Ask The Vet - Dr. Anne Pierce, DVM

FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

"Magnifico", a fabulous grey tabby, lounged imperially on the exam room table.  His new owner, who was clearly already quite smitten with him, had just gotten him at the Humane Society and was bringing him in for his initial checkup. . As I looked him over it was clear from the battle scars on his face and ears that his previous life as an outdoor cat had involved a significant amount of combat, but you would never guess from his relaxed and friendly demeanor.  All in all he was an exceptionally fine catch of a cat and seemed generally healthy.  The final step in the initial exam was to run a quick test for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).  Much to our dismay "Magnifico" tested positive for FIV.

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Hepatic Lipidosis

Simon, the Bremmer’s cat was a shadow of his former self.  Normally he weighed in at a very substantial 20 pounds, but today he looked gaunt and lethargic and weighed only 11 pounds.  Of course we had been discussing for years that Simon needed to lose weight, but this didn’t seem to be the way we were hoping to achieve the goal. 

On physical exam the fluorescent yellow glow to his skin and the whites of his eyes told me that the problem was lurking somewhere in his liver.

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Mr. Smith had the telltale bags under his eyes, which complimented his slack, pale expression, which made it clear that he hadn’t been getting much sleep recently.  " Its this cat." he told me.  "Muffin has always been a nice, easygoing companion, but recently she has been getting me up every hour or so with the most obnoxious and insistent yowling.  Ignoring her doesn’t work.  She wont stop until I have poured her a fresh glass of water and topped off her food bowl.  She dives in like she has been lost in the desert for five days, and then she settles down for a while, but in another hour she is up and insisting again.  I’m beginning to think that I offended an evil spirit somewhere and now the cat has been charged with tormenting me for the remainder of my life."

Read more: Hyperthyroidism

Inappropriate Urination--Behavioral Reasons

So the cat has been urinating inappropriately in your house and you have dutifully brought her to the veterinarian to make sure that there are no physical problem that are causing this behavior.  She has gotten a clean bill of health.  Now what?  When there is not a physical reason that means we have a behavioral issue instead, and who can see into the inscrutable mind of the feline and figure out what is going on in there?

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Inappropriate Urination--Physical reasons

The darn cat has just done it again.  It seems that within the past few weeks she has made it her mission to flood every part of your house with urine.  Something needs to be done about this situation, because cat urine all over is not working as a home decorating idea.

I see this scenario very frequently, and I am here to say that you probably don’t have to just live with it.  Lots of people think the cat is trying to punish them somehow, but in fact there are reasons why cats urinate inappropriately, and most of them can be fixed.

The reasons for which cats refuse to use their litterbox can be separated into two major categories: physical problems, and behavioral reasons.  In this column I will address the physical reasons, and in the next I will talk about the behavioral ones.

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Ask Dr. Anne Pierce, DVM