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Signs Your Cat is in Pain & Needs Help

Cats are not exactly known for their openness! If you’ve ever had the painful lesson after surprising a cat with a belly rub, you can attest to this fact. Cats can be difficult to read at the best of times, and this is even more true when they’re sick or in pain.

Like you, we are always looking for ways to keep our furry friends safe, healthy, and happy. That’s why it’s so important to go over some of the signs of pain or illness in cats, so that you can identify when there’s a problem, and get them help as soon as possible.

Why All the Secrecy?

After thousands of years of evolution and natural selection, even the friendliest kitties have the instincts of a predator. One of the most important behaviours when it comes to staying alive in the wild is hiding weakness. After all, an animal won’t be so concerned about seeing a cat if it knows they don’t pose as much of a threat. By hiding their pain, cats kept predators at bay and continued to strike fear into the little hearts of rodents everywhere. Additionally, this behaviour would help a wild cat avoid being left behind by their group.

This behaviour makes perfect sense for cats in the wild, but you’d think that with food in the bowl and a nice sunny spot to relax, cats would feel more at ease showing their vulnerable side. However, old habits die hard. Domestic cats may feel that they’ll have to compete for food and water, or even worry that they’ll become a meal for other animals in the home. As much as we wish we could reassure our feline friends that we’ll love them no matter what, the best we can do is keep a careful eye for any of the behaviour listed below.

Symptoms of Cat Pain or Illness

While exact behaviour will differ from cat to cat, there are a few general signs to watch out for. Here are some of the most common symptoms of sickness or pain in cats:

Hiding or Withdrawal

As mentioned before, primal instinct can take over when a cat feels they’re endangered. Wild cats would find hiding spots to rest and recover, keeping them safe from predators and the elements in the meantime. This behaviour often carries over to domestic cats, who will sometimes withdraw from interaction with humans or animals.

Sick cats will prioritize themselves over things they would normally be interested in. This includes socializing with people or other animals, playing with toys, hunting, or any other activities that take a lot out of them. This will all be harder to tell with a cat that’s already more on the aloof side, so pay special attention to their favourite activities and whether your cat is keeping up with them.

Sitting Still 

Cats in pain will often move less, particularly if they’re experiencing arthritis or another condition making movement more painful. You’ll notice this if your cat is typically more active, but even their body language can tell you a lot. If they’re hunched up or in an unusual position, there’s a good chance they’re in some discomfort.

Hygiene 

Cats are naturally a bit obsessive over their hygiene. Not only is it a relaxing ritual, it helps to stimulate blood-flow, control body temperature, and keep wounds clean. Sick cats will often neglect to groom themselves, so keep an eye out. If their fur is matted and dirty, or if they’re beginning to pick up an odour, there may be something wrong. Additionally, sick cats may over-groom a single spot. This could be a symptom of stress, which often accompanies injury or illness. They could be trying to relieve an itch caused by a rash or other skin condition.

Unusual Noisiness 

Cats in pain may make an unusual amount of noise, or even noises that you haven’t heard before. Excessive meowing, crying, and other unusual vocalizations can all be cause for concern. However, these calls won’t always be a clear indicator of discomfort in your cat. Even excessive purring can be a warning sign that something’s wrong.

It’s important to bear in mind that in some cases, excessive vocalization isn’t always a cause for concern. Some breeds, such as Siamese cats, tend to be a bit noisier by default. Likewise, intact cats (cats that haven’t been spayed or neutered) may be louder during mating periods. Vocalizing in the litter box could be an indication of underlying urinary issues or constipation. However, if you’re in any doubt, it’s best to get a professional opinion on your noisy kitty.

Unusual Aggression 

It’s no secret that cats can be a bit…unpredictable, even at the best of times. One minute they’re rubbing against you like you’re best friends, and the next they’re in full on ‘psycho-kitty’ mode. This is pretty standard for many cats; however, atypical or extended aggression towards otherwise friendly environments can be a cause for concern. If your cat is being unusually destructive or violent, it may be confused, or aggravated by pain or illness.

‘Accidents’ 

By instinct, cats like doing their business in private, enclosed places, which is why litter boxes tend to be the go-to for a cat in need. If your cat normally uses their litter box, but then starts going wherever they please, there might be a problem. It’s possible that getting into the litter box has become too difficult for the cat, or perhaps it’s too far away from their current favourite spot.

What to Do If Your Cat is in Pain 

The best thing you can do for a cat that’s sick or in pain is to get help from the professionals. You know your cat better than anyone, which makes you the expert on knowing when something is out of the ordinary. If you notice unusual behaviour from your cat, it’s best to see a veterinarian and get to the bottom of what’s causing it. 

