G.S., Miami, FL
Tags: small pet
Mar 13, 2011
I have a Congo African Grey parrot (22 months old), who began to feather-pick about five months ago, mainly on her chest. She is sweet, but also hyper. Her diet consists primarily of African special pellets; the remainder is veggies, fruits and treats.
I have tried both sprays once a week, and every night I spray just her chest. It seems to get better for a while, but she resumes picking again. We also tried using the cone, with moderate results. She is a great talker and loves to please. Any suggestions?
G.S., Miami, FL Mar 13, 2011
Feather-picking (often to the point of extensive disfiguring and self-mutilation) is an all-too-common problem with caged birds, especially parrots.
An avian veterinary specialist must rule out possible physical causes like feather mites and nutritional deficiency. Then focus on possible psychological causes and try various remedies for the same. These causes can include boredom, prolonged confinement, lack of exercise, and stress associated with the placement of the cage near a noisy or high-traffic part of the house and any other environmental factors that could make your bird fearful.
Many birds improve when given more freedom, a large flight cage and a compatible, adopted, healthy bird of the same species from one of the bird-rescue and rehabilitation centers across the country.
The bottom line for me is to see the phasing out of people keeping parrots as caged animals, because so many do not adapt well (with rare exceptions) to such a deprived, abnormal existence. They need space and the companionship of their own species, in many ways more highly developed than ours. Many become refugees in adoption and parrot refuge centers.
Many people engage in the commerce of breeding parrots and other nondomesticated species in captivity, which they erroneously equate with conservation. But unlike goldfish, hamsters, ferrets, guinea pigs and other species that have been selectively bred over thousands of generations to adapt to being kept captive in our homes and thrive when properly cared for, these are captive-bred wild species.
Many captive-bred, nondomesticated species like your parrot develop behavioral disorders indicative of stress and maladaptation to their environments. Other species become too difficult to handle, and some that are released into the wild, like pythons and other reptiles and amphibians, pose ecological problems, most notably in Florida. There are also public health, humane and environmental reasons to set federal and state laws to prohibit the breeding of all captured wild and captive-bred wild species (and hybrids thereof, such as those of wolf and dog, house cat and wild South American or South African cats) for commercial purposes.
B.L.G., Miami, FL
Tags: small pet Miami FL
Apr 14, 2007
I suppose this is not the type of question you usually receive, but I would appreciate any suggestion you may have that would help.There are several cats in our neighborhood that use our front yard as their litter box. And they don''t cover anything up. The yard smells, and it is a most unpleasant experience to step in their doings or retrieve the morning newspaper with a fresh deposit.Is there a solution to this problem? Thank you for your consideration.
B.L.G., Miami, FL Apr 15, 2007
Yours is a problem shared by many. Shame on neighbors who let their cats roam free and use other people''s property to spray and evacuate. They are creating a potentially serious public-health hazard, namely, Toxoplasmosis. Every municipality should have an ordinance prohibiting people from letting their cats go off their property.Decorative bamboo stakes creating a wall around your flowerbeds will keep cats away.
A.A., Miami, FL
Feb 17, 2007
I live in a condo, and my condo association arranges for a pest-control company to spray each unit twice a month. I have a cat that walks on the floor where the chemicals are sprayed, and then she licks her paws to clean herself. I worry that the pest-control chemicals used might be toxic.Are there any pest-control chemicals that are safe to use and that will not harm household pets?.
A.A., Miami, FL Feb 18, 2007
Pest-control companies may give every assurance the chemicals they use are safe when applied properly, but that''s what the government said about DDT and other pesticides that are now banned for health reasons.You live in a subtropical state where bugs can be an annoyance but are relatively harmless compared to the chemicals used to keep them at bay. Your condo association should wake up and consult with a company that offers an integrative pest-management program that has zero risk to both humans and companion animals.There are, for example, flea-and-cockroach powders and baits that are safe and can be placed where your cat can''t reach. Also, your condo association should pass a resolution to not use toxic herbicides and other harmful lawn-and-garden chemicals around the property.
