The Darwin’s Dogs project is studying how dog DNA affects behavior, and your dog could help researchers find out.
Welcome to our regular “Ask the Vet With Dr. Kris” segment! Once a month, Dr. Kris answers as many of your questions as he can, and you can leave new questions for him in a comment.
Dr. Kristopher Chandroo is a veterinarian, scientist, photographer, animal welfare advocate, and creator of Stress to Success (STS): The Essential Guide to Medicating Your Feisty, Grumpy or Reluctant Cat. Dr. Kris wants your cats to be twenty years old. And counting! And he wants to provide medication and therapy to them in a way that respects the bond between cat and human.
Here are Dr. Kris’ answers to some of your questions asked in June. If your question didn’t get answered here, Dr. Kris will answer them on his own website in the future. Subscribe to his updates so you’ll be notified when the answers are published.
Cat pees on nearest wall or other object
Hi Dr Kris,
My 4 year old indoor/outdoor male cat (Hansel Von Whiskerheimer:) has developed a habit of backing up to the nearest wall or other object, looking me in the eye, and urinating with his tail up and a little butt wiggle. This behavior seems to always follow a request he has made that I have not attended to immediately. He will meow and if I don’t feed him or even just give him some attention, he walks over to me, stares right at me, and pees. There has only been one time when the urine has had the “cat marking smell”-otherwise it just smells like urine. Also, he only does this with me-not my husband, sister, or any of the cat sitters.
So far my theory is that he first developed this habit when he had a UTI in the winter and needed to go outside (he prefers to urinate outside) as soon as he felt the urge and it was his way of telling me to hurry up and let him out, but since then it has continued. He has had a urinalysis on multiple occasions and the vet can’t find anything medically wrong with him. This has been going on for over a year at this point. It’s not every day but usually just when I think he has stopped, he will do it again. I have added a couple more cats to my household, so I could see that being a trigger. I don’t want to be reinforcing the behavior by giving him food/treats/cat nip on demand, but I also don’t want my house to be covered in pee! before this particular behavior began, he would knock over as many things as he could if I did not meet his meow request immediately.
I thought that was annoying, but I would take a spilled cup of water or broken vase over a urine soaked yoga mat any day. Do you have any ideas for behavior modification? I just started giving him extra attention all the time since he now has other cats to compete with, but other than that, I really am at a loss. Thanks!
Hansel Von Whiskerheimer!
Ha! Love the name!
Take a video of the Von Whiskerheimer (with that name, you know he loves to be in front of the camera!).
Show it to your vet.
I can’t tell you how many times a video has revealed what words and urinalysis could not! Your first task is in fact to confirm if this is marking behaviour.
If so, they can provide you with some steps from there to resolve the soggy yoga mat.
Treating hyperthyroidism with homeopathy
What are your thoughts about treating cats with homeopathy?
My rescue cat has most recently been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. I am trying a remedy, but thinking I will do the traditional meds. Also, he has tested positive for exposure to the Corona virus, originally the vet thought he definitely had FIP, but now she doesn’t. Can you please comment on the Corona virus? It is my understanding that many are exposed, but in only a few does it mutate into FIP.
Someone who is considering homeopathy is someone who is thinking about their cat.
Someone who is thinking about their cat is someone who will treat their cat.
Someone who will treat their cat will go through a process to see what works best for their cat.
So even though people debate homeopathy, I’m more interested in someone’s mindset. Where they are coming from, and what their cat means to them.
So, I won’t find fault in someone trying.
Putting in the effort.
That is pretty special, because many people don’t. I can guarantee you that, and their ain’t many guarantees in vet medicine.
If you want to use a non-conventional treatment for hyperthyroidism, it becomes simple. Find someone trained in homeopathy, try it, and re-test their blood in 4-6 weeks. If it’s working, you’ll know because their excessive thyroid level will start to normalize.
If you don’t see that happening in a convincing way, switch gears. Quickly. Because untreated hyperthyroidism damages many organs in the body, and some of us believe that in fact it’s a source of kidney damage.
Resident cat is upset at new kitten
We received a new 11 week old kitten. My 2 1/2 year old cat hissed at him and seems upset. What can I do to unite them?
Your 2.5 year old was living the life of a millennial. Finished school late, tonnes of debt, so he moved back home. Part-time job.
But…he’s more socially conscious, more likely to become an entrepreneur, makes purchases with his smartphone, and stays updated with brands through social networks. He would suffer more from losing a phone than losing a car.
Your kitten is a big ol’ baby boomer. He is dramatic social change on four paws. Counterculture.
He values individual identity over group think.
When you stick a baby boomer and a millennial together really quickly, and say make something great happen, what you hope for is Hathaway and Deniro in “The Intern”.
But sometimes instead, you get Hathaway and Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”.
Watch those movies!
