It started with a call from the animal shelter. They had a wild spotted kitten with huge ears, abandoned by an owner who had made an unwise choice for a house pet. Although the paperwork said he was a Bengal cat, Boxer had the distinctive markings of an African serval. He had a good appetite, but he refused to eat a diet of well-balanced wild cat food. Boxer loved chicken and turkey, and it’s likely that his owner had fed him only meat, not knowing that predators gnaw on the bones as well. Soon after he came to us he befriended one of our friendly dogs, and one day as they were playing together we heard a loud meow. Boxer was hurting. We rushed him to our vet. Diagnosis: Rickets, the children's disease characterized by the softening of the bone with the threat of permanent deformity.
The cause: lack of calcium and/or vitamin D in his diet. Boxer had surgery and ended up in a cast. We supplemented his diet with bone meal and put him in an outdoor enclosure so he could soak up some of that vitamin D sunshine. With time, care, and the right feline food his bones are strong now, his energy boundless, and he's the absolute highlight of our educational outreach programs.