If you have other animals or small children in the house, do your best to keep rough-housing with your convalescing cat to a minimum. Giving them a peaceful environment will keep stress levels down and help them to heal faster. It will also help your cat trust people more, which is important for keeping an eye on their condition.

One thing to never do is administer any human-intended medication to your cat. Even a Tylenol can make them very sick, or possibly even kill them. Whether it’s painkillers or simply a supplement, you should always check with a veterinarian before giving your cat anything.

How Your Vet Can Help 

A veterinarian will help you to interpret the signals your cat is giving you, and determine what exactly is going on. From there, they’ll come up with a treatment plan to get your pet back in top shape. They may recommend medication, supplements or a new diet.

At Hastings Veterinary Hospital, we want to see your cat get back to normal as much as you do. Our dedicated staff offers professional animal care, with the end goal of making your pet feel safe, healthy, and at home. After all, a cat, or any pet, is another member of your family, and we treat them like a member of ours as well.

If you have any questions about pain, illness, or injuries in cats, don’t hesitate to contact Hastings Veterinary Hospital today.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Are Cats Allowed to Drink Milk? (The Answer is No & Here’s Why)

To answer the question, “Should cats be allowed to drink milk?” the short answer is “no.” The puzzle that leaps to mind is, why are we cautioned against it when the sight of kittens and cats happily lapping up saucers of milk are shown everywhere? Not only do we see it in numerous movies, cartoons, and picture books, but also we see kittens fed milk by mother cats, and they obviously love drinking it. It’s the food for kittens provided by nature.

And therein lies the difference, and the answer—milk is the food provided for kittens, not cats. Mother cats feed their kittens milk and then wean them off from nursing in four to ten weeks, sharing solid foods with them instead. Mother knows best! Milk as a whole food is perfect for her babies, but it’s no longer good for them when they begin to mature.

As kittens are weaned from nursing and they begin to eat solid food, the mother cat stops producing milk. It is no longer available for the kittens by the time they are eating a regular solid food diet.

Why Does Milk Stop Being Ideal for Cats?

A few weeks after birth, there is a reduction of the enzyme lactase in a kitten’s body. Lactase is needed to break down the sugar in a mother cat’s milk to allow the young kitten to digest it properly. Kittens produce this enzyme in smaller amounts as they develop, and by six months of age, most kittens have adult levels of lactase. These adult levels are insufficient to digest milk and their bodies can no longer tolerate it. Basically, like some humans, most cats become lactose intolerant.

In addition to no longer producing lactase, kittens no longer have access to their mother cat’s milk since it dries up when she stops nursing. This means any other milk you decide to feed your older kitten or adult cat is even less suitable and less easily digested by your cat, who is now, very likely, lactose intolerant.

When cow’s milk is pasteurized, the protein in the milk changes and particles of homogenized milk will leak into a cat’s gut, which causes digestive problems for kitties. The same difficulty occurs if you decide to feed ice cream or cheese to your cat, which will also cause digestive problems since they are processed dairy products.

Milk is not a “whole food” for adult cats any more than it is a whole food for adult humans. Humans need many different types of foods to satisfy their nutritional needs. So do cats.

Are Some Cats Able to Drink Milk?

Yes, some adult cats can drink milk; not all of them are lactose intolerant. However, even if your cat is one of the lucky ones who can enjoy milk as a treat now and then, there are other problems with relying on whole milk as a staple in a cat’s diet.

One is a possible lack of meeting your cat’s nutritional needs because your kitty may fill up on milk and then not eat the variety of food necessary for good health. The other—equally serious—is cat obesity.

Why do Cats Crave Milk in Spite of the Problems it Creates? 

Because cats are not capable of linking cause and effect, your kitty will never make the connection that drinking milk is causing his or her digestive distress afterwards. Fortunately, you can. You may wonder why cats continue to love milk when it is obviously not a good idea for them to drink it. These are the reasons:

  1. Cats love milk because it is cold and fresh, and they love the familiar taste and smell
  2. Cats connect drinking milk with old, positive memories (as kittens), and it remains a comfort food for them.
  3. Cats need liquid and may prefer milk to water.

Although your kitty may not be interested in drinking water, liquid is important for hydration and you must supply water regularly rather than milk:

  • Keep water in your kitty’s water bowl.
  • Add a little wet food to your kitty’s diet.
  • When serving water-packed canned fish, add a little water to the liquid. 

What are the Symptoms of Cats Suffering From Milk Consumption? 

In spite of a cat’s determination not to show pain because of an instinctive fear of showing weakness to predators, there are distress signs of which cat owners should be aware. 

