on our carpet and leaves a streak. Our veterinarian said that she was too fat to clean herself. Her anal glands were not a problem. She said that Mystic had a vaginal infection and the…

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Allergic Causes respond to Diet + Medication Question: Our 4 year old Maine Coon cat, Pippi, has suffered with indolent ulcers that are under control with Hill’s z/d. In January, she had reddened gums. Our veterinarian put her on an antibiotic. Within three days she had severe loose stools, so we discontinued the antibiotic. Since…

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Older Pets Outdoors are at Risk Are you eating your breakfast as you read this? If you don’t have a strong stomach you may want to enjoy a news story on murder and mayhem instead. Today’s Pet Care topic is maggots. They’re not cute and cuddly. No one has them as pets. Despite my love…

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Electrocuted and Concussed “Chico” Survives Last week I shared tales of a few foolish felines who reached heights they could hardly handle. Here’s the story of “Chico”, told by his caring and faithful owner. Fasten your safety belt.  It’s pretty harrowing. “Chico was chased up this 30-ft utility poll by the neighbor’s dogs. No way…

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Allergies & Mange need Medical Attention Question: We got our cat, LuLu, from a shelter 10 months ago when she was 8 months old. She has always liked to have her head rubbed pretty hard and she rubs her cheeks against hard areas like walls or bed posts to the point she has rubbed off…

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Booby Traps & Window Coverings can Help Question: My male neutered cat Giorgio has been acting out for about a year; he is 100% indoors. Sometimes a cat outside will make him hiss and growl, but he also lunges if I go nearby even an hour later. He continues to have a low growl and…

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Hyperthyroidism Responds Well to Treatment A super active kitty visited recently for a behavioral concern. At first glance you might take her for a playful kitten, jumping onto the counters and exam table, purring loudly, and rubbing against me. The fly in the ointment was her age: 13 years. She’d become incessantly active at home…

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Appetite Loss is the Greater Concern Question: My cat has an ear hematoma. It was first drained and then injected with steroids. Her veterinarian also gave her ear drops for a yeast infection and an injection of antibiotics. This has been going on for about a week and now she’s not eating. I’m afraid I…

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Feline-Specific Choices for Behavioral Well-Being Question: Last week in your column you answered my letter about Russell, the cat about town. Well, we opened the door and he gradually got used to being in the house. He acquired his own chair, wakes up, and goes to the door to be let out.  One cold night…

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Every Painful Ear needs Medical Attention Ear disease is the most common problem seen by veterinarians and there are still too many uncomfortable pets flying below radar. Redness, swelling, and nasty smelling discharges are frequent findings even when dogs and cats are brought to us for unrelated reasons. Many smolder quietly for weeks or longer.…

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Lab Work & Treatment should be Started Soon Question: I have a male cat, 20 months old, who gets sneezing fits, sometimes sneezing 9 times in a row (all without the courtesy of screening his nose with a paw!!). He was a stray we got through Animal Control. This morning he sneezed several times, then…

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Porky Pussy Cat needs to be Re-Litter Trained Question: We adopted Kiki from the City Shelter. She’s about 7 years old and was obese. Jaundice was noticed and she was to be euthanized.  She stopped eating and was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis. She’s doing better now. It nauseated her to walk to the litter box,…

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Thorough Dental Treatment is Essential Question: Our cat is 10 years of age and lately started to salivate a lot, having trouble eating and her tongue slightly protruding. Don’t know if she is in pain but sleeps a lot. My problem now is worrying if it is dangerous to give her anesthesia for dental scaling…

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Time to Cat-Proof for the Holidays Canine dietary indiscretions like chocolate, raisins, grapes, and turkey carcasses are well known. Let’s be fair; cats are sneakier; their Christmastime binging can go unnoticed until they’re sick. Tinsel tops the list. Once swallowed, peristaltic movements usually advance it safety toward the proper exit but if a strand gets…

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Treat the Patient; the Diagnosis is Secondary Question: A couple of weeks ago you spoke regarding overweight kitties. Smokie is five years old and weighs 13.8 pounds.  I have moved him to canned kitten food.  My other three are all over 13 years. The tabby is not overweight, healthy.  The Siamese has issues with bowel,…

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Feline-Specific Outlets for Natural Behavior are Essential Question: We have a 3 year old female cat, “Tuxie”. Our other cat “Merlin” was adopted by a fellow who later hanged himself. Merlin wants to play more than Tuxie. Sometimes the play gets a little rough. Then she’ll run under a bed. Sometimes ears are back on…

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Canned Kitten Food is Best for Healthy Cats of All Ages Are chubby cats cute and happy? As youngsters their bodies can tolerate abuse but like us, as they reach middle age, they pay for the mistakes of their youth. Diet matters. Dry cat foods are marketed on the perception that kitties are just small…

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More than just Freaked-Out Fowl I want to discuss hen hysteria. Don’t get me wrong – this is not a pejorative term; I’m not a politician. Hen hysteria is a genuine behavior disorder, a significant challenge in commercial poultry operations. Stuffed into cages, row upon row, some laying hens suddenly wig-out with no apparent trigger.…

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Blood Pressure control becomes Key to Long Term Success Mungojerrie, the 14 year old kitty whose story graced this page last week, had become a heavy drinker and a world class urinator. His lab work led to a diagnosis of stage II kidney failure. Treatment with Hill’s k/d diet plus daily warm subcutaneous (under the…

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Lab Draws require Gentle Handling Mungojerrie, a 14 year old male kitty, has been a cherished companion to a man who fell for and married a woman of fine character with a penchant for dogs as well as cats. Mungojerrie swallowed his feline pride and adapted, only to be confronted soon thereafter by the entry…

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Dirty Tricks & Booby Traps Question: Is there anything we can put around our trees to keep the neighborhood cats from using them as their personal cat box? Dr. Nichol: What? You don’t want your landscaping festooned with cat poop? Worried about getting parasites from gardening in your own yard? Are your indoor cats using…

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Flurbiprofen: Safe for Humans-Deadly for Cats Do you need relief from joint or muscle pain? How about a skin cream that would avoid the side effects of oral antinflammatories and pain relievers? Many physicians are now prescribing topical medications that contain the nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) flurbiprofen. It’s made a real difference for many people…

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Evaluate for Skin Disease before considering Behavioral Causes Question: My cat is pulling out her own fur several times a day- lots of it. She has bald patches now. She is 10 years old and had one other episode like this last summer that lasted 2 weeks and then stopped. She started this again a…

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Read Labels of Prepared Foods & Snacks Have I ever mentioned that dogs and cats are not little people in furry suits? Oh, sure, they’re like us in lots of ways. They snuggle and play and talk to us, which may be why we keep them as pets rather than, say, cockroaches or earthworms. Be…

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Motivate, have Fun, Never Punish Question: My nine month old kitten will not come when I call her. My other two cats come when they are called and for supper. I have to chase the kitten around the back yard and eventually lose that argument, and even the feather toy does not lure her into…

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Seizures are a Major Challenge Question: Our 13 year old cat had been a diabetic for 9 months. We dropped her off for boarding but later received a call that she had gone ‘ critical’ but was stable. During our trip back home we were informed that she had had seizures. She was ok under…

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Young Cats are More Likely to Accept a Newcomer Question: In May 2011, I adopted two female cats.  The younger one is five now and has always been energetic and playful. The older cat recently died.  I’m wondering if my remaining cat “needs” a friend.  I’d prefer to not adopt an additional cat due to…

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Sedation is Safer for Medical Care Question: I have a 15 year old cat who cannot stand to be touched by hands. He got extremely traumatized when he was neutered as a young boy and will only allow me to pet him with my feet. He is very long haired and has long claws. I…

