Spraying cat has owner clawing hair out

Dear Dr. Fox:

I’ve had four feral cats since they were kittens. The oldest, Rudy, is 15. He’s driving me up the wall, spraying all around the house.

He has been to the vet, who says that he’s fine and that it’s behavioral — like he’s not happy about something. I don’t know what he could be unhappy about, but he’s ruined my furniture and carpeting. I keep cleaning the spots, put mothballs around and nothing helps. I finally had to replace the carpet and I put tile down. Still, I’m finding more yellow spots.

The vet even put him on amitriptyline to no avail.

D.R., Cape Coral, Fla.

DF: Your cat is 15 and could have the feline equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease. Check with your vet about trying seligiline, which can help older cats showing signs of anxiety and dementia. As an alternative, good-quality catnip might help calm him down. It contains similar chemicals found in valerian and in the derived prescription drug Valium but is much more palatable.

Also discuss with your veterinarian the possibility of giving your cat glucosamine, which helps with irritable bladder problems (as does valerian). Plus, give your cat a drop or two of good quality fish oil in his food, working up to a teaspoon daily. Fish oil has potent anti-inflammatory, heart and circulation effects that can help older cats with cardiac, arthritic and other problems.

DIABETIC CAT

Dear Dr. Fox:

We have a 5-year-old neutered miniature fox terrier. Our vet determined that he has diabetes.

Every morning after he eats, I give him a shot of Vetsulin. Is there an oral method for giving him this medicine?

How many times can I use a syringe for him? The medicine and syringes are expensive.

K.B., Wappapello, Mo.

DF: This condition is common in some breeds such as yours. It can be aggravated by high-cereal, carbohydrate-containing dog foods, some of which contain sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup. The latter is partly responsible for the nation’s obesity and diabetic epidemic.

Ask the veterinarian for reusable syringes and needles.

There are no oral medicines to help your dog. A half teaspoon of cinnamon in his low-carb food every day might help.

SEIZURE EPIDEMIC

Dear Dr. Fox:

About 18 years ago, I found a beautiful little poodle-and-bichon mix. No one claimed her, so I kept her.

Four years later, she started having seizures. The vet put her on medication, and she did fairly well. While I still had Girlfriend, I bought a bichon Jessie and then Jack Russell Lily.

Girlfriend’s health failed, and we had to put her down. Then, when Jessie was about 13, she developed seizures. She also was put on medication day and night, but after about eight months, she also had to be put to sleep.

On April 18, 2009, my Jack Russell had a seizure. On April 20, I saw bile on the floor and knew she’d had another one. I took her to the vet, who kept her overnight to watch and treat her. The next morning, they called me to say Lilly had seized all night long and no medication would bring her out of it.

The dogs all went to the same reliable vet for yearly checkups, shots and teeth cleaning.

C.P., Neptune, N.J.

DF: In some veterinary circles, I would be considered an alarmist for suggesting two factors that possibly contributed to your three dogs’ seizures:

l Adverse reactions to vaccinations (dogs don’t need yearly shots), especially for distemper, that vaccine manufacturers have been reluctant to address but are now doing so.

l Adverse reactions to spot-on, anti-flea drugs, which the Food and Drug Administration keeps promising it will regulate more effectively. More and stronger regulations will not eliminate adverse reactions.

Some dogs have a genetic predisposition to seizures. Dietary factors, such as heavy glutens, and chronic liver disease, especially in older dogs, can also play a role in this all-too-common canine affliction.

Animals sharing the same environment could also be exposed to the same house and garden chemicals. This potential source of poisoning should be considered when several animals in the home develop the same symptoms.

But in your case, I would suspect other factors, especially similar medications and routine treatments over the years. A diagnosis of epilepsy or pure neurological seizure must be determined by a professional, because such conditions as diabetes, hypoglycemia, liver and kidney disease and brain tumors (in old dogs) can trigger convulsions.

chronic eye infection

Dear Dr. Fox:

Our domestic tiger-breed cat, Mr. Stubbs, has an eye condition that oozes a dark, bloodylike mucus and then dries to a crust. This condition interferes with his sight if his eyes are not wiped multiple times a day. The only remedy we’ve received from our vet is eye drops.

Mr. Stubbs acquired this condition when we rescued him. At the same time, we also rescued an old stray with a chronic respiratory condition and the same eye condition. In her case, no one could get close enough to clean her eyes daily.

Is there any solution for Mr. Stubbs? He is a joyful kitty and such a pleasure.

T.C., Highlands, N.J.

DF: The dark brown, bloodlike secretion in your cat’s eyes contains a natural pigment called porphyrin. This becomes more evident when the Harderian gland becomes inflamed. It is usually a sign of chronic eye infection, often associated with conjunctivitis that can persist after a herpes virus or upper respiratory-tract infection.

Ophthalmic antibiotic ointment from the veterinarian and good nutrition, including multivitamin/multimineral and amino acid supplements, are called for. Chronic eye infections can lead to corneal ulceration and blindness if not treated.

Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

2010 United Feature Syndicate