Omega-3 fatty acids have a number of potential benefits in dogs and cats with allergic skin, such as reducing inflammation and improving the skin’s general condition. When the skin is healthy, its natural barrier function against allergens (pollens, dust mites, molds) improves, minimizing the allergic reaction.

What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

The two health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are long chain omega-3 fatty acids and are found abundantly in fish.  Flax seed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, a shorter chain omega-3 fatty acid that requires the enzyme delta-6 desaturase to convert it into EPA and DHA in the body. Humans and dogs have
limited ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA. Cats have even less ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA.
Therefore, supplementation with a high quality omega-3 fish oil is recommended for humans, dogs, and cats.

What are the important health benefits of fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, in dogs and cats?
  • Decreasing Inflammation: One of the key functions of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA is supporting the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. Dogs and cats can suffer from numerous inflammatory conditions that can affect their health and well-being. Studies have shown supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids from fish supports dogs and cats with inflammatory conditions associated with the skin, joints, kidneys, and heart.
  • EPA promotes healthy triglyceride (fat) levels within the blood of dogs
  • Shiny Coat and better skin condition. Essential fatty acid supplementation is known to maintain general skin and coat quality in dogs and cats. Human studies have also shown that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation supports weight loss.


What results should I expect to see in my dog or cat after omega-3 fatty acid supplementation?

Improved coat condition is common when pets start taking omega-3 fatty acids. This may take a month or two to manifest as old fur falls out and new, healthier fur fills in. The anti-inflammatory effect of a therapeutic dose of omega-3s will also help to reduce your pet’s skin inflammation and decrease the numbers of infections secondary to allergen exposure and self-trauma (chewing, licking and scratching).
Research shows that fatty acid levels reach a steady state within about one month of starting supplementation. Results vary for every pet. Consistency in giving your pet omega-3s is key to seeing results.

Are there any safety issues if my pet receives an over-supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids?

Platelets are a type of blood cell important for formation of a blood clot to stop bleeding if the body is cut or injured. Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the ability of platelets to stick together and form a blood clot quickly if taken in excess.

Do omega-3 fatty acids affect behavior and mood in dogs and cats?

The effects of omega-3 fatty acids on behavior in dogs and cats have not been well researched. However, one recent study did show that dogs with aggression problems had lower blood levels of DHA and higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratios than dogs without aggression. Although this study does not prove cause and effect, it does suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be beneficial for pets with aggressive conditions.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has also been researched in humans with cognitive dysfunction. Results of these studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in maintaining cognitive function. Therefore, improved behavior may be appreciated in older pets, especially those suffering from cognitive dysfunction.

Selecting a Quality Fish Oil Supplement

PURITY  Your pet’s omega 3 fish oil should be microdistilled for purity, without the use of chemicals or excessive heat, in order to effectively remove heavy metals, such as mercury and lead.

The therapeutic dose of omega-3 fatty acids we currently recommend for dogs and cats :

20 mg/ pound Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day.

Make sure to read the supplement facts on the label to know how much EPA and DHA is in each capsule. A “1000 mg” soft gel refers only to the size of the soft gel, not the levels of EPA and DHA.

We recommend avoiding cod liver oil as it is too high in vitamins A and D when administered at a therapeutic EPA+DHA dose and can cause toxicity of these vitamins.

The total daily dose can be administered at a single time daily or can be divided over the course of the day.


AAFP certified Cat Friendly Practice

What does it mean to be a Cat Friendly Practice?  Cats are unique among pets: how they think, how they feel, how they react to the environment around them.  We understand how to comfort them and how to heal them with both medicine and compassion. We take their special needs into consideration.

We are certified by the American Association of Feline Practitioners as a CatFriendly Practice!

  • Special waiting area, just for cats!
  • Happy kitty pheromones in the air to relax the jitters.
  • Towels to cover them so they can hide if they want.
  • Special exam room, with soothing music and treats, just for cats.
  • Free run of the exam room, to explore as they want.
  • Examinations performed where they feel most comfortable, whenever possible.
  • Gentle restraint (sedation available if needed for “must do “ procedures or just to help the visit be bearable—with your agreement, of course!).
  • Special room for housing, away from dogs and scary sounds of the hospital.
  • Hideaways in the kennels for security.



ALL of our staff is required to attend a certain number of Continuing Education courses to stay abreast of current topics in  veterinary medicine, particularly Feline medicine/ psychology.

