Cat Veterinary Archive 2


Cat Veterinary Archive 2

This is an unindexed assortment of questions that I really didn't have a category for or are about several completely different issues or that didn't quite seem to fit anywhere. Miscellaneous questions.

For an indexed table of contents please see Cat Info

For an alphabetical index see Cat Index

Also See Cat Veterinary Archive

Seizures followed by Hepatic Lipidosis

Q: Dear Dr. Mike; Thank you for your web column. I have a 5 year old female indoor cat that began having grand mal seizures 6 weeks ago. All blood tests, EKG, Xrays, LP were WNL. She was started on Phenobarbital 1/4 grain BID which completely zombied her, and was reduced over 1 week to a quarter of a 1/4 grain tablet BID. She did well until 3 weeks ago when she stopped eating or drinking regularly, and began to urinate outside of her box. 2 weeks ago, she became extremely jaundiced and ill. In the hospital, she received IV and IM fluid replacement and oral administration of tube feedings. Her blood tests showed extremely abnormal liver enzymes at this time. By one week, her values were about 20% improved, but the vet still did not have an idea what was the problem (some sort of liver disease). I searched the web, found your column on Hepatic Lipidosis, and asked for the cat to be transferred to an internist. Ultrasound was WNL (liver wnl size, no sparkling), however, the fine needle aspiration was positive for hepatic lipidosis. I am having a PEG tube placed today ( at a cost of $1,000.00) to save her life. However, I am greatly concerned that the original problem has yet to be identified - the seizure etiology, and that I am going to lose her anyway. Could the Phenobarbital dose be so high that it was toxic to her liver and caused the HL? and do you recommend any other tests that I should have done to diagnose the seizure activity? I figure that my total cost already is around $1,500.00, and I am not sure I want to spend another $500.00 on a head MRI. On the other hand, I am already invested, and really do not want to lose her. Any suggestions? I really am grateful for the web and you, for I would not have known to seek a specialist. My kitty now has a chance at survival. Thank you A: Denise- It is often difficult to determine the initiating cause of hepatic lipidosis. In this case, I would be very suspicious of a drug reaction to phenobarbital. While this is the standard therapy and still the best available therapy for seizures some dogs and some cats will develop liver disease when normal dosages are administered. To confuse the situation even more, liver disease can cause seizures so it is even possible that there is or was a primary liver disease. Since there was not an indication of this on the biopsy, it is probably less likely to be the situation, though. I would recommend continuing to work towards finding a cause for the seizures. I hesitate to recommend MRI exams because it seems more like a way to give an owner a prognosis than to develop a treatment plan since tumors are not often removed if they are present. For some people knowing the prognosis is very important and I do not mean to belittle that --- I just don't see this as a strong cost/benefit relationship. I'd spend the money looking for something I could treat if I was making the decisions. Good luck with this. Thank you for the kind words about our site! Mike Richards, DVM snoring Q: Hello. I have a spayed female cat of 10 mos. old. When she sleeps nearby me I can hear her breathing. My boyfriend says it sounds like snoring. Do cats snore? Or could she have a breathing problem? When she's awake and active she's perfectly fine she doesn't weeze or anything. But is this something I should ask my vet about?

A: Marty- Both cats and dogs can snore. It is more common in the short-faced breeds like Persians, pugs, Himalayans and Boston terriers but can occur in any breed. As long as everything else seems OK it is probably OK just to discuss this on your next visit with your vet so that any chance of a problem like a palate defect can be ruled out. Mike Richards, DVM

Jaw twitching in older cat

Q: Our 18-year-old house cat Broadway awoke from her afternoon nap today with her lower jaw twitching, her tongue moving in and out of like she was trying to clear her mouth. We inspected her jaw and found no abrasions, no swelling and a lot of plaque on the rear teeth. We massaged her jaw and the symptoms seemed to go away, but her appitite has been reduced so far tonight. This was such an unusual sight, at least to us, that it raised concerns. Hope you can provide some insight. Thanks for your informative web site.

