Pet Care: Timid cat bullied by othersDear Dr. Fox: I have four cats who get along OK – with the exception of one. I rescued Eugenie from my neighborhood, and she is very timid and is often bullied by the other cats. I give her as much special attention as possible. She has a separate feeding area in an upstairs bathroom away from the others; I have a litter box for her in the spare bedroom, which, unfortunately, the other cats use as well.
By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM
Dear Dr. Fox: I have four cats who get along OK – with the exception of one. I rescued Eugenie from my neighborhood, and she is very timid and is often bullied by the other cats. I give her as much special attention as possible. She has a separate feeding area in an upstairs bathroom away from the others; I have a litter box for her in the spare bedroom, which, unfortunately, the other cats use as well.
She has started to urinate in the bathroom sink and on the counter. I could move her food to the spare bedroom and lock her out of the bathroom, but my concern is that she will find somewhere else to urinate that might not be so easy to find or clean up. Any suggestions? – M.J., Poughquag, N.Y.
Dear M.J.: Try using the cat pheromone Feliway in one or two of the rooms the cats use most often. This can have a calming effect and help cats get along better.
Rubbing a moist cloth on all the cats’ heads (temples and lips in particular), then wiping it on the other cats, may help. Repeat this procedure morning and evening for seven to 10 days, keeping the cloth in a plastic bag to retain the group scent.
Allow your fearful cat to continue to urinate in the bathroom sink and counter in the interim; forcing change at this time could cause your fearful kitty additional stress. Eugenie may have stress-related cystitis, so contact your veterinarian. You can take a urine sample from her deposit in the sink (keep it plugged until you get a sample) for analysis. Putting a couple drops of lavender oil under a layer of cotton where she sleeps may also prove beneficial and is a practice used in some animal shelters.
Dear Dr. Fox: I recently came across your column regarding the quoted price of $400 for a sonogram for a pet. I suggest your reader get a second opinion and quote – it might prove to be quite a surprise. Our local veterinary clinic gave my husband a quote of $60 for the same procedure.
Three years ago, we adopted an adorable 12-year-old toy Yorkie who was in very bad shape. At barely 3 pounds, she could walk only a few feet before having to stop and rest. She was so tiny we started calling her Little Bit. Immediately after getting her, we took her for a thorough check up. After two months with us, Little Bit gained 2 pounds and was running to her favorite park.
Recently I found what turned out to be a cancerous lump in Little Bit’s tummy area. She had never been spayed, and we were told that she would also need to have that done at the time of the surgery or the cancer would return with a vengeance. Knowing that any surgery on a very small 15- year-old dog is extremely risky, we decided to get a second opinion. That opinion confirmed the first, and we were quoted a price of $700 to$800 for the surgeries. The surgeries were done at the clinic we always use. We never asked about the cost and were amazed when we got the bill - - it was less than $200!
I am happy to report that Little Bit survived the surgeries with no problems, like the little trouper she has always been. She is doing well and is once again running in her favorite park, though she has slowed down a tad. The best thing we ever did for ourselves was to adopt that tiny little dog. – M.A.C., Central Point, Ore.
Dear M.A.C.: Three cheers to Little Bit and to you for adopting such an old dog in the first place and seeing her through what sounds like breast cancer. Some dogs do have an amazing will to live, which, along with good nutrition and a strong immune system, help speed recovery from surgery and illness. But just as with human patients, prolonged hospitalization for animal patients can delay recovery. So this is avoided by enlightened veterinarians who know that instructed care in the animals’ familiar home environment is less stressful, especially in terms of separation anxiety and associated fears.
If a dog’s breast/mammary tumor is caught and removed early enough (before it spreads to the lungs and other organs), she will have a good prognosis. The best thing to do is spay your dog at 5 or 6 months, before her first heat.
With toy breeds such as Little Bit, special attention must be given to their teeth and gums because dental problems are common. If neglected, these problems can lead to the spread of disease to the kidneys, heart and other internal organs. Toy breeds need diets relatively low in carbohydrates and fiber.
I would like to hear from other readers who have shopped around and found very different price quotes for the same veterinary procedures. Such extreme disparities need to be addressed by state veterinary regulatory agencies.
Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.