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ASK THE VET

It May Take Cats Months to Get Used to Dog

June 08, 1989|DR. GLENN ERICSON

Q: We have two adorable cats, neither of which particularly cares for the other and no doubt would dislike a dog even more. Nevertheless, we eventually would like to add a puppy to our family. Any suggestions on which breed is most kindly disposed to cats? At this time we are thinking about a large dog (such as a husky or collie), but are worried that our two de-clawed felines would be miserable and defenseless.

K. McDonald, Irvine

A: Introducing any puppy to your two cats will probably upset their day, yet will be the best way to add a dog to your household. A puppy will generally be non-threatening although it could be annoying from their point of view. Since your cats are de-clawed, the risk of injury to the pup is greatly reduced. You need to be present during the initial introductions in order to keep the pup from being too bold and possibly getting hurt if he should corner one of the cats while trying to play. Allow the cats some "high ground" to retreat toward while they are adjusting to the pup. It may take them several months to feel comfortable around the pup. It's possible they may never completely accept the dog in spite of what you do. Since you are planning on getting a large dog, it will probably spend most of its time outdoors and not be in competition with the cats for house space. Some cats may start to spray in the house until they finally accept the dog, so be prepared for some behavioral modifications.

Q: I have a 3-year-old cat that is an indoor/outdoor pet. Lately he has several areas where he is losing his hair. My roommate says he may have mange and that I may have to get rid of him or put him to sleep. Is this necessary? Can't I use one of the dips in the store to treat the mange?

Kathy Tolmasov, Orange

A: Hair loss on a cat or dog does not always mean that they have mange. There is more than one type of mange, each caused by a different kind of mite and each treated differently. Hair loss can be due to a fungus, a wound, scratching at fleas, metabolic diseases and hormonal changes. It would be worth the peace of mind to take your cat to your veterinarian and have it examined and treated. Don't assume that dipping your cat will help the problem.

Got a question about your pet? Write to: Dr. Glenn Ericson, Ask the Vet, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626. Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is immediate past president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn.

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