DEAR DR. FOX: I hope you can give me advice to help my 17-year-old indoor calico cat with a paw problem.
She has a tumor on her right front paw that has left a hole about 1/2 inch deep. She walks and jumps using the paw with no obvious pain, and she eats normally. I clean her paw regularly with peroxide, which was recommended by two veterinarians who have checked her physical condition. They both said part or the entire paw would have to be amputated, but did not recommend it because of her age -- she might not survive the operation.
Any advice on avoiding amputation would be greatly appreciated. -- F.M., Elk Garden, N.Y.
DEAR F.M.: I am glad those veterinarians are not persuading you to subject your cat to surgery.
I agree that, because of her age and because she is enjoying normal physical activity, doing nothing outweighs the risk of surgery. She may not survive the anesthetic or, if she does, she will have a painful healing process.
If she is periodically licking the sore, she may be preventing it from healing. Cancer cells in the lesion will also interfere with the healing process. If possible, keep a light bandage on the wound to prevent her from licking to help the lesion slowly close up and possibly heal. Clean the wound once daily with an irrigating stream of warm saline solution, dry and add a few drops of organic honey, a natural antibiotic with healing properties. Irrigate once every five to seven days with diluted hydrogen peroxide if there appears to be any pus; daily application could actually delay healing.
"CRADLING" THERAPY AND TRAINING FOR PUPS AND KITTENS
Simply cradling a puppy or kitten in one's arms is part of the process of animal socialization that is as gentle as it is profound. Pups and kittens learn to accept being picked up and gently held without struggling, and they enjoy the intimacy and security of close physical contact.
Submitting to and accepting such handling is integral to effective and proper socialization or bonding with the human caregiver. It facilitates subsequent training and communication. If and when the animal struggles while being cradled, the gentle embrace becomes a firm resistance that allows your pet to yield. When the animal ceases to struggle and begins to relax, she will accept cradling restraint and start to trust the therapy.
This gentle psychophysical "judo" can help in the behavior modification of adult, hyperactive or poorly socialized companion animals, often with a history of overindulgence and a lack of boundaries. These animals have limited self-control, which Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov called internal inhibition.
Cradling conditions the animal to accept restraint, develop internal inhibition and, above all, helps the animal develop the kind of trust that is the key for a strong and sustaining human-animal bond.
(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.
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