DEAR DR. FOX: We have a 2-year-old indoor house cat. She was the sweetest thing for the first 1 1/2 year or so, but in the last six months, she has developed hyperesthesia.
Her back ripples, she bites at it and she tears like a crazed cat all around the house. It has changed her personality. Before this, she was the most social cat I had ever seen -- she wanted to be with us and was happy and playful. Now she is haunted.
Nothing changed in her life. She is still the only cat. We are an older couple without children in the house. Life is very routine, calm and ordered. She does have herpes, and we stopped giving her lysine, which may have helped just a little for a while -- or maybe we just wanted it to help. I don't know.
I do know that it is hard for me to accept that there is nothing that can be done for this poor little cat. I hope you might have some better news for me than I can glean on the Internet. -- T.O., Oklahoma City
DEAR T.O.: I have addressed this bizarre condition in this column, and you will find some answers on my website, DrFoxVet.com. But we need to work together on this because there are no simple solutions. Hearing from other readers who have found ways to alleviate this condition would be appreciated.
Sometimes we miss the obvious culprits that we think are safe, such as certain cat litters, chemical floor cleaners, room fragrance sprays and diffusers, laundry detergent, tick drugs and my personal worst offender -- flea collars!
Next, consider her diet and a possible food allergy or hypersensitivity. Check some of the better cat foods on my website and also my home-prepared recipe for cats.
The skin is a reactive surface to not only environmental allergens and toxic chemicals, which can harm cats' livers and kidneys, but can be an indicator of nutritional deficiencies, especially in omega-3 fatty acids, and intolerance to certain food ingredients.
Removing all fish from one of our cat's diet helped reduce his excessive grooming and evident skin hypersensitivity. The herb catnip also calms him down, as can a low dose of Valium or valerian root. Discuss this with your veterinarian and also the possibility of hyperactive thyroid disease, which will call for a blood test.
There are nutritional supplements that can have a calming effect in humans and other animals, including dogs and cats. PetzLife's @-Eaze, which contains L-Theanine, is one of several calming natural supplements on the market that I would urge you to try.
Keep me informed as to your progress with your poor cat so we can help others overcome this distressing malady.
ANIMAL FATALITIES ON AIRPLANES
The Department of Transportation has released its annual list of animal fatalities on United States airlines.
U.S. airlines reported 17 animal fatalities and 26 injuries in 2014, according to full-year data released by the Department of Transportation. United Airlines reported the most deaths and injuries, five and 13 respectively, followed by Alaska Airlines, which had three animal deaths and 11 injuries.
Most of the injuries involved dogs and cats bloodied and hurt as they tried to escape from their cages, and many of the fatality reports involved animals that managed to escape from transport cages and were hit by vehicles at airports. Other major causes of death were underlying health conditions aggravated by the stress of travel.
From 2010 to 2013, Delta Airlines reported the greatest number of incidents of animals who died, were injured or lost during travel, followed closely by Alaska. Some airlines do not accept short-nosed or snub-nosed dogs such as pugs and English bulldogs because the stress of flight is particularly acute for those breeds.
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