DEAR READERS: In India, dozens of Muslims have been killed, and many more injured, by extremists calling themselves “cow protectionists” while the police simply stand by, according to the recent BBC TV documentary, “India’s Cow Vigilantes.”
Traditionally, Muslims and low-caste Hindus (Dalits) ate the meat of cows and working bullocks; the dominant Hindu populace does not consume beef for religious reasons, but consumes a lot of cows’ milk. Now, spent cows and exhausted bullocks, food for many people, instead go to “cow shelters.” In many of these shelters -- as my wife, Deanna Krantz, and I documented in our book “India’s Animals: Helping the Sacred and the Suffering” -- the animals slowly starve to death or die from injuries and infections due to a lack of proper veterinary care.
The government that claims to provide feed for all these impounded animals is riddled with corruption, the shelter cattle being worth only their skin and bones. Poor people cannot afford feed for their family milk cows or goats.
The Hindu veterinarian whose work we help fund (and whose name we will not give, for his own safety) writes:
“Humane slaughter is highly preferable and must be practiced. Changing food habits by enforcing law is unacceptable and will jeopardize the very secular nature of the country, constituted as a ‘Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with unity in diversity.’ Many Muslims and others are vegetarian, and many Hindu men eat beef when away from home.”
This is the first instance to my knowledge where animals regarded as sacred have been made to suffer on such an enormous scale because of politico-religious fundamentalist bigotry. The Indian government should outlaw violence in the spurious name of cow protection, and recognize the ecological and economic good that comes from recycling the cows who gave them milk and meat. After all, India is the world’s second-largest exporter of beef (primarily from water buffalo). For more details, visit drfoxonehealth.com.
I should add that vegetarian Hindus and Jains caring for captive carnivores, from lions to eagles, have crippled and starved them, forcing them to accept a lacto-vegetarian diet. Imposing such dietary restrictions on obligate carnivores because of religious beliefs and customs is clearly unethical and culturally absurd.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have an 11-year-old female cat, Tina, who started to lose weight over the last four months. At first, I did not notice, as she is a fluffy cat and sleeps most of the day in my room.
Last week, I was petting her and felt her bones. I called my vet, and he came to check her out. He took blood and palpated her neck and showed me a lump on her thyroid. The blood test confirmed that she has hyperthyroidism. We immediately ordered thyroid medicine from a pharmacy, but it will take five days to be delivered.
What can we do in the meantime? I have been giving her dry food all day, and wet food two to three times a day. Is there a recommended food for cats with hyperthyroidism? I can supplement her food with eggs, meat, etc., but I would rather give her something with vitamins and minerals geared towards caloric intake.
She was 12 pounds in October. Now, she is 8.2 pounds. I am afraid that she will continue to lose weight and suffer. -- K.I., Freehold, New Jersey
DEAR K.I.: Your cat is one of thousands with this disease.
The domestic cat is the modern-day canary down the mineshaft, sharing with us the same environment and exposure to harmful chemicals in our air, food and water. Many of these chemicals cause cancer in cats, dogs and their caregivers, as well as the general population exposed to the DNA-damaging fallout from the Age of Chemistry. The incidence of many cancers in children is also increasing.
The definition of “progress” must now be recalibrated from the perspective of One Health, though disease prevention is politically unpopular and financially threatening to responsible parties. The political influence of the pharmaceutical industry, with its exorbitant, seemingly unstoppable price hikes in the U.S., is evidence enough that we, the public, must become more responsible for maintaining our own health and that of those we care for.
It is too late to turn the clock back for your cat, but you can help improve her condition -- which is often associated with increased irritability, appetite and anxiety with excessive fur-pulling and grooming -- by offering her a pinch of catnip, which most cats like for its arousing, then calming, effect. I call it “cat Valium.”
If she’s not allergic to fish, I would give your cat a canned sardine daily, and feed her a high-quality, grain-free canned or freeze-dried cat food.
Your cat may otherwise be healthy enough for treatment with a radioisotope that destroys the tumor and the thyroid gland, which is the most effective treatment when available and affordable.
AN OUTSTANDING BOOK
In the emerging field of One Health that recognizes the benefits of caring relationships between us, animals and the environment, we have a very valuable contribution by Carol Novello with Ginny Graves. They have written the outstanding book “Mutual Rescue: How Adopting a Homeless Animal Can Save You, Too” (Grand Central Publishing, 2019).
The beauty of this book is not only in the personal accounts of the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits that animals provide, but also in the referenced documentation of scholarly articles that validate these claims. There is no sentimentalizing or anthropomorphizing in this book, but some parts may make readers cry.
Those who have not yet experienced the affection and trust of an animal, or who, for various reasons, are disconnected from realizing the many profound benefits of having animals in their lives, should be given this book, as should all high-school students, whose education and well-being will be enhanced. Helping rescue or foster animals, walking neighbors’ dogs and volunteering at the local animal shelter or wildlife rehabilitation facility are antidotes to “climate grief” -- the paralyzing and depressing anxiety over the state of the environment. Becoming activists for good causes can improve mental health.
(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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)