See, it can take weeks or months for relationships to form, and it’s complicated.
Separate them after the conflict.
Give them a chance to get to know each other on their terms.
Make sure they don’t compete over anything.
Take it slow. Their time. Not our time.
It’s an old formula Hollywood knows well!
Gabapentin for arthritis pain
Dr Kris, my 9 year old cat is already on prednisone twice a day for arthritis in the rear spine/hips/legs but was still limping so the vet gave me Gabapentin to give to her, in liquid form, 1.5ml twice a day. She had no side effects but I had trouble giving her the liquid form so I asked for it in pill form. She was prescribed 50mg twice a day but all anyone had was the capsule form that I could not cut in half. After speaking to the vet about it, She just increased the dose, in capsule form to 100mg every 12 hrs. Her first dose she got that drunken sailor syndrome, balance was off, she couldn’t walk straight. Is this normal until a few doses? I’m wondering if that dose is too high for her starting off. Several blogs I read only had cats on doses of no higher than 50mg a day! My vet had increased her prednisone to twice a day since she was still limping and added Gabapetin saying sometimes you have to initially hit them hard in the beginning with higher doses then wean them back. Need some advice, I think the dose is too high, but I’m not a Dr. Thanks
100mg is the sedation dose I use with specific cats in specific circumstances.
It will make some cats sleepy, wobbly, and less emotionally reactive (which is the goal in that situation).
I use it when life is really rough for a cat, whose fear, stress or anxiety needs to be managed before they come see me in a vet hospital setting.
If I’m using Gabapentin for arthritis, I’m going to start low, then increase it until the kitty feels better. If the patient gets drowsy, I might tolerate that temporarily, but I don’t want a drunken sailor 7 days a week. Since I’ve never seen your cat, I don’t know what low is relative to what your cat is dealing with. But 100mg is my sedation dose.
There are alternatives to prednisolone and gabapentin, but myself (and anyone else) would need to know a lot more about your cat (hands-on) and the specific rationale for the choices so far before recommending anything else. It really is that individualistic, and what works for some really doesn’t work at all for others.
I know I keep saying this but I will create an “arthritis masterclass” for cats. It’s just squeezing the time to make it happen. But it’s on the list. If people want this, fill the comments with what specifically you would like to see in it.
Feeling guilty about not being able to afford care for a sick cat
I have a male cat that I gave a home off the street for about 14-15 years. He has elevated liver and kidney enzymes as well as too many white blood cells. There is no money available to give him an ultrasound and whatever treatment he may need which probably won’t help. Now all I have to do is wait and he is still eating and functioning except that he no longer sleeps with and stays on my bed as he always did. I feel guilty even though I prevented him from having a life on the street where he wouldn’t have lived this long.
Don’t feel guilty.
It sounds like from your description that he is really ill.
There might not be anything you can do about that.
But let’s talk about this:
“And whatever treatment he may need which probably won’t help…”
Say no to that.
You don’t need that way of thinking.
Your cat doesn’t need that way of thinking.
Maybe it’s true, that treatment won’t help at all.
But so what.
You don’t know until you try.
It’s never the outcome, because none of us get out of this game alive.
It’s the journey. Your choices when life got rough.
And trying does not have to mean an ultrasound, expensive or complicated – you need a team of people that understands that.
That understands that when you take a cat off the street, give it a home for 15 years, they deserve something.
And you deserve the feeling that comes when you try.
We had a saying back in school. When you have a very sick cat, who is trying to survive, you can always try to give them X. You want to try and give them X before you euthanize them if people want to try. Because sometimes it works.
Your vet should know what X is.
Cat with diarrhea
I have a four year old that was sick with diarrhea a few months ago. Now still a little wet giving probiotics every day much better but not normal Like before .could this be stress?
Needy tortie is screaming all the time
Hi Dr. Kris,
I have a very sweet 8 year old Tortie. We rescued her from my Mom 4 years ago. I love her to death but she is so needy. I understand she wants to be fed a 1/2 hour to an hour beforehand but she will not drink from her water bowl unless we show her there is water in there and she is not getting it from the faucet. She does not like watching her drinking but I tell her I am not leaving till she drinks it. You would think after 6 years she knows the drill. She screams all the time and makes me feel like I am not a good pet parent. Her daddy screams at her back. I tell him she is female you cannot win an argument with her. I am afraid her screaming is going to get us kicked out of are apartment well it has not for 4 years. What to do?
“I tell him she is female you cannot win an argument with her.”
Best line of the day!
Seriously though, there is much to unpack in your question, and many questions that I would have to ask to figure it out. I would want to know the floor plan of your home, feeding times, feeding stations, number of scratching posts and other entertaining things that your cat might have.
It can get really detailed and specific, but also really solvable at the same time.
Best thing to do?