Signs of Adverse Effects of Drinking Milk:

  • Stomach Upsets – Your kitty may vomit and stop eating until he or she has recovered from the stomachache.
  • Diarrhea – This problem is unmistakable and is caused by undigested sugar that draws water into the intestine.
  • Gassiness – Most cats do not routinely expel smelly gas. The gas is created by undigested sugars fermenting in the intestine.
  • Bloating – A distended abdomen can be a sign of bloating caused by gas from fermenting undigested sugar.

Even if your cat is able to tolerate milk and shows no symptoms of distress after drinking it, you don’t have a free hand to let your kitty drink milk regularly no matter how urgently he or she meows for it.

Obesity is Another Adverse Effect 

Obesity is a health risk for animals just as it is for humans. Obese cats and obese humans have shortened life spans and are at risk for many unpleasant ailments.

If your cat has a regular supply of milk, your kitty will eat less of the nutritional, balanced diet you provide through canned food, which is much lower in calories. Most cats also enjoy eating dairy products such as ice cream and cheese, which add even more unwanted and unnecessary calories.

How Did the Message That Cats Can Drink Milk Become so Widespread?

People who don’t know any better spread messages about animals who eat foods that aren’t good for them. Animal experts no longer accept old-fashioned ideas about animal eating habits:

  • Mice don’t normally eat cheese—Cinderella’s friend Gus is an exception.
  • Dogs shouldn’t chew on bones, which can be dangerous to them—Scooby Doo takes lots of risks.
  • Rabbits shouldn’t be offered carrots except in small amounts now and then—never mind what you saw in Bugs Bunny.
  • Older kittens and adult cats shouldn’t drink milk regularly, if at all—forget what you learned from The Aristocats.

In the same way that you have to control children’s access to candy, you must be strong and not allow your cat to drink milk. It will help protect your beloved pet’s health and life.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Why, When, & How Should My Cat’s Nails Be Trimmed?

Cat nail trimming is something we’re very frequently asked about at our clinic, and for good reason! Cat’s nails are retractable, meaning they’re kept hidden until the cat needs to use them. These nails can grow back fast sometimes! Almost every cat needs to have their nails trimmed regularly; others, not so much for a few reasons.

Regardless, it’s a good idea to prepare your cat for nail trimming by using certain strategies in your cat’s regular grooming routine. For you, the cat parent, you will need to learn how to trim their nails safely. Here is what you need to know.

Why Do Some Cats Not Need to Have Their Nails Trimmed?

Trimming or not is generally dependent on your cat’s lifestyle.

Outdoor Cats – If your cat is an outdoor cat, it may be a bad idea to trim his or her nails because they are needed for important tasks:

  • Climbing – Cats need to climb to navigate their territory and also to escape danger when pursued by other animals.
  • Scratching – Cats nails are always growing, and scratching is an instinctive act that keeps the nails trim and sharp.
  • Marking Territory – Cats have scent glands in their paws, and will scratch as well as urinate to help them mark their territory outdoors and keep other strange animals away.

Indoor Cats – If your cat is an indoor cat, you may need to trim your cat’s nails more frequently:

  • If your cat has a scratching post and likes to use it, his or her nails may need only occasional trimming when young, especially if his or her nails grow very slowly.
  • If you regularly take your indoor cat outside for walks on a leash, he or she may have opportunities to scratch and wear down his or her nails and reduce the amount of trimming needed.

Why Do Almost All Cats Need to Have Their Nails Trimmed?

  1. An indoor cat may not be very interested in using a scratching post and so their nails may grow too fast and too long to be curbed by the post.
  2. As an outdoor cat ages, he or she may become so much less active that the nails grow out. This increases the risk of their nails growing into a curve that drives into their footpads, and in turn causes your cat pain, mobility problems, or even infections.
  3. Both indoor and outdoor cats need to have their nails trimmed because their nails can be snagged and caught in soft surfaces, or the cat may lose their ability to retract their claws altogether.
  4. Arthritic cats, indoors or out, usually don’t exercise enough to keep their nails short via scratching.

How Often Should My Cat’s Nails be Trimmed?

  • For indoor cats, nail trimming in general should be done every ten days to two weeks.
  • A senior indoor or outdoor cat will often develop thick, brittle nails that need to be trimmed more often than when they’re a kitten. Stay alert.
  • Declawing cats was made illegal in BC in 2018 by the B.C. College of Veterinarians. It is now understood that declawing means that the ends of the toes are amputated during the surgery, which has been stated as “ethically problematic and not an appropriate means of dealing with feline behaviour issues”. So now if you live in BC you must learn to trim your kitty’s nails properly, or either pay a groomer or visit your cat’s veterinarian to perform this task.
  • An outdoor cat may become more of an indoor cat when he or she is old and arthritic, so regular nail trimming will become a necessity.
  • Usually it is only the front paws nails that need to be trimmed, but if you notice that the back paw nails are digging into you when your cat jumps up into your lap, you should trim those nails as well.

