My cat has always chased her tail like a dog, but now she bit the end off

HE is on a mission to help our pets . . . and is here to answer YOUR questions. 

Sean, who is the head vet at tailored pet food firm, has helped with owners’ queries for ten years. He says: “If your pet is acting funny or is under the weather, or you want to know about nutrition or exercise, just ask. I can help keep pets happy and healthy.”

Q) WHEN we rescued our cat Cleo, she was in a house full of dogs. 

She is seven now and has always chased her tail like a dog, but now she has started growling and being more aggressive with her tail.

Last week she actually bit the end off altogether. The vet said it was normally dogs that do this. I’m worried it may have to be amputated. 

DONNA STEVENSON, Stourbridge, West Mids 

A) Cleo is a mysterious little character, I can tell. My initial hunch is that there’s a physical issue with her tail causing pain and she chases or bites it to try to provide relief. 

The other cause that comes to mind is a neurological problem, perhaps of her spinal cord and nerves to her tail, causing irritation. Or even a problem in the brain itself causing these manic episodes.

Behavioural reasons such as stress can cause cats to self-mutilate like this too. Has anything changed recently? Any new cats in the neighbourhood bullying Cleo?

Your vets sound like they are doing the right thing and will come up with the best plan.

A trial of anti-anxiety medication if she continues after it’s healed might be worth looking into to rule out behavioural causes. 

Q) I HAVE a beautiful 14-week-old Lhasa Apso puppy called Teddy, but he is eating stones, plants, flowers and anything else he can get in his mouth.

He is exercised three times a day, eats his normal food OK and his motion is regular.

JAMES MURPHY, Royton, Oldham 

A) This is normal behaviour for puppies, exploring the world with their mouths. Don’t react by hyping it up, it may be seen as a game. Offer him a really exciting treat or toy instead and distract his attention.

Q) MY friend had an 11-year-old pug. It suffered a suspected collapsing trachea and was taken to her vets.

While anaesthetised, the dog died of heart failure. My friend strongly suspects her dog was given an overdose. She has been given a report on the procedure, but obviously lacks the expertise to fully understand the implications.

Is there an independent body she could approach to investigate?

GRAHAM KENNEDY, Helsby, Cheshire

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to [email protected].

A) How about trusting the veterinary team who have dedicated their lives and careers to helping animals? A pug is automatically high risk for general anaesthesia because we’ve bred them with faces so flattened their airway is compromised. Add age and a collapsing trachea, and this pug is even higher risk.

I’m very sorry for your friend’s loss but heart failure under anaesthetic will have been a risk explained when they signed the consent form. 

It’s an impossible situation, but laying the blame at the vet may be misdirected grief. If she wishes to, she can file a complaint with the Royal Veterinary College. But I bet her vet feels equally devastated at this outcome, and I’d also bet they took extra care with this high-risk anaesthesia. 

Q) MY daughter has a Frenchie called Roscoe which has weird behavioural problems.

If any of the family visit, he runs to his water bowl, drinks the lot, then brings up a white foam and his pet food, then he licks it back up again. When he’s outside in the garden he licks the patio doors. 

BETTY DOUGLAS, Weldon, Northants

A) None of this really worries me as they may just be quirks of his personality. But there is a structural problem in the diaphragm that bulldogs are more prone to. 

It’s called a hiatus hernia and can cause vomiting or regurgitation issues. If it gets worse I’d recommend a vet check, but if he’s not distressed then no need for a behaviourist just yet. 

Nine lives? Cats now live till 18 

THE number of old cats is on the rise in the UK – and owners are being urged to keep them fit and well in their twilight years.

This Wednesday it is Mature Moggies Day and the charity Cats Protection has found the number of fat cats is rising, as well as those with arthritis. 

There are now more than 12million cats living in the UK, with one in four homes having one. That is up from 7.5million two years ago, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association.

With the improvements in veterinary care, the lifespan of cats is much longer than it used to be. They used to be considered elderly at 12, but it is not now uncommon for your cat to reach the ripe old age of 18.

And with pets living longer, Cats Protection vet Dr Sarah Elliott says it is important for felines over the age of seven to have a health check twice a year.

She said: “We are seeing a lot more of what are considered ‘geriatric’ conditions. Arthritis is very common, with one study showing that more than 90 per cent were affected.

“Another is obesity, which is on the rise too. This creates more weight on the joints and as they get older this makes arthritis worse.”

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Star of the week

ARTHUR the King Charles Spaniel has been crowned the UK’s soggiest doggy in a national competition.

He has loved water since he flung himself into a rock pool as a pup and now he likes to dive in lakes and swamps. 

Arthur, seven, lives with veterinary nurse Kelly Sims, 29, in Suffolk and beat 500 other entrants to be voted the UK’s cutest wet pooch in a competition run by Canine Cottages.

Kelly said: “He loves getting wet and his enthusiasm knows no bounds. 

“We have to be careful near ponds and dykes because he gets one sniff of water and dives in.

“His favourite thing to do is go swimming where it is safe to do so, and chasing after his second biggest love, his trusty tennis ball.”

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