E.C., Miami, FL
Tags: cat Miami FL
Dec 09, 2006
My mother, an ornithologist, made war on every feline who dared set foot in the yard, whereas I have learned to adore cats. We are particularly fond of the annoyed "chirp" when our cat is not allowed to lick the butter dish. Please give equal print to "cat speak." Also, having been saddled with an unruly young-adult donkey, I was surprised to learn that a donkey goes "haw hee" instead of "hee haw." So much for the song "Sweetly Sings the Donkey at the Break of Day." -- P.R., Virginia Beach, Va.DEAR P.R.: Cats do indeed "speak!" Here is a brief synopsis of felinese -- the sounds that cats make to express feelings and intentions. (Note: Some cats are real talkers, like the Siamese, but others rarely make any sounds.)Basically, low-frequency rhythmic sounds are soothing, friendly and contact-seeking, while high-frequency sounds of varying duration can range from greeting and attention-seeking to threatening and expressing pain and fear.In various contexts, cats will make pure (meow) and mixed (meow-purr or hiss
E.C., Miami, FL Dec 10, 2006
You are doing a good job taking a more holistic approach to your health and to your dog''s health. My report on organic agriculture playing a vital role in holistic health and preventive medicine on my Web site (www.doctormwfox.org) will confirm the wisdom of your going "as organic as possible."You should also check there for additional steps to help control fleas and other potentially harmful insects. Sprinkling borax once a week into cracks and crevices throughout the house the last thing at night, then vacuuming up thoroughly the next morning, will also keep fleas at bay.For more information on the serious public and environmental health problems and looming economic problems of conventional industrial agriculture, see my book "Eating With Conscience: The Bioethics of Food" (NewSage Press, 1997).
The Leon Family, Miami, FL
Tags: small pet Miami FL
Nov 18, 2006
We have a male indoor cat. We were recently told that having a cat (male or female) indoors will cause our daughters to become infertile.We are very worried and concerned about these allegations. We think you are a very reliable expert in this field. Please advise us on this concern.
The Leon Family, Miami, FL Nov 19, 2006
It is amazing what strange rumors can spread from community to community and from generation to generation. It was once thought by many that the touch of a king would cure any disease and that seeing a black cat meant bad luck.Your rumor is a new one to me, and my educated guess is that it has come from people ill-informed and hysterical about the disease called toxoplasmosis, which cats can carry occasionally. This disease is more likely to harm a developing fetus if your daughters get pregnant than it is to make them infertile.Put your mind to rest. Have your veterinarian test the cat for the disease. Cats can pick up the disease from eating raw meat or getting outdoors and killing and eating an infected rodent -- yet one more reason to not let house cats roam free.While being an advocate of birth control myself, the only role that cats may play in this regard is to serve the emotional needs of singles and couples as their surrogate children -- a situation I embrace, considering the human overpopulation pr
P.S., Miami, FL
Tags: cat Miami FL
Sep 09, 2006
My 15-year-old tabby cat, Chelsea, seems to be having difficulty chewing, and her breath could be better, but I worry about putting her under anesthesia for a dental cleaning. She enjoys a premium diet (wet and dry), and I''ve tried finger-brushes and all kinds of tartar-control treats, without much success. She''s little but strong: Three large men had to restrain her for a shot. Her health is good. At her age, is it best for us to just live with her condition?.
P.S., Miami, FL Sep 10, 2006
Your cat is not young, but, fortunately, she is not obese like so many pets today. If your veterinarian calls for a thorough teeth cleaning after examining your cat''s mouth, have it done. It is worth the risk, which is low thanks to your cat not being grossly overweight.Many cats and dogs suffer from serious, chronic dental neglect because they are never taken for an annual veterinary checkup. Neglect can mean chronic pain, terrible halitosis (which must make them miserable) and the spread of bacterial disease into the kidneys and heart.
M.S., Miami, FL
Tags: small pet Miami FL
Aug 12, 2006
My neighbor has captured two of my cats, and I don''t know whether he has killed them or dumped them somewhere far away. I know it is my neighbor who has done this because we saw a trap with bait in his yard. Although these neighbors have complained about cats entering their yard in the past, they have absolutely no reason to believe it''s my cats that are entering their property, especially since there are several feral cats that roam the area around here. They are literally luring cats into their yard so they can do away with them.One of my other neighbors who owns cats is also missing three of her four cats. We have confronted the neighbor, and he admitted he has the trap and intends to use it to capture cats in the area, but he denied having anything to do with the disappearance of our cats.I contacted the police and animal services, but neither was willing to do anything. I find it incredible that someone could get away with stealing five pets from the neighborhood! I feel that if some other personal property had been taken, I would have a better chance of getting the police involved, which is disheartening since my cats are like family and mean more to me than mere property. I am writing to you in hopes that you can give me some ideas or suggestions as to what I can do. Please help!
