Features ~ Sonoma Valley Sun


Queens that prowl can produce mixed-breed kittens

Posted on July 3, 2008 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Dear Dr. Forsythe: My neighbor’s cat has a litter of six-week-old kittens, and I am very excited to be adopting one of them. There are two black males, a male and a female tabby, and two little Siamese-looking babies with black markings on their feet, face and tails. But I was wondering how they can all look so different coming from one mother?
Kitten lover

Dear Kitten lover: It is simple; the pairs of kittens that look similar have the same fathers. When fertile female cats (queens) go out on the prowl, they can mate over and over several times in order to become pregnant. Something rather special with felines is the fact that sperm from multiple males can fertilize their eggs, and result is a medley of different kittens. Technically, I suppose, all these different “half sisters” all come out of the same womb, but they look a little different.  Another important thing to remember is that the Mama kitty can go out roaming again and become pregnant as soon as about two weeks after giving birth, so it is really important to tell your neighbor to have her spayed as soon as possible. Good luck with the new little baby. Which one did you pick?
Dr. F

Dear Dr. Forsythe: My Shar Peis almost always smell like cheese.  I know this may sound weird, but even people on the street comment.  Do you think this is diet, or something on their skin? They do have frequent skin infections, so they’ve had many rounds of antibiotics.
L.L., Sonoma

Dear L.L. You didn’t say what TYPE of cheese. Is it Swiss, Camembert, or Brie? Here in the wine country, where wine and cheese pairings are sought after, I suppose things could be worse, but in your case, I, too, would be really exasperated with a cheesy Shar Pei. The Chinese Shar Pei has a special type of skin that produces a huge amount of protein called mucin, imparting a puffy, plump and tender quality to the skin. One explanation for a dog smelling like a Brie wheel can be that he has a condition known as seborrhea oleosa, an overproduction of oil that results in rancid fat on the skin layer. A deep-cleaning, follicular-flushing shampoo can degrease the pet and lift out the rancid oils from the coat, making the pet much cleaner and better smelling.
Another common cause for “the cheese” is yeast infections such as malassezia. Many veterinarians treat staph infections in the skin with antibiotics but forget to address the common problem of concurrent yeast infection on the skin. Antifungal medications such as Itraconazole can be of great benefit to eliminate these smelly and annoying organisms. Please bring this smelly subject up with your veterinarian, because in my opinion, cheesy smells belong only on a platter beside a glass of fine oaky chardonnay.
Dr. F

Dear Dr. F: What would you say to someone who comments that your dog is so ugly, it has a face that only a mother can love?  I’m getting rather tired of hearing that. Thanks for answering my question.
Mrs. B, Sonoma

Dear Mrs. B: I don’t know what breed of pet we’re talking about, but as a bulldog owner, I have been told that so many times it is old news. I simply tell people that Muldoon has a beautiful face, a face of character. I remind them that his face looks like Senator Ted Kennedy, that he resembles Barbara Bush and that he is an enigma wrapped in bacon. I even had a person ask me if having Muldoon the bulldog work at the veterinary practice was good for business. I simply told them the truth. “Yes, with Doony working here, I’m busier than a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest.”
Thanks for the question, and don’t let ‘em get you down!
Dr. F

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