DEAR JOAN: Iâve never fed my cats any fish-based pet foods due to advice from a vet over 30 years ago. Too much ash for the male catâs urinary tract, etc. The manufacture of pet food has changed since then, but when researching via the internet I find conflicting information. What is your advice?
J. Clark,Â Pleasant Hill
DEAR J.: A lot of confusion surrounds the great fish debate and there is much for the cat parents to consider.
Fish is not part of a catâs traditional diet. Cats evolved from ancestors that originated in desert regions where they didnât have a lot of access to fish. Their primary diet was small mammals, reptiles and birds.
Modern day cats, however, have developed a taste for fish. My Siamese tom cat, Andy, was one of the few that did not like fish. He wouldnât eat any cat food that contained fish and even turned his nose up at canned tuna and fresh fish.
A number of cats actually have an allergy to fish, as well as beef and cowâs milk â two other items that were not a part of their ancestorsâ diet.
The main issue with fish is that given a steady diet of it, the cat can develop a thiamine deficiency, which can lead to a loss of appetite, seizures, and even death.
Hereâs where the confusion comes in. Cats should not be fed a steady diet of fresh fish or fish products that are intended for human consumption. However, cat foods that contain fish are fine for cats because the manufacturers add in thiamine.
Thereâs no evidence that the canned cat food or fish-flavored dry food is harmful for our cats, provided they donât have any allergies to it. Sharing your canned tuna or grilled salmon with your cat, however, should be limited to an occasional treat, and only in small quantities. Fish is a good source of protein, but there are much better choices for cats such as chicken and turkey.
Last week I wrote a story about why dogs seem to hate postal carriers, telling my own story about my Chihuahua, Bailey, running out the door and chasing my mailman. I explained why dogs have this attitude and suggested some remedies that included the possibility your dog and the mail carrier could become friends.
I received a letter from a postal carrier who brought up some interesting things that I was not aware of and one I didnât consider.
The carrier said that if an employee gets bitten by a dog, his or her bosses immediately blame the carrier. Theyâre questioned on whether they used their training, used their satchel as a defense and whether they used their dog spray.
He wrote that carriers can then be disciplined for failing to utilize those tools and that their jobs can be at risk. He also said postal carriers are not allowed to carry dog treats to help make friends with the dogs.
His final words, minus the all capital letters, were these:
âFor no reason whatsoever should you allow your dog to come remotely close to your mailman. Your mailman can get fired for being bitten. If you or your mailman would like to meet when he is not working so he can play with your dog, thatâs entirely your decision, but when we are on the clock, we are on the governmentâs time.â