Author Archives: Chryssa Rich

Siamese Cat Markings and Enlarged Livers

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m answering some questions from Pets Best Facebook page today.

The first question comes from Samantha, who asks, “Are Siamese cats supposed to have an ‘M’ on their forehead?”

The answer is no, not really. The typical Siamese coloration is a tan base, and they usually have some type of darker points, points being their nose, their ears, and their tails. There can be some different variations in their coloring, but true Siamese kitties typically don’t have any linear markages on them.

The next one comes from Cynthia, who asks, “What causes an enlarged liver?”

This is a really difficult question to answer because there are a lot of things that can cause a big liver. Some of them are really, really serious. If you’ve had your veterinarian tell you that your pet’s liver is enlarged, you might ask them to elaborate on why they think that is. It could be anything from infections to the way that they were born, or inflammation, or something serious like cancer.
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Flea Med Reaction, Dog Won’t Pee in Rain


Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. Today I’m answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first one comes from Patricia, who asks, “Can applying flea and tick medicine like Advantage make my Labrador ill?”

Absolutely. Sometimes these flea and tick medications, which are oftentimes insecticides, can make animals ill, especially if it’s not used correctly. Always make sure that you’re getting the right dosage strength for the right animal. For example, cats can’t tolerate a lot of those topical flea and tick medications.

If you’re seeing a reaction to one, it really could be a problem. Use something like Dawn dish soap to wash the area where you applied it really well, and then rinse really well. If it continues to be a problem, you probably need to see your veterinarian.

In the meantime, if you want to use some type of a flea and tick medication, contact your veterinarian. There are a ton of products out there, ones that are taken orally so you don’t have to necessarily be doing anything on the skin, or prescription ones that aren’t insecticides that are actually absorbed through the skin and work a little bit differently, so you can figure out a product that works well for you.

The next one is from Tara. She writes, “My dog will not pee in the rain. She’ll hold it until it stops raining. Is this bad for her?”

Sometimes dogs won’t like to urinate when it’s inclement weather. This actually happens with some frequency. In snow, rain, cold or wind, typically little dogs especially can sometimes really not like this. It’s not great for her to hold it for a really long time so if you could find a covered area or somewhere that’s a little bit drier, that’s going to be better. She won’t hold it to a point that’s going to damage her, but obviously it can be uncomfortable.

One alternative that you might consider, and this works okay especially for small dogs, is using a litter pan or piddle pads. You can just train them to use that and then quickly clean up so they don’t have to go outside, especially if you live in an area that has snow or rain for a lot of the year. That might be something to try.
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Kevin and The Cat Doctor Part III

Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. Today I’m going to be answering some questions from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance, and we are continuing the series that we call “Kevin and the Cat Doctor”.

Kevin asks me, “My female cat has suddenly taken to spraying the walls and other items such as clothing. Is she just trying to mark her territory or is there a deeper issue to this?”

First of all, Kevin, I’d ask you if you kitty-cat is spayed. Some females who are not spayed will mark their territory, urinating on articles or spraying walls and such, when they’re in heat. So make sure that she is spayed. If she has already has been spayed, then it’s always best that we rule out a medical problem. Some cats, when they have urinary issues, will spray rather than urinating on items on the floor. It’s best that you take your kitty to your veterinarian, have the doctor run a urinalysis and give the kitty a good physical to rule out any medical problems, rather than just assuming that she’s having behavioral issues and just acting up.

Next, Kevin asks, “I’ve been told cats which have been declawed have peculiar habits atypical of normal cats, such as urinating upon furniture. How true is this?”

It is not true. Declawing can be a very controversial subject but I’m happy to report that there have been no studies that have shown that cats that are declawed have any type of elimination problems or any other behavioral problems. So it is okay to declaw your kitties in certain situations.

And finally, Kevin asks, “I’ve been told kidney failure is the great equalizer among cats, so what should I do to reduce this likelihood?”

