DEAR DR. FOX: Our 6-year-old female tortie cat is showing some disturbing behavior.
We got her three years ago from the Humane Society, and she was just fine up until recently. The first incident was while she was fast asleep; she leaped up, almost knocked the lamp over and wouldn't go back to her normal sleeping blanket for quite a while. She acted like something startled or scared her. Since then, she has had several of these sudden leaping incidents, and the vet said it might be that she is getting a shock. It has been very dry lately. Now she will leap up like this, whether on our lap or elsewhere, and there is no indication of a shock. She has done this several times, her eyes totally black, and it takes a while for her to settle down. We are very concerned about this and don't know what to do.
She is a totally indoor cat, and she has three people in our household who adore and spoil her. She eats good-quality cat food. I hope this may help you figure out what's going on with her! We are worried. -- B.F., Wahpeton, North Dakota
DEAR B.F.: This condition in cats is not unusual when they are relaxing, going into deep sleep and suddenly experience a pain impulse or abnormal brain activity.
The latter may be a kind of seizure, sometimes associated with feline hyperesthesia, which may be helped by giving your cat supplements such as melatonin, tryptophan, L-theanine and taurine. The former could arise from sudden arthritic pain and associated muscle spasms, impacted anal glands or other pain-producing conditions.
Discuss these options with your veterinarian or a feline specialist in your area, and be sure you are not applying any anti-tick and flea drugs on your cat, which can cause a host of problems, or on any dog in your home with whom the cat makes contact. Let me know how this turns out after more detective work.
INCREDIBLE CAT JOURNEY
From South Carolina to Southern California, Kevin, an orange tabby cat, traveled unnoticed until he was discovered in the trailer of a truck during a cargo inspection. Kevin, who escaped in 2013, was taken to Riverside County Animal Services' shelter in Blythe, California, where workers gave him food and water and found his microchip. The information was up to date, and Kevin has been safely reunited with his owener.
DOG MIRACLE IN MEXICO?
A truly incredible saga of street dogs coming to the funeral of Margarita Suarez in Cuernavaca, Mexico, was reported on "Good Morning America" last month. In this report, "Pack of Stray Dogs Stand Guard at Animal Lover's Funeral," the truly crazy thing is not that the funeral home operators had never seen anything like this, but that the street dogs that Margarita actually cared for during her lifetime -- along with many cats -- were not from Cuernavaca at all. They were instead from her hometown of Merida, more than 830 miles away.
Did these mourning dogs travel all the way from Merida as a group and arrive at the same time, which I consider improbable? Or were these some local dogs who knew that this animal-caring woman was someone to mourn because they had a remote-sense connection with the dogs and other animals in Merida? I call this realm of emotional connectedness the empathosphere, which linked these dogs of Cuernavaca with the dogs in Merida. My book "Animals and Nature First" gives supportive documentation of other instances of this metaphysical phenomenon.
(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.)