Here is the Nail Trimming Process

  1. First Things First
  • Most cats don’t like to have their nails trimmed and some will absolutely not tolerate it. If your cat won’t even allow you to hold his or her paws, you may have to rely on a pet groomer or your cat’s vet to trim your pet’s nails.
  • If you take a slow and easy approach, you can succeed in time, especially if you have treats ready, and your cat may associate the nail clipping routine with yummy treats.
  • Don’t attempt to clip your cat’s nails if your pet is upset or if you are upset.
  1. Organize Your Supplies:
  • Towel – You can gently wrap your cat loosely in a towel if you are afraid he or she might suddenly bolt off your lap and scratch you.
  • Sharp cat nail clippers – There are a variety of good nail clippers for cats. Some of them are designed to make sure you don’t clip too close to the vein that runs into the thick part of the claw.
  • Styptic Powder – If you have clippers that aren’t designed to protect the vein and you accidently cut into it, you can apply a small amount of powder to stop the bleeding.
  1. Rehearsals are Important
  • Even an outdoor cat should become used to the idea that you can hold and massage his or her paws and extend the nails when your cat is seated on your lap. It’s easier for a young cat to become used to a routine rather than introduce it when your cat is older and it becomes a necessity.
  • For several days prior to the first nail trimming, hold your cat in your lap facing away from any windows and away from you in a quiet room. Gently massage your cat’s neck and then the front legs and paws. Talk quietly to your little pet as you do this. Gently press on the footpad to extend a nail, then quickly release it, and give your cat a treat. Do this every day on a different toe. Note the pink part of the nail, called the quick—this is the extra sensitive part of their nail consisting of nerves and blood vessels.
  1. Do the Deed!
  • When you and kitty are used to this routine, pick a time when your cat is sleepy and relaxed after eating, and prepare to clip only one or two nails—no more. Do everything the same as usual, only this time, cut the tip off one of the nails. If everything goes well, cut the tip off one more nail and give your kitty a treat.
  • Proceed until you have clipped all of the front paw nails over a period of five days or so, and your cat will soon adjust, especially to the regular treats! You will then be able to trim all the nails on the front and back paws at one sitting.

Many cats don’t need their nails trimmed, but if yours does, learn how to do the job safely. If it will help, make massaging the toes and extending a nail part of their regular grooming and care. If you know you must trim your cat’s nails, rehearse with your pet until you are both comfortable before attempting the job. Expect to trim your cat’s nails every 10 days or so as part of your cat’s regular grooming routine. If all else fails, ask your cat’s groomer or your veterinarian to do the job for you.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Why Is My Cat Drooling & What Can I Do About It?

Cats don’t drool very much and when owners discover their cat drooling at all, they often worry about it. Sometimes, there is good reason to worry. It is important to note if your cat drools only now and then or if it is ongoing or excessive, in which case, it indicates a problem needing treatment.

In general, the reason for cat drooling falls into one of three categories:

  • Emotional stimulation
  • Mouth or jaw irritation, or a foreign body in the mouth or throat
  • Disease, poison, or respiratory condition

If your cat drools only once in a while, don’t worry, they’re probably fine! However, if your cat drools a lot, it means there is a problem and you need to take your cat to a veterinarian. Watch for other symptoms that accompany the drooling and report these to your veterinarian. Providing as much additional information as possible can help speed up the diagnostic process and determine the appropriate treatment needed. Remember that preventive solutions and, if needed, early treatment equals a more successful outcome.

Emotional Stimulation Can Cause Drooling

  1. Happy and Relaxed – Cat drooling often occurs when pets are happy or when they are asleep. Drooling in these cases means you have a happy cat. When being pet and cuddled, some cats show that they are relaxed and are enjoying your attention by drooling blissfully. When sleeping soundly and relaxed, they sometimes drool slightly just as humans do. Drooling will stop when the relaxation or joyful period ends.
  2. Fearful and Nervous – Some drooling occurs when cats are afraid and nervous, such as when travelling or reaching a new destination, or when a new pet is introduced into the household. After a period of drooling, some cats will vomit, especially if travelling and the motion causes nausea. Drooling will stop soon after the travelling is over or after kitty adjusts to the new surroundings, or the new situation.

Don’t worry if drooling occurs now and then under these conditions and only a small amount of saliva is produced.