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Separate Warring Cats, then Reintroduce Carefully Question: I have a brother and a sister cat. They used to be very loving to each other by sleeping, playing, and cuddling. Then the male cat swallowed a thread that led to an emergency surgery. Upon his return he was a “new” cat to her. She has since…

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Heart Muscle Disease a likely Cause Question: My poor Abby who is still a youngin at 5 years old is having severe problems walking. She is an indoor only cat and has not sustained any trauma. Her problem has been going on for 2 months. She is unable to jump and her walking has gotten…

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Determine that Neutering was Complete Question: My cat is ten years old. This last year he has been climbing on the back of another male cat that we have (who is more subservient) and biting his neck. He holds him still and grinds and sometimes cries out.  He has also been growling and hissing at…

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Enrich the Environment for a Full Feline Live Question- I have 5 cats and 5 months ago, I saved 3 kittens that were 3 days old. I just adopted 2 of them together to a home and we are keeping the third. Well, the poor little guy is bored, lonely, and depressed. None of my…

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Effort Underway to Outlaw Trapping on Public Lands A few weeks ago in this column I posted a letter telling the story of a dog who spent 3 days caught in a coyote trap. “Bailey” ended up doing fine but the trapping issue continues to smolder.  The Journal published some letters on the Op-Ed page.…

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Prevention is the Best Medicine The time honored American tradition of conspicuous Christmas consumption isn’t just for humans; pets too can be guilty of dietary indiscretion. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center provides the following list of holiday hazards. There are bound to be others. Edibles: alcoholic beverages, chocolate, coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso…

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Reliable Food Trials Require Rx Diets Question: We have a 13 year old female cat. Recently she started itching above her eyes and has removed most of the hair. Our veterinarian scraped the area and did a culture. The test was negative so we were told it was probably a food allergy. She currently eats…

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Normal Precautions can make All the Difference Question: My 9 year old cat has recently undergone a dental procedure. No bloods were checked before anesthesia and we were not offered the opportunity to have it done. My cat has been very unwell for one week and in acute renal failure. She is now being looked…

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Dangerous but Not Difficult to Control If left to fend for themselves in the wild our cats would survive on prey, displaying their prowess with buff physiques. Instead they park themselves on the couch and eat fast food for felines. The results are often not pretty. It’s estimated that over 35% of cats are overweight…

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Accommodate Natural Needs Question: I saw your web post about why indoor cats like to roll in the dirt. I work out of town.  Is there any way to bring this “outdoorness” inside while I’m away? Maybe a box of sand or tiny pebbles like in fish tanks? But will he confuse it with his…

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Watch Carefully for Clues If I could change one thing about cats it would be their communication skills. They are certainly a social species but in rather different ways than dogs and humans-the champions of chatter. Many cat lovers treasure their pets’ aloofness. Few cats  nag. Well, the Nichol family cats do but that’s because…

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Litter Pan Choices & Fear Avoidance Question: Last year during the July 4 fireworks, my 5 year old cat tried to use the litter box, messed on himself, and got a urinary infection. Ever since, he messes 6 inches away from the box although he uses it to urinate. I have tried moving the box,…

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Kidney Failure may Cause Excessive Licking While oooing and ahhing at the beautiful and peaceful new Cattery at Animal Humane last week I was asked about a 17 year old cat. While active and feeling well for her age she’s been licking her coat excessively for several months. When her owner pets her she often…

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Mites or Other Infections are the Primary Cause Question: We took our cat to the vet due to noticing his ear was down and swollen. The vet reassured us his ear will go back down in time. He did tell us Maurice has ear mites. Once that problem is gone will that help the process…

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Heroic Family Cat Derailed a Tragedy Question: I keep seeing this video everywhere and hearing lots of theories about the dog’s behavior. The dog is completely unprovoked, but it also doesn’t seem like he/she sneaks up on the child as I would expect a wolf to sneak up on prey. Is the dog curious and…

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Choose Carefully & Raise them Together Question: Am I crazy or is this possible? I want 2 cats and 2 large dogs to get along peacefully in our mountain home. Do you think if we could raise them together we would be able to train the dogs to be guardians of the cats? We love…

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Diagnose First; Treat Second Question: My 10 year old cat has had eye drainage for quite a while. My veterinarian referred us to an ophthalmologist who thought it might be an allergy. Prescription food z/d did not help. He also has recurring sores above both eyes that he scratches open. Dr. Nichol: I’m sorry about…

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Observant Owners & Thorough Medical Care Saves Lives Cats are America’s favorite pet, yet they are seen less often than dogs in veterinary clinics. Why? I thought you’d never ask. It’s because of the widely held belief that cats are lower maintenance pets. They can stay indoors, munch as-needed from a brimming bowl of non-stinky…

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Some Disorders may be More Prone to Occur To neuter or not to neuter: That is the question. Really? Wasn’t that settled a long time ago? As a veterinarian, obliged to reduce animal suffering, shouldn’t I, of all people, vigorously beat the spay/neuter drum? The oversupply of pets has not gone away. The behavioral benefits…

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A Good Plan can make Veterinary Expenses Affordable A dog or cat who is sick or injured needs competent medical care but the cost can be a serious problem. Research has given us more diagnostic accuracy and some astonishing cures but it doesn’t come cheap. Like most veterinarians I’ve struggled with providing state-of-the-art medicine while…

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Obesity is Dangerous Question: Hermione, our 11 year old long haired calico, was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis. She received a month of treatment per our veterinarian. We then made a tough decision to stop all treatment. Two weeks later Minie has increased energy, is eating somewhat better, and is again engaging in household life. But…

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Coyotes may be Responsible. Rule out Involvement of Dogs Question: We raised two LGD puppies with sheep — neither of them showed aggression toward anything — not chickens, cats, sheep, nor people. Early today, we found a cat torn to shreds. There are three cats still lying in the sun purring and weaving. It sounds…

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Add Feline-Specific Activities Question: Stinky, at the age of 5 months, adopted us by walking in the back door.  The weird thing is his habit of waking me at 3 AM. He will come back every five minutes to stare me in the face and give his little pathetic meow.  It does no good to…

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Ask Questions & Make Informed Choices Question: I am writing to you to vent my frustration toward the excessive fees charged by veterinarians. We took our pet for a routine annual physical and were charged $206.01. (For my last physical, I paid $135.75.) Today, we took her to have her teeth cleaned and paid $276.08…

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Quiet Enticements and Anxitane can Help Question: We got our 2nd cat last August, a beautiful female calico about 3 years old. Her name is Sweety. She has been abused in the past by the way she shies away from everyone but she will play with our other cat. We have finally got her to…

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Taurine is a Critical Nutrient Like humans thriving on a healthy diet, properly fed pets feel better and live longer. If you have a creative bent with nutrition or a restricted budget you’ll need to be careful.  Cats whose diets are deficient in the organic acid taurine can end up blind or facing life-threatening heart…

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A Cleaner Litter Pan can make a Big Difference Question: My female cat pees like a lady when outside, but inside she stands and sprays the wall. I have had to buy an enclosed litter box to protect the walls. I tried new litter but it did not help. Dr. Nichol: You tried new litter?…

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Appropriate Treatment Pays Off Question: My mostly feral/domestic cat has chin acne very badly. I’ve read stuff on line and am now only giving food and water out of glass/porcelain bowls. I’m not seeing any progress. Would Dinovite help? I hesitate to try witch hazel or any other antiseptics. Dr. Nichol: Your diagnosis is correct.…

