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When a Health Scare Hits Home, the Tests Begin

Dear Friends, Nothing brings home the seriousness of a medical condition like the frightening prospect of having the condition yourself, and I’d like to...

Ask Elizabeth: November 2013

A Tabby’s Destructive Grooming Leads to Extensive Bald Spots

Ask Elizabeth: October 2013

We have two young male domestic shorthaired cats we love dearly, and we are always trying to find ways to make them happy and keep them occupied. We recently brought some catnip home, thinking that this would be a great way for them (and us) to have fun. One of the cats goes crazy for the stuff, while the other seems completely unimpressed. Is this normal?

Ask Elizabeth: September 2013

I understand why you may want to use these devices for cleaning the air with three kitties in the house, and you are certainly not alone in doing this. Although kitties (and their food and waste) smell great to me, households with cats can sometimes generate odors that some people find objectionable, and there are a number of ways that owners choose to deal with this. Ionic air cleaners are one of the newer technologies that have been developed to address air pollutants.

Ask Elizabeth: August 2013

It’s true that moving to a new location can be exciting, but it can be a source of anxiety for people and their four-legged friends, kitties certainly included. While some tension is unavoidable, there are a few things to consider when determining the safest, most comfortable and least traumatic way of getting your kitties to their new environs.

Ask Elizabeth: July 2013

I completely understand your thoughts on this matter, as recent developments have caused many owners (and cats … believe it or not!) to reconsider their habits and the effects that their lifestyle may have on native populations. The recent study suggesting that domestic cats are contributing to the demise of billions of birds and small mammals points out the fact that the interaction of domestic species with native wildlife is an important issue, one that requires careful thought and action.

Ask Elizabeth: June 2013

First of all, I want to thank and congratulate you for the obvious care that you have provided and concern you have for your baby. Given his age, you have clearly done something (many things!) right, and today’s question is an extension of the dedication that you have shown.

Ask Elizabeth: May 2013

Thank you so much for recognizing how adorable it is when we cock our heads to one side. We’re only trying to look cute when we do this … it really serves no function. I’m kidding, although I’d have to think about this, which makes me want to tilt my head to the side, too! Seriously, though, this behavior is to be distinguished from the dramatic tilting of the head that may suggest an inner ear infection (the inner ear is important for the maintenance of balance) or that may be seen when cats have ear mites or an external ear infection. Cats with abnormalities of the brain, including tumors, may also tilt their heads to one side, and any cat who demonstrates persistent head tilt and/or shaking of the head should be evaluated by a veterinarian promptly.

Ask Elizabeth: April 2013

First, I think it is great that your friend is taking advantage of the joy that a service dog can bring into people’s lives, and I want to give a shout out to my dedicated canine friends and the wonderful people who work so hard to make their mission possible. These dogs are awesome and are, for the most part, very carefully screened with respect to behavior, so I doubt there will be any problems with the dog having difficulty with the cats. It wouldn’t hurt, however, to speak with the foundation providing the dog to see if it has advice regarding the introduction.

Ask Elizabeth: March 2013

As you know, we cats are very sensitive creatures, but in your case, as with other cats with feline hypersensitivity syndrome (FHS), this sensitivity seems to be ratcheted up. FHS is a recognized syndrome in the feline world, although the definitive cause is not clear. While it is not, in and of itself, believed to seriously affect overall health or longevity, a few important points regarding this unusual behavioral syndrome are worth making, especially for our human friends who are commonly puzzled by its manifestations. FHS, also variably referred to as rolling skin syndrome and atypical neurodermatitis, is characterized by dramatic twitching or rippling of the skin, most commonly on the back between the middle of the spine and the base of the tail or in the flank region, with intermittent jerking of the body and exaggerated tail movements.

Ask Elizabeth: February 2013

As you know, we cats are very sensitive creatures, but in your case, as with other cats with feline hypersensitivity syndrome (FHS), this sensitivity seems to be ratcheted up to varying degrees. FHS is a recognized syndrome in the feline world, although the definitive cause is not clear at this time. While it is not, in and of itself, believed to be serious with respect to its effect on overall health or longevity, a few important points regarding this unusual behavioral syndrome are worth making, especially for our human friends who are commonly puzzled by its manifestations. FHS, also variably referred to as rolling skin syndrome and atypical neurodermatitis, is characterized by dramatic twitching or rippling of the skin, most commonly on the back between the middle of the spine and the base of the tail or in the flank region, with intermittent jerking of the body and exaggerated tail movements.

Ask Elizabeth: January 2013

HCM is diagnosed by echocardiography, and it is important to rule out high blood pressure and hyperthyroidism in cats with thickened heart muscle before arriving at a diagnosis of HCM, as these conditions can also cause thickening of the heart. Although HCM can be a very serious disease that can lead to congestive heart failure or the formation of potentially life-threatening blood clots, cats may live with HCM for prolonged periods of time (months to years) without overt signs of illness.