Q: We took in a stray kitten who is now 5 months old. Topper, my male cat of 10 years, wanted nothing to do with him and hisses and growls. A month ago, Topper broke out with a bad case of blackheads. We cleaned him with hydrogen peroxide and it got worse and so did his aggression. His chin is now nearly hairless, bumpy and oozing. He got a shot of Metacam and Convenia. Since then he rubs his chin vigorously. We’re sure stress triggers the acne. The kitten is in the stalking, jumping phase and we think we have to let the little one go if we can’t get Topper’s chin to heal.
Dr. Nichol: It’s common for indoor cats, with their limited social exposure, to react with territorial or fear-based aggression when a young upstart is thrust into their lives. Being used as a feline punching bag is hard on Topper. His diminished immune response has led to that miserable acne on his chin. He feels bad and he looks bad – as if middle school weren’t already difficult.
Topper may be facing a resistant infection called MRSA. His treatment needs to be kicked up a notch with prescription mupirocin ointment plus the oral antibiotic clindamycin. A corticosteroid like prednisolone may also help. If you don’t see improvement in a couple of weeks, oral cyclosporine can be added. Resistant cases often benefit from DOUXO gel. Avoid hydrogen peroxide. It’s damaging to tissues.
For that young whippersnapper to stop treating Topper like a surrogate rodent, the kid’s primal needs for stalking, hunting, and general mayhem should be carried out in a wonderland of feline amusements you will add to your home. The list of environmental enrichments is on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
The long-suffering Topper needs a break. Provide hide boxes where he can climb up high and disappear plus a safe room that knucklehead won’t invade. An indoor avoidance shield from Invisible Fence will send that scallywag an annoying static electricity message if he dares approach Topper’s private lair.
Please don’t rehome this youngster; more serious behavior disorders could dog this cat. Even if he and Topper never join paws in singing kumbaya, at least they can coexist.
Dr. Jeff Nichol provides medical care for pets at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital in Albuquerque (898-8874). He treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and in Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by U.S. post to 6633 Caminito Coors NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120.