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Basic Obedience Skills will make a Difference Question: I have to ask, how do you improve the quality of life for a blind cat? Dr. Nichol: I am so glad you are caring for this special needs kitty. You can have fun teaching her to follow your lead without hiring a Seeing Eye dog for…

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Vascular Ring Anomaly can be Surgically Corrected Question: Blue Boy is a Sphynx cat, 13 years old.  Ever since he was a kitten he has had trouble with food.  He would scoop it up his mouth like a bull dozer and chew it while growling. After he stuffed himself he would regurgitate it and run…

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Avoid the Fear Triggers; Reduce the Anxiety Balloon Fiesta is great fun for us, but it’s not much of a party for pets who freak out from falling cosmic monsters. Every exposure worsens their fears. The far-off hiss of a propane burner or a multi-colored speck in the distance can trigger overwhelming terror. Phobias are…

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Chewable Anxitane can make a Difference Question: I will retire soon to Ecuador and my two cats will be relocating with me. The plan is for them to travel in their carriers in the aircraft cabin underneath the seat. Unfortunately this will involve several changes in aircraft. Should I break up a very long day…

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Stomach or Intestinal Causes are Most Likely Question: My oddball cat loves to lick shiny plastic bags, such as Ziplocs and dry cleaning bags. What is that about? Dr. Nichol: It seems that every month or so some new exotic cat breed appears on the scene. Is Oddball one of those high falutin’ designer cats?…

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Avoid touching Behind the Shoulders Question: I have a four year old female cat that will, on occasion, viciously bite me without warning when I pet her. When my previous cat would bite, I chalked it up to over-stimulation because I could detect warning signs (tail flicking and ears flattened). This cat, however, craves the…

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Anal Gland need Maintenance; maybe Removal Question: I had to have my cat’s analog glands taken out. Since then he has been scooching on carpet. I had him checked for worms. I had them put him on meds for a week but he is still doing it. Dr. Nichol: Our pets’ rear ends can be…

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Correct the Bad Behavior while Reinforcing Correct Human Interactions Question: My kitten is 10 weeks old and is constantly biting and scratching my family’s hands and feet. How we can solve this? Dr. Nichol: Well, you could wear mittens and boots all summer but then your kitten would be in charge. Next thing you know…

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Itchy Cat with Diarrhea Food and Airborne Allergies Likely Question: Pippi, my 4 year old Maine Coon cat first suffered with indolent ulcers at six months of age that has been controlled with z/d diet. Since January Pippi has formed stools for weeks and then reverts to “little cow pies”. Lately, she startles with itching…

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My recent exposé of our volunteer efforts to spay and neuter stray cats has turned our contraception conundrum into a veritable feral feline fiasco. Here are the final comments I’ll share on this page. Further discussion is welcome on facebook. · I agree [the feral cat issue] is a hard situation and responsible pet ownership…

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In last week’s column I explained volunteer efforts to reduce our burgeoning population of feral cats. Here are shortened versions of a couple of reader responses. My wife and I live with two formerly feral cats. Domita had been born wild but in contact with people early on. Ossie (with clipped ear indicating feral neutering)…

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Feral Cat Population Control & the Impact on Wildlife A few times a year I spend a Sunday morning spaying and neutering feral cats at the behest of Street Cat Companions, a branch of the not-for-profit New Mexico Animal Friends. This is a dedicated bunch committed to controlling New Mexico’s growing population of stray cats.…

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Medication only needed until Healing is Complete Question: I have a 6 month old foster kitten and she has seizures of unknown origin. She has a healed fracture of her front leg and a crooked tail. Phenobarbital was prescribed twice a day but she is during well on just a night dose. Is it possible…

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Make Success Easy; Avoid Punishment Question: I have two cats, Puppy and Critter. Puppy uses the Litter Robot to urinate but defecates right in front of it. When I catch him I sharply tell him no and bad. When I catch him defecating in the Litter Robot I pet him, praise him, and give him…

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The Doctor Informs & Advises. The Owner Makes the Call Question: Last week you advised an owner of a Great Pyrenees to get expensive tests for her dog’s breathing problems. At 10 years old, that gentle giant is OLD. At what point do advise simple stuff and keeping the dog comfortable? Limiting exercise, losing weight…

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Taste Bads & Funner Alternatives. Avoid Punishment Question: My cat has a terrible chewing problem.  He chewed through my curling iron cord, leaving exposed wires. He chews the plastic top on my water bottle, the plastic on my shoe laces, my computer and printer cords, and cell phone cords. Is there any type of discipline…

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Care for the Behavior & the Physical Pain Daffodil (not his real name) is a cat who complained so much and so loudly his owners could hardly talk over the din or sleep through the night. He followed one of them constantly but hissed at the other four household cats. He demanded food often but…

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Complications like Urinary Infections Derail Good Control Question: I have a 14-year-old cat who was diagnosed with diabetes about 3 years ago. She was completely healthy and stable; her insulin (glargine) dose was 1 1/2 units. A month ago she became lethargic and indifferent to food. Her fructosamine test showed 400 and there was sugar…

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Have a good Christmas? Great! The carousing and cavorting has only begun. With New Years Eve right around the corner everybody who’s anybody is certain to accessorize with glo-sticks and glow-in-the-dark jewelry. Lots of laughs for us but for an inquisitive pet the experience can quickly turn from exhilarating to excruciating. Biting through the chewy…

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Time to Cat-Proof for the Holidays Canine dietary indiscretions like chocolate, raisins, grapes, and turkey carcasses are well known. Let’s be fair; cats deserve recognition for their high risk Christmastime binging too. Tinsel tops their list. Once swallowed peristaltic movements often advance it safety toward the proper exit but if a strand gets hung up,…

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The right Medications can make a Big Difference Question: Marley is a 2 year old, male tabby with his right rear leg amputated at the hip. He is getting around amazingly, a few weeks after surgery, full of speed and grace, but about every hour, his backside spasms for a few seconds- he hops involuntarily…

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Territorial & Fear-related Aggression is best Avoided Question: My cat Haley is 10 years old. When I have visitors she will attack them even when they are sleeping. She has attacked 2 babysitters. After 2 years she finally is ok with the current sitter. Yesterday my 16 year old had a friend over. The death…

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The Right Food Matters but a Cat must Eat it. Question: My 14 year old cat has had increased urination. The vet gave antibiotics, ruled out diabetes, and prescribed c/d diet. Cher snubbed her nose at it. Two days without eating I gave her Fancy Feast. Google says dry food causes urinary tract. I need…

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Set Him Up to Succeed; Avoid Punishment Question: My husband and I got a shelter cat about 6 weeks ago. He is one and a half years old and neutered. For the first two weeks he would poo and wee in the automatic litter tray. Then one day he decided to poo on the floor.…

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Mouth Pain or Uncomfortable Joints are likely to Blame Question: I have a 20 year old cat that is having “fur” issues. Her coat is matted in several places. I have tried to cut off the mats but the problem is getting worse. I know she’s uncomfortable. The vet said that shaving her might help,…

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Every Painful Ear needs Medical Attention Ear disease is the most common problem seen in veterinary clinics and we still aren’t treating enough of it. Redness, swelling, and nasty smelling discharges are frequent findings even when dogs and cats are brought to us for altogether different reasons. Many smolder quietly for weeks or longer. By…

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Prevent the Angst by Uninviting Strays Question: My male neutered cat Giorgio has been acting out for about a year; he is 100% indoors. Sometimes a cat outside will make him hiss and growl, but he also lunges if I go nearby even an hour later. He continues to have a low growl and will…

