DEAR DR. FOX: I have four cats who go outside in a small wooded area that is surrounded by townhouses in my community. I know that they shouldn't be wandering and it's not fair to the neighbors.
I got a cat fence for my tiny backyard space so they can go out on the grass. I'm so stressed that they will become depressed and unhappy staying in, and I worry about it constantly.
I know I'm doing the right thing, but I want them happy, and they really want to go out! -- B.L., Edgewater, Maryland
DEAR B.L.: I am so glad for your cats that you have taken the responsible, "tough love" step of not allowing them to roam off your property.
My book "Supercat: How to Raise the Perfect Feline Companion" will give you lots of insights and practical tips to help make your cats happy and active indoor animals and relieve you of any guilt and concerns that they are missing their walks on the wild side. Be sure to engage in plenty of enrichment activities with your cats, including interactive play. The book also advocates outdoor enclosures for cats, some designed with an escapeproof walkway from the house to the outside enclosure. You are doing the right thing.
DEAR DR. FOX: We had a cat, Anja, who had diabetes and colon problems. For some reason, she was eating things she shouldn't and had to be "cleaned out" on a couple of occasions. The doctor found chicken bones, rubber bands and clumping litter in her colon.
Because she was diabetic, even though she was getting insulin injections twice a day, she was urinating more than normal, and the clumping litter wasn't really up to the task. It would get stuck in her paws, and she would ingest it while cleaning. We finally switched to a pine pellet litter and have NEVER looked back. She passed away in 2007, and we still use the pine pellet litter for our other cats, with no problems whatsoever. -- D.S., St. Louis
DEAR D.S.: Thank you for providing documentation on the potential risks to some cats of the clumping types of cat litter, clay types possibly being more risky (especially if they contain small particles that can be inhaled) than wheat- and corn-based clumping varieties.
The potential health risks of volatile organic compounds in scented litters should also be considered, and I advise fragrance-free cat litter.
HUMAN PAIN OINTMENT FATAL FOR CATS
Five cats became seriously ill and three of them died after being exposed to their owners' pain relief cream. Two developed kidney failure and recovered after receiving veterinary treatment, but the cats who died had high levels of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug flurbiprofen in their systems, according to necropsy results.
The owners reported using the cream to treat themselves for arthritis pain; they never directly administered the medication to the cats. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, ibuprofen is the human drug pets most commonly ingest.
JERKY DOG TREATS "MADE IN THE UNITED STATES" SICKEN DOGS
Pet food industry monitor Susan Thixton from truthaboutpetfood.com released a statement reading, "The madness continues -- some U.S.-manufactured jerky treats are now being linked to acquired Fanconi (syndrome) in dogs -- the same kidney disease linked to Chinese manufactured jerky treats."
Veterinary Information Network (VIN) released a story stating that the Food and Drug Administration has confirmed the agency "is aware of complaints related to USA-made products." The FDA said some of the reported U.S.-manufactured jerky treats contain ingredients "from outside of the U.S."
So much for business ethics and truth in labeling.
In a recent column, I reported that half the U.S. population of preschoolers is on medicine for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Rather, it is half of those diagnosed with this condition who are put on medication. Sugar-free breakfasts may be a better remedy.
(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.)