25 February 2013

Rescue vs. Adoption vs. From a Breeder

If someone wakes up tomorrow and says, "I want a Persian," that person can get a Persian from one of three main sources.  Each source has advantages as well as disadvantages.

1. Rescue
The person can go to a county or city animal shelter and get a purebred Persian.  So isn't this adoption?  Usually no, I would classify it as rescue, because most county animal shelters around here are overcrowded and have a very high euthanasia rate.  In some shelters in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties, the rate is 70% or higher for cats.  These cats are give 3-5 days and then put to sleep.  So, yes, this is rescue because the animal is on the edge of death.  When I got Anya from a Los Angeles City Shelter, she had hours to live.

Advantages:  Any cat you take in, you have saved their life.  You may find a total gem of a cat.  And yes, there are plenty of purebred Persians in shelters, from 3 months to 15 years.  Most cats are about $50, with huge discounts for older animals.

Disadvantages:  The cat may be sick -- even terminally ill because the former owner could not face putting the cat to sleep.  I once drove to see a white cat, but when I got there the shelter vet tech told me he was suffering from advanced kidney failure, dementia, and incontinence.  It was sad to leave him, but he had no future and, the only reason I left him, he seemed unaware of anyone or anything around him. Sometimes the illness is apparent, but sometimes it is not.  Chances are almost 100% that the cat will get a respiratory infection.  You will know nothing about the cat's history.  And something that is bad in my world, the cat will be vaccinated whether you want it to be or not.  Your choice of cats is limited to what is available at the time.

2. Adoption
The person can contact either a private rescue or a no-kill shelter to get a Persian (or maybe even an individual list a cat on Craig's List).  You will have to answer questions about your home, maybe your vet, other animals, which the rescue can use to approve or deny you.  Rescues vary greatly in the amount of information they want -- some will even require a home visit before and after adoption.

Advantages:  The cat will already be screened for major health problems.  Some cats will come with histories and/or papers even.  Most cats come with a guarantee for health and a return policy if the new cat doesn't work out.  Since rescues can remove the best cats from shelters, these cats are in better condition, younger, and friendlier than from public shelters.

Disadvantages:  The price can be the same as for a public shelter or considerably more.  Some private rescues have adoption fees of $300+ for a purebred.  Some of the information may be wrong.  Spencer was adopted from a shelter -- the owners had surrendered him and said he was 2 years old, but that they had him for 3 years.  Like with rescue, many of these cats will come with an URI.

3. From a Breeder
The person can locate a breeder and contact the breeder for availability.  Usually people do this if they want only a kitten, and not even a young adult.  The cat, if from a reputable breeder, will come neutered/spayed, with vaccinations and papers.

Advantages:  The person will know exactly where the cat came from.  If it's a kitten, then the person will not have to deal with problems created by someone else.  The cat should be healthy.  The breeder is usually a great source of advice on how to care for the cat/kitten.  If something happens and the cat needs to be rehomed, most breeders will take their cats back.

Disadvantages:  The cost is higher -- $300 to $1000 for a pet quality, more for a show quality.  (Retired queens are usually rehomed for much less.)

As you can see, I have cats from all three sources.  I don't see one being better than another, although I would caution a new-to-cats person not to knowingly adopt a sick cat from a public shelter.  (It takes years of experience to be able to nurse some of these cats back to health.)  Each has it's pros and cons.

And I'm not one to say "You must rescue cats -- not buy them." My only requirement is that the cat is loved and cared for the remainder of its life.  Too many people adopt or even buy a cat, forgetting that getting a cat can be a 15 or more year commitment.  

24 February 2013

Malibu Cat Club Show, Glendale, CA

I spent most of yesterday at a cat show in Glendale, CA, put on by the Malibu Cat Club.  It was a fun day out of the house, although the 2.5 hour drive there and back was not fun.

The show had over 200 cats -- from the naked sphinx cats to the huge Maine Coons.  Of course, I was mainly watching the Persians.  Actually, I wasn't really watching them that close because I spent most of the time taking with my friend, learning more about grooming, and watching her 2 Persians.

Unfortunately, someone charged the camera battery, took the camera, but forgot to put the charged battery INTO the camera first.  I can be such an idiot at times!

But I did see some interesting things.  For example, the silver Persians at the show were very extreme faced. On Isabel, my silver, her nose sticks out a bit.  But on these, the nose was almost in profile with their eyes.  While this extreme face is seen in other colors, I'd not seen this in silvers before.  And honestly, I'm not sure I liked it either.  The cats had a googly-eyed look.

pin brush and 4" greyhound comb
But my main accomplishment was to learn about grooming.  My friend let me groom one of her cats with her genuine greyhound combs.  I have greyhound combs, but not by the original Belgium company.  I thought most of it was just hype, but there was a difference -- a big difference.  And then there was the fluffer brush.

I honestly wished I had taken a notebook.  There's so much to learn...  But it's also very exciting to learn how to groom a Persian to look the best it can look!

I did manage to buy myself a present -- a cat necklace.  I would have purchased some toys or treats, but I was still in sticker shock about the comb and brush.

22 February 2013

A Weekend Adventure!

It's been an 'interesting' week and I do have lots of papers to grade, but I'm taking time out to go to a cat show.  I'm fairly excited over going although it's 3 hours away.  (One of the disadvantages of living in the middle of no-where is some-where is far away...)

Anyway, it's the Malibu Cat Club's show in Glendale, CA!  250 cats to enjoy with 44 persians, including 2 persians owned by a friend.  I'm excited to see my friend (and her cats).  Plus with getting Peaches, I need to go shopping for various items usually available at shows, such as special combs and shampoos.

I do have some misgivings about showing cats, in part because I did try to show Clarissa as a pet.  Her career ended badly in her 3rd show.  I hope that Peaches, who was shown as a kitten, can adjust to being shown again.

Well, I need to do a few things, like check out the directions and charge my camera, before going to bed.  The show begins at 9am -- 2-3 hour drive... early wake-up call!

21 February 2013

Privacy and the Internet

Amazing how privacy works on the Internet.

There are 2 camps:
  1. There should be an expectation of some privacy.
  2. There is no expectation of privacy.
Let's look at the second group.  Those people say that anything on a blog such as this, if the blog is accessible to the public, is 'fair game' to be commented on and reposted.  In theory, I basically agree with this.  The problem comes when personal information is posted.  Everyone should know that with a few clicks, one's name, address, and phone numbers are easily found.  Since this information is 'public', no one in this camp should object to this information being made public.

But I suspect people would object.  Why?

Because publishing that type of personal information without permission is not appropriate behavior.  It's not against the law -- it's bad manners.  So then it seems there is some expectation of privacy or at least some expectation of what can or should be reposted by a third party.

What I have posted on this blog is my ideas and opinions.  Technically, the material is copyrighted which is unenforceable.

However, I have assumed that personal information from my blog would not end up being the center of 2 'fights' on another website.  What happened is that someone posted to another site about Peaches.  This person announced her to the group -- it really was my place to do that but she did it.  So be it.  Two problems with this, however:

1.)  I have received nasty emails from someone in that group or someone that watches that group.  I did not want Peaches to be included in those emails, so I did not mention her there.  Now I will probably get nasty emails and I, not the person who posted about Peaches, will have to deal with those nasty emails.

2.) I have had problems with that website and this blog.  Some members feel that I have no right to mention what is said there on this blog.  I have abided by that.  I assumed that the reverse was true -- what was posted here would not be mentioned on that website.  This assumption was wrong. So, if it is alright to post about my blog, then I will now assume I can post about things from that website.

18 February 2013

3-Day Weekend, Part 2

This is the second 3-day weekend in a row -- President's Day -- and I'm getting very used to having 3 days off.  After 3 days, I'm usually relaxed, caught up mostly on grading, done some housework, and caught up with my friends.  I think every weekend in February should be 3 days!

Miss Maggie Moo, now an angel for sure
Well, this hasn't been the best weekend in some respects.  Friday, 15 Feb, was the one-year anniversary of Miss Maggie Moo's passing.  It was hard.  But a kind and understand friend helped turned a sad time into a celebration -- Maggie Day!  I like that.  I was actually shocked by the responses -- most people were really, honestly touched by her life.  They had never met her, only known her via the Internet.  And I do think a few shed some tears when she died and the other day on the anniversary.

