Q: I am getting many mixed answers when asking what I should feed my cat. Some say cats should have wet food because it hydrates them. Others say dry. Some say dry cat food has too many carbohydrates, which make cats hungrier and wanting to eat more. Some say feed them both. I have a 1-year-old Calico who is overweight. She eats about 1 to 11/2 cups of dry weight-control food daily and no wet food. --Margaret Knoll, St. Paul, Minn.
A: People gave you these different answers because they were satisfied with the way their own cats did on that particular food. This means that cats react differently to different types of food just like humans do. (Six children in a class may eat peanut butter every day, but the seventh child may have an allergy to peanut butter.) Well, the same situation applies to pets; each one will react differently to a prepared diet.
After a lifetime of feeding hundreds of cats, I have learned that a cat on a diet of dry food will usually be overweight, shed quite a bit more than normal, throw up a lot of hair balls and produce very voluminous stools. I have also had cats on a dry food diet that were in spectacular condition.
When I kept cats on a diet of raw food, each and every one of them was in great shape and had very small stools, so we used very little cat litter, an unexpected bonus. However, the raw food was really too expensive for me.
I have found that keeping my cats on a diet of just canned food is a nice compromise between the raw diet and the dry food diet. We just feed them as much canned food as they want twice a day and all is well.
So try feeding these different foods to your cat and see which best fits your budget and lifestyle and yet keeps your cat in first-class condition.
Q: We've had a Mexican Red Head Amazon parrot now for the last five years and he is like a member of our family. He lives in a big cage in our den. We stay up late to watch TV, and even though we cover his cage around 8 every night he still is awake -- we can hear him eating and playing with his toys. We assume that he is awake because we are making so much noise. We read on the Internet that parrots must have 12 hours of sleep every night, since they live on the equator where the light cycle is 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. Would it be better for him if we put him in a different room of the house so that he can sleep for 12 hours? --Mary DeCarlo, Ridge
A: What you read on the Internet about parrots needing 12 hours of sleep is just another one of those Internet myths about pet care that cause petkeepers so much anxiety. There is no scientific study on planet Earth devoted to determining how much uninterrupted sleep a parrot needs.
It is true that on the equator there are 12 hours of night and 12 of daylight, but very few species of parrots live in that zone. Your bird is native to Mexico, and Mexico is north of the equator, so a wild Mexican Red Head Amazon living in its natural habitat would have fewer hours of darkness in the summer and a longer period in the winter.
My point here is that birds have evolved to experience random events and changes in their natural habitat. Your pet bird should be exposed to that sort of lifestyle; things are not the same every day in the natural world, and change should be part of a pet's life, as well. If you are staying up late, then your bird will, too. If he is tired, he will take a catnap during the day to make up for it. He is a member of your family and most definitely should be kept where the family is all the time. Please do not shut him up all alone in a room just because you read a statement on the Internet that is not based on science or common sense.