Why Won’t My Cat Drink Milk?

My Kitten Doesn’t Drink Milk – What Should I Do?

Almost everyone who has never owned a cat before, or who hasn’t owned a “fussy” cat, is under the impression that all cats drink milk.  This is like saying that “all women like chocolate” – of course most women like chocolate but there’s a large enough percentage who don’t like it to disprove the common thought.  Likewise with cats, it’s more accurate to say that most cats drink milk, but not all of them.  There are some cats who don’t like milk – and there are even some who are lactose intolerant!

cat drinking

If you find that your kitty doesn’t like milk, or your veterinary has advised you that the fur problems are caused by an allergy that he has traced to being a lactose allergy, then you need to ensure that the kitten drinks plenty of water.  If the kitten is really young, then you should ask your veterinary to suggest some alternatives to make sure that the kitten gets the right amount of calcium to ensure his bones and teeth grow healthily.

An older cat doesn’t need quite so much attention paid to its calcium intake, but if you know he isn’t drinking milk, then choose one of the cat food brands that adds calcium amongst the added vitamins and minerals it lists on the packaging.  If you wanted to make sure that your cat is getting an “appropriate” amount of calcium for its age and size, you could again check this with your veterinary when you take the cat for its annual check-up/shots.  If your cat is pregnant, nursing a litter, or moving into the “elderly feline” category, you should again check with your veterinary as to whether you need to have a calcium supplement for your pet.

Although all cats do need calcium, just as we do, and in different amounts through the various life stages, it’s more than possible for your cat to be completely healthy without drinking milk.  A couple of minutes spent checking with your veterinary will soon reassure you that everything is fine and how to ensure your kitten’s nutritional intake is adequate.

The Importance of Neutering Your Cat

Neuter your Kitty Sooner Rather than Later

Many people have a strong opinion as to whether or not they should neuter their kitty.  There are those who have kittens who think it’s a dreadful idea to take the possibility of having kittens away from their kitten – or can’t begin to imagine why they have to consider something like that about a tiny little kitty.  Then there are those who don’t have cats and think all cats should be neutered and so get a reputation for not liking cats.

The truth of the situation is that unless you want your kitty to have, or father, kitties of its own, you really need to consider neutering your kitten as soon as possible.  Many people think that they have to wait until their queen kitty goes through her first “heat” cycle.  This isn’t the case.  She’ll be just fine if you get her done as soon as her system is mature enough to cope.  Usually this is around 5 months old.  If you wait and she has that cycle, be prepared for the loudly serenading “beaus” who come “calling” at 2am!

Neutering your kitten early means that they are less likely to have much reaction to the operation at all – as with humans, the young are more adaptable to their situations.  Within a couple of hours of surgery, a neutered kitten is likely to be back on his feet and wobbling in the direction of his supper!  He will wash and wash at the stitches until you are terrified that he will wash them out, and you’ll take some preventative measure to ensure that nothing happens to them overnight!  By the next day kitty should be swinging once again from your curtains.

Although most cat owners can see the advantage of neutering their queen, not many realize that by neutering a tom, they not only stop him from populating the local area with off-spring, but they will take that “tom cat” smell away.  The urine of a neutered tom cat usually smells less intrusive that that of a non-neutered one.

neutering your cat

Regardless what some people may think, neutering your kitten isn’t a negative thing.  If anything you are liberating your cat to go out into the world, confident that it’s not going to be helping to populate it!

Arthritis in Cats: What You Need to Know

As in dogs, there are many causes of arthritis and joint disease in cats. These include trauma, infections, immune system disorders and developmental disorders such as hip dysplasia (yes, cats can get hip dysplasia). Simple old age wear and tear is by far the most prominent cause.

Arthritis in cats is an under recognised condition amongst both pet owners and veterinary surgeons alike due to cats’ typical sedentary lifestyle masking the fact that they may be in serious discomfort. In actual fact, approximately 50% of cats over the age of 10 are affected by arthritis in the UK (study by Liverpool University, www.liv.ac.uk), with some studies claiming the incidence to be even higher than that.

In the following article we will discuss some of these causes or conditions which are more common or unique to cats. Before you read on, you may want to check out the articles Joint Anatomy and Veterinary Procedures Used to Diagnose Joint Disease for some background information. Information on how to manage cats with arthritis and other joint problems, including the use of Glucosamine and Chondroitin is discussed in Treatment of Osteoarthritis in Cats.

