Dear Dr. Fox:

I read your article regarding transporting animals in the back of pickup trucks, untied. I agree with your position to outlaw this.

I was riding on base at Fort Belvoir, Va., when I saw a large dog ejected from the rear of a pickup truck. It landed on its head and screamed and screamed. I'll never forget those screams.

I went to the military police station and told them what happened. They told me there was nothing they could do. It was as if that dog might just as well have been refuse for the garbage can.

K.D., Triangle, Va.

I appreciate your concern and disgust and have published your letter in full as a warning to all drivers. Any driver who sees a dog without a safety harness in the back of a pickup truck should call the police. Even if there's no specific law for them to enforce, common sense and civic duty calls for police action.

An unrestrained dog is a serious potential hazard to other drivers, who could end up in an accident trying to avoid a dog falling out of a pickup truck.

State and municipal legislators: Let's see some action on this issue -- for dogs' sake and for safety's sake -- and get a law in place to mandate proper restraint for dogs and other animals (including people) riding in the back of pickup trucks, and stiff fines for noncompliance.

Dear Dr. Fox:

I adopted a longhaired black cat from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) about three years ago. He is a very loving cat, but I have had difficulty feeding him.

He eats very little cat food -- dry or canned. He will not eat chicken, beef or pork. He does like turkey and canned tuna (sold for human consumption). At times, he'll eat nothing unless I mix canned tuna in.

I'm worried because two veterinarians and an animal trainer told me the high protein content of the tuna could cause kidney damage and even death. I tried weaning him from the tuna but am so far unsuccessful. Please advise.

L.L., Reston

It is not true that a high-protein diet will harm a healthy cat's kidneys. Cats are carnivores, dogs are omnivores -- so they do well on high-protein, high-fat diets. They get fat, unhealthy and prone to liver disease and diabetes when fed high-starch and high-carbohydrate diets. Kidney disease can develop when their diets are unbalanced and lacking certain essential fatty acids.

Canned tuna for human consumption is not a complete and balanced diet for cats and can cause sickness and death from vitamin E deficiency. For flavor, try mixing in a little tuna or turkey (chopped; freshly cooked; unused portions stored in the freezer) with your cat's regular canned (moist) cat food.

Add a few drops of cod liver oil and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.

Finicky cats can manipulate their guardians into feeding them what they like, but not what's good for them -- just like children. So stand firm!

Clarification

Last week's column reported on some problems with cat flea collars and said the products had been recalled. The agreement between the company and the EPA states that Hartz is required to "recover, repackage, and re-label currently available stock" of these products.

Every registered pesticide product has an EPA registration number on its packaging. The products were Hartz Advanced Care Brand Flea and Tick Drops Plus for Cats and Kittens (EPA Reg. No. 2596-148), and Hartz Advanced Care Brand Once-a-Month Flea and Tick Drops for Cats and Kittens (EPA Reg. No. 2596-151).

According to the EPA's Web site, the new labels will feature:

* new directions for "spot-on" treatment only (limiting application to a single spot applied to the base of the cat's head) to reduce the opportunity for the cat to lick and ingest the drops;

* new precautionary statements about the additional signs of individual animal sensitivity that may occur after use of these products;

* new labels will include clear statements indicating that: these products should not be used on debilitated, aged, medicated, pregnant or nursing animals, or animals known to be sensitive to pesticide products without first consulting a veterinarian; animals should be observed after application of these products for any of sign(s) of sensitivity; and, if there is sensitivity, animals should be treated immediately by bathing with mild soap, rinsing with large amounts of water, and consulting a veterinarian.

Consumers are encouraged to contact Hartz to either exchange the affected products for relabeled ones, or receive a refund for the purchase price. If you have any unused products, or portions of these products, you may contact the Hartz Mountain Corp. toll free at 1-800-275-1414 for instructions on how to exchange the product or obtain a refund from Hartz. For more details, see the Web site: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/hartzq_a.htm

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.

(c)2003, United Feature Syndicate