Dear Dr. Fox:
I am down to one cat, and I want to adopt another, but there are complications.
First, we are planning to move in two months to one of those “old folks’ homes,” so I was putting off an adoption until we moved. There’s no sense in moving the cat twice. Second, I wanted to adopt an older cat, so it wouldn’t outlive me. Our surviving cat is 9 years old, and a big bruiser at 18 pounds. He will have to come to grips with being an indoor cat once we move.
I stopped by a local humane society, which had only one old cat, Audrey Hepburn. Her person had died, and there she was, stuck in a cage at the pound. She is 13, and she was not a happy camper. She just stared at me. Living in a cage is not her idea of a life. She’s a small, declawed (ugh) cat.
What to do? I hate the thought of her living in that cage, but I don’t think she would be able to hold her own against my cat. He has had other cats around during his stay here, but they have all died, so now he is alone. I’m not sure what he would do if, A) I introduced a new cat, and B) they were forced to coexist indoors.
I feel so sorry for this old gal. Help!
E.J., Westminster, Md.
DF: I understand your dilemma, and I appreciate your concern.
First, you must be very clear that cats are allowed in the facility where you will be moving. Ideally, you should get it in writing. If there is a change in administration or any issue with any other resident with animals, they might prohibit residents keeping animals.
Sometimes cats (and also dogs) get on with each other quickly when put together in an unfamiliar place at the same time, because neither has a strong territorial response.
I would board your cat for a day or two, until you have moved in to your new place and set up the furniture in one room the way he is used to. Give him 24 hours to settle down, and then bring home the cat from the shelter and keep her in a separate room or in a large cage with her own litter box, food, water and bed. Plug in a Feliway pheromone dispenser in both rooms, and follow the steps of introducing a new cat, as posted on my website, drfoxvet.net.
Alternatively, especially if the shelter is crowded and under such conditions where there is no quarantine, and Audrey Hepburn is more likely to pick up a respiratory infection, follow your instincts and pick her up as soon as possible after she is pronounced well by an animal doctor and free of parasites and any signs of respiratory infection. Then follow the same steps of introduction in my article on this delicate process.
Keep me posted, and good luck!
Dear Dr. Fox:
My 10-year-old rat terrier has had seizures for two years, and they last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. They’re mild, with shaking and rigidity in the legs. How big of a concern is this?
I have taken her to the vet, as I always do for her annual physical. We discussed the seizures, and I was advised to bring her in for monitoring once or twice a year, if conditions worsen, further steps will be taken.
D.D., Boca Raton, Fla.
DF: Seizures, caused by many factors and thus often difficult to control, can be debilitating, emotionally and physically stressful, and have fatal consequences.
Some forms of seizure can be controlled with drugs, phenobarbital and cannabis being effective for many dogs. If the frequency, intensity and duration of seizures increase, pharmaceutical intervention is called for.
Possible prevention might lie in making organic coconut oil the main fat source in your dog’s diet. This oil has been shown to help prevent and shorten seizures in some dogs. Applying an ice pack to the lumbar region of your dog’s back when a seizure is occurring might lessen its severity and duration.
Dear Dr. Fox:
With the beginning of summer, the risk of dogs dying in hot cars rises along with the temperatures. Social-media posts have circulated across the country, urging people to break a window if they see a dog trapped inside a hot car, but it is not always legal to do so.
Only eight states — California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin — have “good Samaritan” laws that allow anyone to break a car window to save a pet.
In 19 states, only a law enforcement officer is allowed to save an animal from a hot car; two states (Alabama and Arizona) have “hot car” bills pending. The No. 1 rule is to call 911.
There is a full list of laws that apply to animals trapped in cars on our website, aldf.org.
N.L., Animal Legal Defense Fund
DF: Thank you for this important, lifesaving notice, which might also save a few human infants in the process from multi-tasking and distracted parents and guardians.
The Nationwide Brachycephalic Breed Disease Prevalence Study notes that short-nosed breeds such as pugs and mastiffs are more often affected by common conditions, not just known issues associated with brachycephaly.
A bio-statistical analysis of the pet health insurance claims of more than 1.27 million dogs over a nine-year span shows that even after removing conditions linked specifically to brachycephalic breeds, dogs with the structure common to these animals are less healthy than dogs with a more normal canine appearance. Common conditions include greater prevalence than seen in dogs with normal muzzles and skulls of digestive and respiratory problems; cancer; skin diseases; various eye, ear, anal gland, dental, bladder/cystitis and heart issues; patellar and inter-vertebral disk luxations and other spinal conditions; and greater susceptibility to hyperthermia or heat stroke.
In summary, the flatter a dog’s face is, no matter how appealing or standard for the breed, the more general health problems — in addition to serious ones specifically caused by the facial deformation they will suffer compared with dogs with normal skulls and length of muzzle. For details, visit nationwidedvm.com/studies-and-research.
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. Send letters to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.