A: cs- I would be most concerned about seizure activity with the signs you give in your note but it would also be a good idea to make sure that Broadway's teeth are OK and that she doesn't have temporomandibular joint degeneration. We have seen these kinds of signs with ingestion of string and with oral tumors as well. There also seems to be some cause(s) of jaw twitching and oral irritation that occur in older cats and are hard to identify. Three or four of the older cats in our practice have developed signs similar to this that we were not able to pinpoint a cause for. Hopefully, your vet will be able to tell you which of these things is the problem, if this wasn't a one time episode. Mike Richards, DVM

Enlarged spleen, anemia

Q: Our cat has been at vet since Mon. Vet has no idea what's up. - hasn't eaten since last Sat. morn. X-ray revealed enlarged spleen. Vet notes discomfort . Cat's temp. is normal. Cat has little energy and is dehydrated. Vet puts cat on fluids. Vet says cat is slightly anemic. Blood work reveals a white blood cell count of o.8 and a platelet count of 8 .Vet puts cat onto anti-biotics in hopes to get levels back up. -still waiting on results. Today they force feed her. She cannot keep food down. She is now drooling and frothing somewhat. -perhaps an effect from the anti-biotics??? Vet is trying but cannot identify a cause for the blood count or enlarged spleen. -our cat must feel the effects of her disorder. Quick history: 4 year old female Indoor cat always Spayed No exposure to other felines ( we do have a dog) Never before sick or injured .I've been looking for any info or case with similarity. I've bugged our local vets. Needless to say I've found nothing. I would appreciate your expertise and some direction. Thank-you Leantoo

A: Leantoo- I am assuming that the white blood cell count is 800 cells/cc of blood. This is a very low white blood cell count. The primary differential that comes to my mind is feline leukemia virus. This can also cause a drop in platelet count. I am less certain about the platelet value you give. A normal platelet level is around 250,000 platelets or more per cc of blood. A platelet count of 8 would be extraordinarily low. Essentially a platelet count like this indicates no platelets. That happens at times. The most likely cause is immune mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP) but in some instances feline leukemia can stop the production of platelets as well. I can't recall seeing a platelet count this low in a cat. They are less likely to experience ITP than dog and the counts are normally higher but not normal with feline leukemia. ITP can be associated with drug reactions, vaccine reactions, allergies, infections, cancer and almost any other cause of immune system activity that has the potential to become deranged. I am sure your vets have probably already advised feline leukemia virus testing and feline immunodeficiency virus testing but if not, these would be a good idea. When I have a severely ill patient and can not figure out what is going on, I usually try to refer them to an internal medicine specialist. You might consider asking for a referral if things are not improving by now. Mike Richards, DVM

Sanitary eating habits and cats

Q: We feed our cats 95% dry food and only occasionally give them canned food (we call it wet food). A friend of mine is an M.D. with two cats. She gives them an endless supply of wet food, putting one can on top of what is left. My first concern is that the food at the bottom is very old. My second concern is that one of the cats, in particular, is very overweight. My third concern is that the cats go outside and yet are allowed to walk on the dinner table's tablecloth. Should my children and I eat at her table? don

A: Don- I guess it depends on how much you like this friend and what risks you are willing to take in life. There is probably very little health risk associated with the cats walking on the tablecloth. I am sure that there is at least a small risk of some transmissible problem such as toxoplasmosis, though. Whether or not that is an increase in the risk associated with just owning a cat is hard to say. My cats (and once in a while my dog) run across my dining room table, too. While we do discourage it, we don't worry about it when dinnertime comes. Feeding the cats wet food instead of dry food is not a problem. Cats do fine on either food, or any combination of the foods as long as reasonably good foods are chosen. It is better to feed canned foods on a timed basis (two or three meals a day, picking up the leftover food after 10 minutes or so). This allows time to clean the bowls and any leftover food can be discarded so that no spoilage occurs. For some reason these sorts of feeding habits lead to less problems than you might anticipate but we do occasionally see health problems that seem to relate to food spoilage. When cats are fed free choice and become obese, it is best to limit feed them, as well. Obesity contributes to some health problems in cats and dogs just like it does in people. The problems are a little different for each species but they do exist. People react to pets at an emotional level. They don't necessarily do the logical things when taking care of their pets. It makes it hard to discuss care giving with pet owners -- so be careful when using this information. Mike Richards, DVM

