Dear Dr. Fox:
Two years ago, I adopted a beautiful male snowshoe cat from an animal shelter. He is very sweet, natural and content to be with me. But in all this time, I have never heard or felt him purr. I’ve had cats my whole life, and I have never known one not to be able to purr. Do you have any explanation for this? He’s 4 years old.
P.G., Virginia Beach
DF: There is no scientific answer to your question, only educated guesses about genetics and individual differences.
Many readers will attest to the fact that their cats never purr or meow. Some silent cats become vocal after a vocal cat in the home has passed away.Fear is a significant inhibitor of purring. The word “copycat” is appropriate: Cats learn from one another, so being separated from other cats at a young age might account for some cats’ vocal sounds not being triggered.Try brushing your cat, and learn some massage therapy to help induce deep relaxation. Harp music or Gregorian chants can make cats relax and might put yours in a purring mood.Cats might purr to relax and convey friendly intentions, but one scientific theory holds that the vocal vibrations might influence bone density and help prevent osteoporosis.My view is that because purring might involve circular breathing to create an almost-continuous sound — a trick some musicians employ — cats might be inducing a meditative or altered state of consciousness.
Warts and all
Dear Dr. Fox:
I have a 5-year-old pug. He has several black spots that look like warts on his stomach.The veterinarian I took him to has retired, and a young vet has taken over. The previous vet put him on steroids, but the new vet said she could remove them with surgery. She told me the warts are caused by a virus.What could be causing these growths? What options do I have besides surgery? Can I be infected by this virus?
D.J.W., Uniontown, Pa.
DF: Yes, your dog’s warts are caused by a virus. But because it’s different from the viruses that cause warts in humans, you have nothing to worry about. You can’t get an infection from handling your dog.
I am glad that the veterinarian who prescribed steroids is no longer treating your dog. Steroids could make the problem worse and have other side effects.Try “painting” the warts two to three times a day with apple cider vinegar. You’ll have to stop your dog from licking it off for about 30 minutes. If you see no improvement in a few weeks, I would consider surgery. Have the surgery done soon if any of the warts seem infected or ulcerated and are causing your dog discomfort.Several other home remedies for warts are in the archives section on my Web site, www.
twobitdog.com/drfox. Some readers have found success by applying vitamin E squeezed out of gelatin capsules.
BAD BREATH IN FERRETS
Dear Dr. Fox:
My ferret, Sparky, is 6 years old, and he has halitosis. When I am playing with him, my hands sometimes get a bad smell from his saliva. He sometimes drools a lot.He won’t chew bones to keep his teeth clean. What do you advise?
S.K.L., Springfield, Mo.