Q & A with Dr. Marty Goldstein

Dr. Martin Goldstein has been practicing holistic medicine for over 30 years. Based at Smith Ridge Veterinary Center in South Salem, New York, he is also the author of The Nature of Animal Healing, published by Random House.

Dr. Marty is also one of the founding contributors to Animal Wellness Magazine and we’d like to thank him for his gracious support and participation. Over the last twenty years, he has answered hundreds of questions on just about every canine and feline health problem you can imagine!

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Browse the Latest Cat Q & A’s


Q. I have a two-year-old Siamese cat who has blood in his urine. He has been on the heaviest antibiotic, even though his urine sample did not reveal infection or crystals. He has also had an x-ray, which showed nothing. Can you give me some advice as to what might be causing this?


A. The bladder is just a sensitive holding container for urine, which is a potentially toxic waste product of the body. The rule of thumb is: the poorer the quality of food, the greater the waste content of the urine. You can check my new website, www.drmarty.com, for recommendations on feeding.

I like treating these conditions with homeopathics such as Urinary Aid by Professional Complementary Health Products, BHI’s Uri-Cleanse and/or Uri-Control, and herbal formulations like UT Strength by Vetri-Science.

Category: Cat

I have a three-year-old Siamese. He was very sick with diarrhea on and off for two years. He had blood and mucus in his stools. Everything the vet tried hasn’t helped. I had him on FortiFlora for 1½ months. He was doing great, then started back with diarrhea again. The vet said the next step would be an ultrasound to check his pancreas and also steroids. I am against steroids, knowing the bad side effects.

I did a tremendous amount of research and decided to try the apple cider vinegar remedy, starting with one drop a week and working up to five drops in his water bowl, which holds two cups of water. He is doing wonderfully. He also had bad problems digesting any type of food, but seems to do very well on Royal Canin green peas and rabbit. My question is, do I keep him on the apple cider vinegar for life?


A. I have seen apple cider vinegar used as a routine dietary supplement for both animals and their people, especially in the past. So I feel you can continue giving it to your Siamese, although it may no longer be needed. A happy medium would be to give it to him several times a week. Of course, the decisive factor will be your cat and how well he does.

Category: Cat
Q. I have a stray with FIV. The vet wants me to load her with antibiotics to “protect” her from any possible infection. Is there something else I can give her to boost her immune system besides chemicalized “medicine”? She also has three big open sores on her body, which is the reason for the oral antibiotic (Antirobe Aquadrops).


A. In an immune suppressed patient with the sores you describe, I don’t mind the short term use of antibiotics to initially get things under control. I also like using topical 3% hydrogen peroxide. After this, olive leaf extract and propolis are both more naturally-based immune supportive antibiotics. A thymus extract or glandular, homeopathic Thymus Drops by Professional Complementary Health Products and the antioxidant Feline Dismuplex by Pet Pharms are several others we use in our practice. There are many other very good products on the market that lend immune support to cats; with a little research, you can come up with a good program. Make sure you also focus on high quality whole foods.

Category: Cat
Q.I have a male long-haired cat who is about two years old. He has lost about half the hair along the front of his tail and his fur is oily and very matted. The skin where he has lost the fur is flaky and pinkish red. He is continuing to lose more hair and it seems that his tail is sensitive to the touch. What could be the problem?


A.Without examining your cat, it is difficult to recommend a specific therapy. One thing I can say is that the distribution pattern of flea allergy conditions in cats (and in dogs) is specific to the tail base and down the initial part of the tail. If this is the case, then two homeopathics with which I’ve had success are Professional Health Product’s Flea Aid and Dr. Goodpet’s Flea Relief. Of course, all the other products for natural flea control would also apply.

Category: Cat
Q.I have a cat that is overweight and seems to have problems with her digestive system. She had bladder stones last fall and since then, her feces have smelled very rank. She does not have a lot of energy.


