J.C., Hendersonville, NC
Oct 31, 2010
Our adopted feral male white cat has wandered off and not returned. We can only assume he has gotten lost (we've tried ads, signs, word of mouth, etc.) or been unable to return, possibly killed by a predator.
I've taken many walks with Hansom in the woods and have been confident that he was "woods-wise" from his actions during those times. We figured that a feral cat must have been "woods-wise" to survive until we met.
We retired 30 years ago to this wooded mountain area and always had at least two calico cats at home that we bring inside in the evening and turn loose in the morning. Until now, we have never had any cat problems to speak of. Since Hansom adopted us, he has been a ray of sunshine, and we miss him and his wonderful personality very much.
J.C., Hendersonville, NC Oct 31, 2010
Being an all-white cat would make your Hansom an easy target for predators, including large birds of prey, foxes, coyotes and humans. Calico cats have a more natural camouflage, like our feral cat Mr. Twain, who is a tan tabby. Your sad story underscores my belief that one should never let cats roam free. Better to build an outdoor enclosure or try a regular roam-around with harness and leash that many cats learn to enjoy. A few cats have no interest in hunting, but still, once they get a taste of the outdoors, they will want to roam and then show much frustration and yowl loudly to get outside if they are no longer permitted to roam free. Some become house-soilers, while others will spray indoors because they have met rival cats outside who invade their territory. Through such contacts, the chances of your cat getting a disease like feline AIDS/immunodeficiency disease and even the plague are greatly increased, as is the risk of him bringing ticks, fleas and ringworm into the home.
L.B., Fridley, MN
Tags: dog Fridley MN
Oct 31, 2010
In response to the column about dogs having a sense of time, I have a different observation. We often visit our daughter in California and are home alone with her yellow Lab while she is at work. When the time of day approaches that our daughter is due home, her dog jumps up from a nap and starts watching out the window for our daughter's car to drive up. The dog always seems to know what time it is.
L.B., Fridley, MN Oct 31, 2010
Both cats and dogs share this ability that may involve more than simply possessing a sense of time. This is where the family member comes home at different times rather than on a set schedule. In such instances, an animal's anticipation of the loved one coming home may be based on its ability to enter what I call the "empathosphere." Animal researcher Dr. Rupert Sheldrake calls this the "morphic field."
For more details on this extraordinary dimension of animal awareness, visit my website at DrFoxVet.com/info.
J.M.F., Telford, Pa
Oct 31, 2010
With much interest, I've reread and retained your article regarding arthritic issues in dogs. I have several questions, as I wish to give my male yellow Lab the recommended natural benefits as well. What is Ee-Wah-Kee Sacred Healing Clay? Where do I purchase it? How may I purchase a copy of your book "The Healing Touch for Dogs"? I have given powdered ginger and turmeric to him since reading your article. Is that sufficient, or is the chopped ginger and turmeric root more beneficial? I have both powdered and tablet form of brewer's yeast. Is either one OK to give him?
My husband and I are "all-natural" people, so this information is of much interest and will be applied.
J.M.F., Telford, Pa Oct 31, 2010
Vitality Herbs and Clay distributes the natural multimineral supplement Ee-Wah-Kee or Sacred Clay (from an ancient pyrophyllite clay deposit in Oregon); you can call the Ashland, Ore., company at (888) 325-1475. I take a small amount daily myself in my homemade "elixir of life" recipe (found at my website DrFoxVet.com/info). Fresh organic chopped ginger and turmeric are preferable. Brewer's yeast tablets are as good as the powder -- more expensive but a handy dog treat. My massage-therapy book (also one for cats) can be ordered from Newmarket Press, (800) 669-3903, ext. 19.
R.H., Silver Spring, Md
Tags: cat Silver Spring MD
Oct 25, 2010
I have owned two cats. The first cohabitated happily with a dog; the second lived to the ripe old age of 22. Both were raised from kittenhood and were thoroughly domesticated, indoor cats. They were happy members of the family and only occasionally went outdoors, but hung right around the house.
I guess my experience with those two spoiled me regarding my expectations for the newest member of our family. She apparently has been a feral cat, likely abandoned by her family. She was roaming around our neighborhood, looking for handouts. We started feeding her on our deck, but she wouldn't come inside at first. Over time, however, she became more trusting and came indoors, where she now resides.
She would habitually forage for food on our dining table and countertops. I broke her of that habit by yelling and squirting her with water. She now views me as a disciplinarian and won't come near me or let me touch her. She does trust my wife, though. What can I do to regain her trust? How do I break her of that habit without seeming like a monster? What is your advice in regards to her being outdoors?
