DEAR DR. FOX: I have appreciated your advice about animals in our newspaper for many years. Now I seek your insights.
My 15-year old cat, Greyboy, passed away from chronic kidney disease, and it has shattered my life. I know that with time, my grief will pass. Sure, I've lost some relatives and buried my parents, but I never expected to grieve so much with the passing of Greyboy.
How do you account for that? My close friends give me words of sympathy, but they do not understand. -- V.C., Arlington, Va.
DEAR V.C.: You have my deepest sympathy and understanding. I have received many letters over the years from readers grieving the loss of their animal companions. Worst of all is the uncertainty of not knowing the animals' fate, as when cats slip outdoors and never come home. Many, like you, are surprised by the intensity of their grief, often far more emotionally devastating than the death of one of their own relatives.
In my opinion, such intense grief is an indicator of our capacity to deeply love other beings whose souls have touched ours more profoundly than most other people. I see no reason to question the intensity of your grief, which few of even your most supportive friends may fully comprehend. Simply mourn the loss of the blessing your beloved cat bestowed upon you, carry that memory with you as you get back to your familiar routines, recover your appetite for food and life -- and perhaps consider adopting a rescued animal from your community in the future.
DEAR DR FOX: Our 8-year-old, spayed, 20-pound female tabby has urinary tract infections every month or so.
We feed her wet food during the day and a small amount of dry food at night. Our vet has her on ClinDrops, which work after a week. The vet says that she has sludge in the bladder and a very small opening to let the urine through. He has suggested keeping her on a low dosage of ClinDrops forever.
Any suggestions would certainly help. Thank you. -- W.C., St. Louis
DEAR W.C.: I would advise transitioning your cat to a raw food diet (visit feline-nutrition.org for details) or a canned cat food that has no corn or other cereals.
A natural meat diet keeps the urine acidified and can help prevent and cure UTIs. Corn, still widely included in cat foods, is, I believe, a major contributing factor, and soy may be an issue. Giving your cat good-quality probiotics in her food and a few drops of fish oil, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties, may also be of benefit.
DEAR DR. FOX: In a recent column, a reader had tried everything to stop her pup from severe scratching. My Yorkie had a similar issue many years ago, and the issue turned out to be mites left by the deer that traipse through my yard. The mites were visible only under a microscope, but a topical spray of Frontline got rid of them. The mites also migrated to me and my husband, which the vet techs said happens. It was pretty bad. I hope you can pass this along. Thank you. -- E.U., Annapolis, Md.
DEAR E.U.: Many thanks for your warning about mites from deer. Also, indoor house mites are a common cause of skin allergies in dogs. One dog even got mites from infested dog food. This is why a thorough veterinary examination is needed when a dog or cat develops some skin issue that could be caused by a number of factors. Local veterinarians know best what the most prevalent local pet issues are and can often make a cost- and time-saving rapid diagnose of the most probable cause.
(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.)