Dear PDSA Vet,

My kitten has been diagnosed with kidney problems and needs special food, which is quite expensive. Are there any cheaper alternatives? Leanne

Dear Leanne

Although kidney disease is most commonly diagnosed in elderly cats, some kittens can be born with kidneys that don’t function properly. Making sure they drink plenty of water and carefully managing their diet are the best ways to support your kitten’s kidneys. Cats with kidney disease can find it harder to maintain muscle or a healthy weight, so these prescription renal diets ensure they get their recommended calorie and nutrient intake. Renal diets are lower in protein and sodium, and higher in vitamins, fibre and antioxidants. With the right diet, cats with kidney disease can live for longer. Speak to your vet to check whether there might be a more affordable option for you. Sometimes it can also be cheaper to buy food in bulk.

Dear PDSA Vet,

My cat seems to do nothing but eat and sleep all day. He’d prefer to lay on the couch rather than go outside or play and he’s putting on weight. What can I do to get him moving? Sam

Dear Sam

Less-active cats generally need fewer calories, so check the feeding guide on your cat’s food to ensure he is not being overfed. Cats naturally prefer lots of small meals. Try hiding some of his food in a treat ball or puzzle feeder to increase his exercise. Fishing rod-style toys will encourage his natural behaviour of chasing and pouncing. Cats hunt and chase in short bursts, so play in five or ten minute sessions. You can also buy indoor cat climbers and trees with lots of places to explore. Even a cardboard box might be fun for him. Your vet or vet nurse can advise on your cat’s ideal weight and body shape.

Dear PDSA Vet,

My one-year-old cat has started meowing early morning and she also scratches. She is an indoor cat, so it’s not as if she wants to go outside. Please help. Dean

Dear Dean

Cats are what’s called ‘crepuscular’ – meaning they are more active at dawn and dusk, whilst resting during the day. Your young cat may have slept through the afternoon and have an excess of energy stored up in the evening. Playing energetic games just before your bedtime will help her to burn off energy. Feeding her in the evening means she shouldn’t be hungry in the early hours, which should reduce any meowing. An automatic feeder may also reduce her meowing and scratching. Ignore her if she wakes you, as she may see your reaction as a ‘reward’ for her behaviour. If you are still having trouble after trying these things, speak to your vet who may recommend seeing an accredited behaviourist.

Dear PDSA Vet,

I have noticed that dogs tend to walk up to have a sniff at you and cats sometimes nuzzle up to you. I would like to know what the reason is for this type of behaviour. Thanks, Joanne

Dear Joanne

Both cats and dogs use their sense of smell to understand the world around them. Dogs’ sense of smell is far better than our own ability and, when they sniff you, it gives them a huge amount of information to identify other pets and people. Cats are also very scent-sensitive, with scent glands on their cheeks, alongside their tail and on their paws. They use these to mark people and objects in their home. When cats rub up against your hand, your leg, the sofa and your bed, they are depositing their scent on those things and spend a lot of time transferring their scent to maintain the security of their home territory.