DEAR DR. FOX: I just read the letter sent to you by a reader called M.D. expressing his opinion on letting domestic cats roam free. The ignorance and stupidity he showed in his attack on you spiked my blood pressure!
First of all, my wife and I enjoy sitting on our front porch in the summer. Many times, we watch the local free-roaming domestic cats stalk and attempt to kill fledgling robins while both parents squawk and do what little they can do to protect the baby bird. Whenever I can, I intervene and run the cat off. These cats also defecate and urinate around our shrubbery. The smell is terrible.
But that is not why I'm writing. I had an experience a few summers ago that I will never forget:
I was working in the yard and had left the outbuilding door open. When I finished, I closed and locked the door. A few days later, I entered the outbuilding for something, and I noticed a few items had fallen from the shelves. Frankly, I was hesitant about entering the building because I thought the upset items might have been caused by a rat or some other animal with an attitude -- I've been down that road, and it isn't a pleasant trip.
The third time I entered the building, I found a dead cat on the floor. The cat had apparently entered the outbuilding to look around and hid when I came back to put my tools away. The cat was emaciated, with one paw up through its collar. For some reason, he had gotten his leg through the collar past his elbow and couldn't get it back out.
There is no doubt in my mind that this poor cat suffered almost a week without water or food and with temperatures in the building well over 100 degrees. I still get upset now, three years later, when I think of the suffering and horrible death this cat endured. I think M.D. lives in some kind of fantasy world of his own design. -- A.T.P, Keyser, W.Va.
DEAR A.T.P.: I hope your letter will convince readers who still let their cats roam free to get them used to life indoors and time outdoors only in an enclosed structure or gazebo.
There are breakaway safety collars for dogs and cats who may get out. If the collar gets caught on a branch or fence, or even another animal's paw or jaw during a fight, it can unsnap. It's also a good idea to get microchip IDs injected under the skin of your pet.
MORE RECALLS OF PET FOODS AND DOG TREATS
I have never seen such a spate of recalls:
-- Natura has expanded the recall of their Innova, Evo, California Natural and Healthwise brands of cat and dog foods because of potential salmonella bacterial contamination.
-- Barf Co. has recalled their Barf Lamb and Barf Combo patties because of possible contamination of salmonella.
-- Growth of mold on Iams Shakeables Turkey and Shakeables Lamb dog treats has lead the parent company, Proctor & Gamble, to launch a recall.
For details on the lot numbers on all the products identified for recall, visit DrFoxVet.com. While dog and cat owners may be relieved to know of these recall initiatives, in part instigated at public expense by state and federal health authorities that are now testing pet food products on a more routine basis, the fact remains that our food chain seems to be increasingly unsafe. For further insights and what you can do, check out the book on this topic that I co-authored with two other veterinarians, "Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Foods."
(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.)