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Careful Evaluation & Dosing are Critical to Success Question: I have a 14-year-old diabetic cat. She was healthy and stable; her insulin (glargine) dose was 1.5 units. About a month ago she became lethargic and indifferent to food. Her fructosamine test was about 400 and there was sugar in her urine. Her insulin was increased…

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Protein & Sodium Restriction may trump Kitten Food Question: A year ago I contacted you about an older cat, overweight. I thought you said to feed her canned kitten food but now I am wondering if that should be cat food instead. She has been on Purina kitten & cat food all of her 13…

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An Important Summertime Threat Maggots are worse than disgusting; they are among the most dangerous summertime hazards to pets’ health. Confronting these flesh eaters and their unmistakable odor is a truly memorable experience. Maybe you don’t want to read this over breakfast. Similar in size to grains of rice maggots are the larvae of the…

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All Meat Diets cause Thiamine Deficiency Question: Our cat had a possible stroke 3 weeks ago. Every other day we are thinking he’s getting better. The next day he’s not. He’s 11 and has never been ill before. He tries to move away from his basket to urinate! We feed him water with a syringe…

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Cats can Learn to Earn Treats by Taking Medicine Question: How do I give a pill to a cat? My previous cats have been cooperative, but this cat is much more difficult. She foams and drools after I have given her a pill and I am not even sure she swallows it.   Dr. Nichol:…

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Changing Clothes, Washing Hands Best Question: I’d like to volunteer at a cat shelter, but I’m wondering if I could inadvertently transmit disease to my cats at home.   Dr. Nichol: That’s an important question. After caring for stray kitties infectious organisms like upper respiratory viruses and feline distemper could get a free ride to…

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Question: Our 13 year old cat has stopped eating altogether. He has gone from 15 lbs. down to 13 in two weeks. We took him to a local veterinarian and they ran tests and found he only had a small heart murmur so they put him on Clavamox & enalapril. He’s just wasting away before…

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Age doesn’t Matter; It’s a Great Move for All Cats Question: My daughter wanted to know if having her cat neutered at one year of age could change his personality.   Dr. Nichol: There is no hard and fast rule that applies to every cat; like all of us, they are individuals. Having said that,…

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Many Possible Causes Question: What is your recommendation for placing an 11 month old cat who now has all but her canines removed, because of plasmacytic lymphocytic stomatitis, with other cats? I fear that whatever virus that’s involved might be transmissible to certain vulnerable individuals.   Dr. Nichol: This is an important question with a…

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Risks and Test Results Assessed in Light of Physical Health Question: Our two adorable kittens have been diagnosed with feline leukemia. We are concerned they will not survive their shots or spaying. Being that they are 5 months old, I’m worried that the female will get pregnant from her brother.  Is there a feline birth…

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Most Causes can be Treated at Home Question: Our old cat Spunky (13 years) is a disagreeable animal but I hate to see him decline. Two years ago we let the vet clean his teeth. I decided then I would not subject him to any more tests or treatments. He’s very thin but eats at…

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Potentially Deadly: Malignancy & Diabetes are Manageable if Treated Early Question: My cats are brother and sister; they are 14. My female cat has had a small lump near her female parts for 5 months. I am not concerned because she has maintained her weight, happiness and eats and drinks well. Is there anything I…

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Nose Temperature is Never Reliable; a Thermometer is Much Better Question: Is a cold nose an indicator of health in a cat (like a dog) or is it OK if a cat’s nose is warm? Dr. Nichol: I’ve enjoyed thousands of canine and feline noses in my years of practice but, contrary to folklore, their…

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Kidney Failure follows 24-48 hours after Ingestion Easter lilies: This beautiful flower is potentially dangerous. Cats who eat any part of this plant become lethargic as their kidneys fail within 24-48 hours of ingestion. Any cat or dog who has eaten an Easter lily needs emergency treatment, ideally before the onset of symptoms.

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Cats are very Different. Human Products are often Risky for Cats Question: My cat is 15 months old and is getting over an allergy attack that affected her eyes. I burned some incense and used an insect repellant with DEET. Can those things be harmful to a cat? Dr. Nichol: Your kitty may have a…

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Diagnosing the Cause is Important & usually simple Question: My baby Roo is a little tabby cat we found abandoned in a park. She had little lumps just under her chin on her neck, approximately where humans would have lymph nodes. Her Feline AIDS test came back negative. When the lumps hadn’t gone away another…

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Dangerous & Unnecessary Question: My friend has a cat and when he gets into trouble or does something bad she either hits him hard on the top of the head or on the butt. Will this hurt the cat? He also squinches his eyes tight when he gets hit on the head? Can the hitting…

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Skin, Dental, or Ear Disease can all be Responsible. Anal Glands cause the Worst Odor. Question: My cat stinks!! It is getting to the point where I don’t like him on my knee because he pongs. It’s not his breath but his actual fur. Do cats have BO or do you think there is something…

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Dogs & Cats are Not at Risk Question: Do I need to protect my dogs from the West Nile virus?   Dr. Nichol: This spreading infection is nerve wracking for horses, birds, and humans, but our dogs and cats are way out of the loop. For the latest and greatest on West Nile, I contacted…

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Inherently Sensible, Cats Lie Low Question: A couple of weeks ago you wrote, “Presumably we have enough sense not to leave pets in the heat”…outside. What about inside? Can we leave our pets in the house without air conditioning or some type of air circulation? If so, are cats better able to handle this than,…

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No Risk to the Kitty as Long as he/she Get Some Shelter Question: How are cats with rain and cold weather?  My cat always likes to go out at certain times of the day to do his business as he seems to much prefer this than his litter tray.  But I worry a little about…

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R/d is the Best Way to Shed the Pounds & Prevent Serious Disease Question: Is Science diet r/d formula equal to the prescription r/d? Can I buy this r/d food anywhere else besides my vet?   Dr. Nichol: The prescription diets (r/d and others) are made by Hills Science Diet. R/d is the best weight…

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Unable to Enjoy Normal Activities this Cat will Improve with the Correct Diet Question: Our cat used to be tiny and rambunctious but as he has aged, he has put on a lot of weight.  His sides are now distended and he is definitely not as playful as other two year old cats.  Could he…

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Question: My daughter has a 4-year-old cat, Gus-he weights 24 pounds. She put Gus on Iams low calorie, but he still hasn’t lost any weight. He may be eating the other cat’s food as well. She’s worried that the extra weight is putting a strain on his heart.   Dr. Nichol: So how does Gus…

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Testing Is Less than Reliable. Fear Not for the Positive Cat-Most Never Get Sick. Question: Recently I adopted a wonderful cat from animal control who had developed an upper respiratory infection. All the blood work came back perfect and negative for Felv and FIV. The corona virus came back as a high titer 1:1600. I…

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A contagious disease, that is always disease. Our best success is helping some cats feel OK.  Question: My cat Roger is real sick. He’s only about one year old and for the past 3 weeks he’s not been very active, and not eating very much. I think he has a fever too. Then his belly…

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Cats love a warm, cozy spot on cold winter nights. Horrible trauma occurs when the car is started.   Question: Our neighbor’s cat got stuck in the fanbelt of his car last week. How common is that? How do I make sure that doesn’t happen to my cat?   Dr. Nichol: Great question. I’m delighted…

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Problems develop fast. Learn to correct low blood sugar & hypothermia.   Question: My cat just had kittens 2 weeks ago and one died yesterday. I found him off by himself moving slowly and crying. It broke my heart. I didn’t know what to do for him. Any ideas? The other 6 kittens seem O.K.…

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Many different long term symptoms can suggest AIDS. Infected kitties must be handled carefully to allow them to live as long and as well as possible.   Question: My cat Jessie has been sick on and off for a long time so I got worried about him. He’s had a snotty nose and a fever…