One Veterinarian

  • Total of 30 hours of RACE approved veterinary CE every 3 years
  • 15 of the 30 veterinary CE hours must be in feline medicine and surgery

Other Veterinarians and Veterinary Team Members

  • Total of 15 veterinary CE every 3 years
  • 7 of the 15 hours must be in the feline medicine and surgery

That’s a LOT of cat- specific Continuing Education hours!

Don’t you want to bring your cats to a vet clinic that Cares about cats for who they are, not just as another animal to deal with?  Visit our Cat Friendly Practice next time your kitty needs its annual Wellness Visit!

For more information about the Cat Friendly Initiative, Click here


Kitty and Canine Calming Kits have arrived!

I hate bringing my cats into the clinic!  One is “fine” in the carrier in the car, except for the plaintive wailing and the bug eyes staring at me as if to say, “You Traitor!  Why are you taking me to my death?!”  The other has barrier anxiety, so just getting him IN the carrier is a matter of stuffing the pillow with claws, splayed in 17 directions, into the upturned box and somehow getting my hands out and the door closed before he can burst his way out again. And, I’m an expert cat-wrangler!  My poor baby who (once) trusted me then screams bloody murder for the mere 6 minute drive to the clinic!  So… they don’t come in more than they have to. Fortunately, I have the luxury of an in-home veterinarian ( me!) to examine them periodically.  (Thanks goodness for the clinic reminder system that reminds me when to do that or years would go by before I looked in their mouths!).  So, I can really understand cat owners’ trepidation at the concept of bringing their kitties in for their checkups!  (And we all know that, since cats are masters at hiding their illnesses until they are on death’s doorstep, that once or twice a year (“Oh God!”) vet visits are super important!)

You know what I do as soon as I get into the clinic? Sedate the barrier- issue cat so he can tolerate being confined to a kennel for the day! ( Bug-eyed “Spot” is usually content once he gets out of the moving car.)  I sedate my dog, too!  She loves the car ride, loves to greet all the people, but HATES to have her nails trimmed and her anal sacs cleaned!  She is so stressed that she whines incessantly if I leave her in a room by herself- let alone a kennel!  Her life is so much nicer ( mine, too) if she is sedated! 

So, I started thinking… I’d like to start sedating MY animals before they even get in the car. ( Hey, wouldn’t my clients, too?)   Then they don’t have all that extra anxiety!  As my teen-aged son would say, “He**,  yeah!”  So….

Kitty and Canine Calming Kits Save the Day!

  A couple days of natural calming medication and a stronger sedative– depending on your pet’s level of anxiety and what we need to get done– to take home BEFORE the Visit!  Bring in a calmer pet, have a calmer car ride, less anxiety, less guilt, and your are getting them in to the vet for the check ups/ procedures they need to stay healthier longer!

Bring your anxious pets to us!  We’re ready!  Every pet responds differently to sedatives, depending on the medication, their metabolism and their level of arousal before the meds kick in.  If the at-home sedation isn’t quite enough, we can give more while they are here!  They may go home and “sleep it off” all the rest of the day, but that has been determined to be beneficial for creating an amnesia response to the stressful stimulus, too!  This makes the next visit less arousing ( probably still need meds, but they’ll work even better)– that’s the theory, anyway!

Calming Kits contain

  • Natural meds for 3 days
  • Sedative medication
  • Instructions and tricks for training your pet to tolerate the experience more
  • Feliway (calming pheromone) for cats.

It’s helped dozens of pets already!  Pet parents are loving it too!  

Ooohh Nooo, it’s Otitis Externa! again…

Nearly every dog gets at least one in their lifetime!  Ear infections are one of the top 3 most common pet health insurance claim reasons! They’re crazy! They’re everywhere!  

Sometimes they are frustrating!  They can be hard to beat! They often recur. They are PAINFUL!


Outer ear infections in dogs are most often caused by :

  • Bacteria (various kinds, many of which are antibiotic resistant)
  • Yeast.
  • Both

There is almost ALWAYS an Underlying Cause that needs to be treated in order to cure the infection and prevernt recurrence.