Mikel Delago does it, check her out here: http://consciouscat.net/2017/08/07/ask-cat-behaviorist-mikel-delgado-june-julys-answers/
Do you have a question for Dr. Kris?
Leave it in a comment and he’ll answer it next month!
These fun illustrations are from one of my new favorites, Dana Duncan of Pink Owlet. Dana’s Space Cats Collection features adorable kitties headed for outer orbit. I just love the color palette and the expressions on their faces!
Choose your space cat: Capsule Cat, Catstronaught, Rocketship Cat, or UFO Cat. All available from the Pink Owlet Etsy Shop.
*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links, Hauspanther will get a small commission. We are dedicated to finding the coolest products for cats and cat lovers and we never recommend anything that we don’t love.
I have to say, one of the highlights of CatCon for me was meeting artist Susie Ghahremani, whom I have loved for many years. She has a new children’s book out Stack the Cats! that helps develop counting and organizing skills. And of course, it’s adorable!
She also had some of her new enamel pins, each one cuter than the last! So many fabulous designs to choose from! I want them all.
. . .
*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links including Amazon Associate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links, Hauspanther will get a small commission. We are dedicated to finding the coolest products for cats and cat lovers and we never recommend anything that we don’t love.
A very good dog is keen to practice dog paddling … just not in the pool.
Everyone knows it: dogs are the new kids, so of course they’re going to be at your wedding.
(In fact when I got married, our dog was allowed but no kids were! That went down well with our families…)
But you’ve gotta do it right.
Wedding and pet photographer, Mandy Whitley of Mandy Whitely Photography knows a thing or two about pet friendly weddings.
She says, with the right planning and styling, a pet friendly wedding can become the wedding of the year.
Here are her top tips on how to include your dog in your wedding.
Inspired by the vibrant and artistic East Nashville community that is home to Riverwood Mansion, we set out to create a fun and festive spring styled wedding that incorporated the couple’s love for animals.
With a casual, intimate ceremony under the shade of a 200 year old magnolia tree, and Southern front porch cocktails, the invitation was open for guests to bring their furry best friends.
Eclectic decor from the hands of local artisans set the tone for a creative celebration of love.
The doggie details were thoughtful and cohesive with the overall vision while fulfilling out heartfelt mission to find our couple’s pup, Etta, a local rescue dog her forever home (which did happen – yay!)
Tips for To Include Your Dog in Your Wedding Day
1. Designate someone who isn’t in the wedding party, or involved in the photos to be your pet handler for the day. This is the best advice I could give and takes the stress off you! This can certainly be a guest, usually a friend, who isn’t involved in any formal photography before the wedding ceremony.
2. Find a pet friendly venue. Not all venues are pet friendly so make sure you ask before you book if you want to include your furry friend.
3. Include pet decor in your day. You can add an additional pet touch by including a vase of dog treats, or other pet related items, to your tables. You could even have a ‘dog park’ set up for your pup & any of the guest’s dogs that attend your celebration!
For the full list of vendors involved in this pet friendly wedding visit Mandy Whiteley Photography.
About Mandy Whitley Photography
I am passionate about both photography and animals, so it is only natural for my photography business to be focused on “pets and their people.” I love the way animals bring out the best in people, and whether I’m photographing a family, an engagement, or a wedding I think it’s important to include ALL the family members – including the furry ones!
My husband David and I have five rescue animals, and we work with several local organizations here in Nashville through fostering (in addition to me doing photos). I can’t tell you how important I believe it is to adopt – and there are rescue groups for every type of breed!
A border collie is very excited to be spreading some hay.
The little kitten who made a surprise appearance at a Major League Baseball game in St. Louis last week has been caught and is safe. The tiny kitten eluded attempts to catch him after interrupting the game. St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach set out traps in the area where the kitten was last seen and managed to catch the 12-week-old kitten, which was given the name “Rally Cat” because the Cardinals won the game and fans attributed it to the good luck the kitten brought the team. Visit Love Meow for more about this story along with some wonderful photos of Rally Cat.
If you missed any of the stories featured on the Conscious Cat this week, here’s a recap: on Monday, we looked into how the solar eclipse might affect your cats, on Tuesday, we reviewed felted wool cat caves from Meowfia, on Wednesday, we provided tips for flying with your cat, on Thursday, we celebrated Black Cat Appreciation Day, and on Friday, we offered a sneak peek at Jackson Galaxy’s upcoming book, Total Cat Mojo.
Today’s video is one of those that I keep watching over and over again – I just can’t get over how cute this is! (If you’re reading this in your email program, you may need to click through to our website to see the video.) Enjoy!
Have a great weekend!
The post Mews and Nips: Kitten Who Made Surprise Appearance at Baseball Game is Safe appeared first on The Conscious Cat.
Merle — that kaleidoscope of swirly patterns that has no two dogs looking alike. It’s one of the most beautiful coat patterns in the dog world. But merle is definitely a case where too much of a good thing is, well, a bad thing.