A.I would liken your cat to a car that needs a tune-up. It’s not running well, it’s taking a lot of gas, and its exhaust stinks. Rank feces and bladder problems – these are the two exhausts of the body, can be connected to an inefficient metabolism. I would suggest you start with pancreatic enzymes and a higher quality diet. You could also add a multi-vitamin and an anti-oxidant enzyme.

Try this for about four weeks or so and you should see a change. Remember you may see an improvement and then suddenly, your cat passes some very stinky feces again; this is probably just part of the detoxification process, so be a little patient. If you don’t see any improvement, you may wish to consider a metabolic analysis.

Category: Cat
Q.I have a cat that has hepatic lipidosis. I would like to try some holistic treatment but don’t know where to start.


A.In our clinic, we treat this using high levels of vitamin C, injectable homeopathic liver extracts (Heel Hepar suis), Liver/Gallbladder drops from Professional Health Products, herbal combinations containing milk thistle and SAM-e, and we suggest adding cod liver oil to the diet, which contains high levels of vitamin A.

Category: Cat
Q.I have a cat named Pumpkinator whom we rescued. We have a colony of ferals that we tend to and she has always been the sickest of the bunch. I am in need of advice as to what herbs can we use to help her have normal stools (they are so loose and smell so bad). She is about five pounds and will not groom herself.


A.It sounds like she has inflammatory bowel disease, a condition we see all too often. Fortunately, we have been very successful in treating it and getting cats off all conventional medications and back to normal. Here’s a list of several of the many things we would use: Acetylator by Vetri Science Labs, the herb slippery elm (either by itself at 1/5 the human dose or in pre-formulated combinations for intestinal function), the potato diet I wrote about in my book The Nature of Animal Healing (you can omit the slice of leek as it is in the onion family which is supposedly toxic to cats), and a homeopathic combination remedy such as BHI Diarrhea mixed with BHI Intestine, Diarrhea Aid by Professional Health Products or Diar-Relief by Dr Goodpet. Always, the switch to a very high quality diet of whole foods can, in general, do wonders with conditions like this. Two other commercially available products that could help include a hydrolyzed fish product called Seacure and Primal Defense by Garden of Life.

Category: Cat
Q.I have a 15-year old-cat who has been sleeping in window sills for the last two years. I just found out the sills are full of chipping lead paint. I’m very concerned about lead poisoning. Are there dietary supplements I can give him – sea vegetable powder, anything like that – that can help clear his blood of lead should it be present? I am generally very non-interventionist and treat him only homeopathically when he is ill. He eats a diet of raw meat mixed with TC Instincts powder and has been doing this since he had severe kidney problems in 2001 (he hasn’t had any since).


A.Reports suggest that the minerals calcium, iron and magnesium may help eliminate and/or combat lead poisoning. For years, my favorite supplement used in cases like this is Extox by Progressive Labs. One caution: it does contain garlic powder and garlic is considered toxic to cats. I have personally used this product on cats, with precautionary qualification, and saw no observable problems over the long term. I have also given garlic to my own cats for many years – I routinely cooked it into my one’s cat’s food and he lived to be 24. But I’m not recommending it. The product contains other ingredients that have heavy metal binding properties, including vitamin C, bentonite, l-lysine, chlorophyll, dl-methionine and sodium alginate. You could use several or all of these.

Category: Cat
Q.I have a 14-year-old male cat who I suspect is developing inflammatory bowel disease. I have used alternative approaches for him in the past, and took him to an alternative vet. However, an alternative vet is not as readily accessible where I am currently living. I would like some general information about the condition and possibly some ideas on how to best handle it in an older cat.

A.A full discussion of IBD is beyond the scope of this column. In my experience, it has reached epidemic proportions. I feel there is a link to over or unnecessary vaccination. We have been quite successful in treating this illness using alternative modalities, even in many cases where conventional treatment failed. Most of the products I use in treatment are in my book in the section for diarrhea. Incidentally, although onions are reportedly toxic to cats, I have never witnessed a problem with adding one slice of leek to a pot of the potato diet listed there. But if in doubt, leave it out.