A Cat Drooling Because of Irritation or Trauma Needs Attention

  1. Dental Problems or Gum Disease – Both of these conditions can cause drooling and require veterinary care and attention. If a cat has a broken tooth, cavities (known as resorptive lesions), a lot of tartar on their teeth, or is suffering from irritated gums or gum disease, your cat will drool in an attempt to remove whatever is hurting from his or her mouth. Other symptoms you may see of dental problems in cats are traces of blood in the saliva or their mouth may have an unpleasant odour, or your cat may resist or absolutely refuse to chew on their favourite hard food and treats.
  2. Jaw Trauma – If your cat has been injured by an encounter with another animal or a fall or by any accident that has caused a problem with the jaw, your cat will start drooling because it is too difficult or painful to close his or her mouth. Your cat may refuse to let you touch their jaw and face.
  3. A Foreign Body Swallowed – Occasionally a cat may accidently swallow something that gets caught in the mouth, tongue, or back of the throat such as a fish bone or sharp grass blade. Anything that causes your cat pain in the mouth or throat will cause him or her to drool in an attempt to soothe the pain or remove the foreign body.

All these problems will cause excessive and ongoing drooling, so your cat must be taken to a veterinarian to determine exactly what happened and what can be done to help.

Seek Urgent Care for Cats Drooling from Disease, Poison, or Respiratory Problems

  1. Various Diseases Cause Ongoing Cat Drooling
  • Oral Cancer – Owners should keep watch for clinical signs of cancer in cats, especially in the mouth. These signs can include drooling, bad breath, refusing to eat, dropping food from the mouth, and weight loss. Early treatment means a prolonged life.
  • Kidney Failure – This is a serious illness to which cats are prone to. Clinical signs of kidney problems are drooling, bad breath, weight loss, increased thirst, and increased urination as shown by larger than usual clumps in the litter box. Mention all these signs to your veterinarian so that tests for, and treatment of, kidney problems can begin immediately.
  1. Poison Needs Immediate Attention
  • Corrosive poisons – These are as dangerous to cats as they are to dogs. Laundry detergent and various cleaners can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, but much bigger problems in cats include burns in the mouth, tongue, esophagus, and stomach, indicated by excessive drooling. If this happens, carefully flush out the mouth of your pet with water and offer a tasty liquid like canned tuna water or milk to soothe your pet and dilute the substance. Contact an Animal Poison Control Centre and your veterinarian for advice and help.
  • Plant poisons – As with corrosive household products, some plants can cause intense burning of a cat’s mouth although they are not nearly as dangerous to a cat’s life. (An exception is the deadly Easter lily—don’t allow one in the house!) For most other plants, flush your pet’s mouth out with water and then offer some to drink. Consult a veterinarian if your cat continues to drool excessively and also vomits and refuses to eat.
  1. Respiratory Conditions
  • Some cats can contract a viral respiratory condition that leads to mouth ulcerations. The sign is the development of excessive saliva, and the pet parent can check inside their cat’s mouth and see the ulcers. The veterinarian will treat the respiratory infection as well as the cat’s sore mouth.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Drooling Too Much

Taking your cat to your veterinarian for an annual checkup can certainly reduce some of the problems that cause ongoing or excessive drooling. Keeping your cat’s vaccinations up to date reduces the chances of illnesses, and having your veterinarian monitor your cat’s teeth and gums will ensure they remain healthy, which also reduces drooling problems.

An indoor cat runs less risk of encountering dangerous animals and situations that can cause poisoning, injury, or respiratory infections compared to outdoor cats.

Introduce your cat to a carrier by placing it in a room nearby with treats and toys inside. When your cat learns to go in and out, you can close the door a few times very briefly. When your cat is used to this action, you can take him or her outside in the carrier and place your cat in the car with a special treat for a little while. Eventually, you can drive around the block and then go for longer trips until your cat is used to the carrier, the car, and the traveling motion. Few cats ever enjoy traveling, but you can lessen your cat’s fear and the drooling that accompanies it.

Cats don’t drool very much or very often; therefore, if your cat starts to drool excessively, pay attention. Note all the other symptoms that are present at the same time and take your cat to a veterinarian and report them. Something is wrong and your cat is depending on you to take care of their problem.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page

Smelly Cats & Other Questions About Cat Anal Glands

Yes, just like dogs, cats can develop unpleasant, smelly odors. Are you a fan of the TV series Friends? If so, you may already be familiar with the song “Smelly Cat” that Phoebe sings. It’s a funny song because, after all, everyone knows that cats are fastidious about keeping themselves clean. How could a cat be smelly?

As it turns out, it really can happen! Everyone can see that cats are constantly bathing themselves, which is why it is always surprising if you suddenly realize you have a smelly cat.

There are several reasons for a bad odor, and that smell may be coming from your cat’s mouth, skin, ears, or the rear. If the bad smell really is coming from your cat’s rear, there are several possibilities as to why, some of which include their anal glands.

Mouth, Skin, and Ear Odors in Cats

Again, you must first check for the source of the odor and then look out for other symptoms.

