Dear Dr. Fox:
One of your recent columns had a subject I had considered writing to you about. The writer had a dog who ate elm leaves.
My cat will seek out and eat elm leaves. He is out for short periods under supervision, and the first thing he does is dash to his elm "plantations." He remembers the best spots and seeks them out. If the seedlings are bare, he's just as happy to grab low branches of saplings and eat these larger leaves. He shuns all other leaves, even if they look nearly identical. One difference I've noticed about elm is that the leaves have a rough "hairy" underside. He is almost voracious in his desire for them. In winter, he'll eat dried catnip with similar relish.
My other two cats and dog could care less about the elm. Apart from that, he's big, a little overweight and a finicky eater who won't eat your homemade food, although I prepare it for one of the others. I was intrigued to hear of another animal doing this and thought I would pass along my observations.
Thanks for passing on this information. I would appreciate hearing from other readers about their dogs' and cats' wild-plant choices. Clearly, your cat is self-medicating. Elm leaves can have a soothing effect on irritated bowels. She might benefit from treatment with probiotics and prebiotics, along with aloe vera and L-glutamine under veterinary supervision and prescription. Many of these beneficial health-care products are sold over the counter for human use, and can be of dubious quality and effectiveness. Look for certification by a reputable quality-assurance agency, such as the National Animal Supplement Council.
Dear Dr. Fox: