DEAR DR. FOX: I recently read a column of yours regarding home-prepared foods for dogs. I know you have done the same for cats. I don't cook for myself and wouldn't know how to begin to cook for my cat.
He is a 10-year-old formerly feral cat who has had all of his shots. He was neutered and declawed before I got him, so he is strictly an indoor cat now. The problem is: He's always hungry and weighs 13 pounds.
I've had him for five years, and we get along just fine. However, my veterinarian diagnosed him with severe chronic pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease. He has never eaten anything but Royal Canin Dietary Control dry cat food, even before I got him. His pancreas is checked every year, but the numbers are still very high.
He eats that particular dietary food because it is very high in fiber and low in fat, which is necessary for his pancreas and bowel conditions. It's also high in corn and wheat.
Why doesn't some cat food manufacturer make a home-prepared diet as you have illustrated? Freeze it and sell it at pet stores or vet offices. I know they do this for raw meat diets, but people are afraid of them because of bacterial contamination. I'm sure there are people like me who don't cook or don't have time who would be willing to spend more money for their pet's food if it didn't make them sick. Call it TV Dinners For Cats. -- R.R., Saint Louis
DEAR R.R.: Your letter raises important questions that Royal Canin and other pet food manufacturers of basic and special "prescription" diets might heed (or might not, without the market incentive of assured profits).
It is more than ironic that your cat's special diet is not only likely to make your cat always hungry but possibly aggravate the bowel condition, cause pancreatic enzyme insufficiency and diabetes mellitus.
Your veterinarian might wish to contact Balance IT (secure.balanceit.com), a company of veterinary nutritionists providing board-certified special diet formulations for a variety of feline and canine health problems. Also check out feline-nutrition.org.
DEAR DR. FOX: Twelve years ago, we adopted four feral tabby kittens -- two males, two females. The dominant male (Junior) became one of the female's "sleepmate," and for 12 years, the female never left his side.
Three weeks ago, we had to have Junior put down. Since then, his loving female has been looking all over the house for him. The loving female cat (Eyes) acts depressed and at times gets aggressive at her other brother and sister. Will this pass? -- P.G., Manahawkin, New Jersey
DEAR P.G.: You are describing the behavior of a cat in mourning. It may help some animals through the grieving process if they are allowed to examine the body of the deceased companion.
The female cat's evident shunning of the other cats is a call to you to encourage her to enjoy being groomed, massaged and engaged with your favorite interactive games. Get the other cats interested, too. Some calming music may help, and you can try rubbing each cat under the chin with your favorite perfume every morning and evening for a few days.
REGULARLY PETTING SHELTER CATS HELPS PREVENT DISEASE
A study confirming the benefits of petting cats in shelters who are already human-socialized has been reported by doctors Nadine Gourkow and Clive J.C. Phillips in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine. They compared a number of tame cats in shelter cages who were given human contact with those who were not. Human interaction by petting, playing and grooming improved shelter cats' welfare. Cats so treated were more content and less anxious and frustrated. Treated cats had increased concentrations of immunoglobulin A in their feces. Within 10 days, the interaction had substantially reduced viral shedding. Treated cats had less respiratory disease, especially the good responders to treatment.
(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.
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