DEAR DR. FOX: I have a neutered 10-year-old orange tabby who is an indoor cat. He is overweight. I have tried so many things over the years to help him.
He has an aggressive personality and can be very defensive. He does not do well at the vet, and he has to be sedated before his checkup. It is difficult and traumatic to take him to the vet for anything at all.
I am concerned about his weight. He was put on Hill's Prescription Diet r/d years ago. I don't think this is the best thing for him, but I don't know where to turn for help. He seems to be hungry all the time and constantly cries to be fed. Sometimes I give in. It's the only way I can get sleep. I don't give him more than the amount he's supposed to have, but I don't see any results. Even though the bag of food says not to use the product long term, his vet still has him on it. I want to switch, but I don't feel like I'm educated in the best possible source of food for him.
I want to help him feel better and lose weight. I feel like I have failed him. I love him and want to do what's right. I've checked into Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Formula and thought of trying it. Can you please advise me on what you think is best for my furry friend? -- D.W., Wilmington, Del.
DEAR D.W.: The main ingredients in the diet food you are feeding your cat are brewers' rice, chicken byproduct meal, corn gluten meal, powdered cellulose, chicken liver flavor and soybean oil. Carnitine is added to "help burn body fat." Your poor cat may develop the feline equivalent of a metabolic syndrome on this kind of diet -- diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney, urinary tract and liver problems.
Your cat needs good-quality animal protein and fats of animal origin to stay full. Visit feline-nutrition.org for more insights, and check out my website, DrFoxVet.com, for a home-prepared diet you may wish to try.
The Wellness brand is good. Feed your cat six to eight small meals daily, weigh him weekly and adjust his diet accordingly. Whatever exercise you can get him to enjoy, such as chasing a lure on the end of a string, will help.
DEAR DR. FOX: I agree with your position against pickup trucks hauling loose dogs (and kids), although the prevalence of this practice in rural areas makes me wonder how dangerous it really is. If hauling a dog in a crate inside a car is all right, why is hauling a dog in a crate atop your car not all right? -- B.W.P.
DEAR B.W.P.: Thanks for asking! I wonder if other readers do not understand the difference between transporting a dog in a crate inside a vehicle or in the rear of a pickup versus on top of the car like a piece of secured luggage.
A dog in a crate on top of a car has no protection from high-velocity wind, which can carry injurious flying particles that could cause blindness. The animal is also exposed to cold and rain that bring discomfort and stress and can potentially lead to hypothermia and pneumonia. The experience could be so terrifying to any animal as to cause a heart attack or self-injury in an attempt to break free. Similarly, chickens and turkeys are transported in crates in open trucks, and those at the front get the brunt of transit stress.
The lack of empathy in transporting any animal in that way is also of concern because it means more than a mere lack of common sense. It could be an indicator of a serious character disorder or defect in an individual's capacity to care responsibly for another living being.
KRILL OIL SUPPLEMENTS
One aspect of veterinary bioethics is the source of various therapeutic products and nutrient supplements and their environmental impact, which must be weighed against their effectiveness and the availability of alternatives. One point in question is the mass marketing of krill oil as a superior nutrient supplement to health-conscious consumers and pet owners.
Krill is the food staple for several whale species and other marine creatures. The justification for krill harvesting is based primarily on profits and is a tie-in with the factory farming of corn-fed livestock and poultry notoriously deficient in omega-3 fatty acid and with excess omega-6 fatty acid. There is hope on the omega-3 supplement horizon with confirmation that cultures of algae could lead to the wholesale production of omega-3 fatty acids, some of which are already being marketed and embraced by vegans and other conscientious consumers. For more details on why I am opposed to krill being taken from the oceans, see my entry at DrFoxVet.com.
FREE-ROAMING CATS DECIMATE WILDLIFE
It is estimated that domestic cats in the U.S. -- including house cats who spend part of the day outdoors, strays and feral cats -- kill a median 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, according to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service. An estimated 80 million stray and feral cats do most of the killing.
All cat owners should never allow their cats to roam free, and all municipalities should address stray and feral cat issues.
(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 DrFoxVet.com.)