Dear Dr. Jorden: I have a new kitten that I got when she was only 4 weeks old.
I have been feeding her KMR from a bottle. How do I switch her over to regular food?
Dear Reader: KMR stands for Kitten Milk Replacer and is absolutely the best thing to feed a young kitten that should really still be nursing her mother.
All kinds of other formulas have been tried, but the KMR is the very best. Most pet stores and veterinarians have it available.
It is best to start your kitten out on either dry cat food that you mush up a little with water to make it softer or just start with some canned food. Make it available each day to your kitten.
When she is ready, she will start eating it. If she doesn't eat it right away, be sure to change the food twice a day so it doesn't get old or spoil.
A common mistake is to add cow's milk to their diet. Pictures of the farmer milking the cow and spraying the cat with a stream of milk are great, but only cats that get cow's milk regularly develop the right enzymes in their digestive systems to be able to digest the milk.
Your kitten, if given cow's milk, will only get severe diarrhea because she cannot digest it.
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Dear Dr. Jorden: I have a young kitten that is losing a lot of hair.
Also, her skin is kind of flaky right now. She doesn't itch at all and seems normal, but I was worried about ringworm.
Dear Reader:Cats and puppies will often go through a period of hair coat change when they are young. The flaky skin can be part of that as well.
Puppy fuzz and new kitty hair starts to fall out as the more mature hair starts to grow in. This is usually occurring when these babies are just weeks old.
You can brush the old hair out as well as the flakes of skin, and soon it will be back to a healthier-looking hair coat.
Lots of conditions could look like this as well and would be of some concern. Mites can cause the flaky skin, but there is usually severe itching that comes with it.
Ringworm is always a concern, especially when it comes to cats. Dogs and cats both get ringworm, which is not a worm at all but a fungal infection. The fungus often grows in a circular pattern, hence the name, ringworm.
With ringworm, there is some redness to the skin, some crustiness that accumulates in the hair, and, when the hair mat is lifted gently, all the hair comes off the skin, leaving a bare spot. If this describes your cat's hair condition, then you do have a problem.
Ringworm is also contagious to people, especially young children. Some people don't see the ringworm on their pet but find it on their kids. The variety of ringworm that grows on cats is particularly contagious to kids.
Medication is available from your veterinarian that will cure the condition. As your cat matures, she probably will never have ringworm again. It seems to be associated with young, immature immune systems or later in life when some chronic illness changes the animal's immune response.
Skin conditions are hard to diagnose, so, if your pet has some of these symptoms, you will need to take your pet to your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.
Have questions about pets? Write to: PetVet; c/o The Billings Gazette; P.O. Box 36300; Billings, Mont. 59107-6300. Questions of general interest may become topics of future columns.