M.S., Miami, FL Aug 13, 2006
I sympathize with your situation. You should call your local humane society or animal shelter, give the neighbor''s name and see whether they have any records on file of him bringing in cats for adoption/euthanasia. They may even have descriptions or photos of your cats in their files.Some municipalities have laws prohibiting people from allowing their cats to roam off their property. I wish, for cats'' and wildlife''s sake, that this was the rule for all communities across the United States, and that cat owners would never let their cats leave their property.There are fence manufacturers whose products vary in price but are generally effective when attached to the top of an existing yard fence to keep resident cats in -- and all other cats out. Alternatively, build a chicken-wire wood-frame enclosure for your cats so they can enjoy the outdoors safely. Some people attach a "cat house" to the main house, with an enclosed catwalk accessed via a flap-door or windowpane.
V.L.R., Miami, FL
Tags: small pet
May 27, 2006
In an earlier column, you wrote that dogs make a lot of different sounds to communicate. Other than barks and yelps, what are they?.
V.L.R., Miami, FL May 28, 2006
Many years ago, I did voiceprint analyses of dog (and wolf, fox and coyote) vocalizations. Dogs vary individually and from breed to breed in their vocal repertoire.Nursing pups make distinctive mews and, like adult dogs, make contentment grunts, sighs, moans, groans, whines, yelps and screams. Adult dogs bark, howl, yip, yowl, yap, lip/tongue smack, yawn-yowl, yawn-whistle (a high-pitched cry), pant, pant-huff (laugh), huff (warning) and coo/trill-yowl. Other sounds include tooth-snapping and head-shake ear-clapping.Dogs make "sentences" with these sounds, which vary in frequency, intensity and duration. For example: "Pant-yip-yelp-pant-huff, bark-yelp" when soliciting play, "yip-yelp-bark-whine" to solicit attention and "huff-growl-huff-bark-growl-bark" to give warning. These sounds clearly express motivation, emotion and intention.
M.F., Miami, FL
Tags: cat Miami FL diet food
Mar 25, 2006
I have two cats: a gray tabby from a local shelter and a black cat from a shelter in Arizona. The tabby is fine, but the cat from Arizona is constantly under attack by mosquitoes.I''ve tried Frontline, Avon Skin-So-Soft and collars, but none of them has been effective for more than a few days. Short of keeping the cat inside all summer, is there anything I can do to keep the mosquitoes from biting her along the bridge of her nose? I''m worried about her discomfort but also about West Nile disease.I''m curious to know whether you think local cats have natural resistance to mosquitoes. Cats from a place without mosquitoes always suffer from bites here.
M.F., Miami, FL Mar 26, 2006
Mosquitoes may also transmit heartworm disease and cause a severe chronic skin disorder.Don''t use Frontline (it will not repel mosquitoes) or other pesticide-releasing collars that your cat may inhale or absorb through the skin. Giving your cat 1 teaspoon of Brewer''s or nutritional yeast daily in her food may help repel mosquitoes and other insects.Some essential oils, like lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint (just one drop diluted in five to 10 drops of almond or olive oil), rubbed lightly on your cat''s nose and head may help. Switch oils weekly. Lemon oil is also effective (even homemade, sugarless lemonade may work) but can be irritating to some cats. Greater caution is needed using essential oils on cats than with dogs or humans, and they should not be allowed to lick the oil or be exposed for long periods in a closed room to these volatile substances that have many medical benefits when administered correctly.
M.S., Miami, FL
Tags: small pet Miami FL
Jun 18, 2005
We have a 7-month-old kitten who has been neutered and de-clawed. We had him de-clawed because he would scratch my husband and me all the time. Now he wants to bite.He''s like a Jekyll and Hyde -- real sweet one minute, and the next trying to bite one of us. I get it the worst because I''m with him most of the time. He has drawn blood and it really hurts. The only thing that deters him is a water pistol.Some people say he''s just playing and will outgrow it. We''re not young but we really love the kitten. Please tell us what to do.
M.S., Miami, FL Jun 19, 2005
Cats like to go wild when they play, so put down the water pistol and put on a glove and rough-play with your young cat. Also get a string with a fluffy toy on the end, and entice your cat to catch and "kill" the toy that you animate by pulling the string.Cats who have been de-clawed often bite more, possibly a compensation for what I consider to be an unnecessary and unethical mutilation because cats need their claws, and soon learn not to scratch while playing.