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Published August 12, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Beagle needs a pal

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a 4-year-old neutered male cat who has all his claws. A year ago, I brought home a 6-week-old male beagle pup. I have never had him neutered. I had read that beagles were aggressive toward cats, but I thought getting the pup very young so he could grow up with the cat would temper any aggression.

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a 4-year-old neutered male cat who has all his claws. A year ago, I brought home a 6-week-old male beagle pup. I have never had him neutered. I had read that beagles were aggressive toward cats, but I thought getting the pup very young so he could grow up with the cat would temper any aggression.

Well, the dog torments the cat mercilessly. Every time the cat is on the floor, the dog leaps on top of him and wrestles. The cat hisses, meows and eventually works himself free and jumps on top of a piece of furniture.

The cat is a very good and loving kitty, but I have seriously thought about placing him in a home where he won’t be tormented. I’m concerned for his long-term well-being, as well as him feeling under siege.

I have been told the dog may grow out of this behavior, and that would be a huge relief. But is this a reasonable expectation? Do you have any advice for keeping these two apart? I have tried disciplining and scolding the dog, but it doesn’t help. – A.S., Moorhead

Dear A.S: The dog is no longer a pup. You have had him for a year. Beagles aren’t particularly aggressive so much as they want to chase and play rough. So your best solution may be to get another dog. That way the beagle will be happy, and the cat will get some peace and may enjoy watching the antics of the two dogs.

You will have to train them (as you could and should have with the first pup) not to gang up on the poor cat. Redirect and remotivate your dog to play with you. Train him to “sit and stay” for a treat reward, and use a clicker (available in most pet stores) every time he goes after the cat to condition him to stop. He should quickly learn that going after the cat as though he’s a rag-doll toy is unacceptable behavior.


Dear Dr. Fox: I have enclosed a letter from the surgeon who saw my 13-year-old cat, Tom. Both she and my regular vet think he has cancer but cannot verify it without a biopsy.

I rescued Tom 11 years ago in upstate New York, where I found him starving and flea-infested. He was later diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus. I am now living in Florida, and several weeks ago I noticed he couldn’t stop eating but was losing weight. My vet thought he had a thyroid condition or diabetes, but the blood work showed otherwise. When an ultrasound showed some sort of obstruction, I was sent to the surgeon.

The options would be to put Tom through additional tests, do the biopsy surgery, wait a week and then try chemotherapy if it turned out to be cancer. If not, I was told he would probably be dead in a month. My husband and I decided not to put him through this ordeal and took him home.

He is acting very normal, running around, going to the litter box and cleaning himself, and he does not act sick or in pain. He is constantly hungry, and I am feeding him whenever he wants food. I give him and my other cat a can of Fancy Feast in the morning, Wellness dry food all day and Fancy Feast appetizers for snacks along with Temptation treats.

I am writing to see if I can be more proactive with him. I spoke with my vet and she agreed to bring him in for an antibiotic injection and B-12 shot next week. I am giving him an omega-3 fatty acid supplement every morning in his food.

Is there anything else I can do for him? I know I may be grasping at straws, but I want to make sure I am doing the best for him. – J.B., Estero, Fla.

Dear J.B.: Your cat’s primary care veterinarian took all the right diagnostic steps in my opinion, correctly referring you to a small-animal surgery specialist. I have reviewed the specialist’s report and proposed approach, which would be invasive and stressful to your old cat and costly for you, with no guarantee of any immediate cure since the surgery would be exploratory.

I have mixed feelings, especially with older animals such as yours for whom quality of life is paramount. Advanced diagnostic, surgical and other therapeutic procedures may help extend the animal’s life, but if there can be no guarantee that the quality of life will be improved, I err on the conservative side – more so when the quality of life may be jeopardized as by exploratory surgery, anesthesia and subsequent therapeutic procedures. Younger animals have more resilience.

Discuss with your veterinarian adding probiotics and digestive enzyme supplements to your cat’s diet and providing some less-processed food such as raw or lightly cooked ground organic poultry meat and organ parts (liver, gizzard) that may prove beneficial. His compromised liver may be improved with the addition of silymarin (milk thistle), lecithin, taurine and S-adenosylmethionine; mix such supplements in a little tasty canned mackerel for cats who like fish.


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 Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.

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