I guess my whole point in reminding people about Maggie is enjoy our cats NOW.  Maggie was love -- she wanted to be loved and she wanted to love.  But she had a short life -- 16 months -- with me.  I had hoped for longer time, but it wasn't meant to be.  In the time she was with me, I loved her without reservation.  I took what time I could to pet her and love her and play with her.  I have no regrets.

I know death is not a much-discussed topic, but there are two important things:

  1. Every cat, no matter if it's 6 weeks or 16 years, will die.  Most will die before their owners.
  2. Death helps us appreciate living -- it gives us push to love now.
I have taken extra time this weekend to love and play with and groom all my cats.  For some, this just means laying on the sofa in a pile with them.  For others, it's an extra treat.  But I do think they all know they are loved.

On to other things, once I get some groceries bought and cat food made, I basically have today off with nothing to do.  I do need to do a bit of cleaning and then I'm going to work on my cross-stitch.  I am tempted to play with some stamps, also, which I might later.  

Or I may find a good book and start a kitty pile on the sofa...

17 February 2013

Western vs. Holistic Veterinary Medicine

I mentioned a while ago that I lean towards holistic veterinary medicine, including herbs, homeopathy, etc.  I've heard some people say, "Yes, my vet is holistic".  But when I listen to what their vet does and what I see a holistic vet does, the two vets are miles apart.  So, maybe I should more clearly define what I mean by holistic vet.

Vets come in two main types:

  1. traditional, western medicine vets
  2. holistic medicine vets

The traditional western medicine vets are the ones most people take their pets to.  They are trained basically to use medicine and surgery to cure a specific problem.  And for some problems, such as a broken leg or a ruptured eye, nothing beats this approach.  Problem, treatment, cure!

The problem with this approach is that many cat problems are not simple.  Take for example Isabel.  She has a runny nose again, slightly dirty ears, and demands that I hand feed her.  The western medicine approach would be to treat her nose as one problem, her ears as another, and ignore her need to be hand-fed (because there's no medicine for that).

Holistic medicine is suppose to look at the whole cat, and not just the 'diseased' part of the cat.  A good holistic vet would look at Isabel and immediately point to a general immune system problem.  The nose and ears are just symptoms of a deeper problem.  And the hand-feeding?  Yes, that goes along with it because her need to be hand-fed seems related to her emotional state which relates to her physical state.  A holistic vet looks at the big picture and works to bring the cat closer to the ideal.  If that means not immediately curing or suppressing symptoms with say steroids so that a long-term cure can be had, then a holistic vet will do it.

Just as there are specialties in western medicine, there are holistic specialties.  Some include:

  • homeopathy
  • acupuncture
  • Reiki
  • herbs
  • nutrition
  • Tellington touch
  • Chinese herbs

The problem today is 'holistic' is a new buzz word for pet owners and vets are jumping on the holistic bandwagon.  Some of the vets are doing it right -- they go and get additional training and work on adding new skills, such as acupuncture or homeopathy, to their practice.  But some join professional groups and call themselves an expert in herbal pet medicine with no intention of ever using herbs.  It is a way for a vet to attract the growing numbers of pet owners who want an alternative to traditional medicine.  It is a dishonest practice that gives all holistic vets a bad name!

Wendy in her condo
As for my vets -- yes, plural -- the place I use in town is a traditional, by the book western medicine vet.  Both vets have serious questions about feeding raw, so we don't talk about it.  But when a cat needs immediate diagnosis, such as when Wendy was having severe vomiting and diarrhea, they do have x-rays, ultrasound, and in-house bloodwork to get answers.  Unfortunately, their treatment plans and my ideas on treatment are usually not in sync.

Now my main vet is also a western trained vet, but she has gone on to be certified as a classically trained homeopathic vet and is exploring other alternative medicines. She is a holistic vet in the purest sense. Her practice is small, without some of the bells and whistles, but when it comes to complicated, long-term problems, she has all the tools needed.  She doesn't use herbs or Tellington touch, but she is more than open to both being effective and she encourages me to use it when it is appropriate.  I will be taking Isabel up to her and working with her to improve Isabel's immune system (and energy level) -- we won't be directly treating her ears or nose.  An office call is usually 45-60 minutes long and she even asks questions about how the cat seems to feel emotionally.  She works hard at understand what is going on with a cat at the deepest level.

