Cats and the cable box: A hot issue
Q I have two cats who love to curl up, for hours on end, on our TV cable boxes for the heat. I doubt it does much for the cable boxes, which should be open on the top to dissipate the heat they generate. But does it hurt the cats, either through too much heat on their undersides, or through the electrical activity they're being subjected to? It's annoying to have the cable boxes off when we're not watching TV and have to wait five minutes or so for the system to boot up again. -- Kathy Fudge, Huntington
A This is something I have pondered for years. My cats will curl up next to a radiator and go to sleep for hours, and they get so hot I am afraid their fur will burn off. Yet, they wake up and take a good stretch and all is well.
My dogs will slumber next to my burning fireplace with their faces right up against the screen, and when I touch their heads, they are so hot I am afraid their brains will cook. Yet, through 45 years of watching dogs do this, I never saw one suffer.
My vet says that as long as the animals are choosing those spots to sleep of their own will and can get up and walk away from the heat at any time, it is not an issue.
As far as any problems for cats beyond heat from the cable boxes, I, too, was curious. A few years back, I went on a mission to find out about that, as my cats do the same thing. I really never got a straight answer from anybody. The vets shrugged, and the cable box people just kept referring me to other departments.
However, my cats that do sleep on them seem no worse for the wear.
Q We have two feral stray cats that feed in our yard. Besides cat food, is it all right to give them our leftover meat scraps, such as beef, lamb or chicken? We have heard that pork, including ham products, are not good for cats in general. Is this true? -- Carol Valentino, Bellerose
A Processed pork products such as ham and bacon have lots of salt and nitrates, so they are really not good for any human or animals except as an occasional treat.
However, there is nothing at all wrong with a pork roast as long as it is properly cooked. Besides good cat food, with its added nutrients, you can supplement your cat's diet with this kind of meat as well as any other cooked meat.
But a diet of just muscle meat does not have the required vitamins and minerals a dog or cat needs. It is important that it not make up more than a third of the cat's diet.
Q My sister-in-law has a poodle, and she has not had any allergy symptoms with it in the house. She just bought another poodle and is highly allergic to this dog. Why is she allergic to one and not the other when they are the same breed? Is there anything she can do to try and keep the new poodle? -- Carol Berman, Old Westbury
A There is so much anecdotal and unscientific reasoning about dog and cat allergies in the world that it boggles my mind.
The issue with your sister-in-law probably has little to do with dog allergies. The new dog that was brought into the house should not be accused of causing her symptoms unless an allergist makes that diagnosis.
I have seen so many animals that were put up for adoption because a human in the family started to sneeze or cough out of the blue and the pet got the blame without the human member of the family seeking a doctor's advice.