A.B.S., Washington, DC
Tags: cat Washington DC
May 30, 2011
I have two cats who are about 1-1/2 years old -- the mostly Siamese is male, and the plain white is female.
For the past several months, I have been trying to toilet train them, using the kit that comes with a persuasive DVD showing that the system is successful. The female gets the picture and happily hops up on the toilet (with the first insert installed) to do her business. I cannot move her on to the next step, however, because the male refuses to do so, even though he jumps up on a closed toilet seat and can climb six-foot fences.
Even though I relented and put down his old litter box with a scant layer of litter, he took to using the bathroom floor. I cleaned up the messes immediately and tried to keep the floor free from his scents. But the other night, he urinated on my bed, while I was asleep! Then the next night, he snuck in and did the same thing.
Can you provide some advice on how to solve this twofold problem? I hope it will not be to forgo the toilet training, which I am eager to accomplish and which the female is cooperating with.
A.B.S., Washington, DC May 30, 2011
While most cats are highly intelligent and amenable to training, I would not endorse teaching them to jump up onto the toilet seat, even if purportedly modified for the feline evacuation.
Cats need to dig before they evacuate and then cover with suitable litter material. This natural process and sequence involves being on the ground rather than having to jump up and balance on a toilet seat.
The physical and psychological stress on your male cat could well have led to his house soiling and marking your bed. It could also have brought on an attack of cystitis -- a common reaction to stress in cats. So I advise a veterinary checkup and a return to the more natural litter-box cat toilet.
R.D.P., Hendersonville, NC
Tags: cat dog Hendersonville NC
May 30, 2011
People claim to have witnessed the energy essence of a dying person leave the person's body at the moment of death, and people claim to have witnessed a pet dog's or cat's energy essence leave the body at the moment of death. They say they've witnessed the energy essence form into a little cloud once outside the body.
This raises the question of whether the energy essence of a person and/or animal is the same energy essence. And once out of the body, does the energy essence of an animal possess the same degree of intelligence as that of a human? Does God create humans and animals with the same kind of soul?
R.D.P., Hendersonville, NC May 30, 2011
I have received similar letters like yours from other readers, and while I tread deep, if not controversial, waters here, I offer my opinion.
Several years ago, a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch confided to me that when he was present at his dog's euthanasia, he saw some kind of cloudlike ephemeral energy rise up from the dog's body after the last breath.
I believe that all living beings are inspirited -- or if you like, divinely inspired. Body plus spirit equals a living soul. This is our kinship with all life, which we should treat with respect and obey the golden rule of treating others as we would have them treat us.
D.P., Hyde Park, NY
May 30, 2011
Honey, my 14-year-old female cocker spaniel, has a skin condition that makes her develop something similar to scaly warts year-round. I have taken her to many vets and received many different diagnoses: from mites under her skin to a thyroid problem. Some of the vets have put her on strong medicine that affected her hearing and sight. She was also tested for Lyme disease and heartworm; both tests came back negative.
I got to the point where I felt so bad for Honey that I took her off all the medicine and began giving her vitamin A, vitamin E and brewer's yeast. I also only feed her a natural food made from sweet potato and fish. She seems to be doing much better. Her energy levels are better, and there seem to be fewer lumps. But she is now completely deaf and has developed red circles around her neck and chest area (and she does not wear a collar). Can you tell me what is going on with her? Finding a natural solution would be a godsend.
D.P., Hyde Park, NY May 30, 2011
You have been through the proverbial mill with your poor dog, and have come up with a partial cure yourself. I would have her thyroid function re-evaluated. Putting her on thyroid-replacement hormones (if needed) could be the solution.
Cocker spaniels are prone to develop chronic seborrhea: greasy, scabby, itchy dermatitis. I advise giving about one-quarter the recommended human daily dose twice daily of vitamin A, plus a 1/2 teaspoon of oil of primrose or borage oil and 1 teaspoon of brewer's yeast to dogs with such skin problems. For some, the addition of a zinc supplement is helpful. Probiotics, prebiotics and digestive-enzyme supplements can also be beneficial, especially for older dogs.
