Ask the Vet


Dear Dr. Schelling,

I just adopted a pregnant mother cat about a month ago. The kittens are 3 weeks old now, and very cute. But there’s a problem, they are all infested with fleas. I see fleas crawling on the fur of the kittens, and lots of dark material on the skin, which I’ve learned is flea fecal matter, or flea dirt. This is really disgusting, and I want them gone. I’ve even felt a bit itchy recently. How can I get rid of them safely? The kittens are very young and the mother is still nursing.

–Frustrated Feline Fleabag
Dear Frustrated,

I am so sorry for your predicament. Fleas can make young kittens very ill. My first suggestion is that you immediately make an appointment with a veterinarian to assess the general health of the mother and kittens. The veterinarian will provide information and advice about external and internal parasite prevention and control, nutrition, vaccinations, and kitten husbandry.

Flea and tick control in young kittens and pregnant and lactating mothers can have unique challenges. Products that are safe in non-pregnant adults are not always safe in neonates.

Click here to read the full article.

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Our cat, Catsby, makes a series of cute chirp-like sounds as we're preparing her meals. We think it's her way of expressing excitement in anticipation of chowing down her food. Is this normal for cats? Are we interpreting her cat-talk correctly?

–Catsby's Human "Staff"

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Dear Catsby's "Staff",

Though some cats are more chatty than others, nearly all vocally communicate with their human families.

Inter-cat communication is accomplished mostly through body language and other non-vocal signals which may seem quite subtle to humans but are loud and clear to cats. Verbal exchanges between cats are usually restricted to mother-and-kitten communications and special circumstances such as territorial face-offs.

Living in human households, cats learn that their human companions tend to respond better to vocal cues and directives. We cats are equipped to produce quite a variety of vocalizations, and many of us perfect our talking techniques to better communicate with our people.

And yes, I think you're right: Catsby's saying "Yum, I'm looking forward to some tasty food." She also may be saying "Thank you!"

For a more detailed look at "cat talk," and how understanding it can improve the quality of life for you and your cat, please see this new article: Translating Cat Talk.


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According to Veterinary Pet Insurance, between 25 and 40 percent of all American household pets are overweight or obese.
Like a graceful vase, a cat, even when motionless, seems to flow. -George F. Will
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