DEAR READERS: Extremist idealism in any shape or form, exemplified by the high priest of Mammon, Donald Trump, can attract a certain coterie of tribal acolytes and sycophants, surprising in their numbers and vitriolic rhetoric. In a May 25 letter to the editor in The Washington Post, Alley Cat Allies president and founder Becky Robinson, who is ostensibly concerned about the well-being of cats and in protecting them from suffering, decried my suggestion of communities developing humane sanctuaries for unadopted cats as an alternative to euthanasia. Robinson would rather have them released back outdoors, where they never belonged in the first place.
Robinson asserts, on the basis of one instance, "Cats stacked in cramped spaces suffer from disease and mental anguish. Sanctuaries are expensive and cruel." Actually, sanctuaries can mean safe, humane, group housing in enriched environments and the frequent recovery and rehabilitation of cats so they can be adopted to loving homes.
Robinson refuses to acknowledge the article "Releasing Cats to Live Outdoors" on my website, DrFoxVet.net, which concludes that well-run sanctuaries and well-run trap-neuter-release (TNR) programs can both help reduce cat suffering and overpopulation. But for some, there is no middle ground, and it is regrettable that ideology should trump the greater good -- in this instance, the ultimate well-being of cats.
DEAR DR. FOX: We recently lost our 5-year-old dog. He was in good health before his veterinarian changed his medicine for heartworms, ticks, etc. to Trifexis.
Our dog became sick and couldn't eat. The vet said he was acting like an old dog. We had to have him put down.
Do you know if Trifexis has caused any problems or deaths to any other dogs? -- M.E.S., Lexington, North Carolina
DEAR M.E.S: I am saddened to hear about the death of your young dog associated with being given anti-parasite medication. The attending veterinarian should report your dog's death to the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.
I constantly voice concerns over the use of both oral and spot-on anti-parasite drugs, which are all too often given without due caution.
A quick internet search reveals many reports of adverse reactions in dogs with Trifexis. The Drugs.com website states, "The following adverse reactions are based on post-approval adverse drug event reporting. The adverse reactions are listed in decreasing order of frequency: pruritus, anorexia, diarrhea, trembling/shaking, ataxia, seizures, hyper-salivation and skin reddening."
All dogs should be tested for the presence of heartworms before being given this product, and it should not be given if they test positive.
For safe measures to take to prevent fleas and ticks, see my article on this subject, posted on my website, DrFoxVet.net
DEAR DR. FOX: I have had many cats in my 70 years, but never one like this.
Her person died, and she was put in a shelter, where she was not doing well. She's very shy, so a vet had her moved to a sanctuary, where she stayed for seven months until I brought her home.
She's been here for six months and seems comfortable -- unless someone else comes into the house, and then she hides. She's still shy, but she has settled in and is getting along with the older male cat -- they are both indoor only.
The problem is that she has mats on her back that are really dense, and I cannot trim her. I'm sure they are tight and uncomfortable. I managed to get her to the vet once in the beginning to make sure she was healthy, but I cannot afford to repeat the visit.
One day after that, I finally caught her, but I couldn't get her into the carrier because she was so hysterical. I got sedatives from my vet, but I can't get a whole one down her -- she's taken half twice, but they seem to have no effect.
Something has to be done about the mats, but I've never had a cat who was so uncontrollable. She likes to be petted, but she won't let me pick her up or even get too close. I've left out a carrier and she'll go in to eat, but only when I'm not around. It feels like I'm letting her suffer, but I don't know how to fix it. -- S.B., Talent, Oregon
DEAR S.B.: I am sure that you are not the only person with a cat who is impossible to get into a crate or carrier to get to the veterinary clinic for much-needed professional care.
My advice is to call your local animal shelter or humane society and ask them to send one or two experienced cat handlers to net and cage your cat. After all, this is a serious animal welfare issue. Alternatively, call the veterinary clinics in your area and see what they can do.
(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.net.)