PDSA Weekly Cat Q&A
We've signed up to receive copies of the Q&A session of the PDSA vet on a weekly basis now. I'll post cat relevant ones here. 🙂
Dear PDSA Vet, my vet has just told me that my cat has got roundworm eggs in his stools. He always uses his litter tray, but I am still concerned that my two small children might catch them. Can this happen? Shanti
Dear Shanti, Roundworms can be harmful to humans and particularly children, as well as pets. There is also another parasite possible in cat faeces called Toxoplasma, which has the potential to cause problems in humans. The most effective way to prevent roundworm infection is to use a safe and effective preventive worming treatment regularly as recommended by your vet. Aside from regular worming, hygiene is key. Adults who have contact with the cat litter tray should wash their hands afterwards and children should be kept away from litter trays and areas where cats toilet in the garden. As there are additional risks of Toxoplasma during pregnancy, pregnant women are also advised to wear gloves and an apron when dealing with their cat’s litter tray.
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Here is the latest cat themed Q&A!
Dear PDSA Vet, My cat, Ryker, came in this morning limping and after checking him I found that the middle pad on his foot has a small scrape on it. It seems a bit swollen and smells a bit. Should I keep him indoors at night, even though he doesn’t like this? Rebecca
Dear Rebecca, You need to take Ryker to be checked by your vet, as the wound will need to be thoroughly cleaned and checked. The smell may also indicate that it is infected, so he may need to be prescribed antibiotics. In some cases, a cat will need to be sedated or anaesthetised for the wound to be properly cleaned. The vet will probably recommend that you keep Ryker indoors until he has healed. If he isn’t neutered already I would strongly recommend you ask your vet about this. This can reduce a male cat’s desire to roam and fight, as well as preventing unwanted litters.
Just adding the latest PDSA Q&A:
Dear PDSA Vet, Socks, our long-haired tabby, has a seriously bad temper. He’s bitten and scratched my two young girls completely unprovoked, and even though they don’t go near him now he will run over to try and bite them. We can’t re-home him as nobody wants him. What should we do? Lauren
Dear Lauren, Illness or pain can be a cause of aggression in cats, so I would recommend you get Socks checked out by your vet, as there could be a long-term issue you are unaware of. If he has no underlying medical problems, then the problem could be due to what behaviourists refer to as ‘petting and biting syndrome’, when cats will initiate contact with people, but then will suddenly bite. Cats displaying this are often described as friendly but unpredictable, and there is a sudden change from accepting attention to reacting in a hostile way once they reach their tolerance threshold. Treatment involves raising this threshold, which your vet or a pet behaviourist will be able to advise how to do safely. Additionally, if your children do get injured by your cat it’s important to take them to see their doctor, as bacteria from cat bites can frequently cause serious infection.
Here is the latest cat column:
Dear PDSA Vet, we just rehomed a very timid rescue cat called Pixie. She is about 18 months old and was found on the streets with two kittens, so we don’t know if she has ever had a proper home. She lets us stroke her but won’t let us lift her up at all; how can we help her get used to this? Parminder
Dear Parminder, the key will be to take things very slowly. Pets are most likely to enjoy handling and human company if they have had gentle and kind contact with people from a young age. It sounds as though this is unlikely in Pixie’s case and this would explain her nervousness and reluctance to be lifted. You should offer her small bits of her favourite food (e.g. lean chicken) and let her approach you to take it. Then start stroking her at the same time. Once she’s happy with this, gently place your hand where you would to lift her (but don’t lift her yet), and let her take the food treat. When she’s relaxed with this, lift her off the ground slightly and put her down. Slowly build up like this, offering the food item and using an encouraging voice at each step. Don’t move on to the next step until she’s relaxed with the one before; this may take weeks or months. With patience, her confidence should grow over time. And remember to cut down her main meal slightly on the days that food treats are given. It is also possible she may never enjoy being picked up but she might enjoy other interactions with you such as playing or being fussed.
Here is the latest entry!
Dear PDSA vet, my daughter recently adopted a cat. He’s a bit nervous but loves being stroked if we allow him to approach us. However he’s recently started fouling beds and chairs, which might be because of stress. Can you help? Kathy
Dear Kathy, there is always a reason for a change in behaviour like this, so the first step is to find out the cause. There could be an underlying medical problem causing this. Your daughter needs to take the cat to her vet to check for any health problems. The vet can also advise on how to retrain him to use a litter tray. Sometimes, going to the toilet in unusual places can be caused by stress. Cats usually enjoy a routine and sometimes even minor changes, such as having guests to stay round, changing where the feeding bowl is or even re-decorating your home, can cause anxiety. If there is another cat in the house this could also be a factor. Cats are solitary animals and don’t always like the company of other felines, particularly if they are unrelated. Each cat in a household will need its own litter tray plus one extra, placed where one cat can’t stop the other cat from using it. They will also need their own beds in separate areas to help them feel more at ease.
Dear PDSA Vet
My cat has always had dry skin and she has a tendency to over-groom. But I’ve recently noticed that her skin has got really bad on her back, it’s sore and red, and she keeps twitching. What could be causing this?
Over-grooming can be caused by a skin problem or allergy so it’s best to visit the vet, who can prescribe something to reduce the itchiness and help the skin to heal. However, skin problems like over-grooming are often made worse by stress. Cats like consistency and any changes such as renovations, a new cat on the block or something as simple as lots of visitors could be stressful. If you have more than one cat, it’s important to make sure that there are enough sleeping areas, litter trays and food bowls (one per cat plus one extra). A key cause of stress is territorial disputes over resources. Your vet can recommend ways to reduce her stress, if this is contributing to her over-grooming. Calming pheromone treatments may help some cats. For more info on stress in cats visit www.pdsa.org.uk/catstress.