ALLERGIES to food products–  Be on the alert for:

    • no other symptoms of allergy such as itchy skin/ persistent licking
    • Maybe Bottom scooting
    • Maybe Periodic loose stools, diarrhea or vomiting

ALLERGIES  to environmental factors ( pollens, dust mites, molds, etc), especially if:

    • Licking, scratching other parts of the body, too

Anything that plugs the ear canal such as

    • Wax accumulations
    • Thick or matted hair in the ear canal
    • Foreign bodies such as a grass awns or insects (ticks love ear canals!)
    • Tumor or polyps

Water in the ear– from swimming or bathing

Hormone problems suppressing the natural immune system


  • Shaking of the head
  • Ear scratching
  • Red and inflamed ears
  • Offensive ear odor
  • Black, Brown, reddish or yellowish discharge (fi you think it’s “dirt”, it’s probably not– see a vet!)
  • Constant tilting head may signal middle ear infection


Because a number of problems can cause an ear infection, it is important that your dog or cat see the veterinarian at the first sign of symptoms. The veterinarian will also make sure the eardrum is intact before prescribing medication because some medications have been known to result in hearing loss if administered to a pet with a ruptured eardrum.  Your veterinarian will prescribe proper medication and treatment.

Examining the ear–Your veterinarian will use an otoscope to look inside your pet’s ear for debris and to check on the condition of the eardrum. If this is painful, your pet may need to be sedated or anesthetized for the exam. If the ear examination reveals a foreign body, tick or heavy debris buildup, sedation may also be required in order for the veterinarian to remove the irritant.

CytologyYour veterinarian will take a sample of the material in the ear canal and examine it under a microscope (cytology) to determine if an organism caused the infection, and which organisms are involved. This is a critical step of diagnosis and follow up!   Different organisms require different medications and the type of organism involved can change over time, even during treatment!


Cleaning-  Your veterinarian may need to clean your pet’s ear of debris prior to treatment in order for treatment to be most effective.  Some medications are inactivated in the presence of pus. Medication can not treat an infection if there is so much debris in the canal that the medication cannot reach the skin. Cleaning can sometimes be done in the exam room.   But anesthesia is often needed if your pet’s ear is too painful or there is an excessive amount of debris. Ears are suuuper sensitive– there is only 1 nerve between the ear and the brain! Making the investment in cleaning, even if it means anesthesia, early in the treatment process will help cure the infection faster and reduce the number of rechecks needed.

Medication treatment–Medication treatment is typically prescribed for one to two weeks. This can be painful for your pet, so be gentle.  Your veterianrian may be able to instill long-acting medication in your pet’s ears initially to minimize uncomfortable treatments at home. Depending on your pet’s condition, you may have to do daily cleaning at home.  Your veterinary team will show you how.


Prompt diagnosis and proper treatment will speed your pet’s recovery. .Be prepared for recheck examinations with your veterinarian.  Only your vet, using an otoscope, can  ensure that the infection is cleared up all the way to the ear drum.  Ear infections can be frustrating and take some time to treat due to the number of factors that complicate recovery:

  •   The cause of infection can change during the course of treatment-–  from a bacterial to a yeast infection, for instance
  • Resistance to typically used medications.
  • Not cleaning the ear enough so that medication can reach the infection
  • Not treating the ears deeply enough
  • Not treating long enough to clear the whole infection
  • Underlying problems such as allergies or thyroid disease.



Important warning–The longer an ear infection goes untreated, the harder it is to get rid of. Your pet will be in pain until you start treatment. Heavy head shaking, a sign of infection, can result in broken blood vessels in the ear flap  (this is commonly called an aural hematoma) that requires surgery. Frequent ear infections can damage the eardrum and close the ear canal, in which case surgical reconstruction may be necessary.


Recurrence of infection may happen for a number of reasons.  Sometimes the infection is persisting rather than recurring because it was not cured the first time.  This happens most often when patients are not rechecked with the veterinarian. An infection may look cleared at the ear opening, but still be brewing deep in the canal, near the ear drum.

Recurrences should always be treated and the underlying cause treated.  Dogs should not “always” have ear problems. They are painful and often a sign of a bigger problem!


  • Prevent water from getting in your dog’s ear during baths– put a cotton ball in ear opening to catch any accidental water that may get in. 
  • If your dog is a frequent swimmer, ask your veterinarian for a drying ear wash to use nightly during swimming season.
  • Use any ear flush prescribed for your veterinarian on a regular schedule. 
  • Treat the underlying causes!


