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published at our discretion. This column is intended for informative purposes only.
In the case of a serious health problem, please consult your own veterinarian.
Topics Covered in Experts (2) Include:
Virgin Male and female
Poor Litter Box Habits
Caring for a show coat
Topic: Blowing Coat
Question: My 14 months Persian is casting her hair. Can I shave her ? Lucia
Answer: You may shave a cat at any age. If her show career is finished, you have no concerns and can shave her as short as you like all over. If you plan to show her after she has had a litter, you may choose to only clip her underneath parts - her belly and inside and upper back of the hind legs to make it easier for her to deliver and nurse her kittens. Shaving the tail is never recommended if you plan to grow show coat again as the tail often seems to take much longer to grow out fully compared to the rest of the cat.
Topic: Virgin Male and female
Question: I have a 1 year and a half blue tabby female and an 8 months van male, both great to live with. I would love to have kittens, but I do not know when they will "get started". At what age are males mature? What book could I buy on persians breeding? Tania
Answer: Cats "mature" at different ages. Typically the "slinky" breeds such as Siamese and Somalis are thought to cycle and breed at an earlier age than the chunky breeds such as Persians. On average, a female will begin cycling between 6-12 months of age. Males start successfully breeding at 8-16 months of age. However, the youngest registered litter was to a 7 month old female who was bred at 5 months of age and the youngest registered litter was to a male who bred at 5 months of age.
Topic: Bald Ears
Question: I have a 14 year old silver Persian that went bald on her ears. The vet treated and cured her skin condition and she now has peach fuzz growing. My question is this... how long does it take for the hair to completely grow back??? Wendy
Answer: In parts of the cat where the hair is very short such as ears, nose and face, hair grows in quickly - often in about a month, the hair will look almost normal. It depends somewhat on the time of the year and the reason the hair fell out in the first place.
Topic: Vaginal Discharge
Question: A friend has a new kitten, aged around 11 weeks. Her primary check up with the vet showed her to be a healthy cat. However, this week she has developed a slight vaginal discharge. Is there any way this could be pyometra? My two cats (now aged 9) have the same mother as this kitten and both developed pyometra at age 4. Can there be a genetic link? I think the kitten is very young for this type of condition - is it possible? Fiona
Answer: Pyometra is an infection of the uterus and there is no evidence that there is a hereditary link. Of course, the general immunity of a cat will have some effect upon how well she fights off infections, and immunity has been shown to have a hereditary factor. I suggest you have a vaginal swab taken and a culture and sensitivity test done to find out what the problem may be. You may also like to read the article Pyometra - Saving Your Queen's breeding Career.
Topic: Poor Litter Box Habits
Question: We recently added a new member to our family. A blue point Himalayan. He is adored by all but not well liked at times lately. We have had a problem with litter box use since we got him. He had taken to going in the litter box but prefers the bathtub. I recently have started shutting the bathroom door and he then found new spots around the home to do his #2 business. He has no problem peeing that we know of. We have not found any urination in the home. I have researched on the web and started trimming around the rectal area so nothing gets caught in the hair. I need help! Rebeccalee
Answer: First have your kitten checked for urinary infections. If you are sure he is in good health, then it is time to play detective to figure out why he is not using his litter box. It may be he doesn't like the location, or the size of the box is too small, or he prefers a different type of litter. In the meantime, put a couple inches of water in the bath tub to stop him from using it as a litter box. For more tips on how to discover what is causing his poor behavior, read the article titled Poor Litter Box Habits.
Topic: Sloppy Drinker
Question: My black Persian loves to play in his drinking water fountain and constantly gets his whole face and ruff wet below his chin... and I mean dripping wet. Is this bad for staining or discoloring his neck and ruff? I try to keep it dry when I notice it, but I can't always be here to dry it. How bad is this for a black show cat? Thanks... Annie
Answer: Water causes major problems when allowed to sit on the hair of the ruff. First, the hair is weakened by being repeatedly made wet and this will cause breakage. Before long, your cat's ruff will have a "hole" in it where the hair is shorter that the hair that isn't routinely dragged through the water. Secondly, black hair has a tendency to "rust" or turn brown if it is constantly wet. Brown coloring on a black cat is a show no-no. Try putting him on a water bottle - he will stay dryer and cleaner. For some tips on how to teach him to drink from a water bottle read the article titled, Tuna Water.
Topic: Genetics Help
Question: I have recently purchased a show Tortie female Persian kitten. I would like to eventually start a small cattery. My problem is I don't know much about genetics and following the pedigrees. What are the best sources for finding out information related to this subject. Thank you. Christina
Answer: I highly recommend you get Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians by Carolyn M. Vella (Editor), Lorraine Shelton, John McGonagle (Editor). It discusses feline genetics, reproduction and development, principles of heredity, impacts of heredity, breeding systems and practices, inbreeding, and much more.
