By: Dr. McAdoo at Washington Heights Vet Clinic

1. Do you have any recommendations for Hypoallergenic cat litter?
Regular clay litter
is probably as hypoallergenic as you can get, however, it can be dusty, which may bother some cats as well as their  owners.  Yesterdays news would probably be a good choice as it is made of compressed pelleted newspaper.  The ink may be a problem for some owners who are sensitive to it.  Corn cob litter is an organic choice for owners that may prefer this.

2. Do cats need their teeth cleaned?
Absolutely yes. Cats accumulate tartar and develop gingivitis just as dogs do.  In fact some breeds of cats, such as Siamese and Abyssinians may have very pronounced dental disease. Brushing the teeth 2-3 times weekly at home can slow down the deposition of tartar and prolong the interval between professional cleanings. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a toothpaste and toothbrush appropriate for your cat. Cats have a unique dental problem called feline resorptive lesions. These are defects in the enamel of the tooth close to the gum line. Affected teeth are painful and owners may note their cat having difficulty chewing his or her food or drooling excessively. These teeth generally need to be extracted to prevent further discomfort.  A thorough oral exam by your veterinarian can help determine if your cat needs to have a dental cleaning or has any teeth that need additional treatment.

3.  My dog has chronic ear infections.  Do I need to continue treating them even though the infection always comes back?
It is extremely important to address and treat each ear infection as they occur. Chronic infection leads to swelling of the affected tissues in the ear canal and eventually calcification of the ear canal. As this occurs,  the ear canal receives less air circulation and becomes more prone to infection. This vicious cycle eventually leads to surgery as the only treatment option. In addition, chronically infected ears are painful and uncomfortable for the pet. It is very important to have the ears rechecked by your veterinarian after a course of treatment.  This is the only way to determine if the infection is never resolving;  or if it is resolving, but then reoccurring. Recurring infections often have an underlying cause such as pollen or food allergies. Your veterinarian can guide you in determining if your dog has an underlying condition that when properly managed, will decrease the probability of future ear infections.

4.  What can I do at home to prevent bladder problems in my cat?
Urinary health can be promoted in cats by managing their home environment.  In general, we want cats to have a dilute or watery urine and we want them to void frequently. So we want to encourage them to drink water and we want to create a litter box environment that is inviting. To increase drinking, be sure that fresh water is available at all times. Many cats prefer running water from a tap. Running drinking fountains are available for cats as well.  Bottled water may be appealing to certain cats. Next we should determine if there is any reason that the cat may avoid his or her litter box. In general, there should be 1 litter box per each cat in the household plus one additional box. The boxes must be kept clean – urine and feces scooped out twice daily. The litter boxes should be placed in various locations that are convenient to the cats. The boxes should be large enough to accommodate the biggest cat. Some should be covered or hooded and some uncovered,  in case the cats have a preference. Any cat that is voiding in inappropriate locations, has blood in the urine or is going to the box frequently, but urinating only a small amount, should be seen by their veterinarian.