DEAR DR. FOX: I am writing to you, as I am concerned about how we feed cats.
I have a friend who had to have her female cat put down in December. The cat was 12 years old. My friend fed the cat dry food only. The vet said the cat had kidney failure. She had stopped eating and drinking.
Now my friend has another cat she adopted from the SPCA, Annie. Annie is 6 years old, and she spent two years at the shelter. My friend was told to feed the cat both wet and dry food. She gave Annie both foods for a couple of weeks, but now she gives only the dry food.
Is it true that a cat should have both wet and dry food? Is it safe to feed a cat only dry food? I have a neighbor with a cat, and he told me the cat should have wet and dry food.
I don't want this cat to end up like my friend's last cat. I just want to know what's best for the cat. My friend doesn't believe me when I say she needs to feed both kinds. -- P.E.S., West Long Beach, N.J.
DEAR P.E.S.: I appreciate your letter and you have every reason to be concerned about your friend's cat being fed just dry cat food.
Many cats become addicted to a dry food diet, and it is highly advisable to feed a corn-free, grain-free dry food (you can soak it if the cat does not drink much water). For details, check my website, DrFoxVet.com, and visit feline-nutrition.org for excellent information.
Ideally, cats should be fed a cereal- and soy-free diet -- canned and dry -- or raw-frozen or rehydrated freeze-dried, nutritionally balanced formulations. This will help prevent a host of all-too-common diet-related diseases in middle and old age. Cats fed standard dry food continue to suffer in spite of the medical evidence of the harm of poor-quality protein and high fat content of so many manufactured dry cat foods.
DEAR DR. FOX: I agree with you 100 percent on using gloves while handling birds.
Years ago, I was trying to catch one of my finches with my bare hands. The bird bit my finger, but I didn't give it a second thought. Within 24 hours, a red streak was going up my arm. After going to an urgent care facility, it was determined that the finch bit me on a paper cut on that finger, and it became infected.
To this day, I wear heavy gloves when handling my birds -- they bite really hard and can break the skin. -- L.S., St. Louis
DEAR L.S.: Your letter is a welcome addition to the debate raised by one bird "expert" (J.M. from Naples, Fla.) who castigated me for advising people to wear gloves when handling birds who are not fully socialized or who are fearful or aggressive.
This should be standard practice for those with little expertise in handling birds, reptiles and small mammals. Bites and scratches can result in serious infections, and, as I stress repeatedly, the pain could make the handler drop the animal with potentially fatal consequences.
DOGS AND HUMANS WITH OCD SHARE BRAIN CHARACTERISTICS
Canine compulsive disorder is similar to human obsessive-compulsive disorder in practice and physiology, according to recent research. MRI images of 16 Doberman pinschers showed that those with canine compulsive disorder had structural brain characteristics similar to those of human patients with OCD. Veterinarians from Tufts and Purdue universities collaborated with McLean Hospital in Massachusetts for the study. The findings may help develop treatments for canines and humans with compulsive disorders.
(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.)