Rapid decline and death

Q: Dear Dr. Mike, My apparently healthy 16 pound 7-year old part-ragdoll cat was given a healthy checkup 2 weeks ago. last week after eating dinner, Wolfgang howled, squatted and defecated, then remained under the table for the rest of the night. The next day the Vet examined him and thought he might have injured his back somehow. He perscribed dexamethazone. Wolfgang seemed to improve gradually over the next 3 days, then took a drastic downturn, becoming extremely and atypically lethargic. At the animal hospital they took a blood sample to be sent out, and kept him overnight. The next morning I received a call from the vet that he was dramatically worse and probably would not survive unless he received a transfusion at the nearest facility which would do so, some 2 hours away. He did not survive the trip. His blood tests from the day before revealed high glucose (290), high bun (42), high creatinine (2.2), high alt/sgpt (148), high amylase (1153), high bilirubin (1.1 total), hematology showed low hct (5), low hgb (3.6), high wbc (20.7), low rbc (1.6), low mcv (34), high mch (24), and high mchc (70.6). The differential showed high neut (74), and high band (5). His rbc morphology showed mod anisocytosis, slight polychromasia, slight poikilocytosis, and platelets appeared large. An xray taken the morning of his death showed a shadowy mass in the vicinity of his spleen. The Vet mentioned the possibility of "hematiosarcoma". Since I have 2 other cats, should I be concerned about this being contageous? All cats are indoors only. I am devastated by Wolfgang's death and do not want to lose the other cats as well. Regards, Hal

A: Hal- To the best of my knowledge, hemangiosarcomas are pretty rare in cats. If that was the cause of the problems seen it is very very unlikely that it would affect your other cats. The most common cause of anemia this profound in our practice is feline leukemia virus infection. It may be worthwhile to test the other cats for this virus, even though they are indoors. Due to the potential for very long latent infections this virus has to be considered in almost all cats with severe systemic disease. Unfortunately, when the infection is latent the virus is sequestered out of the blood stream and testing can fail to detect it. Some cats are not able to sequester the virus and are chonic carriers of the disease, though. Identifying this problem could help you make decisions about the best way to protect the other cat if it was not also infected. Of course, there may be no problem with this virus at all, too.

Early spay/neuter

Q: I'm involved with cat rescue and adoption. Some of the animal shelters in Southern California are doing spay/neutering of cats as early as 8 weeks old. I know of some studies that are against early spaying and neutering. Are there any negative outcomes of early steraliztion? I have heard of something involving hormones, growth and bones. Thanks! Becky

A: Becky- The issue of early spay and neutering is being studied in several places around the country and so far the results of all the studies I have seen indicate that there are no discernible problems associated with this practice. There was an article on this in one of the AVMA journals late last year (December ?). Your vet may have access to this if he or she saves the AVMA journals for a while. Mike Richards DVM

Collar irritation

Q: I have a two year old tabby cat who has only worn a collar for a few weeks, we just took the collar off today because it seemed a little tight on her, (she is rather plump) on the skin under the collar, there was no hair and the skin was covered in scabby flaky sores, that flake off and have blood in them, it was a normal collor, not a flea collar, what could have caused this? It doesn't seem to bother the cat. But it resembles athletes foot but worse.

