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Can my moggie shake off her dandruff problem?; PETS Trude Mostue answers all your pet problems.

IF you have a problem with your pet and don't know where to turn, put pen to paper and get in touch with TV vet Trude.

Q I HAVE a 10-year-old cat who has never been outside and was found when she was 10 weeks old. She is a tortoise-shell moggie and is very timid. She eats well and seems healthy. The only problem I see is that her fur has dandruff at the back. I groom her regularly and the fur on her paws and face is fine. Mrs Ann Lyons, Glasgow.

A DRY and scurfy coat is not an uncommon problem in animals that live indoors. The fur is an adaptation to a life outside, so obviously if you take an animal away from its natural environment you will find that certain things react to new conditions.

Imagine how you would feel if you had to wear a fur coat and hat indoors all the time. Central heating and constant temperature can cause problems for the skin and fur in both cats and dogs.

There are some parasites that cause dandruff. They will be easy to exclude by taking a sample and looking at it through a microscope. Your vet will do this.

You obviously have a reason for not letting your cat outside, so try to stop skin problems developing.

A medicated shampoo for dry and scurfy skin will help. Ask your vet for a good one. Otherwise, get as much fresh air through your flat as possible. Try not to overheat it and make sure there is a cooler place for your cat to be. If she is longhaired, make sure you keep up the grooming.

Q I HAVE a two-month-old rat called Beryl. A friend says I should be able to train her like a dog. Is this true? Beth, aged 11, Glasgow.

A YES, you can train a rat. Maybe not as well as a dog, but it can certainly be trained to come on command and to sit on your shoulder. The easiest way to train it is with tiny bits of nuts. You can even use chocolate (but not too much or you'll have a fat rat).

When she does what you want her to do, always give her a little titbit. Every time you say her name, or the sound you want her to respond to, give her a reward. Eventually she will come running every time you make the sound.

Q MY auntie has a West Highland white terrier who is now about three. She is so sweet and the family just adoreher. I am considering getting one myself, but I am a bit worried about the Westie's reputation for bad skin problems. Hannah Rowe, Dundee.

A THIS breed is unfortunately prone to skin problems. I see a lot coming through my surgery every day.

Most pedigree dogs are bred for looks and temperament. Sometimes there are genes for certain weaknesses attached to ones that are important for the way a dog looks. It's what we call cross-linked genes.

The only way to get rid of the problem with Westies is not to breed from dogs that have a history of skin disease and allergies.

There are, of course, Westies that have no problems with their skin. If you still want to buy one, I would do following:

Choose a puppy with parents that have no history of skin problems. Ask to see a medical history. It's no guarantee of a healthy pup but it's less likely to have problems.

When you get the puppy, you must insure it. At least you will ensure it gets the best possible treatment without having to think about cost.

Q MY neighbour has a Burmilla cat. I have never heard about such a breed. What is it? Ann Best, Sterling.

A BURMILLA is a cross between a Burmese and a Chinchilla. They are very beautiful and lovely tempered cats.

Q TWO years ago I got a cat called Pedro from the cat protection league. He is all white and very beautiful. But for the last two years his ears have gone a bit strange, full of scabs, and they bleed easily when we pick them off. What's up? Suzy Andrews, Edinburgh.

A SCABBY ear tips in white cats is most likely to be a start of a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. White cats have very little melanin, skin pigment, to protect them from the sun. They can get it on their nose too.

This type of cancer is believed to be triggered by sunlight and rays. Unfortunately, I think your cat needs to have his ear tips cut off surgically. I have done an oper-ation like this lots of times.

I think it is the owners who seem to have difficulty accepting it more than the cats because they think it looks strange.

IF your pet has a problem, write to: Trude Mostue, Seven Days, Sunday Mail,One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 1, 2000
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