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Published April 22, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Feline’s biting is no game

Dear Dr. Fox: We have a 10-year-old Siamese cat who has all the characteristics of this breed: vocal, affectionate, intelligent and generally high-maintenance. He also has a trait we wish he didn’t have: biting exposed arms and legs.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: We have a 10-year-old Siamese cat who has all the characteristics of this breed: vocal, affectionate, intelligent and generally high-maintenance. He also has a trait we wish he didn’t have: biting exposed arms and legs.

Loud purring and head butting usually precedes the biting. The bites are not play bites, but serious crunches that can draw blood. We have refrained from tossing him across the room, but he has heard “no biting” many times. We know when to expect this behavior, so it isn’t a huge problem. But is there a cure? – H.S., Ashburn, Va.

Dear H.S.: Part of the behavioral issue of your cat giving you painful, possible dominance bites and play bites is that if he had a companion cat to enjoy executing these ritualistic feline actions, he would probably leave you alone. With a feline companion, he would quickly learn to control the intensity of his bites, just as other cats learn self-control when it comes to using their claws.

Because you know when to expect this behavior (as when he has soaked up all the petting and cuddling he wants), you can try two approaches (separately, of course). First, redirect and re-motivate his attention on a favorite toy and engage in some interactive play as with a cat feather wand. Alternatively, get a training clicker to startle your pre-attack cat and then ignore him by turning away, folding your hands on your lap, and sitting still. Do continue to refrain from tossing him across the room!

It is indeed ironic that many cats become hard biters and more aggressive after they have been declawed, a practice that in more civilized countries is unthinkable. For details, check my website www.twobitdog.com/DrFox/.


Dear Dr. Fox: I have volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter for the past six years. During this time, I have learned many wonderful holistic treatments for dogs and cats. I am writing you for help in treating dog warts.

My brother has a 10-year-old female black Labrador who weighs 50 pounds. It started as one wart on her foot, and now she must have at least 20 all over her body. The local vet examined the dog and said nothing could be done to stop them; they are most likely from papillomavirus. Most do not seem to bother this sweet dog, but some are on her paws, and she chews them open. Another is in the center of her forehead, and she rubs furniture with her head. I know these must itch, and I wish she could talk to me about them.

From what I have read, if the immune system is boosted, it could help reduce and clear them up. I have three FIV cats, and I sprinkle L-Lysine on their food to keep immune systems in check. I have also read about a liquid called Thuja that could help the warts. This liquid is taken as drops internally. I have also read about another product called FlexPet; it’s a wafer with natural ingredients that are supposed to boost the immune system, which in turn makes warts go away. – L.B., Fairfax, Va.

Dear L.B.: The L-Lysine may certainly help your cats but probably not the old dog. She may benefit from skin-improving supplements like flaxseed and hempseed oil and brewer’s yeast – providing half the recommended daily human dose, twice daily.

Essential oils – diluted in almond oil or similar “carrier” oil (about one drop in 20 drops of carrier) such as frankincense, myrrh, lavender and helichrysum – applied to the warts several times daily could make a big difference. Smaller warts can be dissolved with salicylic acid or cauterized. A wide-banded neck collar may be needed to stop the dog from licking her paws until they are wart-free and healed.


Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s website at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.

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