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Always a serious sign- move quickly. A thorough exam plus lab work may uncover age related kidney failure-a disease which may be treatable.   Question: Our cat Bugsy is 17 years old and she seems to be acting like the years are catching up to her. For the past 2 or 3 weeks she’s been…

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Low potassium causes poor muscle function. Get a thorough health evaluation to rule out other problems. The right supplement will make it right.   Question: “Blinken” is my 9 year old cat and he’s been acting funny lately. He’s always been pretty healthy but for the last few weeks he seems weak. He doesn’t want…

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Pets, without question, feel pain just as we do. Better pet hospitals treat & prevent pain.   Question: I have often wondered about cats and dogs and pain, especially when Skippy, our wonder cat with 3 legs, had most of his hind leg amputated to the hip.  He came home the evening of surgery and…

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Have a stool check done for the kitty’s health. Have a new kitten wormed for yours.   Question: We got a new cat last week and took him to the vet for his first shots. After the doctor gave him the shot he said that we need to bring in a stool sample to check…

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A nasty parasite, they can also infect humans.   Question: What causes hookworms and what are the symptoms?  Can my kitten be reinfested with them? (She is strictly an indoor cat.)   Dr. Nichol: Hookworms are passed between cats and dogs by microscopic eggs and through the skin. They bite into the inside wall of…

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A grumpy, sleepy cat with fleas is also anemic & sick. Frontline should do the trick.   Question: My cat of eight months, recently has been sleeping a lot, and every time I pick him up, he gets mad, and bites me. My cat is normally very active, and doesn’t mind getting handled. My cat…

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Don’t Waste Time with Meat Diets & Supplements. Get a Diagnosis & Save Your Cats’ Lives Question: When my 5-year old sibling cats had a dental cleaning, the vet performed blood tests.  The results indicated less than 50% of normal red blood cell count for one and low normal for the other. He suggested feeding…

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Feline hyperthyroidism (benign thyroid tumors) continues to advance among our pet cat population so I thought I’d share some useful research. The big bad guy in the blogosphere has been a chemical coating on the inside of pop-top cat food cans called bis phenol A. But there have also been links to certain types of…

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Cat Food in Pop Top Cans & other possible Risk Factors Question: I just heard about the possible link between bisphenol-A in pop-top canned cat food and hyperthyroidism.  How can I safely feed canned food to my cats? From another reader: I heard that tuna can cause hyperthyroidism in cats.                                                      Dr. Nichol: There is…

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Methimazole Helps Many. Consider the Cures Carefully Question: My 10 year old female cat was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism 2 years ago and placed on oral methimazole 10mg. The dose was too high (she wouldn’t eat or play and she was always cold) so she has been taking 5mg. for the past year.  Now our vet is…

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Symptoms are Red Flags; there is Help for Financial Constraints Question: Gritz is an 8 year old cat, weighs 14 lbs. His urine has an overwhelming odor. When he uses the litter box it sounds like a fire hose. It seems sticky. He has a good appetite and drinks plenty of water. He was very…

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New Insulin & Better Diets Question: Please write about feline diabetes and its management. Every owner I meet has been told something different by his/her vet. Food is a biggy, but what brands? Wet? Dry? Carbs vs. protein? What types of insulin are best?   Dr. Nichol: There are good reasons for the differing information.…

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Many Feline Diabetes can do Fine Without Expensive  Insulin Question: I have a 14 year old diabetic cat. We’ve always used Humulin U insulin. We now use PZI-Vet at a cost of $100 versus $30.00 for the Humulin that we can’t get anymore. Are there less expensive alternatives? I’m not putting a dollar amount on…

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When to Feed, What type of Insulin Question: My 14 year old cat has just been diagnosed with diabetes. She is getting 2 units of insulin once a day in the morning. Everything I read on the internet says it should be given after she eats. She nibbles her dry food all day and gets…

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Learn about this difficult disease & how best to control it.   Question: My 13-year-old cat has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. My doctor has me injecting him twice a day with insulin before his meals. I feed him 1/4 small can of W/D in the morning and 1/4 can at night with some crunchy…

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Potentially devastating, it’s nearly always treatable.   Question: I have a male cat about 7 years old who was just diagnosed as diabetic. He has been slowly losing weight and has great thirst. Are you aware of any medications for cats to control the diabetes as with humans?   Dr. Nichol: While some diabetic cats…

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After Age 13 Well Immunized Pets are considered Protected for Life Question: Our dearly loved cat is 20. She has faithfully had her shots every year. She no longer goes outside. Is it necessary to subject her to shots any longer? Dr. Nichol: You must take mighty good care of your special cat. Old timers…

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How Vaccines Work & the Risks of Too Much of a Good Thing Question: I read your column regularly and respect your advice. What do you think about this perspective? Summary of News Article: Are We Overvaccinating Our Pets? You may get notices from the veterinarian every year or two suggesting you revaccinate your pet…

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What do they really need & what’s unnecessary.   Question: My kids and my wife and I have decided that we want to have a pet but we can’t agree on a dog or a cat so we got both. We know they need shots but I’ve called a few vet clinics and I’m getting…

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Even with Less Frequent Vaccinations, Health Exams are Needed every 6-12 Months Question: We understand that the New Mexico legislature was considering a measure that lengthened the time between rabies vaccinations for cats and dogs beyond the current annual requirement. Does my indoor cat still need an annual rabies shot? Dr. Nichol: That’s a good…

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Some vaccines may be less important for cats without exposure to other cats.   Question: I have chosen not to vaccinate my indoor cat.  I take my cat outside in the backyard a couple times a day while he is supervised by me every minute.   From the research I have done I don’t think…

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Our best methods at disease prevention have a down side risk. Here are the facts. 276c Question: When my cat gets her shot series, she seems sick the next couple days, and even has foam coming from her mouth. What causes this, and is it harmful?   Dr. Nichol: Your poor kitty is having an…

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First Find Out What’s Causing the Symptoms. Many Older Cats have Manageable Problems; Others have Reached the End Question: I have a cat that is turning 20 years old. We think she is almost blind, her hearing is probably going and the worst part is that she has “forgotten” where her litter box is. She…

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Kidney Failure & Hyperthyroidism are Major Concerns Question: My 18 year old cat, Milo, is shrinking. She had a geriatric checkup 6 months ago and all tests were normal, just some hip joint wear. She eats (less than she used to), drinks, talks, walks, bathroom and cleaning behavior are all normal. Is there any food…

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Thorough Diagnostic Work & Careful Treatment Saves Lives Question: Our cat Ginger is 13 or 14 (do you think I’m not protecting him if I use his name?) has lab results that show elevated liver enzymes and BUN indicating that his kidneys are not functioning as they should. He’s not dehydrated and his white count…

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A Thorough Exam is Even More Important than the Vaccinations Question: I have been disappointed with the short visits when I take my 12 year-old kitty for her annual check-up. The last visit took less than 5 minutes, which included only her receiving shots. After the doctor dismissed us, I had to ask him to…

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How much should it cost? How sick is that kitty anyway?   Question: My cat has had all of his shots plus a recent tapeworm shot.  He has been lethargic and drool has been pouring from his mouth.  He has not lost his appetite and is currently drinking more water than usual.  Should I take…

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It’s Complicated and Risky to try to Duplicate Mother Nature Question: I’ve heard good things about a raw food diet.  Are there any negatives to raw food for our cats?   Dr. Nichol: In principle it’s fine; cats are true carnivores. They don’t need to build little fires to cook their meat because they eat…