A: Astarte- Collars seem to irritate some cats, even if they are not flea or medicated collars. Also, this is a common site for miliary dermatitis which looks a lot like you describe. This is a symptom of several skin diseases in cats but the most likely two are flea bite hypersensitivity and allergic skin disease. Also, a condition known as eosinophilic granuloma complex can occur in this region and it looks like a scabby raised sore at times, too. Your vet can help get this under control. Mike Richards, DVM

Moving cats to a new home

Q: We are planning to move soon to a house from an apartment. My two cats have never been outside of this apartment and have never traveled after the first visit to the vet. They are extremely shy and I am looking for a tranquilizer or relaxant to make the actual move easier for them. What can you recommend? Thanks for your help. Angelika

A: Angelika- I think that it is best not to tranquilize your cats in this situation unless it really seems necessary. If so, I like to use acepromazine because I have used it a long time and have a good feel for the necessary dosages, etc. Your vet may have a different "favorite" for similar reasons. If you get traveling crates or bags for your cats and let them acclimate themselves to them it will help a lot. Put the crate out for a week or so prior to moving and put a small treat in them. Most cats will explore the crates and many will sleep in them just because they are something new. If you have time, taking them for a short drive in the crates will give you some idea of how bad they are in the car. If you have a cat that is truly terrified, sedation may be a good idea. At the new house, the crates can again be left out to give your cats a familiar safe place to hide in and to serve as a base of operations while your cats check out the new place. Hope all goes well. Mike Richards DVM

Cat with seizure episodes

Q: Hello. I am asking this question on behalf of a co-worker. I love cats and would like to help. My colleague has 3 cats. Apparently, over the past 8 months, one of his cats has had 3 seizure-like episodes, where the cat stops everything and appears to lose control of all muscle movement, and begins twitching and shaking and moving his body uncontrollably. Each "seizure" lasted for about a minute. My colleague says that during each "seizure", he tried to hold his cat until the cat calmed down. After each of the 3 "seizures" was over, his cat would go lie down somewhere and be quiet for a while. He said he will take him to the vet, but in the meantime, what does this sound like to you? The cat is 6 years old, and otherwise appears normal (appetite, behavior, moods, & habits are all normal). He's afraid his cat will have another episode. What to do if he does? Thanks, Donna

A: Donna- It does sound like your friend's cat is having seizure episodes. There are many causes of seizuring and it is a good idea to have her cat checked by the vet to rule out treatable causes of seizuring if one can be found. It is likely that the seizures will continue to occur. If a cause for them can not be found it is acceptable to use anti-seizure medication to control them. Most of the time it will work. Good luck with this. Mike Richards, DVM

Pulmonary distress

Q: I just found your website. I was looking for ideas as to what might be wrong with Max. He is a 3 year old male cat and appears to be having problems breathing. I first noticed while he was asleep he was taking short, rapid, heavy breathing (several weeks ago). No other sympthoms. Than we were away one week and he stayed at our son's home. (They have a cat and dog.) He was shy the first two days there but than played with the other cat. Since we returned he has been very aloof, eats very little, and just sits around. I first thought it was his normal behavior after our having left him for a week. However, I've noticed he does not lay down, just sits on his haunches and the breathing that a mentioned earlier has become more prominent. He opens his mouth slightly at times as though to help him to breathe. When I put my hands around the area just behind the front legs he lets out a tiny meow. He isn't ever a very vocal cat. He seems to be urinating as usual (once or twice a day). His bowels have only moved twice (just two very small pieces each time) since Sunday but he hasn't eaten much either. I feed him Iams dry food--keep it out all the time. He is not overweight and his shots were uptoday last Sept. I have an appointment to take him to a vet this evening but would be interested in your thoughts. Thanks. PS: I have bookmarked your website!

