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Cats can respond to specific sounds

DEAR DR. FOX: I am a rather good singer — I was even a finalist on "American Idol"! My beautiful 5-year-old female Himalayan cat, Cleopatra, goes crazy whenever I sing. If she's out of the room while I'm singing, she comes running to me, jumps up next to me and cries or starts pawing at my face and arms. It is cute, but in all of my experience and reading about felines, I've never seen this addressed.

Does she like my singing, or does she hate it? I can't tell for sure. She has a cute look on her face when pawing at me, like when she reacts to catnip. — C.O., Alexandria, Virginia

DEAR C.O.: Your letter will amuse many readers, and some will have their own stories — which I would like to read — about how cats respond to us when we sing or play musical instruments.

Some cats like to walk on and "play" pianos, while others come running when they hear a harmonica or whistle. Cats are quite vocal and can have a significant repertoire of sounds that may be accidentally mimicked when you sing and when certain notes are struck on various musical instruments. Some sounds may mimic mating or distress calls and even sounds of various prey that trigger the hunting instinct.

DEAR DR. FOX: I have an 8-year-old schipperke dog who is in good health. However, he has an "attack" every five or six months. I don't know how to describe it exactly, but he starts licking everything. He gets extremely restless and then starts to chew on and swallow any material he can find. He has chewed clothing, rugs, plastic bags, etc. It is as if he is obsessed. I can't distract him. I am really concerned because he has had two attacks in the past three days.

I feed him Authority dog food: 1/2 cup in the morning with a sprinkling of Himalayan salt and 1/2 cup at night with a fish oil capsule. For the last number of months, I have been giving him three or four green beans at each meal.

What can I do to help my little guy? He is so distressed when he is in these episodes. — A.N., Naples, Florida

DEAR A.N.: I am glad that you wrote to me because your dog is showing a sudden change in normal behavior and that means one thing: You need to make an immediate appointment with a veterinarian.

What you may be interpreting as a benign, neurotic or obsessive-compulsive behavior could actually be a symptom of a deep abdominal, internal organ pain or disease. Dogs with cancer or liver disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other maladies sometimes behave like your dog, and such behavior calls for a thorough veterinary examination.

DEAR DR. FOX: I am writing in response to your frequent mention of the benefits of having two cats in a household.

We have a 3-year-old tabby who we adopted from a shelter when she was about 8 months old. She is very people-oriented — she greets us at the door and often sits on our laps. She is also very playful — she gallops around the house, plays with toys and plays hide and seek with me. To us, she is the perfect companion cat.

I am wondering why you think she would be happier with another cat around, and why, in a recent column, you stated that a cat was probably too attached to its owners. We think things are great just as they are. — L.B.R., Williamsburg, Virginia

DEAR L.B.R.: Your seemingly happy, playful cat always greets you when you come home, but have you asked yourself what she does all day when she is alone? Long naps for cats are normal, but they need and enjoy some stimulation during the day. Companion animals who live without any contact with their own species (cats, dogs, rabbits, parrots, etc.) naturally develop varying degrees of human attachment. This can become abnormal, behaviorally, including over-attachment and misdirected sexual behavior, and it is a common cause of separation anxiety and abnormal self-comforting behaviors such as excessive grooming.

I do not question the love and care of people with a single animal companion such as yourself. But what I am saying is that we must first consider these matters as best we can from the animal's point of view. I applaud the April 2014 National Geographic magazine's cover, focusing on "Wild Pets: The Debate Over Owning Exotic Animals." Whatever animals we take into our homes and hearts, we must consider their needs first — especially their social and emotional needs.

Bravo! Pet food recall

Bravo! raw pet food of Manchester, Connecticut, is recalling select lots of raw food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled products were distributed nationwide and can be identified by the batch ID code printed on the side of the plastic tube or on a label on the box. For these codes, visit bravorawdiet.com/bravonews.html. Customers can return the food to the store where they purchased it and submit the product recall claim form available on the Bravo! website for a full refund or store credit.

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