DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 2-year-old neutered male tabby cat who has a bad yowling problem, and I don't know how to fix it.
I feed him twice daily, as that was the way the people fed him before I got him. I have had him for a year. I feed him 1/2 cup dry food (Purina One) morning and night. If I put the food out at once, he eats it all. Then, when evening comes, he thinks he needs more. He will sometimes throw up because he has eaten too much.
He yowls loudly if I don't feed him the minute I step out of bed and continues until I feed him. He does the same thing at about 9 p.m., though I try to make him wait until 10.
He is a very lovable cat, and he loves to sit on my lap and cuddle. He does not cry except when he wants food.
I would like to know how to break him of the yowling problem or if I just have to deal with it. I would like to be able to put all the food out at once, as sometimes I go away for a few days, and I have to have someone come feed him. -- S.M., Maryland Heights, Mo.
DEAR S.M.: I think your main problem is your feeding schedule, but you might not be feeding him enough. He cries because he is ravenous! Feeding twice a day is OK for dogs, but four to six times a day is better for cats. Feed him smaller portions, and weigh him to check if you are giving him too much or too little.
Some people complain because their cats never "speak." My first cat, a Siamese named Igor, would yowl for attention and when he was hungry. My solution was to talk back, play with him and take him for walks in a harness on a leash.
Your cat may be much happier with a companion cat, so consider a healthy, young neutered male or spayed female from your local shelter. Check my website, www.twobitdog.com/DrFox, for the best steps to take to introduce a new cat -- and for some better brands of cat food.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have two small dogs. I feed them dry food (Solid Gold Just a Wee Bit) in the morning and canned food (Blue Buffalo) in the evening. I would rather make their food for the evening feeding.
Can you please provide a recipe and advise me of any supplements they should be getting. They are my babies, and I want to do good for them. They love carrots and apples, so I try to provide these often. -- A.L., Brick, N.J.
DEAR A.L.: I receive many requests for my basic dog and cat food recipes. Many of my readers do not have access to a computer and my website, so I have published the recipes in my book, "Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food." The book has details about supplements and the ingredients in many prepared pet foods owners should avoid.
As a treat, here is my basic dog food recipe:
1 pound lean hamburger, ground lamb or mutton; one whole chicken; or half a small turkey (all raw)
2 cups uncooked whole-grain rice (or barley, rolled oats or pasta noodles)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or flaxseed oil* or safflower oil)
1 tablespoon organic butter
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brewer's yeast
1 tablespoon calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, lactate or human-grade bone meal
*If you're using flaxseed oil, add it after the cooked food has cooled to room temperature.
Combine all the above ingredients. Add enough water to cover ingredients. Simmer, stir and add more water as needed until cooked. Debone the chicken parts, but do not feed your dog the cooked bones since they can splinter and cause internal injury. While the stew is still very hot, mix in a cup of raw, grated carrots, sweet potatoes or yams. The recipe should be thick enough to be molded into patties -- you can add oat bran, rice or buckwheat flour to help thicken.
For a 30-pound dog, serve 1 cup of this recipe twice daily. Freeze the rest. You can even serve the patties frozen so your dog can gnaw on them in hot weather.
For dogs less than 30 pounds and for overweight and less-active dogs, use only 1 cup of uncooked rice in the recipe.
Transition your dog onto this new diet gradually. Mix increasing amounts of your dog's new food with decreasing amounts of the old food over a seven-day period to enable adaptation and avoid possible digestive upset. For variation, you can use cottage cheese, well-cooked lentils, garbanzo beans, lima beans or a dozen organic eggs as meat alternatives. (Note: Some dogs are allergic or hypersensitive to some foods, especially soy, beef, eggs, wheat and dairy products.)
Don't forget: Lightly cooked calf and beef liver, heart and kidneys are good sources of animal protein and other essential nutrients. All pet food ingredients, ideally, should be organically certified.
Give your dog a daily multivitamin and mutimineral supplement like Pfizer's Pet Tabs. You can also give your dog half of a human one-a-day supplement equivalent crushed up in the food.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 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 www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.)