Q: My cat has started to eat more and her tummy is bigger. Could she be pregnant?
A: Pregnancy is a possibility, so you should take her to your vet to be checked. Your vet may recommend an ultrasound examination, which can diagnose pregnancy after around 15 days.
The average length of pregnancy for a cat is between 63 and 67 days, and your vet can advise on how to care for and feed your cat properly during this time.
There are also other possible illnesses or diseases that may cause a cat’s tummy to swell, so it is important to visit your vet to check for these.
Q: Do I need to bathe my hamster? Can hamsters swim?
A: Hamsters groom and clean themselves, so the only time you should bathe a hamster is if they have become particularly dirty for some reason.
Use tepid water and a very mild shampoo, avoiding the eyes and other sensitive areas. Then dry them carefully using a towel.
A hair dryer on a low setting can be used as long as it is a safe distance away so that there is no risk of burning your hamster.
To answer your second question, hamsters can swim but it is not recommended to give them water to swim in as it can be unhygienic and they can get cold very easily. They should never swim unsupervised.
Q: My dog has started shaking now and then, and he won’t eat his food. He will only eat biscuits fed by hand, but he’s still drinking water ok. What could be causing this?
A: Dogs may tremble because they are fearful or cold. If they are shaking and seem to lose consciousness, this could be a seizure caused by epilepsy.
Sometimes they tremble or shake because they are weak. Arthritis can cause dogs to be stiff, especially after rest. Another problem could be a hormonal condition such as Addisons disease, which can cause shaking and weakness.
Certain conditions can also result in a reduced appetite. You need to take your dog to your vet so that these and other possibilities can be investigated.
• Stuart McMorrow is based at Edinburgh’s PDSA PetAid Hospital, 26 Hutchison Crossway, 0131-443 6178