Q. What is the best way to keep my dog’s ears dry?
A. Cotton balls are an excellent way to dry your dog’s ears if he is regularly exposed to water. Always be gentle and careful not to force build-up down into the ear, which can contribute to an ear infection.
Q. How soon should I take my pet to the veterinarian’s office if I think it has an ear infection?
A. Call and make an appointment immediately. Your pet is in pain. Your vet needs to determine the source of the problem and prescribe a course of treatment as soon as possible.


Keeping warm in the winter!

“Baby, it’s cold out there!”  Well, if you live in Southern Arizona, like we do, it’s relatively cold-er…  Either way, arthritic joints can tell!  We routinely get more complaints about pets having a harder time getting up and lying down, getting moving in the morning, getting comfortable to go to sleep this time of year.  All because it’s colder!  But there are things that we recommend for pets with arthritis.  (I’m talking about cats, too. Did you know that 80% of cats who “slow down”, “sleep more”, “have trouble jumping up”, “are getting crankier in their old age” actually have arthritis?!)

Recommedations for pets suspected of having Osteoarthritis:

  • #1: Make sure it is arthritis!  A lot of diseases mimic achy joints!  Have your vet rule out and treat the following, if present, before assuming it’s “just arthritis” and just putting your pet on pain meds.  (Sure, this will require an office visit, and probably some x-rays, but that’s a better investment than years worth of pain medication that isn’t going to help)
    • Heart disease – especially large dogs
    • Valley Fever (if you live here, in Southern Arizona)
    • Intervertebral disc disease (“slipped/ ruptured discs)
    • Lumbosacral stenosis- also large dogs
    • Other Joint conditions such as Patellar Luxation (dislocating kneecaps) or Cruciate Ligament injury
  •  Soft bedding– like “egg crate” foam covered with a sheet or blanket for easy cleaning
  •  Warmth– keep pets inside at night or provide a heated dog house or cat house (cats love those indoors, too!)
    • Bend and stretch their legs while they are restingPhysical Therapy- Go on a 10 -15 minute walk twice daily. Walk over obstacles like rocks and branches, up and down curbs, and up and down hills or stairs
    • massage legs that have arthritis– from the toes up!
    • Ask your vet for any other exercises that might be appropriate for your pets particular condition
  • Weight Loss!  The extra weight is hard on inflamed joints. But more importantly, the excess fat
    cells are secreting inflammatory factors that make ALL the joints (and everything else in a body– people too btw!) more inflamed!  Just get rid of it!  Ask your vet for guidance regarding portion control, low cal snacks and treats.  Consider a portion control feeder like PortionProRx  for multiple pet households where individual feeding is tricky.
  • Medical Therapy is very helpful, but don’t forget about all the at-home remedies.  When those aren’t enough ask your vet about
    • Nutrition Supplements (we recommend spending your money on anti-inflammatory doses of Omega 3 fatty acids before spending on glucosamine/ chondroitin)
    • Adequan(r) – an injectable form of glucosamine that gets to inflamed joints much better
    • Cold Laser therapy
    • Anti-inflamatories (there are some newer products that are even safer for dogs with liver and kidney problems!)
    • Adjunctive Pain medication

Arthritis doesn’t have to be debilitating for your pets!  As you embark on your own journey of getting healthier or staying healthy for the rest of your life, being your pets along.  They will live happier and healthier, too!


Dr. Michael SingerDr Michael Singer, a board certified veterinary surgeon brings orthopedic and advanced surgical techniques to Cimarron Animal Hospital!  We are so excited to have such a gifted surgeon working with us!  Not only is he gifted, but he’s GOOD! He has all the best surgical equipment to get the most complicated surgeries done right, efficiently! But what really counts most is concern and TLC for the patients!  He and his technician, Valerie, start caring for their  patients before surgery, walking them to empty their bladders (have you ever woken up from surgery with a full bladder?  It’s terrible!). Throughout surgery, Valerie is checking on patient temperature and comfortable positioning, in addition to running excellent anesthesia, monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, oxygenation and fluids, just like we at Cimarron do!  After surgery, patients that have had particularly painful procedures get an IV drip of pain meds until they go home with their oral pain medication.  Their routine is top-notch!  Having watched them in action, I would choose them over a specialty center for my own pet !

We are also excited that we are able to give owners a chance to have surgeries done that they might not be able to, otherwise.  Since our overhead is less than the 24 hour Specialty facilities, we can offer the same superior quality, care and skill at a lower price.  Our Cimarron family of pets can live better, happier lives thanks to Dr. Singer!