The merle (also called dapple) pattern is the pattern in which random splotches of dark pigment are overlaid over a lighter shade of the same color. It’s commonly seen in Catahoula Leopard Dogs, Australian Shepherds, Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Dachshunds, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Great Danes, and less commonly in many other breeds such as Chihuahuas, Border Collies, Pyrenean Shepherds, Beaucerons, Pomeranians and Cocker Spaniels.
Why you shouldn’t breed two merle dogs together
Merles are popular, so it seems only logical to breed two merles together to get more merles. No. Don’t do it.
The merle pattern is produced when a dog has a single copy of the M< allele. All merle dogs have the genotype Mm — meaning they have one allele for merle and one allele for non-merle. All non-merles are mm. If you breed a merle (Mm) to a non-merle (mm) you will on average produce a litter in which a half of the puppies get the M allele so are Mm (merle) and half get the non-merle allele so are mm.
But if you breed two merles together (Mm X Mm) you will produce on average a quarter mm (non-merle), a half Mm (merle) and a quarter MM (double-merle; also called double-dapple). And double merles don’t look like merles. Instead, they’re mostly white with merle patches. But the main reason you want to avoid producing MM dogs is that they often have visual and auditory problems.
What are the specific health concerns for merles?
If you like tech-talk and numbers, read this; otherwise, skip ahead: In a study of several merle breeds, merles with one copy of the M allele had a rate of 2.7 percent deaf in one ear and 0.9 percent deaf in both ears; double-merles had a rate of 10 percent deaf in one ear and 15 percent deaf in both ears. Interestingly, the rate in merle Catahoulas (5.9 percent) was lower than that in other breeds (for example, 9.4 percent in merle Australian Shepherds), and especially lower in double-merle Catahoulas (10.3 percent) compared to other double-merles (55.7 percent in Aussies and 85.6 percent in all other breeds combined). The lower incidence in Catahoulas may reflect the smaller amount of white Catahoula double-merles tend to have. Again, nobody knows why. Blue-eyed merles have no higher incidence of deafness than brown-eyed merles.
Just because a dog is double-merle, don’t assume he’s deaf. Dr. George Strain of Louisiana State University is the go-to expert on coat color and deafness in dogs. One of the other coat patterns he’s studied is the piebald gene, which can create mostly white dogs like Dalmatians. He says the prevalence of deafness in dogs is higher in double merles than in single merles, but the relative risk of deafness was less than that in Dalmatians and white Bull Terriers (although greater than that in other dog breeds with the recessive piebald alleles).
Double-merle dogs often have an additional problem, microphthalmia, in which the eyes are abnormally small (sometimes barely there) and often nonfunctional. As of yet, the way in which the merle gene affects this is unknown. It does not appear be through an association with the gene known as MITF (microphthalmia transcription factor), however.
Aside from these auditory and visual problems, double-merles are otherwise healthy. And not all double-merles have even these problems. Some are absolutely fine. But why take chances? Never breed two merles.
But here’s where breeding can be tricky. Many breeds with merle also have other genes (at the s locus) that cause white on dogs, and this white isn’t associated with problems caused by being a double-merle. For example, many Collies have white feet, ruff, blaze and tail tip — but this is caused by the s allele, not MM. And some Collies can be mostly white, but again, this pattern can be caused by a different s allele. When these dogs are white with sable (Lassie-colored tan) it’s easy not to confuse them with double merles. But what if they are white due to the s allele but combined with Mm? The dog would be white with merle, and could be confused with a double-merle. This is why it’s essential to know a dog’s parents before jumping to conclusions!
And it gets even trickier! Sometimes merle dogs have so little merle you can hardly tell them apart from non-merles — but they’re still genetically Mm. If you breed one of these “cryptic” merles erroneously assuming he’s mm you could produce double merles. If you find even one tiny spot of merle in your dog’s coat, assume he is a merle. Not sure? There’s a DNA test available that will let you know if your dog has the M or m alleles.
You’ll sometimes read that breeding merle to merle “is only for experienced breeders.” All the experience in the world won’t change how the genes segregate and how they influence a dog’s health. What they mean is not to do it unless you’re prepared to deal with deaf or blind puppies. And while such dogs can make wonderful companions, those with normal hearing and vision do have an easier time in life.
Go in depth on some dogs who have merle patterns:
- Get to Know the Cocker Spaniel: America’s Sweetheart
- Get to Know the Dachshund: Short on Leg, Long on Love
- Get to Know the Pembroke Welsh Corgi: A Foxy Charmer
- Get to Know the Great Dane, a Little Dog in a Huge Body
- Get to Know the Chihuahua: Mighty Mite from Mexico
- Get to Know the Bearded Collie: The Bouncing and Bubbly Scot
About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.