Note: Read this article covering IBD in cats and dogs, and how holistic approaches can help.

Category: Cat
Q.I have a 12-year-old cat with elevated enzymes indicating kidney and liver problems. I am looking for a holistic/natural remedy to impending kidney and liver problems.


A.First, I would suggest raw kidney and liver glandulars. To this you can add Renal Drops by Professional Health Products. Elevated kidney values come from improper protein metabolism and improper liver function. The kidney and liver are closely connected and are kind of like the exhaust system of a car. It’s important to balance the tune up the engine, not just focus on the exhaust system. I would recommend a BioNutritional Analysis. Kidneys handle the brunt of so much toxicity so if you don’t handle the source, you’re not going to get the patient better. Also, watch out for vaccines.

Category: Cat
Q.I have a 1½-year-old female cat. Since she is an indoor cat who only occasionally goes out on a leash in the backyard, I have not had her vaccinated. My vet says that if she goes outside at all, she is at risk, since some diseases are airborne. Can you advise?


A.For cats, I go along with the recommendations (if there is potential exposure) that have come out of the University of Wisconsin veterinary college: vaccinate at 12 weeks of age or older with a feline panleukopenia (distemper) vaccine, and never vaccinate again for the life of the pet. You will need to vaccinate for rabies as required by law in your area.

Category: Cat
Q.I have a 10+-year-old cat, previously ferral, who tested positive two years ago for FIV. I recently had a BNA test done and give him his vitamins every day. He seems to be doing well, is very affectionate and loving. Two years ago I noticed that his whiskers were diminished. Sometimes, they appear to grow, yet will actually break off (I think). I hoped you might have a suggestion why his whiskers won’t grow or stay long.


A.It’s just a secondary sign of a compromised immune system, much as we see with poor hair coat. I wouldn’t look for a localized problem here. The best you can do is work on his overall health by continuing to supplement his diet of high quality, preferably home-prepared foods.

Category: Cat
Q.I am fostering a ten-week-old kitten with severe cerebellar hypoplasia. I have had him about two weeks and he is progressing and learning to adapt. He has tremors and sometimes can barely walk. He just flops from side to side or does somersaults. The flopping and somersaults are getting less severe and I have high hopes that he will improve to the point that he just has a funny walk along with his tremors. Is there anything you can suggest that might help? I have only begun to learn extensively about this condition after I almost had him euthanized, thinking it was the humane thing to do. CH shouldn’t be a death sentence.


A.I agree. I used to have a hospital cat named Waldo who had this condition and he enjoyed a very good and long life. He was also a riot, and I truly suspect he didn’t know he had a problem. For supporting any part of the brain, my clinic uses Neurotrophin by Standard Process Labs, Sphingolin by Emerson Ecologics, and a homeopathic by Professional Complementary Health Formulas called Brain Enhancement Liquiescence.

Category: Cat
Q.I am currently fostering a three-legged male cat from the shelter. Two vets have now confirmed he has a heart murmur (3 out of 6 severity) along with renal problems (bloodwork confirmed). The bloodwork also confirmed slight dehydration and anemia which supports the kidney problem. Thyroid problems were also ruled out by the bloodwork. The middle pads of his front feet are extremely swollen and my vet thought maybe he has podadermatitis. He eats tons of food, drinks lots of water and urinates large amounts. He constantly shakes and scratches his head although his ears are totally clean. He is now being tested for heartworm and will be seen by a cardiologist very soon. Are they any supplements you would suggest that might ease his kidney or itchy ears problem? The vet has him eating Hill’s k/d canned but he is eating much less since I started giving him this. They also have me giving him clavamox liquid to see if that helps. It seems like a trial and error approach to treating him. I have tried to get him to eat some raw food (ground chicken/bones/veggies) but have not had much success. Before I took him to the vet he was mostly eating canned food (Merrick, Solid Gold and Fancy Feast) and occasionally grain free dry food (Evo). Lastly, he is very inactive but looks pretty good (bright eyes, alert, affectionate).