Dr Singer is available to do surgery at Cimarron Animal Hospital for pets that are not established as patients at Cimarron as well!  Anyone can call and set up a consultation with Dr Singer and his brilliantly capable technician, Valerie!  Helping pets all around Tucson!  Our Cimarron Team is REALLY excited about that aspect of our opportunity to offer this new service!

Learn more about Dr. Singer by clicking his name or pic!



Holidays offer all sorts of opportunities for inquisitive pets to get into trouble:Rich food, exciting garbage, holiday decorations, gift wrapping, etc.  Here are some tips on keeping your Curious George safe!


Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)

Valley Fever (VF) is caused by a fungus found in the soil in the United States desert southwest region. Pets (even indoor pets) acquire VF by inhaling the spores (digging, dust storms, nearby construction, or just snuffling the ground). The early, Pulmonary, stage of VF causes a cough, intermittent fever, and poor appetite. In the later, Disseminated, stage, the infection spreads to other areas of the body such as the bones, joints, skin, brain, liver and kidneys. There may be lameness or swelling of the joints, weight loss, skin nodules, pain, chronic cough or seizures, blood tests, x-rays or other lab tests are used to diagnose VF. Treatment should begin immediately to give your pet the best chance of recovery. As yet, there is no prevention for VF other than limiting your pet’s exposure to dust and keeping him as healthy as possible so he has the best chance of fighting the disease.

Rattlesnake Bite

Each year, hundreds of dogs and cats living in the Tucson area are bitten by rattlesnakes. Most victims that are treated at a veterinary hospital survive the bite, but some suffer permanent tissue damage and even die.

Protect Your Pet

  • Keep your pet on a leash and stay on the paths when walking in the desert
  • Keep your yard clean of debris under which snakes can hide
  • Slowly walk away from any snake you see or hear
  • Rattlesnake vaccine for dogs, available here at Cimarron, can reduce the severity of damage done by the rattlesnake venom while you get your dog to the veterinarian. Your dog’s first rattlesnake vaccine needs to be boosted 4 weeks later, then should be given every 6 months (due to our nearly all-year-long snake “season” ) . We recommend vaccinating around March,  before rattlesnakes become active after their long winter slumber—when venom sacs are fullest, making bites even more serious!

Contact us to get your dog Rattlesnake vaccinated!


There are no First Aid treatments for Rattlesnake Bite. Call us or your nearest veterinary hospital to be sure there is a Doctor and antivenin available. Keep your pet quiet. Go to the vet immediately. Every hour you delay puts your pet’s life in jeopardy and increases the damage being done!

Other Poisonous Animals of the Desert

Gila Monsters will bite pets in self defense. They have a tenacious bite, grinding their jaws together while secreting venom into the wound. The venom, crushing action, and infection cause significant tissue damage at the site of the wound.

Centipedes and Scorpions will sting when disturbed, but usual cause only variably painful swelling, redness and perhaps minor tissue damage at the site.

Bees, Wasps and Ants can deliver not only a painful sting, but can cause allergic reactions such as swelling of muzzle/ face/ ears or welts over the whole body. If your pet develops  allergic signs, he should be seen by a veterinarian right away.


Our dry desert heat can cause heat exhaustion and dehydration in our pets. Be sure to take water for your pet when you travel and hike. Outside pets must have shade throughout the day—remember, what was shady in the morning may not be in the afternoon! Ensure that outdoor pets have cool, clean water, in a stable container that can’t be tipped over. Consider installing a misting system for outdoor pets. Brachycephalic, or short-nosed, breeds are especially prone to heat exhaustion. Don’t leave these dogs outside for more than a few minutes during the hottest part of the year!

And, Never, Ever, leave a pet in the car, during any part of the year! It’s dangerous to the pet and against the law!

Colorado River Toads

These toads come out of their deep underground burrows during the summer rains and monsoon season. You can hear their characteristic barking croaks at night. They have easy to see uniformly arranged small red bumps on their backs. These are the poison glands. If your pet licks or “mouths” a toad, the toxin from the skin glands will cause heavy, slimy salivation. Most pets will paw at their faces. If not treated immediately, the toxin can cause seizures, hyperthermia and death. Call us right away for immediate first aid advice!

Cimarron Animal Hospital hosted a community yard sale for pet victims of Hurricane Harvey last weekend. Between sales and cash donations from the Tucson community, we made over $3200 for Austin Pets Alive to assist their animal rescue efforts! We are so excited that we are doing it again NEXT Sunday, Sept 17th, between 7am and 12pm for animal victims of Hurricane Irma!

