V.T., Poughkeepsie, NY
Tags: cat Poughkeepsie NY diet food
Dec 10, 2012
My 11-year-old male cat will eat only dry Kitten Chow. He will sometimes eat cantaloupe when we have it in the summer.
He is a house cat who scratches up furniture and is timid. He has never been ill until lately, and he now has a sore left eye. Forget about changing food -- he tries to bury anything besides Kitten Chow. Is it OK if he continues eating this? I have plenty of fresh water around.
What can I do for the eye? The last cat I took to the vet was so afraid, he died of a heart attack.
V.T., Poughkeepsie, NY Dec 11, 2012
Considering your cat's age and evident addiction to dry food, try transitioning him onto a dry food that has no corn or soy ingredients. There are several improved brands on the market -- just read the labels. Visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, for names of brands that I recommend.
His eye condition does concern me. He may have an infection or a turned-in eyelash, which could lead to ulceration of the cornea or blindness.
There are veterinarians who make house calls, so check your local Yellow Pages to find one who will come to your home to examine your cat and provide appropriate treatment. Going to the veterinary hospital can be extremely stressful for some cats, and I sympathize with the loss of your other cat. Putting cats in a boarding facility can also be stressful and result in post-traumatic stress disorder. This is why I advise either an early-in-life boarding experience or in-home care for people going away on vacation without their cats.
M.C., Washington, DC
Tags: cat Washington DC dental
Dec 09, 2012
My question concerns the relatively recent advice on cleaning the teeth of cats -- a process requiring anesthesia. If you recommend this for a healthy animal, how often should he or she be subjected to it?
In my childhood, we had many pets over the years, and they all lived long lives. Our cats lived to be 18 to 20 years old, and their teeth were never cleaned.
M.C., Washington, DC Dec 10, 2012
Some will argue that cats in years past did not receive adequate veterinary preventive care. But in years past, many cats were allowed to roam free, killing mice and other small prey that naturally helped keep their teeth clean. Nor were they fed high-fiber, processed ingredients in their diet, like the microparticulate, glutinous materials in many canned and dry (soak them and see!) cat foods.
Regrettably, periodontal and other gum and tooth diseases are all too common in cats and dogs, especially toy and brachiocephalic (pushed-in face) breeds with crammed and misaligned teeth. Neglected, these oral diseases cause animals pain, misery and secondary infections spreading to the heart, liver and kidneys. Inflammatory substances (cytokines) injure the heart, kidneys, pancreas and possibly the joints.
Daily brushing (with equal parts salt and baking soda), safe chew toys, and periodic treatments with specific oral care products -- like those from PetzLife -- will help reduce the need for annual dental cleaning under a general anesthetic. This is a high-risk procedure for many animals and could be avoided by owners taking better care of their animals' mouths.
Dec 09, 2012
Our 6-year-old male seal point Himalayan cat, Jojo, started limping about six months ago. We recently took him to the vet, as the limp seemed to become worse. The physical exam was unable to provoke any pain response, and no swelling was noted. X-rays of the right and left shoulders showed a growth on both approximate to the humerus/shoulder. The growth is considerably larger on the right, and his limp appears to involve the right front side. Unfortunately, I do not have a specific name for this condition and cannot research the diagnosis to obtain alternative care other than a humeral head osteotomy, which has been mentioned by a consulting surgeon as a future possibility, but is not recommended at this time due to a questionable outcome.
Jojo has one capsule of Dasuquin per day. For pain, he can receive a small amount of aspirin every 72 hours. I have not started the aspirin due to potential liver and kidney issues.
We purchased Jojo and his brother, Mokie (who died of fibrocystic kidney disease at age 3), from a private breeder, and we are not aware of any injury or trauma.
Dec 10, 2012
I suspect that your poor cat has a congenital deformity in both shoulder joints, the instability caused by dysplasia of the joints leading to the abnormal bone and connective tissue proliferation. This is how the cat's body is reacting in an attempt to stabilize the joints. The inflammatory reaction may be temporarily alleviated by short-term treatment with steroids.
