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Make it easy for chubby cat to use litter box

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: We adopted Kiki from the city shelter. She’s about 7 years old and was obese. Jaundice was noticed and she was to be euthanized. She stopped eating and was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis.

She’s doing better now. It nauseated her to walk to the litter box, so she just squatted where she was lying. She’s able to walk around now, but continues to squat in her/my bed to urinate.

Dr. Nichol: Obesity is miserable for cats; their liver cells get infiltrated with fat, often leading to big trouble. Even a couple of days without eating can cause a rotund cat to slip into rapid onset liver failure. Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) can also result in brain dysfunction with behavior changes like house soiling.

Many porky pussy cats also suffer from joint pain, making it hard for them to climb into their pans. This will get easier for Kiki as her weight approaches a healthy 10 pounds. In the meantime I recommend a glucosamine supplement like Cosequin.

Provide a couple big pans with premium quality clumping litter and no cover or liner. Plastic sweater boxes work well. To prevent Kiki from having to pole vault to get in you can cut down one part of a side and add a ramp. Cat Attract may also help. Scoop the pans twice daily.

After meals lure Kiki to a litter pan with a high-value treat. Say a verbal cue, like “target” as she climbs in and takes the bait. If she eliminates, nominate her for president. Repeat hundreds of times, so she’ll make a dash for the pan on command.

Hepatic lipidosis may always dog your cat. Have Kiki’s serum chemistries checked periodically and feed a prescription, low protein diet. Novifit, a SAM-e supplement, will also help.

Cat behavior help

Do your cats fight and bite? Are they confused about bathroom etiquette? Is your furniture suffering domestic abuse? I’ll address any behaviors that strain your feline relationships in my seminar at the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center, 4000 Montgomery NE on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Cost: $50. Call 792-5131 to register. Bring plenty of questions. I’ll give individual help. Cats might as well stay home; they already have the answers.

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 mail to 6633 Caminito Coors NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120.

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