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A Disaster in the Making   Question: In your Journal article on July 30th, you comment about people food for dogs. I have a friend who has a “handicap assistance dog.”  It came with a very specific diet that includes raw chicken backs, vegetables and vegetable oil.  They were told it would extend the life…

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If the ingredients match & the analysis looks as good, why pay more? Because you won’t get what you don’t pay for.   Question: I read an article in last week’s paper that got me to thinking about how much money I spend feeding my animals. The article talked about “designer” pet foods and said…

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Being overweight is unhealthy. Here’s how to get it right.   Question: How much should I feed my cat? I thought I was doing the right thing by following the recommendations on the bag but when I took “Shalako” for his shots, he weighed over 12 #. Now I feel guilty that he may not…

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Different Species Have Different Needs Question: I read in your column, three weeks ago, about the reverse opinion about feeding cats dry food. Would this advice, also, apply to dogs? Do pet owners just feed canned food? Would a really lean piece of meat without the spices and gravy suffice for a healthy diet? Dr.…

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Cat with Different Needs Should have Individual Diets to Manage their Individual Health Question: I live with 3 cats: a 7-year old spayed female with a tendency to UTIs, a 5-year old spayed female who is, at 18.5 lbs, grossly obese, and a relatively normal 2-year old neutered male. The most pressing question is how…

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A Good Start but the Best Diets are Balanced Question: I’ve had a shelter cat for a year now. I recently stumbled onto some basic information about pet nutrition and was horrified by the stories of dry food. I switched Knickknack to a raw meat diet. In just three weeks her energy is way up,…

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Avoid Cheese. A High Protein, Low Fat, Low Carbohydrate Diet is Best. Question: Is cheese bad for cats? Are there foods cats should not eat?   Dr. Nichol: Cats should not eat cheese, Cheetos, chocolate, nor chicharrones. They need very little in fat in their diet. It turns out that dry cat food doesn’t work…

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Cats & dogs are different species with very different needs. Poor health can result from the wrong diet.   Question: Our 8 month old Pomeranian – dachshund sure enjoys eating the cat food! (Although the cat doesn’t appreciate it much). Is this a bad thing? Also, the cat kinda digs the dog food once in…

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There is no way to stop plant eating. Give the gift that keeps on giving: a Catnip Garden.   Question: We have an 8 year old purebred Manx who seems to really love to eat plants.  It was always a problem for the geraniums in his grandma’s house when he lived there (she’s happy to…

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Gradual change to a high fiber low fat diet is safe & effective.   Question: I have a special problem with my cat “Tigger”. He is fat. But I don’t know what to do for Tigger because if I don’t give him exactly what he wants, he just stops eating. If that happens for too…

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Protect his Kidneys; Try Tough Love Question: My mother took in a throw away dog. He will eat only table scraps and cat food. When she first got him he would get constipation. She would feed him applesauce and he would get better. Now he seems to have gotten used to the cat food. My…

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Lower priced diets boast comparisons to the better brands, but you won’t get what you don’t pay for.   Question: I read an article recently in Consumer Reports that said that some of the lower priced pet foods are a much better deal than food like Science Diet because the ingredients are just as good…

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Prescription diets r/d &  w/d make it easy to help your pet keep that slim figure.   Question: I have my dog on diet food & he is now @ his required weight. Should I change to regular food or give him more of the diet food, because he acts like he’s starving all the…

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Second hand or otherwise this stuff is poison.   Question: Hi. My dog, Bruce, is 5 years old. He likes to eat chocolate. I heard that chocolates are toxic to dogs. Is this true? There’s one other thing I’m really concerned about. I’ve been giving my dog candies since he was about 3 months old.…

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No Hypoallergenic Diet Controls Weight. Add Fiber Question: My cat Annabelle was 16.5# of love, but with Science Diet r/d she is now down to 15#. Unfortunately she is showing signs of food allergy (according to a cat dermatologist), and I’m having trouble finding alternatives that are high fiber and low fat.   Dr. Nichol:…

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Here’s how to enforce a safe & effective diet for the rotund feline.   Question: I have a male cat that weighs 22 pounds.  I have him on lite cat food (Science diet) but he doesn’t lose any weight he just craves more food.  He pushes the other cats out of the way to steal…

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Feed an excellent diet & forget the rest.   Question: Can you tell me your thoughts regarding supplements for young pups? It seems there are differing opinions as to whether or not it is necessary. He is on Nutro’s Natural Choice for ‘dogs’ not ‘pups’ which the breeder (and many others) have suggested.   Dr.…

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How to tell the good nutrition from the junk. Question: I know someone who feeds her dog people food constantly.  I try to tell her that it is not good for the dog, but she disagrees with me and wants it in writing from a vet or she won’t believe me.  Am I wrong?  Is…

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Failure to Eat, especially for Fat Cats, can be Deadly Question: Our 2 year old cat Zipper REFUSES to eat canned food. He pretends to cover his wet food as he would items in his litter box. He just waits until we give him dried food. How long can he go without food?   Dr.…

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Fat Cats Are in Serious Danger Question: I gave a kitten to a cat-loving family about 6 months ago. He was about 2 months old then. Now he’s HUGE. I almost didn’t recognize him. He is still young and not full-grown yet but he’s really, really fat. The cats knock the bag of dry food…

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Most hungry overweight cats are just bored. Question: My eight-year-old cat, Nelson, was placed on IVD special diet three years ago. I have noticed that giving him the same measured amounts of food have recently caused him to gain weight.  He always acts famished, so I am reluctant to reduce the amount. Being a housecat,…

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Heinz Body Anemia Results from Onion Powder in Many Baby Foods. Question: My kitty’s special treat is one half jar of meat baby food every morning. I have heard that it’s not good for her as it contains onion salt or onion powder. I have read the labels, and haven’t seen any reference to onion…

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Cats are Carnivores. They need a Balanced Diet with Meat. Question: I’ve been told about a vegetarian diet that is available for cats. I am thinking of putting my cat on this but I’m not sure that a totally vegetarian diet will be healthy for him. Do you think it would be for the good…

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Elderly cats who fail to eat may have serious illness. But we can help many.   Question: We have a 20 year old female cat. She will not eat canned cat food from the pet stores. I have tried many brands but she will go many days before finally eating a little.  My wife wanted…

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Give Dogs a Structure for Eating Dog Food Question: I’ve tried to find a dog food that will satisfy both of my Chihuahuas but haven’t been successful.  As a last resort I started fixing them hamburger, boiled chicken or ground turkey with steamed rice, carrots and scrambled eggs which they love. Is this a healthy…

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What’s good, What’s junk, Why it matters   Question: For most of my cat’s 12 years she would only eat canned food. She got cat acne and our vet suggested it was due to the wet food. We have tried many varieties of semimoist and dry food and she seems to hate them all. She…

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Variety is the spice of life-but cats can get gas & diarrhea. Pick a good diet & stay the course.   Question: I live alone and my cat is my constant companion. I know I spoil her but I can’t help it. She’s 4 years old and I have noticed that she seems to grow…

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Kitties love milk-But it’s not part of a balanced diet-Unless you’re a calf   Question: I am in first grade and have an assignment that is asking why cats like milk. Why do they like milk?   Dr. Nichol: Cats enjoy milk for the same reasons that people do: It tastes great. And that’s because…

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Preventable with Medications, a Diagnosis is still Essential Question: I have a 15 year old terrier cross. She is very healthy, however the last time I had her teeth cleaned, they said her heart beat too slowly from the anesthesia and they had to wake her up and that her teeth could no longer be…

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Premium Quality Clumping Litter is Safest Question: I recently switched from using clay litter to clumping litter.  I noticed that it’s extremely dusty when pouring it into the litter box.  Is this dust harmful to my two kitties when they dig or to me when I stir and scoop?   Dr. Nichol: It can be…

