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, but that it might stress her out. She is also a diabetic. She is otherwise in good health.

Dr. Nichol:
Hair mats for kitties are not a fashion statement like dreadlocks but a sign of trouble. Painful joints could be making it hard for your feline senior to twist around to care for her coat. I suggest holding her gently as her mats are slowly trimmed with electric clippers at the veterinary clinic.

There may be other factors like mouth pain from dental problems or kidney failure – both common in geriatric cats. Some pet owners avoid teeth cleaning for fear of anesthetic risk but I advise careful preparation and anesthetic management instead of neglect. Beyond the constant ache oral infections wreak havoc on multiple body systems.

Finally, I encourage you to ask your veterinarian about an oral liquid anti-inflammatory/pain reliever called Metacam. As long as the kid’s kidneys and liver are in good order she could return to cavorting and frolicking around the house but you may need to set the example.

A few weeks ago I advised the owner of an out-of-control Pyrenees/Anatolian shepherd.  Her antics indicated unmet behavioral needs. Here is a comment from another reader.

“When I read Dr. Nichol’s column describing the behavior of the shepherd, I knew that this is to be expected from a frustrated herding dog. My wife and I have been training herding breeds and trialing Border Collies for about 12 years and understand their need for exercise. This exercise can be sheep herding, treibball, agility, Frisbee, fly ball, or jogging, but a walk around the block isn’t enough.
The herding breeds are noted for their hard working way of life, dedication to the job and intelligence. They make wonderful family members as long as there is a job (high level of activity) for them. This of course means that the owner must be able to commit the time to keep the dog satisfied.”

Amen, brother