DEAR DR. FOX: I am guardian to a spayed female rescue cat who is about 6 years old. She was 1 when she came to live with me, and she'd had one litter. Happily, she maintains her weight at a healthy level.
About three years ago, she had a urinary tract infection and struvite crystals in her urine. Her veterinarian put her on a urinary tract health formula diet for life. She fully recovered from the UTI well over two years ago. I asked another veterinarian if she needs to remain on that diet, and he concurred that she should.
What I am really hoping for is a different answer. I wanted to give her some plain pieces of broiled meat with no seasoning (such as salmon, chicken, lean beef or pork) instead of the canned food, but was advised against it. I also wanted to give her a little variety in her diet. Since she likes Hass avocados, I would like to add that to her diet, too.
The main reason I wanted to change her wet food diet is that all of a sudden, she decided not to touch her Purina Pro Plan Urinary Tract Health Formula diet, and I wanted to go back to a wet food like Blue Buffalo. The decision not to eat the Pro Plan came as soon as I tried to give her some from a new case with their new label design. She had been eating the Pro Plan wet food with no problem following the onset of her UTI. I called Purina and asked if it had changed the recipe and was told it had not.
I found the coincidence of the timing of her refusal to eat the food with the label change very unusual. The second veterinarian said that companies do change the recipe without telling anyone about it. Is he correct about that? -- M.F.
DEAR M.F.: I sympathize with your desire to give your cat some tasty treats, but be forewarned -- cats can be finicky eaters and go on a "hunger strike" when they don't get the food they especially like.
Considering your cat's history of developing struvite crystals, you need to explore home-prepared special diets. For details, go to feline-nutrition.org and for veterinarian-formulated recipes, visit secure.balanceit.com or call 1-888-346-6362.
In the interim, stop the treats -- your second veterinarian is correct. Actual ingredients can change from one manufactured batch of cat food to another because of different ingredient sources and quality while the ingredient proportions and amount of supplements and additives remain the same. For details, see my book, "Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat & Dog Food."
DEAR DR. FOX: Your recommendation of PetzLife Complete Coat to kill fleas and ticks was a happy surprise. A safe, natural product -- not a spot-on insecticide!
I will definitely try Complete Coat, but would like to ask that you check into Wondercide's Evolv, a cedar oil extract that repels or suffocates fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other pet pests. I have used it for two years on my dog and am delighted to find a safe, effective alternative to spot-on products.
Complete Coat has to be applied only every two to five weeks, whereas I have had to spray Evolv on every three to four days during the flea and tick season. It would be nice to have you compare these two products. -- M.M., Silver Spring, Md.
DEAR M.M: As you may gather from reading my column, I am an advocate of safe and effective botanical products that are not harmful to the environment, or (like many of the "big pharma" products on the market to control fleas and ticks) also potentially harmful to both the animals and to the people applying them.
Cedar oil extracts, like other phenolic essential oils from various plants, are part of the plants' insect- and disease-repelling biochemical defense mechanisms. They can be toxic to cats, who lick their fur more than dogs do. One must be cautious when purchasing such products for external and internal use: Organic certification is important, as is the method of extraction. Such chemical solvents used by some processors and marketers of essential oils can remain in the final product as potentially toxic contaminants.
(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.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.com.)