A: I would be really worried about cardiomyopathy or other heart disease with the symptoms you are describing. Other causes of pulmonary distress like pneumonia, pleuritis or even pyothorax (pus in the chest, usually from a wound) are possible. I am glad you took him to your vet. It is really important to catch these problems early when possible. Mike Richards, DVM

Gestation of cats

Q: Dr. Mike, I searched the web over and over again and I guess nobody feels like writing about how long a cat is supposed to stay pregnant. My cat has been pregnant for I think about a month. She looks like she's ready to pop!! I thought it would take three months. Could you please tell me the gestation of cats? thanks,Rayetta-

A: Cats are pregnant for 9 weeks (63 days). Mike Richards, DVM Michal Response: Rayetta, we have a page with norms for healthy cats - temps, gestation, age range, etc.-

New Kitten adjustment

Q: Dear Dr Mike, We have a seven week old kitten which has two major problems. The first is that she will meow loudly and constantly when she is left alone for any period of time, sometimes even if I just leave the room to go to the bathroom! She sleeps in the kitchen at night and spends much of the night waking us up by her baby cries. We do not want to make bad habits by fussing her everytime she does this, but we are also getting frustrated by the fact that she wont quieten. How can we prevent her loneliness, without succumbing to her cries everytime?? Secondly, although you deal with diarrhea on your page, it does not answer my question. Our kitten has had very loose bowel movements since we had her...right now she eats canned food, but we are gradually combining more and more dry food to her meals. Occasionally I will give her milk, but I have read that kittens often have an intolerance to cows milk. How should I go about eliminating parts of her food to discover the culprit? How long does it take for a kitten to digest a could milk from two days ago, still affect her bowel movements on this day? Apart from the diarrhea, the cat is in perfect health and shows no discomfort at all. Sorry to demand so much from you...but for us, this is like having a newborn baby! Thank You so much for your help. K.

A: I actually do not know how long milk stays in the digestive tract of intolerant cats but I suspect it is a lot less than 48 hours since most cats with this problem develop diarrhea when fed milk. The problem is that the diarrhea can become self-perpetuating through changes induced in the bacterial flora and intestinal mucosa and last a lot longer than it would if it was just a matter of getting rid of the milk. So I would start by eliminating milk in the diet! It would also be a really good idea to have your vet examine the kitten and make sure there isn't a cause for the diarrhea that is treatable, like intestinal parasites. Some kittens have a really tough time adjusting to a new home. It can help to keep a radio playing softly near the kitten's bed. A clock that ticks (if you can find one) can be helpful, too. Someone told me there are stuffed toys with real heart sounds that help with kittens and puppies who need some reassurance -- even it comes from an inanimate "mom". We always take the route of letting our pets sleep in bed with us but I guess that doesn't work for everyone. We probably wouldn't do that except that we usually decide we need the sleep. Mike Richards, DVM

Cat eats paper

Q: I have a 15lb long hair tabby cat and he has this thing about eating paper. Books;newspapers any thing paper related. Is there something in his diet that is missing that makes hime do this?

A: I doubt that this is caused by a dietary insufficiency. Eating paper is a pretty common habit among cats and even dogs. It doesn't seem to cause much harm to the cat. I don't remember ever having to treat a cat for something related to paper ingestion. Mike Richards, DVM

Grass eating

Q: My cats love to eat grass! I've heard something about grass being good for cats, and even started growing them some Cat Grass and Cat Nip. But the eldest has had diarrea a little bit, vomited once, and my husband says there are blades of grass in their feces. Is grass actually bad for them?

A: Lots of cats eat grass and some cats vomit routinely after eating it. In these cats it sometimes seems to help meet the urge for green things but cause less vomiting if you give them green beans (and they will eat them). Often, we can not really find a cause for the grass eating but sometimes the vomiting is actually a sign of a problem like inflammatory bowel disease or even internal parasites. If this occurs at times when your cat is not eating grass it would be good to schedule a vet visit to see if the problem can be resolved. Mike Richards, DVM

