DEAR DR. FOX: My cat had vomiting and diarrhea and received extensive and expensive testing and medication with no permanent cure in spite of also being fed only prescription canned food.
I finally realized that the problem was the excessive liquid content of the canned cat food. After opening the cans, pouring out the excess liquid and allowing the contents to dry out by leaving the opened can in the refrigerator for a day before using it, I greatly reduced the liquid content of the food. The result was a permanent cure of my cat's vomiting and diarrhea problem -- without further use of medications.
I recently found out that a friend had the same problems with his cat as a result of excess liquid in prescription canned cat food, and she cured him in the same way. -- R.P., Matawan, New Jersey
DEAR R.P.: Your diligence on behalf of your cat should benefit many other cats and their owners.
It is time for a big wake-up call and a demand for pet food industry accountability. The suffering of uncounted cats and the anguish and financial and emotional costs to their human caregivers associated with various ingredients and deficiencies is criminal.
Clearly, your poor cat was either allergic or hypersensitive to and intolerant of one or more ingredients in the "gravy" -- not simply, as you contend, to the "excessive liquid content." All cats need liquid!
Check my website (DrFoxVet.com) for information on one "gravy-making" additive, carrageenan, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea and trigger symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. This disease leads many veterinarians to prescribe risky corticosteroids and even anesthetize sick cats to do intestinal biopsies to make a diagnosis and rule out cancer.
There may also be Red No. 3 dye (erythrosine), which is still used in some canned cat and dog foods. It may cause cancer and can disrupt normal thyroid gland function.
DEAR DR. FOX: In your column, I recently read about a cat not drinking water and thought I would offer a suggestion: My cat won't drink water from a dish placed next to his food bowl.
My cat growing up would drink the water left in the bottom of the bathtub, so we started putting her water bowl on the side of the tub. My current cat started drinking water from a short glass I had for myself on my nightstand. So that is where her water bowl is now.
Some cats are just picky about where their food and water are located. I discovered my cat does not like deep bowls for her food and water. She would take her wet food out of the bowl and put it on the floor to eat it, making a mess. I don't think she likes her whiskers touching the sides of the bowl. I now put her food on plates or wide, low-sided dishes. Her water bowl is deep and wide, so her whiskers don't touch the sides. It must be filled to the top, and she lets me know when it isn't!
Sometimes, feeding and drinking issues are as simple as location and container type. -- D.F., Fargo, North Dakota
DEAR D.F.: Your observations may help many readers who have cats who do not like to drink by their food bowls and who prefer to avoid contact with the sides of their drinking bowls with their whiskers (vibrissae).
Wide glasses or ceramic bowls are best, in my opinion. Metal bowls can trigger a static electrical discharge, especially indoors in winter with synthetic carpeting, which can go through the vibrissa on the lips and under the chin and shock the cat. Plastic food and water bowls may be safer in this regard, but they can be toxic. Some cats with skin lesions on their lips and chins have improved when their plastic food and water containers are replaced with glass or ceramic.
DOG BOOK REVIEW
"The Life and Love of Dogs" by Lewis Blackwell. The enormous book (almost 5 pounds) is published by Abrams, and printed in China. The odor (from chemicals used to show selected fine photos of dogs by various photographers) is nauseating, and it's possibly toxic and environmentally harmful.
This book is a sophomoric rehash of what others have written about dogs and their origins, behavior, human bond and future (with varying degrees of scientific credibility), infused with a "feel-good" sentimentalism about dogs. This does not translate into eloquent prose from one who has reflected deeply on the nature of dogs and their relationships with us over the millennia, nor does it inspire to help improve the care and well-being of dogs world-wide, especially the abused, neglected, homeless, abandoned and feral. The dichotomy in the title between the "Love of Dogs" (presumably for us) and of our purported love for them, which can lead to an almost fetish obsession to breed dogs with genetic deformities and to keep old dogs alive at all costs, regardless of their suffering, is swept away by this shallow sentimentalism and is not addressed in this book.
I, therefore, do not recommend this book as an authoritative and inspiring book for people to purchase and, in the process, support a side of the publishing industry that must become extinct. Its evident ecological impact, sacrificing trees and other raw materials as well as fossil fuels in the manufacture and shipping of these kinds of books that do not use recycled materials, is not worth the content. The book uses potentially harmful chemicals rather than certified nontoxic inks for reasons of questionable value beyond profit margins.
(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.)