Author Archives: Chryssa Rich

Cats Won’t Eat Wet Food; Cat Who Bites

Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys with The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. Today I’m going to be answering a couple questions from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.

First we have a question from Katie. She writes, “My two cats will not, under any circumstances, eat wet cat food, regardless of brand or flavor. One will drink the water from canned tuna but neither will touch the tuna itself. We let them free-feed dry food. Is that okay? One of them is a bit overweight but the other one is fine.”

I see the most problems with cats being overweight and obese in cats that are fed strictly dry food on a free choice basis, meaning the owner just puts the bowl out and they eat as much as they want during the day. The dry food is higher in calories because of the higher carbohydrate content and we’ve made it so great tasting that many cats will just overeat and gain weigh. I prefer feeding twice daily with canned food, especially the grain-free varieties, but as you found out, a lot of cats don’t really like the canned food, especially if they’ve eaten nothing but dry food since they were little kittens.

Cats can definitely become carbohydrate addicts and they tend to like that crunchy texture of the dry food, too. One of the best websites that I know of has a really nice section that talks about how to transition your cat from the dry foods to the canned foods. That website is Check that out. It’s written by a veterinarian and it can be very helpful to get your kitties to like the canned food.

The second question is from Linda. She writes, “Five months ago I adopted a cat who had been in and out of the Humane Society. She’s bitten me a few times recently and shows jealousy around my other pet. I recently started giving her less food to control her weight. Could this be why she bites me?”

Decreasing her food probably does not really have much to do with her biting. It sounds like she has a long history of having gone through a lot of trauma in different homes and things of that sort, so probably the aggressiveness arises from something like that rather than her having less food to eat.

Cat bites can sometimes be very dangerous. People certainly do occasionally end up in the hospital from a cat bite, so her behavior is not something that we want to take too lightly. I encourage you to talk to your veterinarian about this behavior issue with her. Try and get that under control so that she doesn’t cause damage to you. Once that is under control, continue to work with her diet and her weight loss because that’s going to be very good for her in the long term, too.

Mast Cell Tumor Info and OTC Pain Meds for Dogs

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first question comes from Maria. She asks, “What’s the typical prognosis for a dog with a mast cell tumor on his snout that is oozing blood?”

Unfortunately, mast cell tumors are pretty aggressive tumors, especially ones that are near the mouth. Prognosis without surgery typically isn’t great. Mast cell tumors can be surgically removed and there are some new chemotherapy drugs that have a lot of promise. Contact your veterinarian and see what options you have.

The next question comes from Susan. “Is there a good over-the-counter pain reliever to give a Doberman?”

Not really. The over-the-counter things that you can get at the pet stores typically have aspirin in them, which can be safe in small doses for some dogs, but Dobermans tend to be prone to certain bleeding disorders. I would recommend that you get a prescription pain reliever for your Doberman.

Cats Going Into Heat After Spay; Scratching Where They Shouldn’t

Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. I’m answering a few questions today from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.

Our first question is from Bryant. He writes. “After cats get spayed, can they still have heat symptoms?”

Yes, in rare cases that can sometimes happen. Usually what we have is that there is some ovarian tissue outside the ovary itself, somewhere in the abdomen, that’s not easily seen, that is still functioning ovarian tissue making the hormones and so the cat can come into heat, even after she’s had her spay surgery.

This is pretty rare but it can happen. Work with your veterinarian. He or she can determine if that’s truly what’s going on. If it is, unfortunately the kitty has to have surgery again so that they can go in and find that tissue, take it out, and prevent her from going into heat again.

The next question is from Katie. She’s talking about a couple kitties that she has. She says, “They are indiscriminate scratchers, ignoring their many scratching posts and climbing toys in favor of the carpet, the leather furniture, or whatever happens to be handy, such as someone’s leg. We are at our wits’ end with these two kitties.”

