DEAR DR. FOX: Our cat Willie is about 3 years of age. My husband and I adopted him from a local rescue group when he was about 8 months old, along with another cat about the same age.
Willie has vision issues. Our vet said he could see somewhat, but did not believe anything could be done to improve his vision. We finally took him to an ophthalmology specialist, who confirmed that no treatment was available for Willie. She diagnosed him with feline herpes virus (currently inactive), persistent pupillary membranes, anterior segment dysgenesis in both eyes and symblepharon of the right eye.
Willie is sometimes social and affectionate with us, but it varies. Although he does periodically let his guard down, he is usually on the defensive, which we believe is due to his vision limitations.
Our main concern is his pica. He will eat blankets, sweaters, towels, etc. He has chewed on cables and cords, but does not seem to be obsessed with them. We are covering the cables to make them inaccessible and doing our best to put up clothing and articles we think he might chew, but he still manages to get ahold of something. To date, he has not had any blockages; he usually vomits up the material along with his food.
Any suggestions would be appreciated. Otherwise, he is a healthy, handsome cat. -- P.G., Winston-Salem, North Carolina
DEAR P.G.: Pica in cats can have many triggers, such as a self-comforting behavior, relieving gum/dental inflammation and lack of dietary fiber. Lanolin in woolen materials may trigger quasi-nursing behaviors like front-paw kneading, sucking and eventually chewing and swallowing, especially in siamese cats.
Try your cat on sprouted wheatgrass or alfalfa, which many relish. Chop some up in his food. A pinch of catnip may be calming in the evening. When he is about to begin eating fabric or other items, try to redirect his behavior with a squeaky toy, interactive game or grooming session. You could also try a full-body relaxing massage, as per my book "The Healing Touch for Cats." Many cats love a regular massage and will become quite demanding.
I gently pull our cat's tail during play and massage, and the report below highlights the potential benefits of the same for horses!
PULLING HORSES' TAILS OF THERAPEUTIC BENEFIT
According to a study in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, professionally administered caudal traction -- pulling a horse's tail gently downward at a 30-degree angle -- appears to relieve spinal pain. "We do know that the deep core back muscles extend all the way into the tail head, so this may be a way of allowing these muscles to stretch," said Heli Hyytiainen, study leader, who added that only a trained equine professional should perform the maneuver. (Full story: TheHorse.com, 5/12)
DEAR DR. FOX: You and I are both in our 80s, I gather from your earlier columns. I grew up on a farm in Iowa and am now retired in Florida. I see so much loss of wildlife everywhere, and I feel despair. What can I do? I am in mourning rather than enjoying a peaceful retirement with my two rescued cats and devoted dog. -- L.K., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR L.K.: I join you in mourning this tragic and avoidable loss. Regrettably, too many people do not feel as we do. Many get in their own little bubbles of denial, whether they be gated communities or escapist luxury vacations. Some billionaires are now even launching costly pleasure-trips into space! What, indeed, have we become?
But it is payback time for Mother Nature and all creatures great and small. Anyone with disposable income (however gained) must use some of it to support nonprofit organizations dedicated to planetary CPR -- conservation, protection and restoration -- as well as animal rescue and protection. There are many, from local animal rescues and wildlife rehabilitation centers to national and international organizations. To name a few: Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, Earth Island Institute, the Xerxes Society, Union of Concerned Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council. People with land can donate it to various land trust organizations. I trust the Biden administration will overturn the Trump regime's tax code changes reducing deductibility for all charitable contributions.
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