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Tuesday, January 25, 2005; Page C10

Dear Dr. Fox:

My cat is 7 years old and has always had his shots. Recently, however, my veterinarian told me my cat doesn't need any more shots. The cat is a male Persian that only goes out a bit, and we are with him at those times. He was altered at about 4 months old. Should I find another vet to give him shots?

Another thing is trying to get him to eat moist food. If I moisten his dry cat food, he will drink the juice but not eat the food. He eats yogurt, some peanut butter and a bit of bacon. He drinks a lot of water. Is all this enough?

In the past year, from time to time, he will bleed from the rectum after defecating. I took a sample to the vet and he said my cat had no internal parasites. What else could it be?

C.W., Bryan, Tex.

I am glad that you have found a veterinarian who has advised against unnecessary and potentially harmful booster vaccinations for your 7-year-old cat.

Your cat is clearly addicted to dry food, but it is good that he drinks plenty of water. Give him a tablespoon or two of yogurt daily and mix in some oatmeal or mashed lima beans to provide fiber to help relieve any constipation -- a common feline problem, especially in cats addicted to dry food. This is probably the reason for his occasional bleeding from the rectum. A teaspoonful of olive oil in his food may also help, or a product called Laxatone that your veterinarian can prescribe.

Dear Dr. Fox:

I am a 13-year-old with a 5-year-old mutt called Oreo. My family and I love her very much, and she has lived a very calm and comfortable life filled with love.

However, we have recently noticed that she twitches in her sleep quite often. Is she dreaming? Is it serious or common for an adult dog to shudder during deep sleep?

We have never seen Oreo do this when she was a puppy. Should we be concerned?

The W. Family, Silver Spring

Many people still find it hard to accept that other animals dream.

Maybe this is because it means that animals also have feelings, imaginations and "souls," just like us, which some religious traditions find unacceptable because they assume that humans are superior to animals. The idea that animals have more similarities to human beings than differences is, to their way of thinking, lowering humans to the level of the beastly realm, and that makes many people uncomfortable. If animals are like us we should clearly give them basic rights and not exploit them, but this upsets entrenched notions of human chauvinism and species-ism.

So, yes, your dog dreams just like you do, but she has doggie dreams -- sometimes they're nightmares after a scary day, or she might relive a happy afternoon of chasing squirrels (that's when you'll see her paddling her legs and rolling her eyes).

Michael Fox, author of many books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Write to him in care of United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

© 2005, United Feature Syndicate Inc.

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