We invite everyone in the Tucson community to set up a table, sell your wares! We ask for 50% of your proceeds to give to a tba Florida animal rescue organization. (Everyone who particpated last week gave 100%!)

Consider selling your old Halloween stuff! Buy “new” from your neighbors. Change up your Halloween look! Find a costume out of the clothes that are donated/ sold!

If you don’t have anything to sell, please stop by to see if there is anything you might want to take home! If not, just drop some change into the donation bucket! Every penny counts!

Get the kids involved! Bring them to the event, have them donate a little of their own money. Show how important charity is to our mutual benefit!

Stay tuned on our FB page, Cimarron Animal Hospital, for updates on the Event as they unfold!

FELINE URINARY PROBLEMS is it “Pandora Syndrome”?

“Pandora’s Box”:  a process that generates many complicated problems as the result of unwise interference in something.

 Inappropriate urination.  Urinating around the house.  This is one of the most common complaints of cat owners about their otherwise beloved feline companions.


  • Less than 10% of cats under the age of 10 get urinary tract infections. So, cats under 10 years likely does NOT have a UTI.
  • Cats don’t urinate on your stuff or your house guests stuff or anyplace else, for that matter out of “spite”. There is either a physical problem, a behavioral challenge, or a nervous system issue.
  • The two most common reasons for inappropriate urinary behavior (urinating outside of the litter box) in cats under 10 years of age are:
  •       Microcrystals of mineral in the urine (crystaluria). This causes pain as the shards of mineral are passed through the urethra during urination. This causes the urgency and desperation that leads to urinating anywhere possible. Cool, hard surfaces such as bath tubs, sinks and countertops are often targeted.  Crystauria is diagnosed with microscopic examination of a urine sample.  It is often treated with a prescription diet.
  •      Pandora Syndrome, previously referred to as “ Interstitial Cystits” (“ FIC”), “ Stress Cystitis”, “ Idiopathic cystitis”, Feline lower urinary tract disease ( FLUTD )and “ Feline Urologic Syndrome” (“ FUS”). 


Pandora Syndrome

As the name suggests, this “urinary” condition is no longer considered to be restricted to the urinary system.  It is now known to be “multi-systemic”.  The fact that this very common condition in cats has been renamed half a dozen times over the last 100 years tells us how very little has been understood about it!

In the 1970’s, we blamed urinary problems in cats on “ash”, the mineral content in their food.  We recommended canned foods, which had less “ash” than dry foods, by weight.  Well, yeah… because 1/3 of the weight of the food was water!  But, guess what?  The incidence of crystaluria in the cat population decreased and so did the incidence of inappropriate urination!  Well, it wasn’t decreasing the ash that was helping the kitties of the 70s.  It was increasing their water intake!

Around the 1990’s we blamed the problem on a disruption of the protective mucous layer of the urinary bladder. This lead to increased inflammation and symptoms.  Now we were getting closer to understanding. Cats with urinary symptoms do have a disrupted mucus layer. Unfortunately, attempts to bolster the mucus layer by giving cats glucosamine, a major part of that mucus layer, wasn’t very helpful.  Cats kept peeing around the house.

In the mid 90’s to early 2000’s, we started to learn about the unique qualities of the feline nervous system. Now we’re getting closer…  We figured out that we could control a LOT of inappropriate urinary behavior with anti-anxiety medication.  Stressed out cats pee inappropriately.  Ah-hah! We’ve figured it out!  …Almost.

Since 2015, with the evolution of genetic science and genetic mapping, we’ve been learning even more!

We have discovered that cats that develop inappropriate urinary behaviors are actually “wired” differently, genetically, than their non-peeing counterparts!  … Really!

First, let’s remember that cats are unique to the animal kingdom in that they are both predator (‘hyper” carnivores) and prey.  They need to be ready to fight for food or flee for their lives, both at the same time, at any moment.  You can see how this is a huge conflict for the nervous system!  Now, it’s clear why cats are so sensitive to everything in their environments!  Some cats are more sensitive than others.  Wild cats are the most alert. Domestic cats less so.  But cats have been far less domesticated than any of our other community animal species, like dogs, cattleor horses. Genetically, even the domestic housecat is almost identical to its brethren of a thousand years ago!  Hence, a lot of that “wild”, cranked up nervous system is still in play.

