R.M., Beacon, NY
Nov 29, 2010
My husband and I are moving from New York to Florida. We have two large male indoor cats. Both were feral cats when we got them as kittens, six years ago. One is leery of people other than my husband and me. We plan on moving them in my husband's cargo van, with the back cleaned out and set up for their comfort with a litter pan, food bowls, etc. We are concerned about their anxiety levels (as well as our own). We plan on making this a nonstop trip, except for gas.
Could you offer any suggestions on something I could give them to help them through this ordeal? We plan to take them to the vet for a complete checkup before we leave.
R.M., Beacon, NY Nov 29, 2010
Provided the cargo-van interior is safe and cat-proof, I would let the cats have several supervised opportunities to spend time in the vehicle. Having them eat, play, sleep and use the litterbox will help precondition them for the journey. Eventually, run the engine while they are inside and then take them on short drives. Tranquilizing animals can make them more difficult to handle and many become fearful when the drugs temporarily impair their sensory and motor functions. Spraying inside the van with the cat pheromone Feliway may be quite calming for the cats.
M.L., Springfield, Va
Nov 29, 2010
One of your recent articles discussed a small dog with a collapsed trachea and its breathing problems. I think our experience may be of interest.
Buddy, our tiny Yorkie, had a serious coughing problem from the first day we brought him home. Sadly, even with many visits to several vets and many ineffective medications, we resigned ourselves (and him) to living with it. More than 10 years later, I realized the coughing was at its worst when in the house and when on his pillow on our bed. Yes, we did tell the vets these details. Finally, I realized he might be allergic to our laundry soap. We changed it to Ivory Snow, and I shampooed the carpet with plain water.
Immediately, his coughing subsided to an occasional chuff. Unfortunately, by this time he had less than a year to live. A combination of things, including an enlarged heart and a collapsed trachea, took him from us. I deeply regret all the years he suffered because none of us realized that allergies were his problem. Should not at least one of the vets have considered this?
M.L., Springfield, Va Nov 29, 2010
Many readers will appreciate your insight, and your story may help many dogs (cats and humans) who develop asthmatic symptoms following repeated exposure to laundry and other household products, especially room fresheners and scented cat litter. Synthetic fragrances and other volatile chemicals are to blame. Buddy had other health issues, owing in part to hereditary factors; but you were at least able to improve his quality of life, even though it was close to his end.
Those in-house chemical pollutants can also cause allergic skin reactions and lead to other health problems by impairing the animal's immune system, the standard treatment with steroids causing further complications. The Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org, 202-667-6982) has some excellent materials on these and other house and garden chemicals that we are best advised not to use for our own health's sake, as well as for pets' sake.
D. & B.F., Virginia Beach, Va
Nov 28, 2010
Like others who have written, we have a psycho cat named Teddy whom we really love. We've had him since he was 4 days old. Teddy was feral, born in the wild and rescued by us, and has not been raised with other cats. He was bottle-fed until he was weaned. He is litterbox trained, beautiful, clean and black and white in appearance. Most of the time, he is calm. But we never know when he will go into "psycho mode," which entails hissing, biting, scratching and attacking anyone around, including our dog. After his attack, he settles down, curls up in a ball, and sleeps. Even our vet can't handle him -- the cat has to be sedated first.
Teddy is a house cat, but goes out in our backyard every day. He loves the yard and is content to stay within the fencing. How can we treat or modify Teddy's cat rages?
D. & B.F., Virginia Beach, Va Nov 28, 2010
Your cat could simply be upset by an encounter with a rival cat outside or one who came by and marked Teddy's territory. Making your yard cat-proof with a cat-fence addition (various designs are available online) on the top of any existing fence may be your answer.
Try remotivating him with dangling and wriggling interactive toys to catch and "kill." See if he likes catnip (dry herb or tea) -- this could have a calming effect. You do not say how old Teddy is. The older he is, the greater the chance of his having thyroid cancer, one of the signs being increased aggression and irritability. If Teddy is very old, he could have painful arthritis or be developing dementia, even Alzheimer's disease. A full veterinary checkup may be advisable to rule out any possibly treatable physical causes for his psycho behavior.
B-E.S., Minnetonka, MN
Nov 28, 2010
I have two 3-year-old dogs (English setter and Aussie). After reading many articles about bad reactions to tick treatments and Lyme vaccinations, I decided to take a holistic approach. During tick season, I used a flea comb and headlamp to meticulously go through their fur. This worked for three years.
Unfortunately, last week, I missed one that was identified as a deer tick by the department of health. Five days later, my English setter developed a high fever. The vet put her on Doxycycline. Her subsequent blood work was positive for Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis.
My questions for you are:
- Did I make a mistake by not using a product like Frontline or vaccinating? I am second-guessing my decision.
- She is on six weeks of Doxycycline. Should I be doing anything else?
- Should I vaccinate or use tick treatments in the future?
My dogs are fed organic dry, mixed with organic raw food. I also add flaxseed oil.
