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My Pet World: How to treat an old cat that won't eat

By Marc Morrone, Tribune Content Agency on

Q: We have a nearly 19-year-old cat in very good condition. Recently she's become a rather fussy eater. It's not her teeth -- they've been checked out by our local vet and she'll still occasionally eat dry cat food. She used to like certain flavors of canned cat food, but lately she wants only Gerber's baby food -- the various meat varieties. Our concern is whether there is sufficient nutrition in the baby food. We do try to coax her to eat deli roast beef or low-sodium ham, and I'll poach a chicken breast, but she tires of that very quickly. She'll invariably hold out for the baby-food, which she seems to love. Our vet says to give her whatever she wants at this point but we wanted your opinion as well even though we know you are not a vet. -- Rod Wells, Chicago, IL

A: Well at 19 years of age your cat does not need to explain anything she does and it is obvious that she likes baby food to the exclusion of everything else. However, you are correct that the baby food manufactured for human babies does not have the vitamins and minerals that a cat would need. Pet stores do sell vitamin and mineral supplements for cats in various forms and if she would accept that then the problem is solved.

However, if she is as fussy as you are describing here then I doubt that she would accept them. I think the best solution is for you to take some of the dry food that you say that she will eat occasionally and grind some of it up into a fine powder with a food processor. Then just mix a bit of the resulting powder with the baby food and if you do not add too much of it at first then most likely she will not suspect any subterfuge.

As time goes on you can gradually add more of it to the portion of baby food that she is eating -- operative word here is gradually -- and that bit of dry cat food that she is ingesting with the baby food will round out her diet.

Q: We have two dogs. One is a silky terrier who weighs about 15 pounds. The other is a maltipoo, also about 15 pounds. They are both about three years old, neutered and healthy. The silky was an only dog in our house and the maltipoo is our son's, but circumstances have forced him and his family to live with us. The two dogs got along fine for a month and then something happened -- we cannot figure out what -- and now they both hate each other. We converted our home to a two family since then and now we have an on-going problem that we can't seem to fix. We have a gate that separates the two units. The dogs will charge at each other and then fight at the gate. The fights that happen when someone leaves the gate open are quite fierce. Can you give use any clue or advise. Neither dog is overly friendly with other animals, but both love humans. -- Ben Sanders, Saint Paul, MN

A: A question like this is a brutal reminder that no matter how much we love our dogs, they are still animals and sometimes they act like animals. Some animals just do not like each other and cannot achieve conflict resolution when they are evenly matched and forced to live together.

In a state of nature, two such animals would go their separate ways, but this cannot happen in a home situation. A professional dog behaviorist may be able to help by putting muzzles on the dogs and allowing them to interact together doing fun things in a neutral setting over a long course of time.

If the dogs do enough fun things together, and do not have the opportunity to confront each other, and all the triggers that start the confrontations are removed, then an uneasy truce may result.

However, the situation will always be rather delicate and you and your family will always be walking on eggshells around the dogs as a fight can yet still erupt. There may be those who disagree with me, but you asked for my opinion and I think this is one of those petkeeping situations where you just wave the white flag of defeat and either resign yourself to the situation and keep the dogs apart, or do your best to re-home one of them.

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(Marc Morrone has kept almost every kind of animal as a pet for the last half-century and he is happy to share his knowledge with others. Although he cannot answer every question, he will publish many of those that have a general interest. You can contact him at petxperts2@aol.com; please include your name, city and state.)

(c) 2017 DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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