Young cat - staggering, weight loss

Q: I'm hoping you can help me. We live in the country and have ten outdoor cats and three indoor cats. We've had the usual problems with cats that run off and never come home, cats that return having gotten into something caustic with a resultant infection (cured with antibiotics and plenty of TLC), but one cat has me worried. About two months ago I noticed that Patchwork (a year old female who had always been small but healthy) occasionally staggered. Later the same day she would be fine, running around and playing. I assumed she'd eaten the wrong weed. Then she stared losing weight, even though she was eating. I finally brought her into the house two weeks ago when I noticed that she had a discharge from her eyes and was so weak that she fall down by the food bowl and didn't get up right away. I got some antibiotics from a vet in town (an hour away where my husband works) and gave her that plus half a can of canned food a day and constantly available Iams kitten food to build up her strength. I also give her-every other day-a mixture of warmed milk, egg, and a teaspoon of Karo syrup. She seemed to be regaining some weight, her appetite is good, she became more active, and she started using the litter box. I thought she was on the mend. Then yesterday, her eyes were totally dilated - you could only seen a thin rim around the pupils and she appears to be partially, if not totally, blind. She's still eating, but this morning, she was laying in the litter box. My question is this: can you tell from the description if she has something curable? I'm reluctant to take her to the vet because money is very tight and the last time I took one of the outdoor cats to the vet it cost me $200 (I'm still paying on the bill). The cat ran off a few weeks after he was cured and I've never seen him again. I'm willing to pay for treatment rather than just let Patchwork die, but she does not appear to be in pain and I don't want a bunch of expensive tests to find out she's going to die not matter what we do. Any ideas? Sorry for the length. Any feedback would be apprediated. S.

A: In a cat as young as Patchwork is most of the problems like you are describing come from the infectious illnesses or congenital defects such as circulatory shunts bypassing the liver (just as an example - there are lots of possible problems). I would worry about feline leukemia with the symptoms you are seeing and would want to test for that early in the diagnostic process. The presence or absence of this problem would influence what else seemed necessary to test for to a big degree. I can not tell you for sure whether or not there is a treatable condition. It does sound like Patchwork would benefit from veterinary care. I see that it is a long trip to go to the vet but a good physical exam and a small amount of testing may make it possible to figure out what is going on. If this is feline leukemia it is important for your other cat's health to know that. Hope this helps some.

Heartgard for cats

Q: We have an 8 pound neutered male cat and it has been recommended that we give him HEARTGARD for cats (165 MCG Ivermectic chewables) and we were wondering if there are any side effects or risks to taking this medication. Thanks, D.

A: There are no known side effects other than occasional vomiting or diarrhea after administration of the medication in cats at this time. Since this is a newly approved medication there is some chance side effects may exist that are not currently known but it is not that likely. Ivermectin has been used on an experimental basis for other problems in cats for some time and I have not heard of adverse effects from those uses, either. Mike Richards, DVM

Introducing new cat

Q: Dear Dr. Mike: We brought Sasha, a 9 mo. old female, home on Saturday. Emily, our beloved and always sole ruler of the house is 6 years old. She is a very odd cat, will not even attempt to venture into the hall of our apartment building when our front door is open, doesn't give a hoot about any food other than her kibble, doesn't like to be picked up (too far from the ground....). Not exactly Captain Courageous. (We've had her since she was 6 weeks old and have been loving and gentle with her. No abuse - honest! At her first sight of the new cat, Emily retreated, with much hissing and growling and hiding. Sasha has become increasing bold and even agressive, while Emily is nervous, fearful, and tense. We've just started to keep them apart and allow Emily the run of the house this evening. It was only once the problems began and I started researching on the Net that I learned that the proper way to introduce a new cat to a resident cat is to keep them separate, let the resident have the run of the house, confine the newcomer and take it slow. It seems that we've done everything wrong! Can we turn this situation around? We very much want Sasha to be able to stay and be a companion for our 11 year old son. He's already fallen completely in love with her. However, we won't be able to keep her if Emily can't make the adjustment. Please respond at your earliest convenience. We are all pretty upset at how miserable Emily is - and the prospect of possible having to give Sasha up. Many thanks in advance

