The Animal Doctor

On Nov. 16, members of the House of Representatives, including Minnesota’s soon-to-be governor Tim Walz, passed bill HR 6784, the “Manage Our Wolves Act.” If passed in the Senate, the bill will allow states to return to wolf trophy hunting and trapping, and remove any opportunity for judicial review, which is a dangerous precedent.

Ceding federal protection under the Endangered Species Act to state wildlife management has long been opposed by scientists, conservationists and a large public constituency of wildlife protectors. The livestock sector that supports wolf eradication is now recognized as one of the world’s major contributors to climate change and loss of biodiversity.

Wolves need to be protected, and their numbers increased, so that the whitetail deer overpopulation and related health problems can be rectified. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) in whitetail deer and other ungulates is spreading across the United States. Not yet known to be transmitted to livestock and people (but being similar to the mad cow disease that decimated the U.K. cattle industry and infected many people with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), CWD is a problem that will persist, since vegetation becomes contaminated with infective pathogenic agents in the soil from infected deer.

While deer ranches can be one source of infection, seeking to manage a large deer population for recreational hunting (essentially wildlife farming) -- coupled with predator control, especially of wolves -- creates the perfect storm for the spread of CWD. Tuberculosis in deer, transmissible to cattle, follows a similar pattern.

As Michigan State University veterinary epidemiology professor Paul Bartlett opines, “My conclusion a long time ago was that if you raise deer like feedlot cattle, they’re going to get a feedlot cattle disease.”

Surely it is time for state and federal wildlife agencies to implement ecologically sound wildlife management practices that improve deer health by maximizing natural biodiversity. This must include protection of wolves and other predators, and not rely on human predation for a few weeks of hunting every year during the breeding season to limit deer population densities. Allowing the hunting and trapping of wolves will only make matters worse.

DEAR DR. FOX: We have a 14-year-old male neutered shorthair cat.

He vomits, usually in the morning after feeding (he eats Friskies Indoor Pate/Salmon or White Fish, plus IAMS Protective Health Indoor Chicken Dry). We feed him small amounts, but he still vomits two to three times per week, ever since we adopted him four years ago. We don’t know if he had this problem before we got him.

We use well water, if that’s relevant. Our vet did all the usual tests to discover his problem, to no avail. -- B.F., Washington, D.C.

DEAR B.F.: This is a common problem in cats, and has various causes, the three most prevalent ones being: eating too fast, fur-balls in the stomach and food ingredient intolerance/allergy.

Some detective work is necessary. Also, in older cats who suddenly start vomiting on a regular basis, a full wellness exam is called for to assess possible intestinal cancer (lymphoma), chronic kidney disease or dental problems.

There are frozen and freeze-dried cat foods now on the market that contain no synthetic additives. These may be worth trying out on your cat, as well as my home-prepared recipe (posted on my website).

DEAR DR. FOX: My 7-year-old Yorkie is basically potty-trained, but she frequently “marks” against the cat.

Can you tell me how to break her of this annoying habit? The dog urinates or has bowel movements at various spots on floors or carpets. She knows very well where she is supposed to go, because all I have to say is “go to your potty pad” and she hightails it to the correct spot. A friend tells me that she is “marking her territory.”

She and the cat do not fight, but the dog is obviously jealous of the time and attention I give to the cat. -- J.S., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

DEAR J.S.: I do not interpret this as “territorial” behavior, but rather attention-seeking. That’s assuming your dog checks out physically healthy: no constipation, inflammatory bowel syndrome or cystitis.

She is rather young to develop dementia, so I think you are right that there is jealousy going on. Ignore any and all protest/attention-seeking evacuations, and give equal time to both cat and dog as best you can.

Whenever I start grooming our cat, our dog comes between me and the cat, demanding to be groomed. And on more than one occasion, while grooming the dog, the cat has appeared from another room and flopped over to be groomed, giving me the impression not of jealousy but of psychic remote-sensing.


Several animal shelters all over the country are hoarding rescued and relinquished cats and dogs under the most atrocious conditions without proper care or veterinary treatment.

All animal shelters should be registered, licensed and regularly inspected, without notice, by responsible municipal authorities, beginning with trained police officers and animal care veterinary technicians. For more details, visit

(Send all mail to 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.

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