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Dr. Fox: 'Spirit' pets can be a comfort

Dr. Fox: 'Spirit' pets can be a comfort

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Dear Dr. Fox: I just read your column entitled "Animal Spirits and Alternative Realities." The letter from T.G. in San Diego describes the very same experience I had after the death of my 16-year-old cat, Rocco.

I never told anyone about it for fear people would think I was crazy or dreaming at the time. I was awake, but kept my eyes closed during Rocco's "visitation" because I was afraid he would vanish if I opened my eyes. The experience gave me comfort in a time of deep grieving.

Since T.G. had never owned a cat, I am curious about the retirement community he moved into three years ago. I'm specifically wondering about the previous owner of the condo: Did that person have a much-loved cat who is attached to the place? I have lived with cats and dogs since I was 4 years old, and I feel cats are more attached to places than to people, the opposite of dogs. C.F., Mishawaka, Indiana

Dear C.F.: I appreciate you sharing your experience with your deceased cat. Many people having after-life experiences with their animal companions share your feeling of being comforted by such visitations, especially during the grieving period.

With T.G.'s experience, there was probably a cat living in the place sometime prior to his occupancy. Another couple has told me that they had frequent visitations, feeling a cat jump on their bed at night, before coming to learn that the prior owners of their home did indeed have a cat.

As a rational person with the skeptical objectivity of a scientist, I am drawn to the metaphysics of these existential phenomena. Many people have also reported their surviving pets' reactions and responses to visitations from recently deceased pets, as documented in two of my books: "Cat Body, Cat Mind" and "Dog Body, Dog Mind."

Hookworms prevalent in pets throughout U.S.

In July, the Companion Animal Parasite Council reported continued increases in the presence of hookworms, with the highest monthly increases in canine or feline hookworm infections occurring in Georgia, South Dakota and California.

"This demonstrates how vital it is for dogs and cats to be protected against hookworm parasites with broad-spectrum, year-round preventatives and, at a minimum, biannual testing," said veterinarian Craig Prior, a CAPC board member. "By protecting your pet, you are protecting other pets, your family, other families and your entire community." (Full story: Veterinary Practice News, Aug. 18)

An evaluation of dog parasites in parks across the country has confirmed the need to have dogs' stool samples routinely tested as part of at least one wellness examination every year. Ideally, this would be done twice yearly.

Email Dr. Fox at or send mail to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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