Recent studies have identified that cystitis (irritated urinary bladder) cats are genetically programmed to produce more Tyrosine hydroxylase which creates norepinephrine, which becomes epinephrine, or adrenaline.  These cats can often be identified by their high “startle response”.   Of course, we know that adrenaline is the flight or fight hormone in all animals.  Some cats are genetically, more prone to be high strung than others. Now take these cats who constantly want to fight or flee and “domesticate” them.  Put them in a tiny box (your house or apartment), that they never get out of because we want to keep them safe.  Add another cat or two, maybe a dog, maybe some noisy, rambunctious kids, our crazy irregular schedules.  Cortisol levels skyrocket! No place to flee. No way to fight.  It’s no wonder cats freak out in their heads!  

All that adrenaline and cortisol targets stress organs in the cat- the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs and particularly, the urinary bladder. Those stress chemicals cause sthe protective mucous layer of the bladder to erode. Chemicals in the highly concentrated urine of the cat irritate the exposed bladder walls, causing pain and even bleeding in extreme cases.  Pain cause the cat to pee around.  Now add the fact that every time she uses the litter box to urinate, it hurts!  Who wants to go back there?  Try the tub. Maybe that’ll feel better. Maybe the bed, the counters, etc.   Poor kitties!  At the mercy of their genetic code and our imposed environmental constraints.

Stressed cats also vomit. Usually just occasionally. Often right after eating, especially if they feel that they need to wolf their food so the other intruder cats in the family don’t steal it.  Sometimes they vomit in association with stressful events like guests coming over, being medicated, or your going away on vacation.

These high strung kitties are also more prone to over-grooming hair loss

So, we can see that inappropriate urinary behavior may be the most obvious, most offensive (to us) symptom of a much larger, multi-system, whole- cat condition. “Pandora Syndrome”-  the new name for what was once believed to be a disease limited to the urinary tract of cats is now known to be a nervous system disorder affecting multiple other organ systems!


                We’re stuck with the genes, so what can we do to prevent or treat this annoying condition?

  • Treat the CAT
    • Treat the pain with medication
    • Treat the stress. This may take medication in addition to the environmental suggestions listed below.
  • Control and Mange the ENVIRONMENT

Minimize stress from an early age.  There is evidence that even cats who are saddled with the super Tyrosine Hydroxylase gene may never “turn it on” if they are never subject to excessive stress How can we do that?

  • Keep the household schedule routine.
    • Feed at the same times of day, preferably by the same person.
    • Avoid People coming and going at different times daily and weekly ( a chaotic houseshold may not be a good home for a cat, unless he is very laid back)
  • Ensure that the environment is “safe”.
    • Ensure that access to food, water and the litter box is not impeded by other pets in the home.
    • Ensure that those resources are also easily accessible, physically, especially for older or disabled cats.
    • Ensure that there is a place to rest, undisturbed: high perches, rooms with cat door access only- “No Dogs Allowed”
    • Ensure that the home has a quiet place for the cat to go, especially if he has a high “startle response”.
  • Enrich the environment so the cat can act out his natural hunting/ fighting instincts
    • Play games with your cat encouraging him to chase a toy or laser light.
    • Play hide and seek (as long as your cat isn’t inclined to actually latch on to you when he does cat you!)
    • Provide meals in food toys that require kitty to first find the toy, then play with it to get the food out. Simply throwing food crumbies around the room can work fine! (watch out not to throw food under furniture of course!)
    • Provide lots of climbing opportunities in your house or in an enclosed outdoor cat run.


  • Take Care of YOURSELF
    • Realize that all cats are still a little wild. Some, more so than others.
    • Yours may be a “more so” kind of cat. (Savannah, Bengal, or any mixes with those breeds, Chausie, Pixie Bobs are only a few generations away from their wild roots. They often exhibit signs of Pandora Syndrome, often requiring anti-anxiety medication to live in homes with multiple pets or children)
    • This is going to take some effort to help your kitty cope with domestication
    • This is going to take patience
    • This is a life- long way of living with cats, especially a more ‘high strung” cat.

Your veterinarian can help you along the way.  It can be frustrating and even infuriating, but you have a team of partners ready to help.  From figuring out whether there is a physical cause for inappropriate urination to helping you help your kitty psychologically, and helping to support you emotionally, your veterinary team will be right there with you!l