Long-term benefit may come from anti-inflammatory turmeric and omega-3 fatty acid supplements as provided in fish oils. Discuss sources and dosage with your veterinarian. Organically certified free-range poultry and other meats and dairy products contain more omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally corn-fed and factory farm animals.
Be sure your cat is on a corn- and grain-free diet. I would advise against invasive surgery. My massage therapy book, "The Healing Touch for Cats," may help you make life more comfortable for Jojo with a daily massage. Any discomfort in one part of the body will throw the rest of the body out of balance and possibly lead to secondary injuries. Inform the breeder of Jojo's condition and Mokie's demise.
D.R.G., Poughkeepsie, NY
Tags: cat Poughkeepsie NY empathosphere
Dec 02, 2012
I believe my cat, Kali, has remote sensing abilities. Her eyes twitch and perk up whenever my husband is coming home, even at different times and in different vehicles. She knows when I am ill, and she will not leave my side for a minute. She can negotiate from any part of our two-story home, her favorite being the screened-in porch, where she can sense birds nearby and will sit chittering away.
Kali is blind from an eye infection as a kitten. If you move the furniture or put something foreign on the floor, she will bump into it. But she knows where the clear paths are to run and play with toys that she finds thanks to the catnip smell. She will tap me on the face when she wants a treat and reminds us when her pill is due. She is showered with treats and attention. She was on phenobarbital for seizures for eight years and now is on thyroid medication. The people at the vet's office love her for her gentleness and trust. She truly has a unique personality.
We also had a cat named Weird Kitty who accidentally got into our car and went to work with my husband 10 miles away on busy roads. We were unable to find her on our own, but within two weeks she showed up at our door, hungry and happy to see us.
At one point, our mean landlord gathered all the cats in our complex and dumped them miles away in a wooded area. I searched desperately for weeks. I couldn't find any of the cats until one day, walking on the dirt road, my cat walked out of the woods and came to me. I never let a cat outside again.
D.R.G., Poughkeepsie, NY Dec 03, 2012
Many readers will join me in expressing appreciation for your sharing of experiences with Kali.
Had I received your letter earlier, I would have mentioned Kali's remote sensing abilities during my interview on ABC's news program "20/20," which aired Oct. 26. I discussed cats and dogs being the first to know when a loved one has died in the hospital, and their ability to find a loved one, buried or alive, in locales where they have never been before. Watch the episode at abc.go.com.
I welcome receiving letters from readers wishing to share such experiences, in part because they demonstrate the power of love, and in part because they are a challenge for science and reason to explain.
Perhaps if we were as open to the universe as our animal kin, we would neither doubt nor deny the reality of this dimension of consciousness that I call the "empathosphere."
Nov 26, 2012
Yesterday we adopted a kitten from the Humane Society. We couldn't take her home right away because she had to get spayed first.
Stupidly, because we didn't know any better, our two previous cats were declawed. We now know how horrible this procedure is, and this is not a fate that our new little girl is going to suffer.
One of my friends puts covers over her cat's front claws that last from four weeks up to several months.
Is this a good practice? If yes, can you recommend a place where these can be obtained? If not, how do we teach her not to claw our furniture? Even if she does claw the furniture, we will still love her, but we'd really rather that she doesn't get into that habit.
Nov 27, 2012
I appreciate your concerns, and I am glad that the veterinarian doing the spay surgery on your cat did not push you to have her declawed at the same time. Check my website for a review on the declawing procedure, which can permanently disable cats.
The adhesive balls you're talking about come off too easily, and some cats pull them off quickly in the process of nibble-cleaning their claws. While you can snip the sharp points off the front claws, just like trimming your own nails (and most cats get used to this), I find the best approach is to train them to use a vertical scratch post and a horizontal scratch board.
The post must not wobble and should be taller than the cat's full, stretched-out length. Let the kitten see you raking the post with your fingernails, and then put her up against the post to show her what to do. They're called copycats for a reason!
Tack old carpet or thick towels behind sofas and other furniture you do not want scratched and also use thick plastic sheets for temporary protection.
E. & C.V., Torrance, CA
Tags: cat CA diet food Torrance
Nov 19, 2012
We read your column in the Fargo, N.D., Forum. Recently, you requested feedback on pet improvement after changing pet food.