A.A case like this should really be treated hands on by a veterinarian. I would recommend finding one well versed in integrative medicine. With that being said, I will list here several of the supplements used in my facility for what you describe. Doctor’s Mutual Service has a relatively new supplement called Kidney/Heart. Taurine, vitamin E and CoQ10 would also be indicated. And, if this is a heart condition involving a dilated heart muscle, then you could add l-carnitine. In Chinese philosophy, there is a correlation between the kidneys and the ears. I’m more in favor of higher quality foods than the more processed, lower quality ones.

Category: Cat
Q.I am confused about feeding my cat raw chicken. The vets say no because of bacteria and yet raw food enthusiasts say it is perfectly safe, that the bacteria doesn’t hurt cats because of their fast digestive tract. One vet also named a disease they can get from raw chicken – I can’t remember the complicated name. What should I do?


A.We sell over 3,000 pounds of raw meat products from our practice every month and a good percentage of that is raw chicken. I rarely see a problem outside of those animals that are either sensitive to the change to raw, or just can’t acclimate. The disease you are referring to is probably salmonella, or possibly e-coli. Although I have rarely seen this as a direct correlation to feeding raw, I can’t say it’s not impossible. I just don’t let that slim possibility stand in the way of the extreme benefits I have seen from feeding raw meat diets, especially to cats. My own three cats have been almost exclusively on raw chicken, turkey and, less frequently, rabbit for many years and remain very healthy.

Category: Cat
Q.I am a foster guardian to different shelter cats. Although I keep them in quarantine from my own animals, sometimes my cats will catch an upper respiratory virus from them. My vet treats them with a round of antibiotics and the sniffles go away. My question is: Is it always necessary to treat a “cat cold”?

A.As with humans, cats do “catch cold”, and millions have gotten better with rest, drinking fluids, maybe some vitamin C and time. Unfortunately, often our animal friends are not given the choice to “ride out” some illnesses as humans do, and their guardians and veterinarians feel obligated to medicate. I have assisted many animals through conditions as this with success and, many times, when I do decide to treat, will do so with one of the many remedies available, rather than prescribing drugs. One of my favorite is Gripp-heel by BHI

Category: Cat
Q.I adopted a 12-year-old Persian who had a sinus infection and now, even though she has been repeatedly on antibiotics, she continues to battle this. Can you offer advice?



There is a wide range of holistic sinus products available. BHI makes one called Sinus. We also use the Seven Forest herb, Blue Earth Dragon, which your veterinarian can order for you. Olive Leaf extract, which is a natural anti-bacterial, is good, as is propolis. You can also buy homeopathic nasal sprays which you can spray more or less right up/on the nose or use an eye dropper and place one drop on the nostril opening.

I once treated a cat with a really bad sinus problem. After using a variety of different remedies, I tried a product from Natra-bio called Head Cold, which took care of it. Sometimes you have to try a number of symptom-oriented remedies before you find the one that works for your animal.

You could also try immune-building remedies such as herbal formulas that contain echinacea and goldenseal and/or astragalus.

There’s a chance this problem has been caused or aggravated by upper respiratory vaccinations.

Category: Cat
Q.Do you have any information regarding rodent ulcers on a cat? My female cat has had them for a couple of years but the treatment used (steroid) helps but does not cure.


