President Trump has stated that scientists have a “political agenda” (interview with Lesley Stahl, Oct. 15). This is a convenient fabrication -- like calling the press the “enemy of the people” -- that attempts to dismiss the truth and objectivity of science, along with the bioethical imperative of science-based policies and regulations.
Scientific findings can have political, economic and other consequences, a fact that I have faced professionally. While serving as vice president and scientific director of a nonprofit animal protection organization, I relied on reason and sound science in all the animal and environmental issues I dealt with. This included investigating what is in most pet foods and should not be. One book that I wrote (“Eating With Conscience: The Bioethics of Food”) and one that I endorsed with an introduction (“Foods Pets Die For” by Ann Martin) were censored in 1997 by the then-president and CEO of the organization to which I had dedicated most of my professional life. He was anticipating receiving significant funding from the pet food industry, which had complained to him about Martin’s book. He declared the book “all garbage,” and my retort was that it was about the garbage in most manufactured pet foods at that time.
I was demoted, with my salary frozen, and placed under supervised tenure with the organization until my retirement in 2002. Other scientists and science reporters have been fired, and even received death threats, for revealing facts that question the status quo of vested interests and accepted beliefs, products and practices.
Trump’s statement is an insult to impartial scientists in government, academia and the private and nonprofit sectors who are not coerced by corporate interests. The politicization of science, ethics and morality is a hallmark of dystopian divisiveness, which civil society should oppose and expose by all means.
DEAR DR. FOX: I read with interest your cat food comments that appeared recently in the Palm Beach Post.
With difficulty, I was able to read the lists of ingredients on both our wet and dry food labels. We use a very popular brand that appears in all of our local food markets. Some of the ingredients that you warn against are listed, and some are difficult to interpret.
Our twin cats are 8 years old and do not seem to have any health problems. We would like to keep it that way, and ask you to help guide us to finding brands that provide healthier products (and that cats will actually eat). Our own vet carries a line of foods that our cats firmly reject.
What brands do you recommend, if any? Has there been a study done by any independent organization that rates cat foods? -- F.H. Tequesta, Florida
DEAR F.H.: Many readers have contacted me with this same question. My home-prepared cat food recipe (posted on my website, drfoxvet.net) is one reliable start in terms of known, whole-food, biologically appropriate ingredients.
The best educational resource for cat feeding and feline nutrition is found at feline-nutrition.org. Above all, do not feed your cat just dry kibble, but find quality all-meat cat foods like Newman’s Own, Wellness and Cornucopia, arguably one of the best. Check your local pet store or go online for frozen cat foods and the new generation of freeze-dried foods, such as The Honest Kitchen (also great for dogs). I would avoid seafoods such as tuna because of high mercury content.
As is emphasized in the book “Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food,” which I co-authored with two other veterinarians, most of the major health problems seen in cats today can be prevented by proper nutrition.
DEAR DR. FOX: I hope that you can give me an explanation about my cat’s strange behavior.
I have a 13-year-old rescued tabby cat who, in the last year, has developed a strange habit: Whenever he goes to his water bowl to drink, he first gives a little cry, scratches the floor and then puts his paw into the bowl as if to test the temperature of the water. Have you ever seen or heard of such behavior?
Otherwise, he is a perfectly normal and healthy cat, but this daily ritual has me baffled. -- F.S., Naples Florida
DEAR F.S.: Your cat may simply be engaging in what ethologists call superstitious behavior: a kind of ritual that is regularly executed in certain situations. It may or may not have developed as a consequence of frustration or as a repetitive game. Cats are fascinated by both still and running water.
There are two possible causes to consider: 1. The water is painful to one or more diseased teeth. I would have that possibility checked out by a veterinarian. 2. He may be developing senile dementia, a condition cats share with us, possibly from environmental causes yet to be identified. Fish oil supplements may help, in this case.
PET FOOD COMPANIES FINED
From Susan Thixton of truthaboutpetfood.com:
“On May 6, 2014, Purina filed a lawsuit against pet food rival Blue Buffalo for false and misleading advertising. A few days later (May 14, 2014), Blue Buffalo counter-sued Purina with a false and misleading advertising lawsuit.
“What began in 2014 turned into multiple lawsuits, including a consumer class-action suit that resulted in a $32 million settlement (the largest pet food consumer settlement in history). Further, the lawsuit filed by Purina has recently led to criminal charges with more than $7 million in fines and penalties.
“On Oct. 11, the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Missouri issued a press release titled ‘Two Companies Ordered to Pay More Than $7 Million for Adulterated and Misbranded Pet Food Ingredients.’ The release stated: ‘Two companies were sentenced in federal court today relating to their introduction of adulterated and misbranded pet food ingredients into interstate commerce.’
“These pet food ingredient companies were NOT charged and penalized because it is illegal to feed pets feathers and bones (waste of human food industry); it is only because they did not disclose that feathers and bones were in the ingredients.”
For more details, go to truthaboutpetfood.com.
(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.)