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Symptoms can Worsen. A Veterinarian can Guide the Best Treatment Question: I recently adopted a 2 month old kitten from a shelter and the kitten has been sneezing, coughing, had watery eyes and now my older cat has the same symptoms. Should I take them to the vet?  I was told to make sure they are…

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Severe Disease is a Dangerous Possibility Question: We have a 14 year old cat (Sam) who has recently been coughing as if he trying to cough up a hairball.  It comes and goes, but is happening regularly now – about 4 or 5 times a day; after a few minutes he just stops. Is there…

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Siamese Cats are 5 Times More Likely Than Other Breeds to have Asthma Question: I have a 3 1/2-year-old female Siamese. Lately she has been hacking. She never actually throws up anything, and she is eating just fine. I have even tried the old Vaseline on the paw trick. Is it hairballs or something else?…

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Asthma is common in cats-but it’s not the only cause of coughing.   Question: Hunter is my 6 year old kitty and she’s been coughing lately. I take really good care of her and she stays inside all of the time. She eats fine and plays. Could Hunter have asthma?   Dr. Nichol: Yes she…

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Question: I am considering adopting a dog from my local shelter, but they have informed me he has kennel cough and that I should isolate my other animals. My children have a kitten who has complete run of our home. Is kennel cough transferable between the dog and the cat?   Dr. Nichol: Kennel cough…

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Cardiomyopathy can cause blood clots. Severe pain & paralysis can be debilitating.   Question: My cat has just had his second thromboembolism. My vet has treated him with heparin. Does he need anything else?   Dr. Nichol: This is a tough problem. The blood clots in your cat are caused by a heart disease called…

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Antibiotics are Necessary but so is a Clear Diagnosis Question: I have a cat that falls into the “feral cat living in a confined space” definition!  Rosebud lives in my house but is not tame.  She has sounded like a “wet head” for the past few years.  But now, she has real congestion with yellowish…

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Persian cats can have a simple surgery to correct their narrow nostrils.   Question: We have three Persian cats. Two are just fine but one of them (two years old) has trouble breathing. Her nostrils are very narrow. Can anything be done to help her breathe a little easier? I thought maybe tubes can be…

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R/d is the Best Way to Shed the Pounds & Prevent Serious Disease Question: Is Science diet r/d formula equal to the prescription r/d? Can I buy this r/d food anywhere else besides my vet?   Dr. Nichol: The prescription diets (r/d and others) are made by Hills Science Diet. R/d is the best weight…

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What do they really need & what’s unnecessary.   Question: My kids and my wife and I have decided that we want to have a pet but we can’t agree on a dog or a cat so we got both. We know they need shots but I’ve called a few vet clinics and I’m getting…

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Our best methods at disease prevention have a down side risk. Here are the facts.   Question: Last year, my standard poodle had a very severe reaction to her annual vaccinations. In fact, she almost died. She was literally unable to move without a great deal of pain and her eyes were glazed. She was…

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Cats can Learn to Enjoy being Medicated Question: Our veterinarian provided us with eye drops for our cat. She demonstrated how to apply them. She did it so quickly that the cat did not know what was about to happen. However, we can not apply the drops without a big 2 person struggle.   Dr.…

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Prevention is the Best Cure Question: I hope you will remind your readers about the importance of making provisions for their beloved pets should they die before the pets. A friend recently diagnosed with terminal liver cancer committed suicide last week. Prior to that, I promised him I would care for his two dogs (he…

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Cataracts or Lens Instability are likely causes Question: Our cat, Stevie, is 12 years old. In the last few months she seems to have a hard time jumping up on the bed. She still runs up the stairs, has no problem squatting to do her business, and doesn’t seem in pain. She will launch up…

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Feline Herpes can Cause Severe Eye Disease & Death Question: We have recently taken home 3 kittens to nurse them back to health. Two of them are healthy, but one is much smaller than her siblings, and doesn’t play or anything.  She is about 7 weeks old.  Her eyes have been getting hard, crusty stuff…

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Effective Treatment will Eliminate Pain & Preserve Eyesight Question: My elderly cat has red rimmed crusty eyes. What causes this and how do I treat?   Dr. Nichol: Your kitty is really uncomfortable. Cats whose tear glands fail in their job of keeping the eyes moist have dry eye, also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (abbreviated KCS).…

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An Older Chow’s Blindness may be Reversible with Eyelid Surgery Question: I have a Chow and he is 10yrs old. Lately I have noticed that he runs into things. There’s a thin film on his eyes that wasn’t there before. I hate seeing him not being able to see. I was considering surgery but was…

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Brown Pigment on the Surface of the Eyes Can Cause Blindness in Pugs, Boston Terriers, & Lhasa Apsos. Question: I recently adopted a 10-month-old female fawn pug, Phoebe. I was told that she was probably blind and had keratitis pigmentosa. She sees fairly well. Is there anything I can do for her, or to help…

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Surgical Approaches to Correction in a Miniature Schnauzer   Question: My miniature schnauzer will be 5, and has congenital cataracts (knew she had something wrong the first few days of having her home but oh well).  She has a dachsund companion that helps her out but it’s sad to see her so disabled by her…

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Extra eyelashes can cause discharge & damage the eyes.   Question: I have a wonderful little female Bichon Frise.  She has these really bad leaky eyes that turn the hair around her eyes brown and black.  When I look real closely, especially at her left eye, looks like she has sleep in her eyes all…

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It may be normal, or maybe not. Get a good physical exam.   Question: We have recently acquired a new cat to our household. She is an odd eyed white. The pupil in the blue eye is always larger than the pupil in the yellow eye. Is this normal? She seems to be in good…

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Third Eyelids can be visible with stress, infection, or foreign material. A good exam is important & essential.   Question: I must say that I am very worried about my Maine coon kitten. This morning, when we woke up, we found that one of her eyes had an off-white coating on most of the eye.…

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Not just unattractive, chronic eye can result. Surgical correction is best.   Question: I just bought a boxer/bulldog mix and he has what you call a cherry eye. What do I do about it?   Dr. Nichol: This is a common eye disease but I wish it hadn’t been named after food. It’s an oxymoron…

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Grey Mucous can be Managed by Simple Eye Cleaning Question: I live in the East Mountains and have a 3-year-old healthy Doberman. Just recently with all of the high winds, I’ve noticed that my dog is getting a white, gooey discharge from her eyes after she wakes up in the mornings. Is this an allergy…

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A Risky Disease with Long Term Issues Question: I have a feral cat and cannot cage him to get him to a vet. Otherwise he jumps in my lap and is most lovable. He has an eye drainage. I have been using a damp cloth to clear the gunk. Is there any medication that would…

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Immune Suppressive Diseases like Feline AIDS, Leukemia, & FIP are Important to Consider Question: We have the best cat in the world, his name is Bing. He has chronically goopy eyes. We’ve tried anti-allergen food, but it doesn’t reduce the discharge. We also tried an organic, non-silica kitty litter, which did no good. Is the…

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Infectious upper respiratory diseases can linger & run rampant in multiple cat households.   Question: I have a litter of white kittens  who are approximately 3 months old plus 6 cats. They have never been outside but they have developed a discharge from their eyes and scabs around their noses. Only two of them are…

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Let Go of Fears of Expense or Losing Cat-Get Treatment ASAP Question: A homeless, male tabby that comes by our home is such a sweet boy. Poor Goober has had a very bad infection in one eye for about 3 weeks. It’s very pink and it looks raw. I came close to hauling him to…

