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Published November 18, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Moistening food may curtail cat’s vomiting

Dear Dr. Fox: Tell the woman who wrote about her cat throwing up that my 10-year-old Siamese used to throw up daily but now has stopped. My cat didn’t chew his food thoroughly, and he ate too fast. I now add ½ cup of water and cover his food so he can’t eat it for 20 minutes. It changes the dry food to wet mush; problem solved.

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: Tell the woman who wrote about her cat throwing up that my 10-year-old Siamese used to throw up daily but now has stopped.

My cat didn’t chew his food thoroughly, and he ate too fast. I now add ½ cup of water and cover his food so he can’t eat it for 20 minutes. It changes the dry food to wet mush; problem solved. – C.C., North Palm Beach, Fla.

Dear C.C.: There are many reasons cats vomit their food soon after eating. Some dry cat foods literally draw moisture from delicate mucous membranes, causing irritation to the lining of the stomach or esophagus that may trigger the vomiting reflex. Dry food that is especially high in cereal ingredients is a very unnatural diet for cats and causes various health problems detailed on my website, www.twobitdog.com/

DrFox. These problems are compounded in cats who do not drink plenty of water and are allergic to corn.

Your practice of allowing the dry food to absorb moisture before the cat eats it is one I have long advocated. But to help keep teeth clean, offer your cat some scalded raw chicken wing tips or thin strips of raw beef or turkey gizzard to chew on.


Dear Dr. Fox: We rescued Dakota, a beautiful female English springer spaniel, when she was about 18 months old. Our vet gave her the series of Lyme vaccines, and a couple of days after the second shot Dakota began “air-licking.” We took her to several vets, none of whom indicated her symptom was a real problem.

In addition, we gave Dakota heartworm preventive medication because we were told she was HW negative when we adopted her, only to find out she actually had heartworms. Our vet advised us to continue the preventive medication, and when she was retested later, Dakota was HW negative.

Dakota never had symptoms of heart trouble, but her air-licking continued for the next couple of years. We fed her an organic raw meat diet, no grain and filtered water.

About 2 ½ years after we adopted her, she had a major seizure that did not resolve for almost 20 minutes, blinded her right eye and left her completely disoriented. We rushed her to an emergency clinic, where the vets diagnosed idiopathic epilepsy. They put her on a phenobarbital IV while keeping her in a crate where she could be observed. Twenty-four hours later, she went into cardiopulmonary failure and, despite efforts to revive her, died.

Only after her death did we learn that air-licking was actually a focal seizure. We would like your comment about what, if anything, might have been done for her. Could the phenobarbital have caused her death if the dose was too high? – V.W./S.N., Takoma Park, Md.

Dear V.W./S.N.: My sympathies go out to you and poor Dakota.

Air-licking is most often a displacement behavior in animals who are in pain and afraid. Cats and dogs will sometimes repeatedly air-lick when they have an irritating skin condition or abdominal pain.

I think the second Lyme disease vaccination could have caused neurological damage. So can topical anti-flea/anti- tick products you might have used.

Giving the heartworm preventive medication to an already infected dog could kill some of the worms, which break up into emboli that block blood circulation. This might have been the cause of your dog’s air-licking and later seizures from brain emboli.


Dear Dr. Fox: I have five cats. Three are 11 years old, one is 9 and one is 5. We’ve had the youngest for four years; he is a joy!

One of our 11-year-old females, Minnie, has been pooping in inappropriate places for about a year. We had X- rays taken and then were referred to a specialist for an ultrasound, but the vet could not find anything internally wrong with her.

Minnie has been the shy one, and she hides out more than normal. I placed a litter box in the area where she stays the most, but just the other day she pooped in the closet, which is near the litter box. We think Minnie is stressed from Snowball, the youngest. He just wants to play, but he does try and chase her.

The only thing I’ve changed in the last year was cat litter, from clumping clay to whole-kernel corn. Someone thought it might be the change of litter, but said I also should take Minnie to someone who talks to animals. Minnie has been getting lactulose and pumpkin in her wet food twice a day since September 2010.

I am at the end of my rope with her, and, given her condition, I can’t find someone to take her. Can you offer any suggestions? – D.S., Sequim, Wash.

Dear D.S.: In my opinion, Minnie is indeed a stressed cat. She needs a timeout from the younger cat who chases her and wants to play. Many cats who get stressed in this way will become house-soilers, but there are other reasons for pooping outside of the box for you to consider. Do you need more litter boxes, and do you need to clean them more often? Cats avoid dirty boxes, and some develop an aversion to new cat litter. Give Minnie her old brand of cat litter and a new box, or try her on Swheat cat litter, a wheat-based product.

Minnie could also be chronically constipated, so continue to give her the supplements she’s on, plus a few drops of Nordic Naturals fish oil for cats. Petting, grooming, daily abdominal massage and some catnip for Minnie may also help. Good luck!


Pet cancer

Veterinary oncologists Beth Overley and Jennifer Baez have developed a free website designed to help animal owners learn more about pet cancer diagnosis and treatment. Called vetCARES.com, the site provides owners with information on cancer care and medication options, as well as a dictionary to help guide pet owners through the medical lingo.


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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