Our cat is a female American shorthair, 11 years old, spayed and indoor-only. Her original food was Hills Science Diet Active Longevity. She was overweight at 14 pounds. For about a year, she had a cyst on her cheek that was the size of a large grape, which we had drained by the vet. It did not seem to bother her. She had bowel troubles from time to time, a dirty rear end and anal gland problems. She would chew at her fur a lot.
About five months ago, we switched her to Wellness Indoor Health Dry Food and Wellness Indulgence Poultry Packets (wet food). She quickly took to the new diet. As of now, the bowel and rear end problems have cleared up. She has lost 2 pounds. She is much more lively, alert and active. The cyst has shrunk considerably and seems to be drying up. She leaves her fur alone also.
Thanks so much for the information.
E. & C.V., Torrance, CA Nov 20, 2012
Thanks for confirming the benefits that can come when one focuses not simply on the symptoms when an animal has health issues, but on what the animal is being fed. Some ingredients in many popular and widely advertised brands, especially corn and other genetically modified ingredients (GMOs), may be putting our animals at risk -- even foods sold by the vet. All pet and human foods should be labeled to indicate if they contain GMOs. It's best to buy USDA organically certified produce and cook from scratch using known ingredients. For an in-depth review of what goes into many pet foods, and for home-prepared recipes for dogs and cats, see the new paperback edition of the book that I co-authored with two other veterinarians, "Not Fit for a Dog."
For more information see Dr. Fox's reports:
M.D., Labadie, Mo
Nov 18, 2012
I was disappointed in your recent response to G.L. in Washington, D.C., the feral cat colony caretaker. Instead of providing him with a link to Alley Cat Allies (alleycat.org), a nonprofit group dedicated to helping cats, you persisted in providing antiquated arguments for the death of cats. The website has an entire section that would have answered G.L.'s questions much better than you did, which was to advocate he euthanize his cats.
You also maintain that cats kill birds and other wildlife. My feral cat takes out the moles that destroy my yard, kills copperhead snakes and keeps down the mouse and other rodent population. Take out the cats through your plan, and these creatures have no natural predator and their populations explode.
I would suggest you educate yourself before giving the public outdated information. You have lost credibility with me for perpetuating stereotypes. I hope you can inform the public in a future column that there are better ways and better answers than what you wrote.
M.D., Labadie, Mo Nov 19, 2012
While I appreciate what Alley Cat Allies is doing to help increase public awareness about the plight of free-roaming lost and feral cats, I am not alone in my opinion. Many in the veterinary profession, as well as other wildlife biologists, question the wisdom and humaneness of TNR (trap-neuter-release) and people maintaining colonies of feral cats. Your statement that I advocate only euthanasia is incorrect.
By your own admission, your cats are killing wildlife. The moles are part of the natural environment you occupy, and I, for one, welcome them. They were here on Earth long before we humans became an infestation, and in many cases, they benefit the soil. Copperheads and other snakes are natural rodent controllers, which helps control the viruses rodents transmit, such as the hantavirus.
According to the American Bird Conservancy, only about one-third of the 77 million pet cats in the U.S. are kept indoors exclusively, while free-roaming cats kill an estimated 500 million birds annually -- a staggering figure. Fledglings who have just left the nest are especially vulnerable to these domestic and feral predators.
Domestic cats have no place outdoors, and our compassion for these homeless animals should not trump common sense and sound science.
My home is enriched by two feral cats my wife and I trapped and saved from Minnesota winters. One took six months to venture out from a safe corner he chose as his refuge. Neither shows any desire to go back outdoors, and both are now wonderful companions who I can kiss on their tummies and play wild games with at night. Trap-neuter-rehabilitate is my TNR mantra, with release through euthanasia being the very last option.