You can also start by reading the first in the series of PandEcats articles on Color Inherence. It will give you a good basic understanding about genetics.
Question: A queen already mated was diagnosed with chlamydia - given zithromax at 60 days - 4 kittens born normally all healthy. Kittens taken off her at 6 weeks - all fine until 8 weeks then all started to go down with bad eyes (one even ulcerated). Should I never breed again from this queen (even if Zith. is used)? Mary
Answer: This is a complex question requiring more information in order to give you helpful advice.
- How was your queen diagnosed with Chlamydia?
- Was the queen vaccinated for Chlamydia prior to her illness?
- Was the queen tested for Feline Leukemia and FIV?
- Did you use tetracycline (or chloramphenicol) ointment for the full 4 weeks of
treatment?Your queen and her kittens need to be treated aggressively with a proper course of zithromax and eye ointments. Make sure they are all well-vaccinated.
Every breeder must evaluate how important a queen is to their breeding program versus any drawbacks she might bring with her. If she's a spectacular cat then it may be worth the risk to try breeding her again - that is a decision only you can make.
If you decide to go ahead and breed her, next time separate her kittens even earlier. Stress (birth, lactating) can make the queen shed the Chlamydia organism. A foster mother right from birth would be ideal.
Kittens lose their maternal immunity at 5-7 weeks and often become infected by virus shed from their own lactating queen. Chlamydia immunization protects against the clinical symptoms of the disease, but the cat still "has" the virus. It does not prevent or eliminate chronic viral carrier states or viral shedding.
- Vaccinate all cats routinely
- Avoid incoming cats from infected sources
- Vaccinate then quarantine all incoming cats for 3 weeks (to protect new
cat as well as cattery)
- Use intranasal vaccines for rapid onset of immunity
- Endemic catteries with infection problems at 5-7 weeks should vaccinate queens prior to breeding, and possibly during pregnancy with the inactivated/killed vaccine only 3-4 weeks prior to breeding.
- Wean kittens early (4-5wks) and raise in isolation
- Use intranasal vaccine on kittens at risk
- Identify and treat cats with chronic chlamydial conjunctivitis
Topic: Monorchid male
Question: Is it a proven fact that if a monorchid male if left whole he will develop testicular cancer? What if the testicle is in the body cavity or if not there at all. Does this have any bearing on the issue? Is it possible to breed away from it using a total outcross female? Is it dominant? Will the male always pass this on? will all offspring carry it. Does a female offspring from a monorchid male have the potential to develop any ovary related health problems. Can a monorchid male produce males with both testicles or will male offspring always be monorchids? Lisa
Answer: Detailed studies have not been performed on cats regarding monorchism, however there have been several studies done in regard to the problem in dogs.
"Monorchid" refers to a condition where the male only has one testicle.
"Cryptorchid" refers to a condition where there is an undescended testicle, but it is still present, whether it be abdominal, inguinal or (in the case of the dog)
Congenital absence of both testes in small animals is rare. Monorchism is reported, with the left testis usually being absent. Interestingly the right testicle is the more frequent ectopic one.
An intact monorchid cat wouldn't be at increased risk of developing
testicular cancer because technically, the scrotal testicle is normal.
In the dog, ectopic (undescended) testicles are at a higher risk for torsion
and neoplasia. Cryptorchid dogs have a risk of testicular tumors 13.6 times
that of normal dogs. This is because the cells of the testicle are designed
to function at a temperature slightly lower than body temperature (hence the
scrotum and a few other nifty anatomical features), but if they are
maintained at core body temperature the cells will be very unhappy and be
more likely to develop chromosomal damage which then leads to cancer
(usually benign). The undescended testicle, exposed to body temperature,
undergoes degeneration of the germinal epithelium (where the spermies come
from) and so the animal has decreased sperm production. The hormonal
function of the testicle is unaffected, however, so the cat or dog will
develop the normal secondary male characteristics. There is some evidence
to suggest that unilateral cryptorchidism results in disturbed function of
the scrotal (normal) testis.
The inheritance mechanism of monorchids and cryptorchid has not been clearly defined. It may be a hereditary condition involving a single recessive autosomal gene, but this hasn't been clearly proven.
Obviously, although she would not show the condition, a female could be carrying the recessive gene. It also means that the male's offspring
would not always produce cryptorchid boys - so identifying a carrier would be
Female offspring from a cryptorchid male would not have any ovarian problems as unlike the testicle, the ovaries like being inside the body.