B-E.S., Minnetonka, MN Nov 28, 2010
In areas where there are heavy, seasonal or year-round infestations of ticks and other potential disease-carrying insects, you are forced to use products like Frontline on dogs who get outdoors, as my wife Deanna Krantz had to when she ran an animal refuge in the wilds of India. She used poultry to keep the ticks at bay (chickens eat them) and goats to clear the underbrush where ticks like to hide and multiply.
Ecological methods of reducing noxious insect surges are available, and tried-and-true, easy-to-apply methods should be considered by all communities and municipalities. Keep your dog out of poorly managed woods, forests and parks, and rake out your yard.
Let me know how your dog responds to the treatment. With the proviso of early diagnosis (as is the case with your dog), thanks to your vigilance, such treatment may prove safer and more effective as well as less costly than vaccinations.
From the reported adverse reactions to Lyme vaccinations and unreliability in terms of effective protection, vigilance may be your best option.
Once your dog recovers, she should have some immunity, but have her basic functions (especially kidney) checked on a schedule that your veterinarian can advise.
A.L., Red Bank, NJ
Tags: cat Red Bank NJ
Nov 22, 2010
Thank you for the information you publish in your column. My cat is doing much, much better on the natural pet food you recommend. I had been feeding my cat Boo dry food purchased at the veterinarian's office. I assumed it would be better than what's available in the supermarket. In retrospect, it is very disturbing to realize that this may have been the cause of my other cat Trixie's illness and subsequent death. She was about 12 years of age and had escalating kidney problems. I had to put her down. To know the food could have possibly caused her death is upsetting. I really don't understand why a veterinarian would sell something that can cause animals to suffer. I am now looking into the vaccination issue on your website, as suggested in your column as well. Thank you. I wish I had this info when I had my dog.
A.L., Red Bank, NJ Nov 22, 2010
I always appreciate feedback on the advice I offer in my column and invite all readers who feel so moved to do so, as well as sharing their own discoveries. Your cat Trixie's kidney disease could have been caused by a number of factors, so I would not put all the blame on yourself, the veterinarian or on what you were feeding her. Many cats show general health improvement when given purified/filtered rather than straight municipal tap water to drink, for example. Some cats have kidney disorder (polycystic kidney disease), which has a genetic basis.
I do get some letters from know-it-all pet owners who chastise me for not mentioning every possible cause or cure for some illness. Column space limitations are prohibitive of advice dissertations, but readers with computer access will find a spectrum of useful information in the archives of this column (DrFoxVet.com/info).
T.J., Sequim, Wash
Nov 22, 2010
I have a beautiful 15-pound orange tabby named Sammy, who's about 5 years old. A little over a year ago he started spraying/urinating on things in the house. It's gotten so bad that I don't think there's much in the house he hasn't urinated on -- plastic bags being his favorite. A few nights ago, I was awakened by him urinating on me -- right in my face! Since then, he is outside most of the time, and when he is in at night, I lock him up in my office where his food and litter box are. There is usually spray on my computer screen or a box or something that I clean up everyday. I am a single mom with two young girls, two dogs (yellow labs) and three cats. Is there anything I can do to stop Sammy from urinating on everything?
T.J., Sequim, Wash Nov 22, 2010
You have your hands full and my sympathy. Many indoor-outdoor cats, getting aroused outdoors by their interactions with other cats, start to spray indoors to demark their territories. Confinement indoors is the best preventive. He may need to be boarded at a good facility for a few days to possibly break his behavioral fixation. Use an enzyme cleaner where he has sprayed, and get Feliway plug-in pheromone dispenser for each room you must restrict him to initially when he comes home. Also, give him plenty of catnip dry herb and make a tea from it, which he may like to drink -- this is a kind of cat Valium. Have a urine sample checked for crystals and cystitis. and as a precaution, get him on a corn-free cat food, Evo's dry and canned foods are good. The fact that he urinated on you could mean he has painful cystitis or a possible partial urinary-tract blockage and is trying to tell you what his problem is, as many cats will do when they have this painful malady.
K.D., Stratford, CT
Nov 21, 2010
Regarding your column "Dogs follow human to the afterlife," I have the following story: Years ago we owned a standard poodle named Heidi. After my mother's death, my father lived with my husband and me for some time. Since we both worked and my father was home alone with the dog, my father and Heidi bonded very much.
About three weeks after my father's death, I was doing something in our bedroom. Heidi rested on the foot-end of the bed. Suddenly I had the feeling somebody had entered the room, but I could not see anything. Heidi stared at the entrance to the room, slowly got up, jumped off the bed and very slowly walked toward the entrance, head extended and sniffing loudly into the air. At the entrance Heidi stopped, sniffed and suddenly wagged her tail -- like she was greeting somebody. Then she sat down, holding her head up like somebody was petting her. I knew it was my father who had come to say "goodbye."
