My Cat From Hell’s Veterinarian Discusses Medical Reasons Behind Feline Bad Behavior

July 23, 2012

Photo of Molly My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet

Molly Peeks Her Head Out of the Carrier for a View of What’s to Come

I am enthusiastic that Jackson Galaxy asked me to contribute my holistic veterinary perspective in both seasons two and three of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell (MCFH).

Galaxy (AKA Cat Daddy) understands the intrinsic connection between feline behavior and underlying medical abnormalities.  For the cats that Galaxy suspects to have health problems potentially correlating with their ‘hellish’ behavior, I provide a diagnostic workup and treatment.

In season two, I worked on Stella and Polly.  In season three my first patient is Molly; a senior, spayed female, Domestic Short Hair (DSH) living a sedentary, indoor lifestyle in the Hollywood Hills with other cats and her two human caretakers.

The primary issues for which Molly’s owners contact Galaxy are her tendency to act aggressively when touched around her lumbar spine (low back) and her pattern of urinating and defecating outside of the litter box.

Many aspects of Molly’s physical examination contribute to her “Cat From Hell” tendencies, including:

1. Obesity: Eating excess food and having little activity caused Molly to be an obese cat having a Body Condition Score of 5 (according to the Ohio State University Nutritional Support Service scale).  Obesity is a preventable disease and contributes to many of Molly’s other health issues.  Unfortunately, some of the secondary issues associated with being overweight or obese (heart disease, arthritis, etc) may be irreversible.

2. Pain along her back and hips: Molly’s radiographs (X-rays) reveal underlying changes consistent with inflammation in the joints (facets) connecting her low back vertebrae and in her right hip.  When touched or groomed in these areas, Molly reacts aggressively towards the painful stimulus.  Molly’s normal patterns and chosen location for urination and defecation will be altered by joint pain.

3. Matted coat and mild skin flaking along her back: Molly’s large body size causes difficulty for self-grooming, which leads to poor coat condition and skin health.  Additionally, discomfort and lack of flexibility from the arthritic changes in Molly’s back and hip (and potentially other places that are not yet showing radiographic changes) make her less able to normally groom.

4. Bacterial urinary tract infection: Urine culture revealed a bacterial urinary tract infection, which contributes to Molly’s tendency to urinate outside of the box.

5. Non-expressing anal sacs: Molly’s swollen, non-expressing anal sacs (which contain the foul smelling fluid produced by the anal glands) cause discomfort while producing bowel movements.  Pooping in places besides the litter box correlates with her abnormal anal sac expression.

6. Periodontal Disease: Molly has periodontal disease (disease of the gums and structures holding the tooth in place).  Gingivitis (gum inflammation) causes pain while chewing and it can lead to behavioral changes (aggression, lethargy, etc).  Inflamed gum tissue allows bacteria from the mouth to enter the blood and is unhealthy for Molly’s internal organs.

Treatment Plan

Photo of Molly Receives Laser Acupuncture Treatment to Help Her Arthritis Pain

Molly Receives Laser Acupuncture Treatment to Help Her Arthritis Pain

To address Molly’s health and behavioral concerns I integrated western and traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM), which includes acupuncture, nutraceuticals (aka supplements), medication (antibiotics), dietary modification, and resolution of her dental disease and anal sac issues.

After Molly’s urine and blood samples were collected and her radio-graphs were taken, she had acupuncture treatment with a combination of needles and MultiRadiance Laser.  Molly cooperated well and her painful areas improved post-treatment.

On follow up, Molly’s owner indicated that she’s been steadily getting nicer and more mobile.  She has lost weight, finished her course of antibiotics which resulted in a negative follow up urine culture, she takes her nutraceuticals (fish oil based omega fatty acids and a joint supplement), and has undergone anesthesia for a teeth cleaning and anal sac expression.

Through the combined efforts of Jackson, myself, and other members of Molly’s care providing team, she is healthier, better behaved, and leads an improved quality of life.  With consistent effort and treatment, Molly will no longer be a “Cat from Hell”.

Tune in to Animal Planet on Saturday, July 21 (2012) at  8 PM (E/PT) to see me and Molly on My Cat From Hell (or catch us on a rerun).  If you are on Twitter, follow the hashtag #MCFH or #MyCatFromHell and @PatrickMahaney to join our conversation around showtime!

If you have a dog or cat from hell, email me at with your questions!

Follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2012) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

TheOldBroad July 25, 2012 at 12:37 AM

I don’t have Animal Planet so I haven’t seen the program. I hope that it was emphasized to have the kitty evaluated by a doctor when litter box problems first begin. Hopefully Molly’s infection hadn’t been going on for any length of time because the kitty is so miserable.

It’s my understanding that UTIs (Urinary Tract Infection) aren’t uncommon in overweight kitties because they can’t reach their backside to clean themselves.

Doc Truli July 25, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Dear Dr Mahaney,

What an excellent, truly holistic work-up! I love this story for its simplicity, clarity, and the success intrinsic in thorough veterinary medical practice.

I also wish to congratulate you for practicing thorough holistic medicine and sharing this inspirational practice on television to give hope for cranky kitties everywhere.

Yours truly,
Doc Truli

Patrick Mahaney July 27, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Thank you Sandra,
Molly was a challenging, yet rewarding case. She responded so well to laser acupuncture treatment and is more comfortable on a daily basis now that she regularly gets omega fatty acids and an oral chondroprotectant.

Patrick Mahaney July 29, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Molly is prone to urinary tract infection due to her obese body condition and dry food diet (less moisture in means less moisture out, therefore bacteria can ascend through her urethra and localize in her bladder).
Now that Molly’s condition has been resolved, she has lost weight, she receives immune system enhancing nutraceuticals, and had a higher moisture diet, hopefully she will be less prone to UTIs in the future.

Patrick Mahaney July 29, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Thank you for your comments Doc Truli! I hope that you got to see your fellow Penn Vet grad on Animal Planet. I have some bigger media plans coming up, so keep your eyes peeled (and your DVR set).

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: