ASK THE VET

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS - BY CRAIG REILLY

QOur cat is 10 now and she is a bit tubby if I am hon­est. She has a very dry coat and ter­ri­ble dan­druff, es­pe­cially down her back. We were ad­vised to feed her oily fish ev­ery day, but it hasn’t helped and I think she is get­ting fat­ter.

Can you ad­vise us what we can do to fix this, please? Pa­trick, Dun­don­ald

APa­trick, what you are de­scrib­ing could have very many causes, I’m afraid, so my ad­vice is go­ing to be a bit gen­eral. I would sug­gest that a trip to your vet is es­sen­tial, not least to ad­dress the ever-in­creas­ing waist­line.

Dan­druff in cats is usu­ally a re­flec­tion of some un­der­ly­ing ill­ness or skin prob­lem. Very oc­ca­sion­ally it can ac­tu­ally be a par­a­site walk­ing around on the fur. This is called Walk­ing dan­druff, and af­fected cats are usu­ally hor­ri­bly itchy, and own­ers may well de­velop a rash also.

You don’t men­tion se­vere itch, so I am guess­ing that your cat does not have that par­tic­u­lar prob­lem.

If dan­druff is due to de­fi­cien­cies in a poor diet, adding fish oils can in­deed help. But please be aware that cats can get un­well if they eat too much oily fish, hence if we sus­pect diet we gen­er­ally ad­vise they are put on Vetenox, which is a high-qual­ity ve­teri­nary cold­pressed fish oil — much safer than lots of fish and so con­cen­trated that it adds in­signif­i­cant calo­ries.

If your vet finds that she has a yeast skin in­fec­tion, a med­i­cated sham­poo (or a med­i­cated foam) can be pre­scribed.

In se­vere cases, an oral course of anti-fun­gal drugs is needed to help, but gen­er­ally top­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tions are ad­e­quate — many cats tol­er­ate a warm bath much bet­ter than you may think, but the foam is an easy al­ter­na­tive to those less co­op­er­a­tive pa­tients.

In the ab­sence of di­etary is­sues, or skin in­fec­tions, one other pos­si­ble av­enue to ex­plore is pain in­ter­rupt­ing nor­mal groom­ing — den­tal pain or arthri­tis will de­ter a cat form groom­ing.

Se­vere obe­sity also makes groom­ing very dif­fi­cult and cats may sim­ply give up and let their coat go — again, the vet will be able help in that case.

So, please do go see your vet — I am sure it is worth the trip and that some­thing can be done. Good luck. Craig is a Clin­i­cal Di­rec­tor in Cedar­mount Ve­teri­nary Clinic, Ban­gor www.cedar­mountvets.co.uk . He can only re­spond to ques­tions through this col­umn, and these an­swers can­not sub­sti­tute for treat­ment de­ci­sions based on a full his­tory and clin­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion by your vet

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