DEAR READERS: Taking a significant step toward a more civil and humane society, the British government plans to introduce legislation banning the use of wild animals in circuses.
It is encouraging when governments respond to public concern, rather than continue to kowtow to vested interests regardless of the ethical costs -- and, in this instance, the enslavement and documented suffering of wild animals in circuses.
The circus’s big-cat handlers and trainers may say they love and respect their performing lions and tigers, as well as the other captive wild animals, who live most of their lives in small cages -- including elephants, who are often beaten and live most of their lives in chains. But what do children in the audience learn, beyond accepting that there is nothing wrong in such animal exploitation? Time for America to follow suit and pick up this kind of initiative for the good of all.
DEAR Dr. FOX: I have a 10-year-old Persian who seems to struggle a bit going to the bathroom to do No. 2. While he will go, I heard that pumpkin may help his stool come out better. Before, his stool used to be long, but now it comes out in small chunks.
How should I give the pumpkin to my cat, and how much? I don’t want to give him diarrhea, but I would like to help him. -- M E., Eatontown, New Jersey
DEAR M.E.: Cats are prone to developing constipation when they are fed just dry kibble and get little exercise. This can lead to an unhealthy gut with complications such as impaction and megacolon.
So try to stimulate play with interactive games: Chasing a laser light is the delight of many cats. Abdominal massage also helps many cats afflicted with chronic constipation.
Above all, feed him some canned (or freeze-dried and water-soaked) cat foods, or try my home-prepared recipe on my website.
I would never advise pumpkin seeds because the high fiber content, like in psyllium husks, could aggravate the condition. But some lower-fiber supplements can help, such as a half-teaspoon of canned pumpkin or mashed butter beans in your cat’s food daily. Gradually work up to a tablespoon daily (because cats are often averse to anything new in their food), mixed in with a teaspoon of mashed canned sardines in water.
PROPOSED CAT-DECLAWING BAN IN CALIFORNIA
The California Cat Protection (Anti-Declaw) Bill, SB 1441, was officially introduced. The primary author is California State Senator Henry Stern (D) and the first co-author is Senator Scott Wilk (R). Features of the bill:
-- Declawing is outlawed. No one may declaw cats and no one may procure a declaw procedure. Procedures to treat physical medical conditions of animals are not restricted.
-- Violation of the law would carry a penalty of a fine for the first offense and would be considered a misdemeanor for subsequent offenses.
-- Existing local law penalties and penalties for declawing wild and exotic cats will not be superseded.
It is high time for all states to get this kind of legislation passed, and for veterinary associations to wake up to their responsibility to educate their cat-owning clients. Vets must not engage in this kind of unconscionable and unwarranted mutilation as a routine procedure along with neutering. For details of the harmful physical and psychological consequences of declawing that many cats suffer after such surgery, see my review on this topic posted on my website (drfoxvet.net).
(Send all mail to email@example.com 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.)