DEAR DR. FOX: What is your opinion on my daughter's 3-year-old spayed, totally indoor cat getting an annual rabies vaccine? Do you think she needs this? It is time for her annual visit to the vet. -- K.R., Springfield, Missouri
DEAR K.R.: It does not seem logical to have to give the rabies vaccine to an always-indoor cat, but it is the law in most states, and veterinarians must toe the line unless they determine that the animal could be at risk from receiving the vaccination.
An injection-site fibrosarcoma is the most often reported adverse reaction in cats to vaccination; fortunately, it's relatively rare. In order to reduce the complications of treatment if this vaccinosis develops, many veterinarians no longer give the injection on cats' backs or between the shoulder blades, and insteadgive it toward the end of the tail or lower down one leg, which is easier to amputate if this cancer develops.
For more details about vaccinations, check my website DrFoxVet.com.
Another reason your daughter's cat may need the rabies shot: If you ever have to board her, the boarding facility will most likely insist on this and other vaccinations being up to date.
DEAR DR. FOX: Presently, there is an injured feral cat that I have been feeding and protecting on my back patio. He or she (not sure) comes every morning and sleeps in a makeshift bed I have provided to protect her from the elements. We live in New Jersey, and it's been quite cold here. I have a relative who is a vet in California who suggested I investigate a catch-and-release program.
This cat has a damaged left paw, which is either a birth defect or an injury. In any event, it is very bloody. My California connection says the most humane procedure would be to amputate the leg. This would be very costly, but he says there are agencies out there that would fund feral cat procedures. Do you know of any of these organizations? How I would go about contacting them? Also, trying to catch this cat in a Havahart trap would not be easy. But, if caught, I would have to bring it to a participating vet immediately, since I could not bring it inside. -- B.W., Leonardo, New Jersey
DEAR B.W.: I wish more people were like you, doing what they can to help the hundreds of thousands of lost and feral cats across the country.
There are rescue organizations and networks in most states, including foster care people, who rehabilitate cats like the one you are helping. Then they put up a notice on Petfinders.com or get the word out locally, even putting up photos in local veterinary hospitals.
I advise you to pick up the Yellow Pages for a start and check under "Animal Shelters" and "Animal Rescue," and take it from there. You may not have difficulty catching the cat when she or he is hungry. Borrow a large Havahart or similar trap from a shelter or rescue organization, which can also show you how to set it up and advise you where to take the cat when caught. My wife and I have caught several such lost, stray and feral cats in our neighborhood. All were immediately put in quarantine facilities of local shelters, where veterinary care is on hand.
The capture trick is to stop feeding the cat for a couple of days, then put a little food once a day beside the trap for two to three days so the cat habituates to the it; then put the food inside the trap. Chose a time and day when the facility where you will be taking the cat is open and waiting for you. Good luck!
STATEWIDE BAN ON DECLAWING PROPOSED IN NEW YORK
From the New York Daily News: "Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, introduced a measure that would ban feline declawing except for a medical purpose such as removing a tumor. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) recommends that declawing only be performed as a last resort. If adopted, the measure would establish the country's first statewide declawing ban."
(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.)