Unfortunately, we do see a large amount of chronic kidney disease in our older kitty-cats and we’re not entirely sure why this happens. The best way to try to prevent it is by making sure your cat sees your veterinarian for an annual physical, or perhaps even visiting the veterinarian twice a year. At some point as the kitty gets older, your veterinarian will recommend that some blood work and a urinalysis be done. This is very important because that way you can identify kidney disease as soon as possible and there are steps that can be taken to help your kitty’s kidneys work for as long as possible.

Kevin and The Cat Doctor Part I

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

This particular segment is called “Kevin and the Cat Doctor”. Kevin was a very busy boy and had lots of questions for us, but I do appreciate that, Kevin, because honestly, the more you know about your kitties, the better you’ll be able to keep your kitties healthy and happy for a long time.

Let’s start off on Kevin’s questions. The first one here is, “If I get a kitten, should I teach it to use the toilet or is that a novel behavior best left alone?”

I’m always amazed at those people that can actually teach their kitties to use the toilet. I don’t know how they do it and I don’t know where they get the patience from. But hey, if you want to try that, I’d say go for it. My only concern is that as a kitty gets older, they may have some problems jumping up onto the toilet if they get arthritis and things of that sort. For younger kitties, give it a try. For most cats, though, in general it’s best to use the old natural method and let them do what comes naturally to them by using a litter box.

Second question. “I recently heard feeding only dry food can lead to kidney problems. Is there a good ratio of dry to canned food?”

Feeding dry food only will not cause kidney problems. We do, unfortunately, see a lot of chronic kidney disease, mostly in our older kitty-cats, and we don’t fully understand why this happens. However, once your kitty is diagnosed with kidney problems, it’s really best to get your cat on a canned food diet. The increased moisture content of the canned food will help the kidneys last a little bit longer. There is no specific ratio. I tell my clients to maximize the amount of canned food fed to those kitties with kidney disease.

Next question. “How does the flea and tick medicine that is applied to the back of the cat’s neck work?” There are several products of this sort and they all basically work about the same. The medication is applied topically on the kitty’s skin. It’s absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream of the cat. It then affects the fleas and ticks by interfering with and damaging their nervous system and that’s how they are killed. They’re a great product, very convenient to use, and I do highly recommend them.

Helping a Cat Lose Weight and Calming a Storm-Scared Dog

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. Today I’m answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first question comes from Kate. She writes, “Any suggestions on helping our kitty lose weight? She’s about 13 pounds.” She goes on to talk about some things that she’s done already to try to get her to lose some weight, such as interactive toys and encouraging her to exercise. She’s on a weight loss prescription diet. Kate has worked with her veterinarian and ruled out underlying diseases and that type of thing. The kitty has stopped gaining weight but isn’t really budging down

I definitely want to applaud you for your weight loss efforts for your cat. Cats can be really tricky to get to lose weight and recognizing that they’ll be healthier at a lower weight is fantastic.

Feeding the prescription reduced-calorie diet is a great place to start. What you’re probably going to need to do is use a simple formula of ‘calories in, calories out’. She’s just going to need less calories.

One thing you might do is actually measure how much she’s eating in 24 hours. Take more than you’ll think she’ll eat, measure it out and put it in the bowl. At the end of 24 hours, put what’s left in there and you can see how much she eats in 24 hours. Then reduce that by 20%. Sometimes that will help kind of jump start that weight loss and get her to lose some weight.

The next one comes from Joanna, who says, “My female Shepherd mix is terrified of storms and reverts back to pottying in the house for a week after the storm has passed. Anything I can do to change this behavior?”

This sounds like pretty classic storm phobia, which unfortunately can be common in dogs. It is not only debilitating for them, but also sort of annoying for you, having to clean up that mess and also deal with her fear at that time.

What I would recommend you do is try working with a behaviorist or consult a veterinarian. There are great anti-anxiety medications that can be used during the time of the storm and in the days that follow to try and keep her from having the anxiety that’s causing the accidents in the house.

An alternative to medication that you might try is called the Thunder Shirt. This is a product that just kind of applies pressure to their body and makes them feel a little bit more secure. Some dogs do really well with it and it helps to lessen their anxiety. What you would do is put the shirt on before the storm, leave it on for as long as you think her anxiety will last, and then take it off.

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