DEAR DR. FOX: I have a very smart but easily bored cat who I would like to stimulate. I looked for your book "Supercat: How to Raise the Perfect Feline Companion" in our one and only bookstore, but I could not find it. Is there a way to order it? I don't have a computer. -- L.C., Waldorf, Md.
DEAR L.C.: I am glad that "Supercat," published by John Wiley and Sons, is still in print. Bookstores can carry only a limited number of titles, but they all surely have computers and can place orders online for books that are not in stock. Some may refuse to do so because they don't get good discounts or deal only with bulk suppliers. They should be reported to the regional Better Business Bureau.
While "Supercat" has all kinds of games and IQ tests for cats, the best stimulation for a cat is another cat. Far too many live solitary, boring lives.
As for ways to stimulate your cat, you can make your own cat toys, including a cane with a long string and a feather on the end or a few pipe cleaners twisted into spirals. This will be entertaining and will stimulate the body and mind. Some cats love to chase after a laser pointer. A French veterinarian, Dr. Thierry Bedossa, interested in enriching animals' environments, told me that many cats will learn to play with an electronic game pad when the screen is placed on the floor and there are moving images to follow and paw at. A laser pointer can be used to attract the cat to the screen on the floor, and there are many children's games that are enjoyed by cats!
VETERINARY MEDICAL MARIJUANA ON THE HORIZON?
Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have approved marijuana (cannabis) for medical use in humans after the state of California defied the federal prohibition in 1996 by voting in support of a referendum allowing patients to grow or possess the herb under their doctors' recommendation. Now the conservative Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association has published an article about the medical benefits of marijuana to animals, which include helping alleviate nausea and pain, especially in terminal cancer patients, and improving appetite and even separation anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome.
Research has shown that the mammalian brain contains cannabinoid (cannabis-sensitive) receptors, which help modulate neurological and behavioral functions. Other cannabinoid receptors are associated with immune system function. So-called endocannabinoids, which are generated in the body during strenuous physical activity, account for the runner's high and running dogs' euphoria.
Some human medical properties may also be applicable to animals, including anti-glaucoma, anti-epileptic/anti-seizure, anti-spastic, anti-anxiety, antidepressant, anti-nausea, anti-spasmodic, anti-asthmatic, anti-cancer (especially brain gliomas) and analgesia for a variety of conditions, including phantom limb and migraine.
Prohibition has for too long denied suffering human and non-human patients the benefits of this herb. It has also led to the outrageously unjust imprisonment of thousands of people for possession and to the deaths of many more in the drug wars, which the former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, contends would end with America legalizing marijuana. As a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S., it is illegal for veterinarians to prescribe this beneficial herb to animal patients, a situation that needs to be rectified, from my perspective, by the veterinary profession adding its voice to the mounting pressure on the federal government to change the Schedule classification of marijuana and make it more available, legally, for those in need.
(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.)