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Don’t goof around at home. See the doctor fast.   Question: I just noticed today that my cat’s eyes were tearing and one was infected with green pus.  Is there any way that I can treat her myself? She is kept indoors.   Dr. Nichol: Please do NOT monkey around with eye disease. Discharge coming…

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This is a beautiful story of the love taught by a cat named Ugly. It reminds me of why pets are so profoundly important in our lives.   Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in knew who Ugly was.  Ugly was the resident tomcat. Ugly loved three things in this world: fighting, eating garbage,…

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Caretaker has no $ for Dog’s Expensive Eye Medication Question: I hope you will remind your readers about the importance of making provisions for their beloved pets should they die before the pets. A friend recently diagnosed with terminal liver cancer committed suicide last week. Prior to that, I promised him I would care for…

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College training in the highly skilled area of medical support in a veterinary hospital. Question: I just love animals. I think it would be great to be a veterinarian but I don’t want to go to school for 8 years. I have heard about a career as a veterinary technician or assistant. What can you…

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What’s the right size, how much house is enough Question: I’m worried about my neighbor’s pets because it’s getting so cold at night. They have 2 cats and a dog who huddle up together in a pile each night in a corner of their yard. I told them I would ask your advice-I know they…

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Nicotine is a potent nerve toxin. Feeding cigarettes to any critters is deadly. Question: I think my dog Harvey has worms. He drags his rear end a lot. So a friend told me that I could get rid of the worms by giving him tobacco. Can I just give him pieces of cigarettes?   Dr.…

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How to know if your veterinarian is doing the job right.   Question: Why is there so little standardization between vets? The best ones do extensive prep work, blood testing, fine needle aspiration, etc. and have one person on the heart monitor, one anesthetist, with 3 kinds of anesthesia while others have only one assistant…

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Cats, with only Two Blood Types have Good Success with Kidney Transplants Question: One of my students asked me if animals of the same species have different blood types like humans. For example: if you needed to give a cat a blood transfusion would you need to find another cat with the same type of…

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Leave out food & water? Friends who visit your home? Expensive kennels? Here’s how to choose.   Question: Soon our children will be back in school and our family has one last vacation planned. We have a cat and a dog but we don’t know where to turn for reliable pet care while we’re gone.…

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What do they really need & what’s unnecessary. Question: My kids and my wife and I have decided that we want to have a pet but we can’t agree on a dog or a cat so we got both. We know they need shots but I’ve called a few vet clinics and I’m getting different…

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Carefully consider the maturity of the primary caretaker before adding a new pet to your home.   Question: I’m thinking that a pet is a good way to teach responsibility to my children. One is 5 and the other is 3. Do you think they are old enough?   Dr. Nichol: Do I look like…

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Other family dogs share the loss & the grief. Question: A few weeks ago I had to put down Sam, one of my four dogs, due to liver failure. The remaining three seem to be grieving, no playing, no barking, not eating. Sam seemed to be the leader. How can I help them overcome their…

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There are places to trim costs & do just fine. But cut quality on the wrong priorities & your pets will pay more later.   Question: Should I give vitamins to my pets? I have a whole menagerie. I have 2 guinea pigs, 3 cats, 2 dogs, and some fish. I try to feed good…

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It may be a great idea. But the surprise of a real live long-term responsibility wears off fast. Talk about it first & be ready for the real investment of energy & expense.   Question: My fiancee has said that she might want a pet and I’m running out of time to get her a…

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Teeth and, Later, Eyes are the Best Indicators of Age Question: How can I tell how old my cat is, he is a rescue cat and the center had no idea themselves.   Dr. Nichol: This is an important question not only because many health issues are linked to age; cats are very fussy about…

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Similar to Roaring, No Cat can do Both Do questions like this keep you awake at night or, like most cat owners, do you believe your kitty purrs just because he thinks you’re cute, funny, smart, and marvelous? Sorry. As it turns out, it’s purely physical.   The mechanics of purring start with a neural…

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Good Hygiene is Essential but other Humans are the Greatest Risk Question: When the Europeans came to America they brought diseases that we as a people only scarcely survived. Because of the Europeans’ close association with their animals they were immune to most of the diseases that we were not. My question: A lot of…

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Everybody’s Scalp needs to be Scratched Question: Thomas escapes whenever possible and we always find him rolling in the very dry dusty dirt. This cat loves it; he rolls so many times a day you can’t keep count. I have had cats all my life and never remember having one that rolled in dirt all…

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Antidepressant Medication can Help; Advice on Adding another Cat Question: I recently lost one of my 6 year old cats. “B” and “J” are mostly indoors. The last time I let them out was the last time I saw B. I live in a large apartment complex; I sort of think someone took him. No one…

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Discourage Access to your Yard or Spay & Neuter Question: My neighborhood is infested with stray cats. I made the mistake of feeding some and now I have 6-7 cats looking for feed at my door twice a day.  My neighbors tell me the block is going to stink to high heaven. How do I…

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Learn a Kitten’s History & be Observant Question: We recently had to put our beloved cat to sleep after 16 years. This cat was so loving to us, sat in our laps, talked to us, he is a tremendous loss.  How do we find another cat that will be loving to us?  Should we be…

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Tranquilizing the Cat First can make it Easier Question: Sage, a beautiful and loving 18 year old cat, is now blind and has begun to have potty accidents and some vomiting. Although she is a love with us, she becomes feral when a veterinarian approaches (no offense).  Even with a home visit, cat bag and…

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Pets are Valuable for Most of Us Question: I would not have any tricky problem with any sick cat. I grew up on a farm in 30’s and 40’s and there was not any money for sick cats or dogs. They were quickly destroyed and buried. We did not enjoy this, but it was the…

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Great Ways for Cat Owners  to Protect Mother Earth Question: While I focus on going “green” (i.e. no plastic at the check out line, thank you) how do I best get rid of the “brown” litter?   Dr. Nichol: Here are some excellent suggestions plus one of dubious value submitted by a friend of mine.…

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Safe & Good Fun for Cats of All Ages Catnip can be a Good Reward Question: Is catnip to cats what alcohol or recreational drugs are to people?  Is it okay to let the love of my life, Miss Molly, my cat, have catnip?   Dr. Nichol: Ahem. Are there any feline DARE officers reading this? OK,…

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There are a Few Routes; All take Education Question: How does a person become an animal behaviorist? Does one need to go through veterinary college or something more like an apprenticeship?   Dr. Nichol: There are a few choices. A veterinary behaviorist is a veterinarian (4 years of undergraduate study plus 4 years of veterinary…

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Cats are Highly Territorial & become Stressed when Taken From Home Question: We had two cats when we lived near Central and Tramway in Albuquerque and when we moved to Second and Osuna we left one cat at the old house with our adult daughter, and the other we brought with us. That one ran…

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Times have Change since the Great Depression Dear Dr. Nichol: Sir, I am so tired of dogs and cats that I could use some old navy swear words. I have 5 neighbors with cats who run wild through my flowers. I smell dog manure on a nauseating scale. I have seen them spend thousands on…

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Most Baits are Safe. Be Careful with Hydrogen Peroxide Question: We moved to the foothills last spring and were overrun by cockroaches! Now we have two kitties, and wonder if there is a product that is both effective against roaches and pet-safe. Dr. Nichol: For the latest on the safest, I contacted Dr. Safdar Khan…

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Perceived Threat from Neighbor Cat Spurs Instinct Question: After eating our cat tries to cover up the food dish. Is this a response to threatening behavior of a stray cat around our home?   Dr. Nichol: You got it.

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Question: Now that you let the cat out of the bag and described one cat noise and listed a slew of others, what do the others mean?   Dr. Nichol: You mean the cat has been