Nov 18, 2012
We, too, have taken in outdoor cats (more or less feral) who, once given the opportunity to be indoor cats, never wanted to run wild again. For years, my wife and I had a brother and sister from the same litter, Oberon and Titania, who had been outdoor cats for the first six years of their lives. (My wife fed them, but we didn't have the opportunity to take them in at first.) Once our situation changed and we brought them inside, they would frequently sit by the sliding-glass door and watch the outside for hours on end. If the front door was left open, they might slip outside just for a sniff, but they never left the front steps, and if the door closed behind them, they'd immediately scratch at it and meow to be let back in.
We now have a little cat, Oliver, who was found as the neighborhood stray when he was not quite fully grown. He, too, loves to sit on the window ledge and watch the outdoors, and if the door is opened, he gets excited and will investigate, but if it's held open for him he will rarely venture out. If he does, he never goes more than a few feet from the door. I think all three of these cats remembered what it was like to be an outdoor cat and had no desire to revisit that cold, wet, lonely experience.
Nov 19, 2012
Thanks for confirming just how sensible cats are when it comes to knowing life indoors is better than having to fend for themselves outdoors! Some people forget their ancestors came from the deserts of North Africa.
As I have shared with readers, our two formerly feral cats never want to go outdoors, but one of them loves to watch the creatures around our bird feeders through the screen door and from various window ledges. It's his TV!
Making provision for indoor cats to look out from an extended, carpeted window ledge or cat condo placed beside the window, ideally with a bird feeder outside in full view, is the kind of environmental enrichment most cats really enjoy.
Tags: cat cat litter
Nov 11, 2012
I am having an ongoing argument with my husband about cleaning out the litter box, which he is now doing because I am pregnant. We have two adopted cats, and they mess the box quickly. My husband says it is fine to clean out the box last thing at night, and I say three times a day.
What is your opinion? I think my cats like a relatively clean box, which is uncovered without a dome, as per your advice.
Nov 12, 2012
This is not the first time this issue has come up in my column. You have to train your husband. Have him flush the toilet you share -- use only one if you have more -- just once a day and leave the lid up. Try that for a few days. His Paleolithic brain may be tweaked to appreciate using a clean, flushed toilet and make a magical empathic leap into the psyches of your two cats.
The litter box should be cleaned three to four times daily, and fresh litter put in to replace the soiled as needed. Surely your husband has seen how fastidious cats are about their personal hygiene, carefully grooming themselves and each other. Having to use a litter box with buried feces and clumps of urine is like treading through a veritable minefield for any cat who does not like to get dirty paws that have to be cleaned afterward, sometimes ingesting adhering cat litter and excrement in the process.
It is wise for all pregnant women to have someone else clean out the cat litter box because of the risk of toxoplasmosis, which studies in the U.K. have linked with depression, suicide and schizophrenia in adults in addition to blindness and neurological problems in infants. Pregnant women should never eat meat that has not been well cooked since this is a major source of toxoplasmosis, and high heat destroys this parasite. Use gloves in the garden because cat-poop-contaminated soil could carry this parasite, which free-roaming cats can also bring into our homes when they kill and eat infested rodents.
B.F., Medford, OR
Tags: cat OR diet food Medford
Nov 11, 2012
I think my question may be a common one, so I would like your input on it. I have a normal, healthy 3-year-old male (neutered) orange tabby cat who is overweight. He is outside about three hours a day. For the past year I have been feeding him nothing but dry diet food -- different brands -- 3/4 cup per day, which is less than the manufacturer recommends. During this time, he has not lost one ounce!
He stays at 20 pounds every time I weigh him. I know he is not eating any birds or mice, and he never leaves the backyard, so I know no one else is feeding him. He is hungry all the time. Should I be concerned about his weight issue? Is it indicating a potential medical problem, or is he just a big cat? Any advice you can provide would be much appreciated.
B.F., Medford, OR Nov 12, 2012
I am glad you are concerned, because there is a virtual epidemic of obesity in cats and dogs as well as people today, with health complications shared by all three species. These complications include diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart and circulatory problems, arthritis, cognitive impairment -- the list goes on.
Please make every effort to transition your cat onto a grain- and soy-free cat food -- canned, dry or raw. For more details, visit feline-nutrition.org. Many cats on high-fiber, weight-reducing diets suffer from constant hunger and malnutrition. Feed your cat 4 to 6 teaspoon-size meals daily.