DEAR DR. FOX: Why is it that municipal law and public attitude display a double standard when it comes to dogs and cats? Animal Control quickly rounds up stray dogs, but ignores stray cats.
What's the difference? Dogs are more dangerous? Hey, cats bite, too. And while contracting sepsis or rabies from a cat bite may lack the drama of a dog mauling, the end result can be just as lethal.
Dogs poop all over your front lawn; try sifting through cat turds in your mulched flowerbeds and planter boxes. Dogs are nuisances? At least they don't yowl under your bedroom window at 2 a.m.
You have frequently noted the devastating effect cats have on wildlife. I've noticed that my birdhouses sit empty, and I haven't seen a rabbit in over three years.
I don't want to hear about "nature at work." Nature would never allow such a concentration of predators. God forbid a native predator like a coyote starts thinning the feline herd. And that's what I have: a herd. I've seen 10 separate and distinct cats on a daily basis, thanks to a neighbor who thinks he's feeding only two. Animal Control tells me they use trap-neuter-release for problem cats. Not an ideal solution, but better than nothing.
I can't help but think how differently those 10 animals would be dealt with if they were dogs. Euthanasia would be kinder than the fate that awaits cats out there in the "mean streets." -- P.A.C., St. Louis
DEAR P.A.C.: Thanks for adding your voice of reason to the unresolved and controversial issue of outdoor, free-roaming, stray or lost feral cats, and those from shelters that have been neutered and vaccinated after they have been trapped and are not considered adoptable.
Cats roaming outdoors kill wildlife, become food for coyotes and spread toxoplasmosis, a disease that can harm other species, including humans.
DEAR DR. FOX: A few years ago, a friend had an aging male poodle who was very lethargic. This friend reads your articles regularly. One of those articles gave a recipe for home-prepared dog food that she began preparing, and her dog, Bailey, "came back to life," as she put it.
His energy level and appetite increased. And his desire for this food was such that she would have to remove him from the kitchen as she prepared his helping because he became so excited that he would trip her up as she moved about. His bowel movements improved in size and consistency as well.
She knew by behavior, appearance and general alertness that Bailey was remarkably better. He lived two more years with renewed vigor, and my friend, who is also elderly, had two wonderful last years with her Bailey!
As I have an aging cat, she told me to write to you because you also have a recipe for cats. I would love to have a copy. I would be so grateful to give our dear little kitty cat a shot at some golden years. -- K.B., Springfield, Virginia
DEAR K.B.: Thanks for providing yet another testimony regarding how good nutrition can put new life into an animal previously fed manufactured pet food. I will mail you a copy of my cat food recipe, which is normally available on my website; however, my website is currently down as it is being redesigned.
Cats are notoriously more finicky than dogs, so transition your companion onto the new diet gradually. Alternatively, try some of the new soy- and cereal-free frozen and freeze-dried cat foods in pet stores -- and join the revolution!
A stamped, self-addressed envelope from readers making requests like yours would be appreciated.
(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.)