A: It isn't too late to just follow the procedure you outlined. Sometimes it will work well even after the cats have been introduced. It would be worth a try. It can also help to use an anti-anxiety medication for the frightened cat (Emily in this case). Sometimes their nervous reaction to the situation is the trigger to the aggressive behavior in the other cat. If a medication like buspirone (Buspar Rx) can reduce her fearfulness she may not hiss or run and incite a reaction. Often, cats will get along after a few days even when the situation doesn't look good at first. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. A good behaviorist may be able to help with more specific advice. I don't know where you are in NY but there are good behaviorists at the University of Pennsylvania and at Cornell, I think. Mike Richards, DVM

Tracking device for outdoor cats

Q: Hi! Are there any devices for home use to keep tabs on the location of outdoor cats? If my kitty should become lost again it would be nice to be able to locate him in a manner similar to that by which tagged animals in the wild are tracked. The implants introduced a couple of years ago, often advertised for locating lost pets, actually locate the OWNERS after the pet has been found by someone else. I'd like to be able to find my cat myself. Thank you for any information and suggestions.

A: I know that there are tracking collars for hunting dogs which can be used in conjunction with directional antennae to find the dog. The collars I have seen have a pretty heavy box attached to them, though. I am not sure they would work for a cat and I can not recall ever having seen a cat version of these collars advertised. I have also seen tracking devices for car keys that are activated by clapping or something like that. They don't look too large. If your cat doesn't go too far, maybe something like that would work. (just a wild thought).

Lots of cats - can there be clean air

Q: Hello! I am wondering if you think that there is a problem bringing in a newborn baby (already with signs of respiratory problems) to a house with twelve cats and 3 litter boxes? I am trying to get advice from both medical and veterinarian people. Thank you for your assistance!

A: I guess you probably realize that anything I can say about this is a guess, but I'll try. Cat litter can be very dusty and I would imagine that it would be best to use litter that is dust-free (dust reduced?) if possible. I don't know of any directly transmissible diseases offhand, so I don't think that is a major concern. It seems like allergies may be more likely to develop in a child exposed to this high a level of allergen but I am not actually sure there is a correlation. Unfortunately, veterinarians rarely see medical information relating to problems in people from the pets we work on, except for information on the diseases that are transmissible between pets and humans. Problems like allergies that people suffer from due to pets are not well covered in the veterinary literature. I believe that a similar situation exists with human physicians. In many instances, they do not appear to understand the actual risks versus the imagined risks associated with owning pets. This creates a problem for people like you who are seeking information that it seems logical for someone to track. For some reason, both professions drop the ball when it comes understanding some of the interactions between pets and humans.

Do not give acetaminophen to cats!

Q: I got a bottle of Cerumite from the vet to try to treat a cat that has adopted us. He is fairly wild, and I'm having problems getting the drops in his ears. I believe he is running a fever, and was wondering if it would be ok to try to put some aspirin in his food..I'm not sure if this would be safe for a cat. Is there any way of sedating him so I could clean his ears out? I would really appreciate any help you could give me.

A: Please DO NOT give your cat apirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol Rx, etc.), ibuprofen (Advil Rx, etc.) or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication without the direct advice of your vet to do so. Aspirin has a half-life in people of about 2 to 3 hours -- so it is given every 4 hours. Aspirin has a half-life in cats of about 72 hours -- so one dose lasts 3 days! It is extremely easy to overdose a cat on aspirin. Acetaminophen is even more toxic to cats and they may die with a single administration of extra-strength acetaminophen products. When treating semi-wild or nearly wild cats for ear mites, I favor the use of ivermectin. It is not approved for cats but it requires only two treatments at intervals greater than 2 weeks to resolve most cases of ear mites. I haven't had much luck sedating cats that didn't want their ears cleaned but there are very good short acting anesthetics -- which allow the ear to be cleaned and treated the first time. If you just can't get the Cerumite in, you might want to ask your vet about treating your cat at the office. It is obviously more expensive than Cerumite but it might be the only way to resolve the problem.

Last edited 03/16/07


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...