Causes:

  1. Mouth Odors – Dental disease can cause bad breath. Plaque, tartar, inflamed gums, food particles lodged in gum pockets, bacterial infections, and oral tumors all produce foul odors. As well, bad breath can be a symptom of various diseases such as kidney disease, which produces an odor similar to ammonia; diabetes, which sometimes makes the breath smell fruity; or liver disease which may make the breath smell like feces.
  2. Skin Odors – A yeast infection produces a musty smell; a wound that becomes infected or an abscess with pus draining from it usually smells putrid. Allergies, parasites, or any serious skin problem can also cause a bad odor.
  3. Ear Odors – Ear odors usually stem from bacterial ear infections, yeast infections, or an ear mite infestation.
  4. Other Symptoms – Biting and licking an area can help point you in the direction of the problem. Remember that your cat will try to conceal their pain and discomfort from you. If your kitty stops eating or hides from you, it means the problem is very serious.

Solutions: All of these problems require a visit to your cat’s veterinarian for treatment or for further testing to discover the underlying cause. Ear problems in particular can cause excruciating pain, and other problems can be very painful or itchy and must not be ignored.

Rear End Odors Can Be Particularly Smelly

Causes:

 

  1. Matting – The fur around your cat’s rectum and genitals can matt and collect smelly urine and feces, which cause terrible odors.

Matting is a problem for long haired cats in particular because their hair is prone to mat. Any cat can have a matting problem causing a smelly rear if there is a cut or scrape under or around the tail to which the fur is sticking.

  1. Poor Grooming – It may have become difficult for kitty to groom his or her rear end.

If your cat is overweight, grooming will become increasingly tricky for your cat, and there may be more skin and fat folds around the rear that make thorough cleaning a problem. If your cat has arthritis, the pain and stiffness will make it difficult for your kitty to reach all parts of the body that would normally be groomed, especially around the rear and genitals.

  1. Urinary Tract Infection – If your cat develops a urinary tract infection, the bacteria may cause the urine itself to smell unpleasant and it may dribble out in the urethra area and cause a bad odor around your cat’s rear end. Urine may be bloody or cloudy and your cat may be uncomfortable when trying to urinate.

 

  1. Diarrhea – It can be difficult for a cat who suffers from diarrhea to keep the area around the anus clean, especially if fluid is leaking out of the rectum and onto the fur and folds around it. Your cat may bathe even more frequently but can’t keep up with the job, and may be feeling a bit sick as well. If you examine the litter box, you can see if there is only liquid rather than stool being produced which is the biggest sign something is wrong.

 

  1. Other Symptoms: For any problems that result in smelly rears, cats may try to reach around and grab their tails; scoot, or drag their bottoms along the ground or floor; lick and bite their rears; and sometimes strain or cry when using litter boxes.

Solutions: You should brush long-haired cats daily; use baby wipes to clean around the anus and genital areas of cats who are not able to groom themselves properly; and try to help overweight cats lose weight by cutting back on the treats and providing extra play time. Consult your veterinarian for help with weight loss, arthritis, and any suspected infections, or ongoing diarrhea, which may indicate food allergies.

Another Cause of Smelly Rears is an Anal Gland Problem

Having a problem with anal glands is less likely for cats than dogs, but it is something for which pet parents should watch. If you examine your smelly cat’s mouth, skin, and ears and find no odors and no symptoms of a problem, and if your cat has no barriers to good grooming such as being overweight or arthritic or long haired, and if diarrhea is not a problem and there are no symptoms of a urinary tract infection, you must consider the possibility that your cat is exhibiting trouble with his or her anal glands.

Cats have two anal scent glands, which are sacs located just inside the rectum that are used to help mark a cat’s territory with dark, smelly liquid. The liquid is normally squeezed out along with the stools when your cat uses the litter box; however, treatment is needed if problems develop.

In regards to the subject of anal glands, our clinic receives these two questions the most from our clients: “What happens if I don’t express my pet’s anal glands regularly?” and “How often should my pet have their anal glands expressed?”

Here is the answer to the first question:

      1. Glands can become impacted – The ducts or tube by which the anal sac is emptied may become clogged. If that happens, it becomes difficult and painful for your cat to relieve himself or herself and may become constipated as a result, which makes the situation even worse.
      2. A bacterial infection may continue to be present – If bacteria accumulates in clogged anal glands, a full-blown bacterial infection will develop and cause terrible pain and itching in your cat.
      3. An abscess can develop – this pus-filled mass is the most painful of all the problems, and your cat’s vet must lance and drain it.
      4. Chronic soft stools can cause a problem – If your cat suffers from chronic soft stools, they will not exert enough pressure to release the fluid in the glands, which causes a painful build-up of liquid.
      5. Other Symptoms: Other symptoms are the same as those of other problems that result in smelly rears.