Signs of Arthritis in Cats

Early signs if arthritis are often missed, but this is actually the time when early intervention and environment adaptations may be appropriate to help reduce progression of this disease.

Early signs include:

  • Reluctance or reduced jumping up/down onto surfaces or furniture
  • Sleeping in different, easier to access areas
  • Not hunting or exploring the outdoor environment as readily
  • Greasy and scurfy coat condition, especially around the rump (due to reduced ability to turn and groom this area)

Later signs include:

  • Difficulty using the cat flap
  • Difficulty climbing fences (Either shown by increased time spent only in the garden as opposed to exploring, or increased time away from home as different routes with easier access need to be found)
  • Unkempt, matted coat that needs continual grooming
  • Litter tray accidents as unable to easily climb into high sided trays
  • Overgrown claws due to lack of activity
  • Lack of play
  • Increased sleeping
  • Lack of tolerance of handling/petting
  • Short temper with companion pets/children
  • Reduced interaction, distancing themselves from you
  • Over-grooming of affected joints
  • Lameness (uncommon until arthritis is severe)
  • Cause of arthritis in Cats

Much like dogs, and even humans, there can be a range of factors that can cause arthritis in cats:

AGE:

Age can obviously play a big part in the onset of arthritis in cats. As animals age their joints can begin to degenerate through simple wear and tear, especially if there has been considerable overuse over the years. Most cats will have some degeneration starting to happen in their joints by the age of 8 years old, with this form of arthritis being known as “Osteoarthritis”.

In Osteoarthritis, the normal cartilage that cushions joints starts to be gradually worn away. This is due to cartilage not being replaced as quickly as it used to be when the animal was a youngster. Eventually the ends of the bones become exposed which causes much discomfort and inflammation in the joint affected.

Following on from this, the bones do try to heal themselves in the only way they know how to – by forming a callous, just like when they are broken. Unfortunately this callous is not useful and is what you often see on x-rays of arthritic joints as the “white fluff” at the edges. Over time this callous can become quite significant, especially in joints that are not frequently mobilised. It may eventually limit the range of movement, even to the point where a joint is actually frozen in one position.

GENETICS:

Like dogs, some breeds of cat may be more predisposed to develop arthritis. Pure breeds specifically are at risk, with Burmese cats having a high tendency to inherit this ailment.

WEIGHT:

Additional weight on a cat’s limbs will act to increase the wear and tear of the joints over a prolonged period. While a weight issue will not directly cause arthritis it will certainly play an important part in accelerating the degeneration of joints.

Weight loss will have a hugely beneficial effect on arthritic cats, prolonging the life expectancy of the joints and often delaying or reducing the need for strong medications.

INJURY:

Cat’s that have suffered an injury to a joint, for example a fracture or dislocation, are predisposed to developing arthritis in that particular joint. This is due to damage being caused to the cartilage, either directly through the injury or via altered use of the limb during recovery, leading to degeneration at an earlier age.

Similarly, cat’s joints can become infected, commonly a result of bite wounds. The joint becomes swollen, extremely painful and the cat will often not bear any weight on the affected leg or accommodate the area being touched. The cat often has a fever, will be lethargic, bad tempered and will not eat.

Treatment involves draining the infected fluid, with thorough flushing of the joint, and placing the cat on antibiotics.

Joint infections can cause severe, permanent damage to the joint and for this reason should be treated urgently. Even if the infection is cleared as soon as possible, damage to the cartilage may still be done, predisposing the animal to developing arthritis in the joint affected.

ILLNESS:

There are certain illnesses that may cause symptoms of arthritis.

For example a virus linked with respiratory disease, Calicivirus, may cause inflammation in multiple joints resulting in pain and lameness. There is no specific cure, just nursing care to help the animal through all the symptoms of this virus while the cats own body tackles the disease. Many cats recover after 30 days, however some may become permanently infected, with relapses happening during times of stress. Importantly, this is a virus that can be prevented through annual vaccinations, making it all important to keep up to date with boosters.

Feline progressive polyarthritis is a disease affecting young – middle aged male cats. It causes inflammation in multiple joints, especially the feet, wrists and ankles, which worsens over time. There is no cure and treatment is simply pain relief until the condition progresses to a point that it is intolerable. Thankfully this disease is extremely rare.

What Next for An Arthritic Cat?

