DEAR DR. FOX: My 5-year-old cat has been diagnosed with stomatitis, and the veterinarian says that he will probably have to have all his teeth taken out. His gums are sore and some of his teeth are getting loose, and the doctor says it is a kind of autoimmune disease where his body is reacting in a way that leads to this condition.
Is there anything I can try to stop it? -- R.K., Washington, D.C.
DEAR R.K.: This degenerative dental disease, called feline caries or feline odontoclastic resorption lesions, is not uncommon in cats and is often coupled with kidney problems in older cats.
The condition may be triggered by periodontal disease, herpes or other chronic viral infection and excess vitamin D in the diet. It causes discomfort, making eating difficult unless a mushy food is provided, and the associated bacterial infection can spread to internal organs.
My advice would be to have your veterinarian try VetzLife’s Feline Oral Care gel for stomatitis, which may help improve your cat’s condition -- and for many cats showing early signs of this condition, actually stop it in its tracks. For more details, visit vetzlife.com.
You can also read my review on this common feline malady, "Feline Stomatitis Complex: Preventing and Treating the Oral Plague of Cats," posted on my website, DrFoxVet.net.
MUSIC MIGHT HELP SHELTER DOGS RELAX
A study at a shelter in Scotland found that dogs spend more time lying down and relaxing when music is played, and heart rate measurements suggest dogs' stress levels were lowest when listening to reggae or soft rock. Scottish SPCA officials plan to buy sound systems for shelters that lack them.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 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.)
DEAR DR. FOX: A few months ago, a young male cat was in the neighborhood. I would see him at various times for a week or two, and then he would leave. After another few weeks, he would be back.
I have three cats, but this other one seemed to need a home. No one else would take him for various reasons. He is used to being inside, and he is litter box trained.
The only problem is he eats like he is starved. He gobbles his food and, if I let him, everyone else's food before they are finished. He even jumped on the kitchen counter and stole a bite of my breakfast sandwich.
I've had cats before whose previous owners have put them out to fend for themselves. I got one of my older cats this way about 10 years ago, but none of them had this food obsession.
I spend 30 minutes or more making sure he doesn't eat everyone's food before they finish. This is a big problem. Is there any way to change this? -- M.M., Kansas City, Missouri
DEAR M.M.: I appreciate your predicament, which your feeding of this semi-feral cat who roams your neighborhood has created.
His hunger seems to indicate he has no home where he would be fed, and you are the sole source of his sustenance.
If he is not neutered, you are fostering a prime multiplier of ever-more cats in your community. He could also have a communicable disease that could infect your cats and even you.
So call your local animal control agency or animal shelter and ask then to help you get the cat to a veterinarian for blood tests and neutering, since he seems like a very adoptable cat who would adjust well to an indoor life.
The cat's ravenous appetite could be because he is actually starving outdoors, but he could also have tapeworms or other internal parasites that need to be checked for and eliminated with appropriate medication.