Our vet has determined she has feline AIDS and is about 8 to 10 years old. He advises against her being let outside. Although she is basically an indoor cat, she does enjoy being outside for short periods of time. Do you think she will ever become truly domesticated? Did we make a mistake in adopting her?
R.H., Silver Spring, Md Oct 25, 2010
According to those who take them in, truly feral cats rarely reach the point of allowing anyone to pick them up, even though they can adapt to and enjoy indoor life. We have been fortunate with our feral cat, Mr. Mark Twain, whom I can now pick up and briefly cuddle. Reaching this point took some nine months of socialization and the company of a human and a cat-friendly younger cat that served as a catalyst, transforming Twain's fear into trust.
Regrettably, you have made your poor cat afraid of you. I would never advise disciplining the cat for foraging on countertops. Simply make it aversive by placing mousetraps set to snap upside down under a towel or newspaper. This will scare off most cats.
I presume your cat has been tested (and treated) for worms. Internal parasites are a common affliction of feral cats and contribute to their poor condition, constant hunger and even death from malnutrition.
Don't let her get a taste of the outdoors again -- she might actually run off someday. You should be the one to call her for food, which may win her over. Stroke her with a long goose feather -- feathering is a safe way to pet feral cats. Spray a little Feliway on your sleeves when you want to be close to her. This is a cat pheromone that can help cats calm down. Also try catnip herb, even as a tea for your cat to drink or stuffed into a small sock tied to a string to get her to play with you.
B.C., Boynton Beach, FL
Tags: dog Boynton Beach FL
Oct 25, 2010
I have been using a product called Vetasyl by Virbac Animal Health. I get it from my vet. It is pricey, and I would like to know if I could buy less expensive psyllium (unflavored) somewhere. It's for my Chihuahua's anal-gland problem. It works well and eliminates a gland-cleaning office call.
B.C., Boynton Beach, FL Oct 25, 2010
Psyllium husks (not the seeds) are an excellent bulk laxative and, as you have discovered, thanks to your veterinarian, help eliminate the need to have your little dog's anal glands periodically expressed. It is important that the dog drinks plenty of water and that the husks are mixed in with wet food. Otherwise, the dog could become constipated. The nutritional-supplement section of most grocery and health-food stores stock this product. Shop around, and compare prices.
Also, if your dog's stools become too dry, an occasional teaspoon of olive or flaxseed oil will help. Repeated squeezing of dogs' anal glands to empty them out when they are hyperactive or become blocked can cause damage to the glandular tissues and make the problem worse. So expert advice and experienced, gentle treatment are called for to deal with this all-too-common canine malady. In many instances, there is an underlying food allergy, as also with some chronic ear and skin conditions that clear up with a change in allergenic dietary ingredients. For details, visit my website at DrFoxVet.com/info/.
B.M., Mitchellville, Md
Tags: cat MD diet food Mitchellville
Oct 24, 2010
I would like to make a suggestion to the reader who has an 11-year-old cat that continually vomits her food. The issue was whether it might be caused by an allergy or hypersensitivity.
I had a similar problem with my cat Rose, and I tried all the dry-food prescription diets with no luck. What finally worked was putting her on EVO dry grain-free turkey and chicken formula. This formula has a low-fiber content of 2 percent; others can have fiber content up to 8 percent.
I concluded it was the high-fiber content that caused the vomiting. I hope this helps.
B.M., Mitchellville, Md Oct 24, 2010
I think many readers with cats that continually vomit their food will appreciate your experiences and research.
A primary consideration when cats regurgitate frequently must be fur balls in the stomach, after ruling out systemic illness that can make cats vomit, especially kidney disease in older felines.
Food allergies (especially to corn, soy, beef, egg and fish) are common; sensitivity to certain soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet is less common. Sometimes, there is a cross-sensitivity to wheat and oats or turkey and chicken. Through trial after trial (as you have shown), a solution can be found. Prescription diets are costly and don't fit all cases.
N.G., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL
Oct 24, 2010
We have a 9-year-old female German shepherd who is generally healthy. However, about a year ago, I had to start her on Proin for bladder seepage while sleeping. After several months, she began to lose fur. Her coat is thin, and she has no hair on her tail at all. We feed her a diet of hamburger, brown rice and green beans that I prepare myself.
N.G., Naples, FL Oct 24, 2010
Proin is an antihistamine-like drug, the long-term use of which is questionable. I have learned from one of my dogs that even short-term use can cause panting, heart acceleration and anxiety.