A.I am actually working on two new cases of rodent ulcer/eosinophilic granuloma complex in cats. One of the cats, Hud, lives with Peter Gethers, and is one of the replacement cats for one of the most famous of all felines, Norton: The Cat Who Went to Paris. Hud was being treated conventionally, having an off and on response with steroids, but no overall improvement. We started treating him with alternative therapies, consisting of glandulars for his adrenals, liver and thymus (this was based on analyzing his blood results), beta sitosterol (Betathyme by DMSC), a BHI Allergy homeopathic and a soy derived natural hydrocortisone (which we slowly weaned off over several weeks). Hud responded dramatically and is now close to 100% clinically normal. For severe rodent ulcers, especially of the mouth/lips, we typically start therapy by freezing the lesions with cryosurgery

Category: Cat
Q.Chester is a neutered male cat. In 2001 my vet did a “manual extirpation of bowel impaction” and removed stool that was nine inches long and over two inches in dimeter. He was put on Laxatone and psyllium seed to soften the stool. In 2002, another impacted bowel with manual extirpation. This time he was put on Lactulose and Cisapride. The vet has said it would be too dangerous to do any more manual expirpations and I would like to avoid mega colon surgery due both to cost and potential damage to Chester. Any suggestions?


A.This does sound like mega colon and the only thing I’ve seen work effectively for this condition is surgery. In the cases I’ve seen (which were all referred to the same surgeon), the result was very rewarding. You could try to find an acupuncturist who has been successful in getting return to function but this may be easier said than done. I had one cat who we supplemented with many different herbs, including slippery elm. Although the cat initially responded, eventually he underwent mega colon surgery and the guardian was ecstatic with the outcome. If you really don’t want to do the surgery, you could add in BHI’s Constipation and Intestine homeopathic formulas. Heel’s Colon suis could be rewarding, however, this may be difficult to find.

Category: Cat
Q.Can a brain tumor cause aggressive behavior in cats? We have a five-year-old neutered male who can no longer be in the same room with our other two cats without screaming and fighting them. He was very loving when younger, but his personality has changed and he has become very aggressive. Our vet checked him over and found nothing wrong, except that one kidney was a bit compromised. I read that brain tumors can cause this problem, but the vet doesn’t seem to take it seriously and I want a second opinion.


A.I have seen aggression as a sign associated with confirmed brain tumors over the years but would never use it as a symptom to confirm or be definitive for the presence of a tumor. Aggression is much more common than brain tumors and there are many other causes. My advice would be to consult with a veterinary neurologist.

Category: Cat
Q.After my 12-year-old cat, Yoda, was diagnosed with asthma, my vet gave him steroid shots but they only made him miserable. I read your book and took him for acupuncture, which did not help. I tried giving him fish oil in his food, but he wouldn’t eat it. I feed him a good brand of grain-free food (the only one he will eat) and he still coughs. His coat looks good and shiny, and he sometimes has a little discharge from his eyes. Otherwise he looks okay. Sometime, he’ll go weeks without coughing, but last week he started coughing a couple times a day, usually when he’s relaxed, not when he’s playing. Your book mentions hydrocortisone, but isn’t that more for itchy skin? Is there anything I could give him to ease his coughing?


A.The hydrocortisone mentioned is naturally derived from soy, but it’s still classed as a drug and you would need to obtain it through a veterinarian. Like any cortisone, it can be used for almost any inflammatory or allergy based condition and has fewer side effects than the synthetic varieties. Asthma would be covered in this category and I have used it successfully many times for this problem; I would, however, stop using it if it didn’t give a positive response. I also like using BHI’s Asthma, sometimes in combination with their Cough and/or Bronchitis remedies. I have also had fairly good success using Seven Forest’s herbal Pinellia formula.

Category: Cat
Q.A little while ago, my ten-year-old DSH cat had a really watery eye. I thought he had something in it because of all the watering and the fact that he was keeping it half closed. The third eyelid was slightly across at times, and there was a faint bit of pinkness in the white part. I was prepared to call the vet next day, but the eye cleared up overnight. I thought nothing more of it until five days later, when the same problem appeared in the opposite eye. Again, it cleared up in 24 hours. He had no other symptoms, and is active and eating well. It was ragweed season at the time, plus very dry and dusty because of drought; could it have been an allergic reaction to dust and/or pollen?


A.Yes, it could have been allergies. Without a direct examination, though, that’s only a guess. If the problem recurs again, I would have a veterinarian check it out.

Category: Cat