Your vet can suggest a wide range of medication options for your cat, these will usually be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which will help relieve the pain and reduce inflammation of painful joints. These medications are suitable for long term use and are commonly available in the form of tablets or oral suspensions.

Your vet may also suggest nutraceuticals such as glucosamine supplements, which may help to provide building blocks for natural cartilage production and repair within the joints. These supplements often need an introductory period, where an increased dose is given for the first weeks of treatment before being reduced to a maintenance level. It is very important to follow these instructions to ensure you get the maximum benefit from these beneficial supplements.

Alternative therapies are available for your cat, and your vet will be able to advise what is available in your locality suitable for your cat.

For any cat suffering from arthritis, it is important to ensure maintaining a healthy weight is part of the treatment plan to help reduce the progression of this disease.

To keep joints supple in the face of arthritis and also to promote strength in muscles that support affected joints, frequent gentle exercise should always be encouraged. Physiotherapy techniques may also be used on tolerant cats.

Cold, damp and slippery conditions should be avoided as these may all antagonise existing arthritis. Your arthritic cat will always appreciate a warm comfortable bed to retreat to, as well as mats or rugs laid down on wooden or tiled floors to give a safe, sure-footed, walking surface. Lowering of food and water bowls as well as cat flaps to ground level will also aid access for older cats that may become unwilling to jump due to the strain it causes on their painful joints.

And remember, your lazy old cat may be cleverly disguising this condition so ensure you keep a keen eye on any out of character behaviour and signs of discomfort or pain.

[note color=”#ffb7ad”]NoroQuin is available from Norbrook Laboratories® to assist with joint management in your arthritic pet. Containing Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulphate, along with 4 other key ingredients that form the building blocks for good joint care. NoroQuin is available to buy from your Veterinary Practice and is available in tasty tablets and a sprinkle powder for cats, as well as a range of tablets for all sizes of dog.[/note]

[note color=”#fefec3″]For more information and advice on pet health products available, visit Norbrook’s pet health website http://www.norbrook.com/pets-health/[/note]

Cat Wees in the House

– Q – My cat pees everywhere and on everything! He’s been doing it years now. I thought he would break out of it eventually, but he continues to do it. He pees on my clothes, my school papers, and now he’s peed on my records and I’m fed up. I seriously thought about throwing him out and leaving him to fend for himself. I am at my wit’s end! I’ve tried physically reprimanding him, I’ve tried isolating him, I’ve tried everything! Now I am just trying to keep from seriously hurting him; what do I do?

Karl, Toledo, OH

– A – Is he a whole male or has he been neutered? It sounds more like marking than normal peeing. Have you tried caging him with food, water and a litter box as a retraining method? If he is whole, you might try neutering which helps most of the time. You might also want to read the article at:

http://www.cfainc.org/articles/litter-box-problems.html

Throwing him outside will solve your immediate problem, but then you will have your conscience to live with. Have you taken him to a Vet to see if there is a medical reason? Please explore these alternatives before you do anything drastic; after all, if he has been doing it for years what’s another few weeks or months to try and correct the situation?

Feline immunodeficiency virus

– Q – I currently have a cat with FIV who I am having put down tomorrow.  How long can do I have to wait & is there any pecautions that I should take when I get another cat?
Christina, Essex

 – A –  “Feline immunodeficiency virus is fairly unstable outside the cat and will not survive for more than a few hours in most environments. In addition, transmission of FIV occurs primarily through bites, so a waiting period between cats is not required to prevent FIV infection.

However, FIV–positive cats are frequently infected with other infectious agents which may pose some threat to a newcomer, so precautions should be taken. Thoroughly clean and disinfect or replace food and water dishes, bedding, litter pans and toys. A dilute solution of household bleach (4 oz. bleach in 1 gal. water) makes an excellent disinfectant.

Vacuum carpets and mop floors with an appropriate cleanser. Any new cats or kittens should be properly vaccinated against other infectious agents before entering the household.”

The above was from the Cornell Institute website in an article concerning FIV; the entire article may be read by going to  http://web.vet.cornell.edu/Public/FHC/fiv.html

I know it is always hard to lose a cat that has been a member of your family and our hearts go out to you. I hope you find solace knowing your cat will be in no more pain or suffering from this debilitating disease. Also, understand this is a very sneaky disease, masking it’s symptoms until it is usually too late for treatment. Hope this helps.