DEAR READERS: I harp a lot in this column about not allowing cats to roam free, while knowing that many cats do like the outdoors and need some environmental enrichment. This is ideally achieved by living with another cat and having an easy-access outdoor enclosure through a flap door set in a window or door. These cat patios, or “catios,” are becoming more popular and easier to construct.
The company Catio Spaces offers DIY catio plans in a variety of designs and sizes for windows, decks, patios or yards. Each plan is a downloadable PDF with detailed directions, illustrations, a materials list and a tools list. Each plan is easy to follow and rewarding to build. Bonus information includes guidelines to acclimate a cat to a cat door and a new outdoor space, plus tips for cat-safe plants, decor and accessories to promote exercise and enrichment.
Catios can be left natural, or painted and decorated to complement the home, the owner’s personal style, or each cat’s personality. Catio Plans start at around $40, and 10 percent is donated to animal welfare organizations. For more, see catiospaces.com/catios-cat-enclosures/diy-plans.
Special offer for veterinarians: Catio Spaces offers DIY Catio flyers and tips for vets to pass on to interested cat owners. To request a sample flyer or quantity of 50, email firstname.lastname@example.org. And veterinarians can help educate cat parents on the benefits of catios using this guide: https://is.gd/iq0Wxt.
DEAR DR. FOX: What types of pain are associated with Cushing’s disease in dogs? -- S.M., Fargo, North Dakota
DEAR S.M.: This endocrine disease is quite common in dogs.
A tumor in the brain or in the adrenal glands results in the production of high levels of adrenal hormones. These affect the dog’s physiology and behavior, causing panting, weak muscles, and evident discomfort from a swollen abdomen. Anxiety and chronic discomfort -- but little actual pain, until the onset of peripheral neuropathy -- are of primary concern after appropriate medications are prescribed. The painkiller tramadol, widely prescribed for dogs, is actually not an effective analgesic for dogs with this disorder.
Discuss your concerns with the attending veterinarian. If the disease has not progressed far enough to cause damaged vision and high blood pressure, and provided thyroid function is normal, I would highly recommend 6 mg of melatonin and 200 mg of L-theanine at bedtime, along with and 3 mg of melatonin in the morning and mid-afternoon.
(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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)