Dear Dr. Fox - I am responding to your request for cats with unusual tastes for plants. My Ninja is an 8-year-old Maine coon cat. She is black, brave, and loves to sneak up on people. And she loves lemongrass!
She loves to eat it and, when the leaves are trimmed off, she makes a nest of it. George and Pat, our other two cats, also like to nibble on it.
I'm told cats hate citrus, so why do they like lemongrass? I've also been told that lemongrass is safe for cats to eat. Is this true?
I have several large pots for cooking, and they have to be indoors for the winter.
First, all things in moderation. Sprout some wheatgrass and alfalfa for your cats, as well as catnip, so they can rotation-graze.
Lemongrass has a host of beneficial ingredients that are antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic (nematodes), antiseptic, diuretic, cooling, sedating and helpful with digestion. Lemongrass may also help prevent blood clotting and cancer. Externally (as a strong tea), it will act as an insect repellent and clear up athlete's foot.
Concentrated essence of lemongrass (essential oil) could be harmful to cats, because unlike people and dogs, they lack certain liver enzymes to break down various compounds that, if not eliminated from the body, could prove to be toxic. That is why hydrosols, rather than essential-oil extracts of beneficial herbs, are used for various feline health problems.
So a nibble of lemongrass will not harm your cats, but an intense craving could indicate (rather than cause) some underlying nutritional deficiency or disease such as hyperthyroidism.
Dear Dr. Fox - I adopted two cats from the Animal Compassion Network. I noticed one of them eating dirt out of my planters. Many tests and $1,200 later, the diagnosis was acute feline anemia. I am giving her prednisone every day. Nothing seems to help her blood count.
Do you have any suggestions? Two different vets have tried everything they know.
Obsessive dirt eating by dogs and cats can be a cardinal sign of anemia. In many cases, the anemia owes to an autoimmune disease that may be triggered by vaccinations. Or it may have a hereditary basis. Cats can develop anemia with adverse drug reactions, blood parasites (such as haemobartonellosis), viral infections (such as feline leukemia), bone-marrow diseases and hypothyroidism, etc.
Because the veterinarians have been able to identify the type of anemia afflicting your cat, I would follow their course of treatment.
Discuss with them the possibilities of adjunctive treatment with blood transfusions, Procrit, cyclosporine, human gamma globulin and folate.