Periodic bathing with human-medicated selenium blue shampoo may also make life more comfortable for your old dog, along with a clean cotton bath towel to lie on (use scent-free, low-phosphate laundry soap).
B.B., West Palm Beach, FL
Tags: cat West Palm Beach FL diet food
May 29, 2011
I read your column regarding the 11-year-old cat with a vomiting problem, and I am experiencing a similar issue with my 12-year-old female cat, Lizzie.
Her vomiting occurs intermittently, and she can go weeks without an episode and then they occur several times within a couple of days. Mostly an indoor cat, she does occasionally go outside, and I have seen her eat grass. At those times, I can be sure she will throw up. She has also had some urinary-tract infections during the past 18 months.
I feed her Fancy Feast (sometimes the Publix brand) moist food for the most part. I also use Science Diet dry food. I recently purchased Science Diet Mature Adult Years Active Longevity. I have also tried Nutro Natural Choice Indoor Mature Health Senior, which I have been alternating with maybe two weeks on and two or three weeks off.
I have seen Evo and Wellness on the shelves but have not tried them. I am more concerned with the urinary-tract infections than with the occasional vomiting. What is the best diet I can offer?
B.B., West Palm Beach, FL May 29, 2011
A corn- and grain-free (no wheat, rice, etc.) diet may solve your cat's problems. Both Evo Dry Cat Food and Wellness Dry Cat Food (which we feed our two cats) are corn- and grain-free.
Many cats are allergic to corn, and this can cause vomiting and cystitis, confirmed by our cats' recovery when given corn-free foods. Most of the corn and soy (especially in dog foods) have been genetically modified (GM), as are many human foods and beverages. This is because food ingredients from GM corn and soybean are being increasingly recognized, following tests on laboratory animals, as potentially harmful to man and beast alike.
D.L.M., Lake Worth, FL
Tags: dog Lake Worth FL diet food
May 29, 2011
My two Cavalier King Charles spaniels are both 10 years old. The female has been prone to bladder infections at times and treated. Recently, the male was diagnosed and treated for a bladder infection, and the vet found that my dog also has bladder stones and he suggested surgery to remove them.
I was unaware of the bladder infection, as I attributed his frequent urination to the medication he takes for his heart condition. His medications are Furosemide (15 mg. twice daily), Enalapril (10 mg. twice daily) and Vetmedin (2.5 mg. once a day). Owing to his age and heart condition, I am hesitant to let him undergo anesthesia and surgery. When I asked the vet if we could ascertain what is causing the bladder stones, he informed me that they would have to analyze the stones after surgery to determine the cause.
Both dogs are eating Beneful Healthy Weight and have been for some time, so I doubt that is the cause. I am guilty of feeding them table food, but would like to seek an alternative to surgery short of changing their whole diet that they've been accustomed to all their lives.
I am not an advocate of medication for myself and prefer holistic methods, if possible. I would like to find an alternative solution to my dogs' problems. Any suggestions?
D.L.M., Lake Worth, FL May 29, 2011
You certainly were not wrong in believing that your dog's heart medication was responsible for his frequent urination, and you shouldn't feel guilty about feeding "table food" because, when properly balanced, it is superior to most of the big-brand dry dog foods on the market.
A high-cereal diet, coupled with genetic (breed) susceptibility, can lead to urinary calculi (bladder stones), often compounded by bacterial infection and animals not drinking sufficient fluids.
Surgery might be avoided if the stones are not too large and the small ones (crystals) can be found in your dog's urine. These can be analyzed and, depending on the clinical composition, might be efficiently dissolved by a change in diet. Have your veterinarian contact the veterinary consultants at Balance IT, (888) 346-6362, for recipes that you can prepare for your dog if a dietary solution is possible.
