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Ask Elizabeth: January 2012

We adopted a new kitten from a local rescue group last month, and she is just perfect. Although she had been tested for the feline leukemia virus and FIV by the terrific group that saved her from the street, we took her to our veterinarian right away so that she could be examined before we introduced her to our two older cats. After a clean bill of health, we brought Bunny home, and she has become a well-integrated part of the family. The problem is that before we scheduled her spay surgery, she came into heat. What a scene!

Ask Elizabeth: December 2011

Dear Elizabeth: I have a five-year-old indoor cat, Baby, with whom I’ve shared my home ever since she was born. I’ve never had any other companion animals, so it’s been just Baby and me for all that time. Here’s my problem: I recently became engaged and at some point in the near future will be moving into my fiance’s home. He has two cats — both females. One is just about Baby’s age and the other is probably about seven years old. Neither one of them is very friendly. Naturally, I’m concerned about moving Baby into this new environment. I’m afraid that the animals will fight and hurt each other. I’ll appreciate any advice on how I can best address this dilemma.

Ask Elizabeth: November 2011

Dear Elizabeth: Our seven-year-old female cat Queenie is a spayed, well-behaved Siamese who is never allowed outside. However, there are several free-roaming outdoor cats in the neighborhood, and they have become a real nuisance. About six months ago, my husband and I started smelling evidence that the front of our house and our doors were being scent-marked. The odor of urine is quite noticeable and unpleasant for us and also seems to agitate Queenie. We’ve thought about putting some sort of repellent outside, but we don’t want to use anything that could harm these neighborhood cats or wildlife. Do you have any recommendations? What can we do to stop — or at least discourage — these cats from scent-marking our house?

Ask Elizabeth: October 2011

Our 11-year-old cat, Abby, is recovering nicely from a recent bout of cystitis. As part of her recovery, our veterinarian recommended that she be encouraged to take in more liquids. At his suggestion, we now place clean water bowls on every floor of our house — and Abby drinks from all of them throughout the day. The veterinarian also suggested that we add some chicken broth to her canned and dry food to make it more appealing. So I got into the habit of preparing a nice kettle of clear broth, which I then freeze in an ice cube tray.

Ask Elizabeth: September 2011

Dear Elizabeth: My cat, Couscous, is 15 years old, and I know that I won’t have her here with me forever. I can’t imagine life without her dainty little paws brushing against my face in the morning as she wakes me for breakfast, or the warm, happy mews that she greets me with each time I walk in the door. I read about a company that was cloning cats. How does cloning work, and is this something that I could consider to ensure that Couscous will always be with me?

Ask Elizabeth: August 2011

In the U.S. — as in most of the Northern Hemisphere — rabies is a disease of wildlife which occasionally spills over to infect domestic animals and humans. Infection of our pet cats and dogs occurs when unvaccinated animals come into contact with infected wild animals; vaccination provides an important protection to our pets and makes an effective barrier between wildlife rabies and humans. All warm-blooded animals are susceptible to rabies; however, the virus in a particular geographic area is usually a distinct genetic variant that has adapted to preferentially infect a single dominant reservoir host.

Ask Elizabeth: July 2011

Dear Elizabeth: I have four cats in my household and one of them, Tabitha, has a tendency to chew and eat plastic. Ive caught her chewing on plastic bags that Ive carried in from the store, as well as items in the basement that are wrapped in plastic. I worry that she could choke to death or hurt herself somehow. Why does she do this? One of my other cats is aggressive and chases her. Tabitha is afraid and will not fight back; could her plastic obsession be stress-related? Any ideas of what I can do?

Ask Elizabeth: June 2011

I have had whiskers all my life, but I really took them for granted until recently. Whiskers just seemed like big, fat hairs to me! So what are they, exactly? Well, all of a cats fur grows from hair follicles in the epidermal layer of the skin. Whiskers are specially modified (big, fat) hairs that grow from very large follicles in specific locations. Of course, the most prominent whiskers are those that grow on the upper lips of the muzzle.

Ask Elizabeth: May 2011

Chronic renal failure is a progressive, irreversible disease that slowly leads to impaired kidney function and serious consequences. The kidneys contain nephrons which are responsible for filtering the blood, removing waste products and regulating electrolytes. In CRF, the nephrons die, and waste products begin to accumulate in the body. Electrolytes may become imbalanced in CRF, leading to problems such as hypertension, seizures, muscle weakness and heart problems.

Ask Elizabeth: April 2011

I adopted a cat from a local animal shelter three years ago. She is a beautiful brown tabby girl who loves to help when Im working at my desk. The trouble is that she sneezes green goobers all over my paperwork. When I brought her home she had a runny nose and goopy eyes with a lot of sneezing - a classic cat cold according to my veterinarian. A week of antibiotics helped decrease the wet sneezes, but Tabitha has never really recovered from that early cold.

Ask Elizabeth: March 2011

My mother-in-law (ninety-one years old!) is coming to stay with us for a few weeks. Were busy picking up throw rugs and preparing a downstairs room for her to stay in to help avoid falls. My two cats, Napsack and Mel, know that somethings up and have been helping with the preparations - especially those that involve cardboard boxes!

Ask Elizabeth: February 2011

When I brought her home she had a runny nose and goopy eyes with a lot of sneezing - a classic cat cold according to my veterinarian. A week of antibiotics helped decrease the wet sneezes, but Tabitha has never really recovered from that early cold. Three years have gone by and she still sneezes thick goobers nearly every day. Although she seems happy, is active and eats well, her constant snuffling, congested breathing and spewing green goobers breaks my heart - and also has me frustrated. My veterinarian has done everything she can think of, from antibiotics for weeks on end to medication to help with Tabithas immune system. Everything seems to help … for a while.