DEAR DR. FOX: After reading your latest column about fleas and ticks, I wanted to mention that I had a lot of success preventing ticks for my cats (whom I walk on a leash) using hydrosols, which are water-distilled oils and, therefore, safe for cats (since oils are toxic for them). These sprays would also work for dogs, and I believe the oils from which they're made are not toxic for dogs. Bay laurel and lavender are both available in hydrosol spray from originalswissaromatics.com. Rose geranium and eucalyptus are hugely effective and available from rivendellaromatics.com.
The other thing that I did to prevent fleas and ticks was to purchase garlic flower essence tincture and put a few drops in their water and take it under my own tongue because it is purported to prevent ticks. -- B.N., Potomac, Maryland
DEAR B.N.: The search for and application of safer and effective anti-flea and tick products is ongoing, and your contribution is appreciated. For other products and practices, check my website on this topic at DrFoxVet.com. I am unaware of garlic flower essence being a good tick repellent and would like to see in-field test data to confirm.
DEAR DR. FOX: We have a 15-year-old tuxedo cat, Tim, who is quite creative with his multicolored ribbon on a plastic wand. For the past five years, he has been using his mouth, teeth and feet to make a variety of different designs in the shape of flowers and other objects for us to notice and praise him over. Is this unusual behavior for a cat? -- B.P., Fort Myers, Florida
DEAR B.P.: I am always glad to hear about the amazing things cats do. You should take photos of these cat creations -- or maybe we should call them "paw sculptures"? -- and let me see and post them on my website.
Such creative activities give us insights into animals' consciousness, dexterity and imaginative abilities. While some dogs will learn to identify spoken words and pictures of specific objects and retrieve them from an assortment of others, cats will spontaneously sort certain toys and place them in particular orders or patterns. One friend sent me photos of one of her foster-homed cats placing certain toys on separate steps on her stairs, which he did in a pattern on a regular basis. This may indicate cats' ability to essentially put things in order, if not count, and find an outlet for creative activity in the generally unstimulating domestic environment.
But what you praise your cat for doing, he may not perceive in the same way as flowers and other objects or designs. He may simply derive great pleasure from manipulating these materials, just as our Mr. Mark Twain, a formerly feral cat, will spend intense minutes hooking a spiral of pipe cleaning wire from one claw to another, then hiding it and pulling it out from behind a leg of furniture or from under a rug where he has pushed it.
NESTLE PURINA SETTLES JERKY LAWSUIT FOR $6.5 MILLION
Julie Scheidegger reports in DVM360 Magazine: "Nestle Purina PetCare Co. and its Waggin' Train brand have agreed to a $6.5 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by pet owners in Illinois in 2012. The company makes jerky pet treats -- some manufactured in China -- that have been implicated in a nearly decadelong U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into jerky-related illness.
"Nestle Purina is not admitting that the treats made pets sick, however. Bill Salzman, director of corporate communications for the company, says, 'There is no indication the treats negatively impacted the health of dogs; this resolution allows everyone involved to move forward.' If the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois approves the agreement, it will resolve the disputed claims related to Waggin' Train jerky products and establish procedures for monetary relief and compensation.
"If the deal is approved, settlement class members will be able to claim 100 percent of reasonable economic damages incurred after their pets consumed the implicated jerky treats. Those with a documented injury, a deceased pet, food-purchase claims or health-screening claims will be compensated upon verification. Without documentation, claims are capped at $300."
For more details, visit dvm360.com. For some of the long history concerning these and other treats causing sickness and death in dogs and a few cats, visit DrFoxVet.com.
(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.)