K.P., St. Louis, Mo
Tags: dog MO St Louis
May 23, 2011
My husband watches the game show "Jeopardy" in the afternoon; it features a tune reminiscent of "The Syncopated Clock." When that particular song comes on toward the end, Patch (our Brittany spaniel) howls in tempo with the music! I videotaped those few minutes of "Jeopardy," and we have occasionally played it for friends. Each time, Patch has performed on cue. He also sings along with the "ESPN SportsCenter" theme and with the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" opening. But he is most vocal with the "Jeopardy" theme.
K.P., St. Louis, Mo May 23, 2011
Your Patch is one of many TV-exposed dogs who are clearly more tuned in to certain programs than one might expect. Behavioral studies can demystify why certain songs appeal to them, showing that certain notes on a particular pitch trigger an instinctive response because those notes are part of the animal's vocal repertoire.
Howling or "singing" is a common canid trait that can be triggered by certain notes that are similar to the natural sounds that dogs, coyotes and wolves make.
As for watching TV, it is especially amusing when some dogs take a particular dislike to certain newscasters and bark and growl when they come on the screen. Dogs do enjoy some types of music, especially classical, and the CD "Through a Dog's Ear" seems to be appreciated by many canine audiophiles.
J.D., North Palm Beach, FL
Tags: cat North Palm Beach FL
May 23, 2011
Do all Siamese cats shed? My 5-year-old keeps shedding and shedding, no matter how much I brush her. She has numerous white flakes on her back. She also vomits now and then, but it seems less often since I've been brushing her daily.
The other day after brushing and seeing all the dandruff, I bathed her with Vet Solutions Aloe & Oatmeal Shampoo and used Tropiclean Oxy Med Medicated Oatmeal Treatment Rinse. Afterward, the hair came to the surface of her back in clumps and there was more dandruff. Later that night, I brushed her again and used pramoxine HCI spray and rubbed it into her scalp. Handfuls of hair came out again, and yet she has no bald patches.
This has been going on all her life, but it seems much worse now. I rarely resort to all that bathing and rinsing. I use the FURminator or the wire brush, and she loves it. She eats well and drinks lots of water. Her food is Nutro Natural Choice Indoor Active Health Adult, ocean-fish flavor, and I usually put a few drops of olive oil on top. I've tried Halo, Science Diet, Wellness and many others.
I would appreciate any suggestions you may have. The vet says she's healthy, and the girls at work say their cats shed and lick a lot, too.
J.D., North Palm Beach, FL May 23, 2011
Olive, flaxseed and other vegetable oils are good for dogs' coats and skin but lack some of the essential fatty acids that cats need. Cats require oils and fats of animal origin such as wild salmon or cod-liver oil. Organic butter is also an excellent source for cats in particular.
I find it best to groom my cats once a week with the FURminator and daily with a medium-hard bristle brush. The more deeply and vigorously you groom a cat, the more fur you will remove and the more they will produce -- so all things in moderation! Stress can make cats suddenly shed; and chronic shedding and constant licking/scratching in both dogs and cats could mean there is an underlying nutritional or other health issue that calls for a thorough veterinary checkup.
E-R.G., Norfolk, Va
Tags: cat Norfolk VA
May 22, 2011
My 8-year-old male Russian Blue cat was recently diagnosed with fibrosarcoma. He also has a round open wound on his right haunch that is clean and doesn't seem to bother him, but it drains and is quite messy. Two separate vets have told me that this wound can't be closed and that it has something to do with the blood supply to the tumor that, at this point, is helping to keep him alive.
He doesn't appear to be in any pain and is eating, pooping, playing, and sleeping normally. His brother from the same litter is well. I don't understand why this wound won't heal itself or why it can't be closed. Is there anything I can do to make him feel better?
