The Animal Doctor

DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 10-pound tabby cat and just got him back from the vet. He had a case of impacted poop. This cost me $400; $55 of that was a case of Pro Plan gastroenteritis cat food, which I had to feed him through a syringe, liquefied with chicken broth. Now that he is eating and drinking on his own, he refuses to eat this cat food. (I am not feeding him dry food anymore, and even when I did, he also got canned wet food.)

What can I do to make him eat the Pro Plan the vet recommended? I do not want to go back to feeding him like a baby bird. -- T.A., Trinity, North Carolina

DEAR T.A.: You and your cat have been through a costly ordeal. Who would ever have imagined, a generation ago, paying $400 for veterinary services to treat a constipated cat? But a generation ago, when cats were more active and not over-fed, this problem was less prevalent.

Dry cat food, with all the modern taste, odor, texture and food-addiction technology applied by manufacturers to make cats crave their manufactured kibble, is a major contributing factor to the epidemic of feline obesity and associated constipation. Organized veterinary medicine has remained relatively silent on this and other companion animal nutrition issues.

At the very least, your veterinarian should give you your money back for the unpalatable prescribed cat food, which is simply a profit-driven spinoff, intended to solve a problem created by bad cat food to begin with. This point was emphasized by veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth M. Hodgkins, formerly Director of Technical Affairs at Hills Pet Nutrition, in the book “Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat & Dog Food,” which I co-authored with her and veterinarian professor Dr. Marion E. Smart.

Feed your cat a regular, good-quality canned cat food or my home-prepared recipe (posted on my website), get her to play more, and massage her tummy regularly.

DEAR DR. FOX: What organizations working on behalf of animals would you suggest as possible beneficiaries when I write my will? I love all animals, but am especially fond of birds. -- K.A., Arlington, Virginia

DEAR K.A.: Nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting animals wild and domesticated change over the years, and not always for the best.

Some put more moneys into executive salaries on an equivalent scale to for-profit corporations that I find questionable. A few organizations, especially in the wildlife and conservation sectors, employ lawyers and other professionals who demand salaries equivalent to what they would earn in private practice. They also put millions of dollars into TV advertising and other media outlets, which they justify as “educational expenses” rather than pure self-promotion to raise more money. Since that money often comes from a limited donor pool, this effectively robs smaller, local organizations of potential funding -- especially when donors feel that they have given enough already to a good cause.

To find the better organizations that put most of the funds they raise into direct action and specific programs, not into salaries and money-generating promotions, visit charitynavigator.org.

Visit your local animal shelter and wildlife refuge and see their facilities. Assess them: Are they locally reputable? What are their needs? As the saying goes, “think global, act local.”

Considering your affinity for birds, I would highly recommend the American Bird Conservancy. Also check to see if there is a local chapter of bird watchers, possibly with the National Audubon Society.

(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)

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