Solutions: If your cat’s anal glands become infected, clogged, or abscessed, they will cause a foul odor around your kitty’s rear end. You need to consult a veterinarian to empty their anal glands, to drain an abscess, to receive antibiotics to deal with an infection, or to diagnose the problem behind the soft stools.

To answer the second question, your cat’s anal glands should be expressed regularly only if your cat has a medical history of infected anal glands. If not, you can leave them alone.

As a pet parent, you must take any development of an unpleasant odor in your cat seriously because the reasons for it may be serious. If your cat’s rear or any other area is always smelly, get the help your kitty needs so they can smell nicer again.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

“Why Does My Cat Urinate Outside the Litter Box?”

Our veterinarians are often asked this question: “Why does my cat urinate outside the litter box?” This is an excellent question to ask us because there are several possible answers, and cat owners have taken the first step in finding the right one by consulting with us!

Generally, a cat will urinate outside the litter box because of an underlying medical issue or a behavioural problem. You cannot ignore this behaviour in the hope that it will go away by itself. If your cat is peeing all over the house, it’s frustrating for you as an owner because the odor is very strong, requires constant and thorough cleaning, and can damage the floors and baseboards in your home.

Cats are normally very attentive to being clean, so this unusual problem is a definite sign that something is wrong. Our veterinarians can rule out a possible medical issue and can treat your cat’s problem if one is discovered upon closer examination.

Medical Issues That Cause Cats to Pee Outside the Litter Box

There are a number of bladder and urinary tract problems in cats that a veterinarian can discover and treat successfully. Normally this will solve the dilemma of a cat urinating outside the litter box. Your cat’s vet will usually ask to examine a sample of your cat’s urine and conduct a physical check-up. During the check-up they will feel various parts of the cat’s body to see if there are lumps or bumps where there shouldn’t be, or if your cat reacts with pain when they’re touched somewhere.

These are some of the most common medical problems that cats experience in regards to peeing outside of their litter box:

  1. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Bacteria in the urine means there is an infection or inflammation in the urinary tract, and your veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic. Your cat will probably need a follow-up examination to make sure the infection is completely gone.
  1. Bladder Stones. There may be stones in the bladder that can cause pain or blockage. If your veterinarian suspects stones, a radiograph will be used to determine how many and how large they are. Sometimes they can be dissolved with a special diet, but if the stones are large, surgery may be required and possibly an antibiotic, too.
  1. Crystalluria. Crystals will form in the urine if the pH (acidic level) of your cat’s urine is too high or too low, and crystals will irritate the urinary tract. Treatment usually means a special diet and possibly anti-inflammatory medication or antibiotics as well.
  1. Idiopathic Cystitis. This is the name for bladder inflammation when the cause is unknown and blood in the urine is detected. If there are no bacteria, no crystals, and no stones, the problem will be diagnosed as idiopathic cystitis.
  1. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). This is the name for any urinary tract disease that has become chronic. Both FLUTD and idiopathic cystitis are treated with a special diet and sometimes additional supplements to strengthen the cat’s urinary tract.
  1. Other Medical Issues. If your cat is obviously trying to pee but can’t, or only a small amount of urine is expelled, immediately take your kitty to your family cat clinic. There could be an obstruction or blockage, which is a dangerous situation for your pet.

If no bladder or urinary tract problems are discovered, your pet may be experiencing pain or discomfort from some other parts of the body. More lab work is needed to check for serious problems such as diabetes or kidney disease and treatment should be started as soon as possible.

Behavioural Issues that Cause Cats to Pee Outside of the Litter Box

If medical problems have been ruled out, behavioural issues must be considered.

  1. Litter Box Problems – Your cat may be unhappy with the litter box for one or more of the following reasons:
  • The box may be too dirty too often. Litter boxes should be scooped out once and sometimes twice a day depending on how many cats live in the home. The litter should be replaced and the box washed every month.
  • The box may be clean enough but not comfortable enough if the box is too small or too deep for your cat. You could try introducing a large plastic storage box (the kind used for storing items under the bed), especially if your cat is big and fluffy, or you can try a large disposable box that can be thrown out as the odor accumulates, such as once a month.
  • Your cat may be unhappy if the box is covered. Some cats feel cramped or uncomfortable inside a covered box. Take the cover off and see if that solves the problem.
  • Kitty may not like the litter—the odor or the feel. Try a new litter that’s unscented and easy to scoop out.
  • Several cats using the same litter box can create problems, especially if one of the cats is a bully and insists on hogging the box. Also, if a new kitten is introduced into the home and uses the same litter box, the risk of parasitic diseases such as tapeworms becomes more likely to spread to your healthy, older cat. Other times, some cats don’t like the odor of the urine or feces of other cats, or are too timid to use the box if another cat is in the way or has just finished using the box. The solution is to have more than one litter box, preferably in different locations. If you do have a new kitten, get them vaccinated and treated for worms and then provide them with a designated, separate litter box at home.
  • Cats prefer a quiet and private location and one that is away from where they eat. Placing the box behind a door or behind a screen is a good idea.
  1. Stress – If a cat is anxious, stressed, or particularly timid, especially if other animals live in the house, your kitty may prefer to choose a “safer” place to go, which is away from the other animals. Provide your stressed cat with a litter box in a different location. Make sure it is not beside noisy machinery like a clothes dryer.