E-R.G., Norfolk, Va May 22, 2011
It is good to know that your cancer-afflicted cat is still enjoying life and showing no other symptoms. Because fibrosarcomas in cats are linked to the place in their skin where they were injected, veterinarians vaccinate cats down their legs rather than behind the neck. Surgical removal of the cancer, often involving limb amputation, is more likely to eliminate the cancer (which can spread into surrounding tissues and internal organs) than surgery around the neck or between the shoulder blades.
Because frankincense oil has been shown to kill melanomas in horses, I would like to see clinical trials with this and other essential oils such as myrrh and helichrysum in cats with fibrosarcoma, noting that for cats (unlike dogs and humans), these oils are not without some risk to their livers. Also, discuss treating the non-healing lesion with your veterinarian using a mixture of organic honey and sangre de drago, the red-colored healing sap from an Amazon tree.
S.A., Warrenton, Va
Tags: cat Warrenton VA diet food
May 22, 2011
We adopted a beagle a year ago, and while she is supposed to be about 5 years old, I would say she is older, as her teeth were in terrible condition and she now has a white muzzle. The problem is that her stools have always been too soft (she has anal-gland problems). Upon changing her food in December, she had a terrible bout with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. Since that time, I have been feeding her brown rice, chicken and broccoli, but these foods have not helped with the soft stools. Recently, after running out of rice, I gave her oatmeal instead, thinking that would be bland enough. Big mistake: The gastroenteritis started all over again.
I am not sure what to feed her. I would like to put her on the homemade food that you prescribe, but am afraid to add the supplements. At the moment, she eats Hill's i/d Gastrointestinal Health food.
S.A., Warrenton, Va May 22, 2011
Your dog probably has inflammatory-bowel disease. Many co-factors should be addressed, such as intestinal infection, parasites such as giardia, food allergy and gluten sensitivity. During acute episodes of diarrhea, give rice or barley water with a pinch of salt and sugar and no food for 24 to 36 hours as an emergency measure. Body hydration is important and may require emergency veterinary treatment with replacement fluids. During such an episode, veterinarians often prescribe antispasmodics and metronidazole; they also advise a bland, home-prepared diet of known ingredients like those recipes formulated by veterinarians for various dog and cat health problems available from Balance IT, DVM Consulting Inc. in Davis, Calif.; phone: (888) 346-6362.
Successful treatment with oral calcium aluminosilicate or kaolin and pectin, slippery elm or aloe-vera juice has been reported and could be tried under veterinary supervision. The inexpensive drug tylosin has recently been reported to benefit dogs afflicted by inflammatory-bowel conditions.
P.F., Neptune, NJ
May 16, 2011
My cat is going crazy! Every night when I go to bed and turn the TV off, she begins her rampage. She starts banging on the closet door, running through the house, knocking things over, etc. I spray water at her, but it doesn't work. This goes on for about 30 minutes before she calms down and goes to sleep. The next morning at 6:45, she jumps on the bed and meows or jumps down and bangs on things again until I get up, give her treats, and open the shades for her to look out -- only then is she happy.
I try to keep her up from 6 p.m. until I go to sleep, I keep waking her when she goes to sleep in the hopes that she will be tired when I go to sleep, but it doesn't work. Please help me!
P.F., Neptune, NJ May 16, 2011
What you are describing is perfectly normal feline behavior. Many cats have what I call the "evening crazies," racing and banging around the home. Then they get turned on around sunrise.
Biologists call this morning and evening activity cycle "crepuscular," as distinct from nocturnal and diurnal activity of owls and dogs, respectively. Trying to make your cat diurnal by waking her up will not work.
You have two options: wild play with your cat just before you go to bed or ideally adopt another cat so they can romp together and not bug you.
Of our two cats who enjoy evening romps and wrestling together, one in particular, Pinto Bean, will just take off by himself and race through the house often with his tail fluffed out as though he were terrified!
It is rather amazing how cats can make such heavy footfalls on the floor. This should not disturb you when you think of how much fun your crepuscular cat is having -- and staying fit in the process with a compatible feline companion.