K.D., Stratford, CT Nov 21, 2010
I greatly appreciate you sharing this account of Heidi's apparent alerting and greeting a presence she could sense. It is through reports of animals' reactions such as you describe that we may get a glimpse through the prism of our material existence of the metaphysical realm of being and non-being, enduring love being one of the keys that opens the doors of perception.
I receive many letters like yours, and others relating to the empathosphere, which some skeptical readers either do not feel are appropriate or complain about because they feel that this column should deal exclusively with health-care issues and behavioral problems. However, the content of this column is determined principally on the basis of the number of similar letters I receive that relate to a common topic rather than on some issue or concept that I may wish to publicize or personally promote. Part of our healing as a culture is linked to the healing and well-being of animals -- be they companion or therapy/assistance animals, or the billions who are propagated worldwide for food and other commercial purposes. An integral aspect of this healing process is recognition of the power of love, as compassionate action and kind concern for all living beings. Animals show us something of this kind of love in their trust and devotion. They can and do share, as per the many letters I receive like yours, an empathic, spiritual bond with humans. To acknowledge the importance of addressing their spiritual presence and well-being, as with human patients in busy, depersonalizing hospital settings, is an essential aspect of proper care and recuperation.
B.L.F., Fort Myers, FL
Nov 21, 2010
I am writing this letter to encourage persons who have lost a companion pet to adopt a younger animal for the remaining pet. So many of our friends have said they are hesitant to bring in a younger pet to accompany an older pet.
About eight years ago we adopted two shorthaired cats, who were litter mates and had been displaced as their owners were going to a senior residence. About a month ago Diz -- the less dominant one -- passed away. Taz, who has always been independent, began sleeping a lot and was not interested in going out on the lanai or participating in any play activities. He definitely missed his partner. So when the staff at our veterinarian's office suggested that the gorgeous, recently abandoned, all-black female cat (Pepper) was available, we began to consider adoption. Pepper's adoption has been great medicine for Taz. She is a lively 2-year-old, who's full of energy. Amazingly, she realizes that Taz is older and respects his age, though she playfully picks on him now and then. At first, she was tempted to hide behind the desk and hesitated going into the room with Taz. Now, only four weeks later, she sleeps near him on the bed for afternoon naps, encourages him to get up and chase her, and does not interfere with his eating patterns.
Taz may even live longer because he has this young gal to keep him lively!
B.L.F., Fort Myers, FL Nov 21, 2010
My advice is to take in the "replacement" cat only on the condition that he or she has a clean bill of health and after a trial basis to see if the two cats will get along. This process can be facilitated in many instances by using Feliway cat pheromone in a plug-in room diffuser and by letting the cats get used to each other through a cat-proof, see-through barrier.
K.B., Wappapello, Mo
Nov 15, 2010
We have a 5-year-old neutered male miniature fox terrier. Our vet determined that he has diabetes. Every morning after he eats, I give him 0.15 milliliters of Vetsulin in a shot to his buttocks. I would like to know if there is an oral method for giving him this medicine.
How many times can I use a syringe for him? This medicine and the syringes are expensive for a retired person on a fixed income like myself.
K.B., Wappapello, Mo Nov 15, 2010
I am sorry you have the financial and emotional burden of coping with a diabetic dog. Unfortunately, this condition is common in some breeds like your mini-terrier. It can be aggravated by high-cereal, carbohydrate-containing dog foods. Some even contain sucrose and corn syrup (high fructose), which I consider criminal. The latter is partly responsible for America's obesity and diabetic epidemic.
Ask the veterinarian to supply you with re-usable syringes and needles (throw-away syringes are another abomination); and instruct you how to clean and sterilize them. There are no oral medicines to help your dog. A half-teaspoon of cinnamon in his low-carb food every day may help.
D.R., Cape Coral, FL
Nov 15, 2010
I've had four feral cats since they were kittens. The oldest, Rudy, is 15 years old and he's driving me up the wall, spraying all around the house.
He has been to the vet several times and they say he's fine and that it's behavioral -- like he's not happy about something. I don't know what he could be unhappy about, but he's ruined my furniture and carpeting. I keep cleaning the spots, put mothballs around and nothing helps. I finally had to replace the carpet and I put tile down. Still, I'm finding more yellow spots.
I don't know where to turn. Friends say I should put him down. I don't think I can do that, but I may have to.
Do you have any suggestions? The vet even put him on amitriptyline to no avail.
D.R., Cape Coral, FL Nov 15, 2010
Your cat is 15 years old and could have the feline equivalent of Alzheimer's disease. Check with your vet about trying seligiline, which can help older cats showing signs of anxiety and dementia. As an alternative, good-quality catnip may help calm him down, which contains similar chemicals found in valerian and in the derived prescription drug Valium but is much more palatable.
Also discuss with your veterinarian the possibility of giving your cat glucosamine, which helps with irritable bladder problems (as does valerian). Plus, give your cat a drop or two of good quality fish oil in his food, working up to a teaspoon daily. Fish oil has potent anti-inflammatory, heart and circulation effects that can help older cats with cardiac, arthritic and other problems.