The effective (and for older dogs, relatively safe) alternative drug is DES (diethylstilbestrol), starting at a daily dose for five to seven days, moving to weekly intervals. Stop usage, and the dog may be fine for months.
There are many conditions that may be responsible for your dog's poor coat, notably thyroid and Cushing's disease. A multivitamin/multimineral daily supplement, along with up to a teaspoon of fish oil, may be all that is needed. You may also want to add probiotics and digestive enzymes that your veterinarian can provide.
J.F., Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: bird small pet Virginia Beach VA
Oct 24, 2010
I have a 35-year-old male Amazon parrot that has developed weakness in his feet and has trouble gripping his perches. After blood tests revealed nothing, the vet determined that his diet was to blame. He had been eating mostly seeds supplemented by nuts and a few vegetables and fruits. The vet recommended we switch to Harrison's High Potency Organic Coarse Pellets as his only food. Unfortunately, he doesn't care for it. I continue to encourage him by removing it and adding fresh pellets, but he barely nibbles at it. I have eliminated his seeds and have added more variety of veggies, fruits and scrambled egg. He has variety of perch sizes, and I encourage exercise.
J.F., Virginia Beach, Va Oct 24, 2010
A grow light or Vita-Lite that emits full-spectrum light may help your poor bird. Many caged birds develop bone and joint problems in part owing to a lack of natural sunlight, so artificial lights may help. Your bird should also benefit from a vitamin and mineral supplement, especially vitamin D, calcium and magnesium that he probably needs. If you have a blender or food processor, include the shell in any egg you feed him.
L.B., Silver Spring, Md
Tags: dog Silver Spring MD
Oct 18, 2010
I have two male Yorkshire terriers (uncle and nephew) that interact beautifully. My dilemma is that the younger one barks, squeals, screams and shrieks relentlessly. He is not in pain, but he screams when I put his leash on for a walk and when he sees me preparing his food. When we walk around the apartment, he will scream unexpectedly, which scares the heck out of me. Sometimes I confine him to one of our bedrooms, and he doesn't make a sound -- I actually think he enjoys it. I know about pet products such as battery-operated dog collars, whistles, etc., that inhibit barking. In my opinion, these are cruel and inhumane. My breeder has recommended that I spray water at him or shake a coffee can filled with loose change, which hasn't worked. My wife instructs me to ignore this behavior, saying it's his way of communicating with the family, but there must be a better way.
L.B., Silver Spring, Md Oct 18, 2010
Your screaming Yorkie has established a conditioned alarm response in you. That's why he frazzles your nerves. His scream is a biological alarm trigger, which in the wild would alert pack mates to his fear or acute pain, warning others of potential danger. But he is neither afraid nor in pain, his vocalizations being a biological aberration, in part attributable to him being a "perpetual puppy," who gives puppy distress calls to get mother's attention. As an adult animal in the wild, he would not survive long with this trait. Other than having the vocal cords snipped (an ethically questionable, if not abhorrent, procedure but preferable to getting rid of the dog or divorcing your wife), you should try to understand that this is part of the nature of this little canine critter. He's an attention-seeker and no doubt loves life. Try to transmute his screams in your own mind to the sounds of a perpetual puppy, whose entire essence is to get your attention and win your affection.
L.G., Arlington, TX
Tags: dog Arlington TX
Oct 18, 2010
Recently, I began to cough during a nap. My dog Honey, a red heeler, was reclining at the foot of my bed, as always. She heard me coughing and got up close to the middle of my back (though she never usually goes that high) and she began to push against my back. I have asthma, and this is a touchpoint for me when I cannot breathe. I spoke to her and said, "Honey, move." But she just kept pushing and pushing against me. She was warm, and I finally realized what she was doing. She was helping me breathe. At that point, I just relaxed and let her stay there. I finally began to breathe better, and she moved down to the foot of the bed. I get chills just thinking about this. I know she knew what she was doing.
L.G., Arlington, TX Oct 18, 2010
Perhaps your dog Honey should set up a canine healing center and help train other dogs to keep their human companions safe and well. It's possible such sensitive dogs (and cats) can sense body auras or energy fields and know where physical problems lie. But how? And how do they know what to do? I have many letters from readers detailing how their animals respond to them when they are ill and have various injuries, and it is a fact that animals do possess a basic, possibly empathy-based, ability to recognize when and where a loved one is suffering, and in many instances provide healing relief. Additional letters from readers about this topic are always welcome!