DEAR DR. FOX: My daughter's house cat, a 9-year-old spayed female shorthair tabby, has been pooping on the floor and/or rug for the past few months. My daughter has tried all-natural litter, moving the litter box and cleaning the box twice a day. The cat has been checked out by the vet, who ruled out any physical causes. She suggested it was stress-induced and put the cat, Storm, on Prozac. There has been minimal improvement, and giving Storm pills is very stressful. We are at a loss as to what we can do next. We are hoping you may have a suggestion or recommendation. -- L.C.H., Silver Spring, Md.
DEAR L.C.H.: I am shocked that the veterinarian prescribed Prozac for a cat who may be suffering from painful constipation or blocked anal glands. You did not say if the veterinarian considered these possibilities, or if she suggested any dietary changes. These are the most common reasons why cats develop an aversion to their litter boxes and poop elsewhere.
Another consideration in older cats is the onset of Alzheimer's disease (or senile dementia) brought on in part, I believe, by a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.
Whatever the root cause, increasing the water content and reducing the fiber content of the cat's food should help. Do this by feeding her quality canned cat food or Wellness or Organix dry cat food, plus adding a few drops of fish oil and a tablespoon of raw organic yogurt or kefir.
DEAR DR. FOX: Sometimes after petting our new rabbit, I get itchy and wonder if I am allergic to him. I get little red dots. He doesn't scratch, so it's not fleas.
What do you suggest? Right now, I wear a long-sleeved shirt that seems to help a bit. -- M.K., St. Louis
DEAR M.K.: Even though your rabbit is not scratching himself, he could still have fur mites (Cheyletiella). These pests are commonly called "walking dandruff" because they resemble large, mobile flakes of dandruff. Their eggs adhere to the hair shafts in the animal's coat. Sometimes, as with your rabbit, there is no evident dermatitis or patchy loss of fur from scratching, though these are common clinical signs of infestation.
These mites can infest people, cats and dogs, causing itching and discomfort. Have a veterinarian examine your rabbit. Ivermectin is the usual treatment choice, along with removing all bedding material and disinfecting the rabbit's enclosure.
Rabbits can also become infected with other kinds of mites, including those that cause mange in dogs and cats; they can also harbor fleas.
ANOTHER PET FOOD RECALL
Diamond Pet Foods is voluntarily recalling its Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal and Rice dry dog food because the product may be contaminated with salmonella. The company says no illnesses have been reported, and no other Diamond products are affected.
People who handle the pet food could become infected with salmonella. Monitor yourself for the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Pets with salmonella may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.
The product was distributed to customers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. It is possible those customers may have distributed it to other states.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)