If there are cats gathering outside the house regularly, your cat may pee near the door as a way of marking their territory. Move a litter box by the door until you can discourage the outdoor cats from coming around.

Cats are creatures of habit, which means they may react to any major change in the environment—new people, new pets, or frequent noisy visitors. Cats may begin to pee in different locations because the smell of their own urine makes them feel safer if there have been changes in the household. Make sure your cat has a safe place to go, high or hidden, with a couple of treats to help with adjustment. There is also medication available if your veterinarian thinks it is a good temporary solution.

  1. Aging, Disabled, and Ill Cats – As cats age they may develop arthritis, which can make it increasingly difficult for them to climb in and out of their litter box. A cat with an injury may incur a permanent disability and no longer be able to perform the usual jumping and running activities that are easy for healthy cats to do. Also, if your cat is recovering from an illness, it may be temporarily difficult for your kitty to use the litter box in its current area.

For an ill or injured cat, make it easier to access their litter box by moving it closer or providing a ramp until your cat is back to normal so that accidents don’t occur.

If your cat is arthritic or has a physical disability, provide one or two new litter boxes so that there is one on each floor with permanent ramps.

Remember that old urine smells can attract a cat back to an area where he or she once urinated. If your cat has peed outside the box for medical or behavioural reasons, solving the problem itself may not be enough. Make sure you thoroughly clean and scrub away all traces of urine in any location outside the litter box, or your cat may start to think some other spot is an acceptable alternative to use.

There are many possible answers to the question of why your cat has started peeing outside the litter box and it is one of the most frequent problems for cats, even those who have had spotless records at the cat clinic for many years. To find out what to do, schedule a check-up for your cat. Meanwhile, make sure you are providing them with a happy environment and a clean and easy-to-access litter box—or boxes—designed to make your cat feel comfortable and safe.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Common Mistakes to Avoid Making as a Cat Parent

On our recent summer vacation, my wife and I met a lot of animal lovers, strangers, and relatives included. It was mostly a discussion on the happiness pets brings to our lives, how each is different, and an odd medical opinion on their pet. We were fairly taken aback when one of our relatives mentioned to my wife (also a veterinarian) that she had given her injured kitten, Rosie, a dose of Diclofenac (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) to help with pain management. We both got progressively more concerned as she went on to tell us that the kitten has been very tired and had inappetance (she wasn’t eating) since.

Very quickly, our primary concern had become the dose of diclofenac, and what potential damage it may have caused to her kidneys. Was Rosie not acting lively due to discomfort from pain or was it due to adverse effects of human painkillers given to cats? Did you know that indiscriminate use of pain medications have huge potential to cause GI ulcers, kidney damage and blood abnormalities in cats?

This episode helped reiterate the fact that there are so many things we may do (or not do!) for our pets that are actually harmful to them, without realizing the true potential of it. Thankfully, Rosie did very well within a few days of rehydrating her body and a lot of loving care from her family.

Following is a list of some other common mistakes to avoid as a cat parent:

  1. Leaving stringy toys and hairbands unmonitored in the house – can cause cats to accidentally swallow them and lead to serious intestinal obstructions.
  2. Using leftover antibiotics from before – is never ok, as you may not know the adequate dose or length of course needed. Also, as different antibiotics target different bugs it may not be a good antibiotic choice. Such indiscriminate use can lead to resistant infections and nasty superbugs.
  3. Allowing an outdoor lifestyle, without taking precautions for outdoor hazards such as fleas, worms, and viral infections (feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus) – be sure to keep your outdoor cat up to date on outdoor cat vaccines, deworming, and monthly flea prevention year-round.
  4. Feeding dry food (kibble) exclusively – this was considered ideal for cats till a few years back, but it is now recognized that a large portion of a cats’ diet should be canned or soft moist food.
  5. Believing that cats are not perturbed by environmental changes – on the contrary, cats are very sensitive to changes in their routine or environment. We should always consider and pursue environmental enrichment for these sensitive critters when it is time for a move, introduction of a new pet, upcoming childbirth, etc.

By – Dr. Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.