DEAR DR. FOX: My vet, who I like overall, has my 13-year-old cat, Pixel, on two prescription diets: one with lots of fiber and the other because it is easily digestible (my kitty has had hairball, constipation and vomiting issues). The hairballs and vomiting have disappeared thanks to natural hairball paste.
Pixel, who weighs 9 pounds, lost a couple of pounds in the last year, but she has gained 1/2 pound back in the last month because I added more of the digestible food to the fiber food.
Pixel had a serious bout of constipation more than year ago. We had to take her to the vet, where she received multiple enemas. There were no obstructions, and the vet put her on lactulose for a couple of months. It resolved the issue, and she started eating the fibrous food. After a year on the food, she has lost too much weight. She poops a lot, but she seems malnourished.
My vet has recommended Cisapride because she says Pixel has irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. Kidney disease, pancreatic issues, diabetes and thyroid disease have all been ruled out. I would rather add some nutritious food that won’t constipate her. -- P.W., Ashburn, Virginia
DEAR P.W.: Your cat is getting on in years and has been through the mill diet- and health-wise.
Crohn's disease or inflammatory bowel conditions are all too common; in some instances, there is an underlying gut cancer (lymphoma) issue. High-fiber prescription diets can interfere with food digestion and absorption, so the animal loses weight and overall health.
Chronic constipation and fur balls are also common feline maladies. Both conditions are helped with regular grooming and deep abdominal massage, as per my book "The Healing Touch for Cats." Add a few drops of fish oil and a teaspoon of light olive or coconut oil to the cat's regular diet, then transition to a grain-free, raw, frozen or good-quality canned cat food -- or try my recipe, posted on my website (DrFoxVet.net).
Chronic constipation and so-called megacolon can often be alleviated by giving a daily teaspoon of a mixture of canned sardines and psyllium husks (not seeds) or chia seeds. Allow soaking well before serving. My old cats love this and have no bowel issues.
DEAR DR. FOX: Can you recommend a sonic collar to use at night only? Our 8-pound cavapom likes to bark during the night while in her sleep room, which makes it difficult for us to sleep in our room.
She does not bark during the day except when she sees a cat nearby. -- K.W., Fargo, North Dakota
DEAR K.W.: You might try what one reader found works to stop neighbors' dogs from barking:
P.W.F. from Fredericksburg, Virginia, just wrote to me: "For five or more years, I have used Bark Stopper to combat neighbors' barking dogs. It uses batteries.
"Once dogs become accustomed to it, they stop barking within 20 seconds. The first few uses may take longer, until they learn that barking triggers an uncomfortable high-pitched sound. I use it only when I am on the porch and the dogs become a real nuisance.
"Bark Stopper can be found most easily in catalogs and I assume through Internet, though that's not my preferred way of shopping."
There are also anti-bark collars that make a buzzing sound or other stimulus when the dog barks to startle and condition the dog not to bark. Not one brand fits all. I advise against purchasing electronic remote shock collars, which should be used only by sensitive and qualified canine behavior therapists and dog trainers.
STUDY: HOW CATS HARBOR FLAME RETARDANTS IN BLOODSTREAM
Swedish researcher Jana Weiss published data in the journal Environmental Science and Technology documenting high-brominated flame retardant levels in feline blood samples. BFRs, used in clothing, electronics and furniture, have been linked to endocrine disruptions and are implicated as a significant contributing factor in the widespread incidence of hyperthyroidism in cats. Weiss found cats are exposed to BFRs in dust, something that could also be happening to small children.
(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.)