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Published July 22, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Study up on proper massage

Dear Dr. Fox: In one of your recent columns, you addressed arthritic cats and dogs. I am particularly interested to know how to perform massage on my 10-year-old female cat, Baby. You had advised a reader on your massage treatment, and this person seemed happy with the results. Would you please forward to me a description or instruction on how to do this massage treatment?

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: In one of your recent columns, you addressed arthritic cats and dogs. I am particularly interested to know how to perform massage on my 10-year-old female cat, Baby. You had advised a reader on your massage treatment, and this person seemed happy with the results. Would you please forward to me a description or instruction on how to do this massage treatment? – J.G., Germantown, Md.

Dear J.G.: I have no simple description to mail out that deals with therapeutic massage for dogs and cats. Giving a proper massage requires some study, especially of an animal’s basic anatomy and where

and how to apply various therapeutic massage maneuvers. My books “The Healing Touch for Cats” and “The Healing Touch for Dogs” (Newmarket Press) are available at amazon.com or can be ordered directly from the publisher.

There is also an excellent animal-massage training center for those wishing to receive professional instruction leading to certification. For more details, contact the Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute in Larkspur, Colo. (888-841-7211, www.nbcaam.org). Without prior basic instruction, massaging an animal can do more harm than good. The animal must be relaxed and trusting for the “healing touch” to have any therapeutic effects. These include helping reduce tension, pain and inflammation, and boosting immune-system neurochemicals; animal massage also has diagnostic value when given on a regular basis.


Dear Dr. Fox: I have an 8½-year-old female Siamese cat who weighs 13 pounds. She had surgery for bladder stones a little over a year ago. Two weeks ago, she had surgery again for bladder stones.

After the first surgery, the veterinarian put her on Hill’s w/d dry food. She likes her cat food and seems to drink enough water. She doesn’t eat anything but her cat food, not even treats. She had never been on medication prior to her first surgery for bladder stones and has been on dry food all her life.

She also had problems with vomiting, sometimes pink with blood; she has been given dexamethasone shots (three in the past two years) to calm her stomach. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can prevent the stones from recurring?

I was considering changing her drinking water to distilled water. Would this be harmful? I also thought about trying to give her a little organic apple-cider vinegar daily. I’m at a loss for anything to do that would help her. I would appreciate any advice you can give. — N.McC., Burleson, Texas

Dear N.McC.: Your cat’s affliction, owing in large part to her diet coupled with gastric sensitivity, is shared by thousands of cats across the United States. I place the blame on the pet-food industry for manufacturing and selling the kinds of dry cat food that can cause urinary-tract diseases. It is good that your cat drinks plenty of water, considering that she is on a dry prescription diet. Did the veterinarian advise you on this critical issue?

Adding a little milk or no-salt beef or chicken gravy to her drinking water (ideally up to 1 cup daily) or giving her this via a dropper (as one reader does to keep her cat’s urinary system “flushed”) is the best preventive. Distilled or purified (reverse-ionized) water is preferable to tap water, which does make some cats ill. Your cat may accept a drop of cider vinegar in either her food or water and then increase to a half teaspoon daily for its many benefits. Food acidification is done to help prevent struvite stones/crystals. But if your cat has oxalate calculi in the bladder, acidification will not help. Your veterinarian should check her urine for bacterial infection and consider pinpointing a food allergy (notably corn) related to her vomiting.


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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