Owner wonders whether a change of diet might help a cat breather easier

Check out my article on the steps that should be taken when introducing a new cat into your cats’ environment in “Dr. Fox’s Library” on my Web site, www.drfoxvet.com.

Following these steps can help reduce the animals’ stress and lead to amicable relationships, especially when cats are fearful of one another and sense that their territories are being invaded.

Dear Dr. Fox:

I need some advice about our aging cat’s health care. When we adopted her, she was 4 and had dental problems. She had three teeth extracted, and the veterinarian suggested Hill’s Prescription t/d Feline Dental Health to help prevent further tooth loss.

She has always had a nasal wheeze but did not seem bothered by it. In the past two or three years, she has developed more heavy breathing, especially when she sleeps. In other words, she snores.

Sometimes she sits and stares into space, as though she is in a trance. The vet has not found lung or cardiac problems.

She has some arthritis, and the vet suggested glucosamine injections rather than cortisone or other steroids. We have not proceeded with the injections.

Can a change in her diet help with the breathing and snoring problem and the arthritis? I have read a little about raw diets, but I’ve not attempted one. Would it be a good idea to get some raw meat from the grocery store?

F. & R.G., Leesburg

DF: The tooth loss problem, so prevalent in cats, might be caused by excessive amounts of vitamin D3, added by pet food manufacturers to cat foods.

Your cat’s breathing problems could be caused by several factors, considering her age. Her trancelike staring could be associated with age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

What might really help her, even at this late stage in life, is a grain- and soy-free diet, especially avoiding cornmeal, corn gluten and other corn ingredients.

Good-quality fish oil, canned sardines and organic butter are sources of omega-3 fatty acids that should benefit your cat significantly. Give her just a drop or two of fish oil initially, working up to one-half teaspoon daily, along with the same amount of either sardines or butter.

Metastatic tumors

Dear Dr. Fox:

This is an update to a question I sent you about my “granddog.” She was about to have a biopsy because she was thought to have osteosarcoma in one of her hind legs.

As it turned out, her biopsy showed that she has chondrosarcoma rather than osteosarcoma. Apparently, there was no evidence of metastasis. An amputation has been scheduled.

My question remains the same, but I wanted you to be able to take the new diagnosis into account. Are there supplements or treatments to suppress any possible metastatic tumors, if there are undetected ones, and increase her chances of survival?

I guess I should also ask whether you have any special dietary recommendations for a dog with cancer. I know you recommend home-cooked food in general. My son and his wife have two children and very demanding jobs, so I don’t see this happening, but maybe you have some suggestions.

J.S., Rockville

DF: With no evident spread of the cancer to other parts of the body, the dog’s cancer prognosis is not without some degree of hope. But there could still be one or more undetected metastases, so I share your concerns.

There are some special diets (including grain-free, raw food and fruit and vegetable formulations) that do seem to make a difference and that I have detailed in earlier columns. These are archived on my Web site and can be found by entering appropriate words, such as “dog, cancer, diet” in the Question Box.

I am impressed by some reports about the cancer-fighting benefits of various mushrooms and herbs, such as turmeric. One of our beloved dogs had the same hind leg amputation for chondrosarcoma. She was only 6. With our post-surgical assistance and devotion, coupled with daily massage therapy, she quickly adapted to enjoying life on three legs.

Flea fiasco

Dear Dr. Fox:

About three months ago, as a favor to my daughter, I let her bring one of her cats to our house, but I didn’t realize it was infested with fleas. I soon found out: My cat, which didn’t have fleas previously, started scratching constantly.

I finally got rid of that cat and then tried to get rid of the fleas; it was almost impossible. I tried every suggestion before finally resorting to two local pest exterminators. The first one didn’t succeed and returned my money; the second one is still trying bombs and spraying. The upstairs is now flea-free, but the basement remains contaminated.

Before calling in the professionals, one of my friends said he had luck with eliminating fleas by sprinkling salt on the carpets. We tried that one day, and it didn’t work, so we vacuumed it up the next day. Shortly after that, our cat refused to walk on the carpet anymore and got around by jumping from one piece of furniture to another. I had to bring its litter box, food, water, etc. into the living room, where the cat has stayed since. Just now, six weeks later, it will occasionally walk quickly across the carpet.

Did the salt on the carpet cause this behavior in our poor cat?

C.V., Granite City, Ill.

DF: I am sorry to hear about your flea plague. My article on an integrative program of effective flea control, posted on my Web site under “Dr. Fox’s Library,” could have made life easier for you. Check it out to help rid your home of fleas forever.

The salt on the carpet, which is useless in flea control, would have gotten on your cat’s paws even after you vacuumed. The taste of the salt on its paws and possible irritation if it has been declawed and has some chronic sores would quickly trigger aversive behavior.

Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.

2014 United Feature Syndicate

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