Topic: Food Stains
Question: I have two little van girls that are little piggies when it comes to eating and not particularly good at cleaning themselves. Even with baths, they get stains in the insides of their paws. I've tried several stain removers with little success. Can you suggest a product to help? Pam
Answer: I have had great success with removing those stubborn stains from the inside of paws using a simple, homemade paste that effectively whitens a yellow stain after only a few applications. The paste is made using calcium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. You can read the complete details of the formula and the process by going to the article titled, Bleaching Stains: the Art of the Paste.
Topic: Caring for a show coat
Question: I have a brown mackerel tabby Persian kitten who was born with a wavy coat. At just barely five months, he has a HUGE cotton coat that is so long his ruff on the back of his neck covers his face! He frequently gets oily and knots very easily. He also loves to play and break off his whiskers and knot up his coat. Besides giving him frequent baths and multiple combings daily, do you have any other suggestions to help me keep his coat in show condition? Also, I am concerned that although his tabby markings are decent, his huge coat will make them less visible in the judging ring. Karen
Answer: A huge cottony coat is both a blessing and a curse :-). At its best, the cottony coat is like a beautiful cloud surrounding your cat. At its worst it mats in minutes. You are on right track by keeping his coat tangle free and very clean. Bath frequently and condition heavily. You may even want to give him hot oil treatments and oil his coat in between bathings. Lots of conditioning will help prevent tangling.
Regarding his tabby markings, an experienced judge will flatten the sides of his coat with his/her hand to better evaluate his pattern when he is on the judging table. If he has smokey kitten coat which is obscuring the pattern, you may want to strip out some of the coat to better show the pattern - but it is always a catch 22 as to whether to lose coat to show pattern, or keep your cat in maximum coat.
Topic: Tetracycline Powder
Question: Where do you buy the Tetracycline powder to add to a cats food? I have a silver tabby kitten with a pale coat - lots of eye staining. Things I've tried: She's been on Zithromax to clear up any possible infection; I moisturize the eyes with a gel for eyes; I use Renu drops on the area around her eyes to help clean stains; I pack the area daily with Eye & Wound powder... Julie.
Answer: Most breeders who add Tetracycline powder to their cat's food to prevent the coloring of the tears simply purchase the tablets at a pet supply store in the fish products department. There are so many different options to prevent eye staining, there is no one best place to start. Check out all our articles under Eye Stains in our Article Subject Index on our homepage.
Topic: Tongue Tipping
Question: I have a new Persian kitten, 6 months old. I notice that his tongue sticks out a little, especially when he is purring. His bite appears fine. I have heard of tipping but do not know what it is, and not sure if this is what I have with this kitten. Is there anyway to keep him from sticking his tongue out, I don't want it coming out when he is in the show ring. Vicki
Answer: Tongue tipping is when a cat shows just the tip of its tongue outside its mouth. It may be something it does occasionally or all the time. It may be due to the structure of the mouth, teeth or tongue or it may simple be a bad habit.
Tongue Hanging is when the the cat often has more than the tip of its tongue showing outside its mouth and is a much more serious fault since it is usually the result of structural problems.
A good judge will touch the cat's tongue tip with their finger when the cat is on the judging table. If the cat pulls its tongue back in and it keeps it in, the cat is not penalized. If the cat doesn't (or can't) pull the tongue completely into its mouth, the judge will usually not use the cat.
You can improve a "lazy" tongue by grasping it carefully in your fingers and playing a gentle game of tug of war, thus strengthening the muscle that pulls and holds your cat's tongue in the mouth.
Often giving your cat a treat like baby food, honey or peanut butter just before the ring will also help it keep its tongue in its mouth. Good luck!
Question: Our 14 week old Himalayan female seldom makes a sound. When she does it is a barely audible squeak. Strangely, she forms a "meow" with her mouth but no sound comes forth. What's going on with this little one??? Bob
Answer: From time to time I have seem kittens who either do not actually meow or only have a squeak. And some kittens seem to be slow to "find their voice", although they do eventually. As long as your kitten appears happy and healthy, I would just assume it is just your girl's personal idiosyncrasy. If she appeared unwell, I would want to have her mouth and throat examined by a veterinarian.
Topic: Show Grooming
Question: What is the best way to groom a Persian cat for a show? Tiffy
Answer: Well... there really is no one best way to groom a show Persian - anymore than there is only one best way for everyone to cut and style their own hair or one best way to put on make-up. So much depends on your cat's coat, its faults, its strengths, the competition, your expertise...
Try browsing through the index of Grooming Articles to find a place to start. Learning how to Sculpt Your Persian Cat's Face is a skill you will need to master. Perfecting your grooming for show is a lot of fun - and a constant challenge. Good Luck!