It’s important to remember that scratching is a very normal behavior in cats. They do it for several important reasons. First of all, they can flex and stretch their muscles and joints. It also helps to remove the old sheath that’s on the outside of the claw and it’s very important for scent marking, too.

It’s most important to know that this is normal. They are going to do it. What you need to look at is providing them with a lot of different types of scratching posts, like you have done. Also, look at what they are choosing to scratch on and then try to simulate that same surface on the scratching post, whether it’s cloth, carpet, wood, or even sisal rope. You also want to make sure that you are putting the scratching posts in the common areas, the busy areas of the house so the kitties are more likely to use them. If those scratching posts are tucked away in a corner, it’s not going to happen.

It’s also very good to put the scratching posts near the areas where they like to sleep or nap. Most kitties do want to stretch and scratch immediately after getting up, so if you put the post there they are more likely to use them. Another good idea is to rub or spray catnip onto the post to try and make them more attractive.

You definitely want to try to keep your kitties’ claws trimmed on a regular basis. That may be anywhere from every two weeks to every month. That will prevent a lot of the damage that’s being done. There are also nail caps that can be glued onto the kitties’ claws to prevent damage. If you are not making headway with these suggestions then you want to contact your veterinarian. There are a lot of other ideas that can be used. Sometimes the veterinarian may even advise you to check with a veterinarian behavior specialist.

Young Dog Going Gray and a Female Dog Who Marks

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

This one comes from Haley. She writes, “My dog is only four years old. She used to be pure black, but now her entire face and the back neck have turned gray, so much so that people think she’s 15 years old. Is it common for dogs to prematurely gray and could it be stress-induced?”

This is really common. It tends to be the darker dogs where it’s the most profound. There is thought to be a genetic link so genes can play a role in it. Labradors, for example, are a common breed where this happens. The Black Labs will go gray prematurely. It’s probably not related to any sort of underlying problem or disease and it’s probably not stress-induced. It’s probably just normal for her.

The last one comes from Christa. “Is it normal for a female dog to urine mark like a boy when we’re on walks in the park?”

This is a great question. Yes, it is normal. This can be a learned behavior. Typically it is male dogs that will mark more than female dogs but female dogs can do it, too. They’ll even lift their leg like a boy dog. If she’s squatting uncomfortably or it’s a new behavior for her, you might want to ask your veterinarian just to make sure there’s not something new like a urinary tract infection. But if it’s something she always does at the park, it’s probably normal for her.

Cat Pulling Hair and Flea Infestations

Hello, I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. Today I’m here to answer a few questions from the Pets Best Insurance Facebook page.

Our first question is from Alexandra. She writes, “My cat keeps ripping his hair out. Every time I go to the vet, they give him a shot. He stops for a week and then I’m out $400 and he’s still ripping out his hair. He doesn’t have fleas, either.”

Alexandra, I can certainly sympathize with you. Having a pet with a chronic condition can be both frustrating and expensive. It sounds like your cat may have allergies and I suspect that the shots that he’s getting are steroid shots. Work with your veterinarian to try to determine whether he might have food allergies or whether he could have allergies to something that he’s breathing in, either in the home or outside.

If he does have inhalant allergies, you can give him a pill about every other day that will keep him comfortable during the allergy season. That would certainly be a lot easier on your pocketbook and it would be easier and safer for your kitty to not get repeated steroid injections.

The next question is from Katie. She writes, “I have two 5-year-old sibling indoor cats. They never go outside and we have no other pets, yet they have fleas year-round. One cat in particular gets just infested. We use Advantage or Frontline on a regular basis. What else can we do?”

That’s certainly an unusual problem. I haven’t really had any incidences of the Advantage or the Frontline failing. I would definitely think about where the fleas are coming from. I’d recommend that you continue to use the Advantage or Frontline once a month as you’re doing right now. In addition, I would recommend that you treat the house with a spray that kills both the fleas and is going to work on killing flea eggs for many weeks. This should help get things under control. Your veterinarian can help guide you as to the best products to use for the problem.

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