Two very different ways to practice and to think about veterinary medicine.  Each has it's place.  And my cats benefit from the best of both vet worlds.

13 February 2013

Persians: Unhealthier than other Cats?

 Are Persian cats overall unhealthier than other cats?  Interesting question and maybe not as simple as it seems.

The first problem with this question is to define "other cats".  There are mixed breed cats (mogglies) and then there are purebred cats.  I would suspect the answer varies depending on the comparison group.

The another problem is lack of data.  Vets in general do not report to anyone the number of visits by any type of cat.  My vets have made comments like, "We see that a lot in Persians", but this hardly can be translated in claiming Persians are more unhealthy than mogglies.

So, what one is left with is anecdotal evidence, usually based on cost.  Now, I have 6 Persians.  Here's their vet bills for the last year:

  • Clarissa -- $700
  • Wendy -- $400
  • Olivia -- $150
  • Isabel -- $150
  • Spencer -- $0
  • Anya -- $200
Are they more expensive than my mogglies?  Yes, but... here's the problem.  Two of my mogglies, Clancy and Dante, are CRF kitties which I treat at home for basically free.  So, do I include that in for comparison?  $150 per sub-Q fluids... The other thing to remember about my Persians, they are rescues and Clarissa, Wendy, and Isabel all had life-threatening issues when I got them.

Olivia and her mousy
I think, rather than pure cost, one should look at types of problems.  Olivia and Isabel had UTI which occurs in a lot of cats, so I don't think Persians have more problems than others.  Anya's bill was from a routine new cat check up.  Wendy's bill was from two things -- a scratched eye and digestive problems.  Now these are problems I might point to as more common in Persians.  Their eyes with no nose to protect them are so easily scratched.  

As for the digestive problems, well, Spencer can (and does) eat everything.  Wendy can eat poultry raw or Greenies treats -- anything else is a problem.  The difference probably comes down to breeding.  Spencer appears to be from better lines than Wendy and Clarissa, who probably are inbred.  The more inbred, the more problems such as severe food allergies.  Persians are somewhat inbred in general, but thanks to unscrupulous breeders, many are very inbred and so they develop these problems.  But this inbreeding could happen to any cat breed -- ask the Siamese enthusiasts.

Robby, domestic longhair
Another source of digestive problems is the hair.  Clarissa's bill was mainly from her $500 hairball of recent times.  But having had domestic longhairs, hairballs and digestive problems related to hairballs are not a Persian-only problem.  Any long-haired cat has issues!

Now, two areas that I do think are Persian problem areas are their noses and their teeth.  Both are from their  flattened faces.  The nose does cause breathing problems in some cats and must be related to internal structures and nostril size.  Their teeth are generally misaligned and do seem to build-up tartar more than mogglies.  This is especially true for Wendy.

But, interestingly, Persians are seen as much more unhealthy than other cats.  Why?  Well, several things pop into my mind:
  1. Vets may remember a gorgeous Persian longer than the average moggly and ascribe more problems to Persians.
  2. I hate to say this, but some vets see a Persian and assume the owner has money so the vet, consciously or subconsciously, sees more problems. 
  3. Persian owners, especially those who bought expensive cats, may be more likely to take the cats to vets.
  4. Related to #3, if owners are taking their Persians to the vet more often, then I would guess they are being vaccinated more.  I'm convinced there is a relationship between vaccinations and immune problems.
  5. Persian owners are told and believe their cats are more unhealthy so they look for symptoms.
So, are Persians more unhealthy than mogglies?  I would say they have a few more problems or at least the potential for more problems.  Are Persians more unhealthy than other purebreds?  I honestly don't think they have more problems than any other popular cat breed.   

The answer to the opening question is a definite maybe.

11 February 2013

Clancy Keeps Going

I just thought I should update how Clancy is doing.


Yes, the cat who had a creatnine level of ~8.2 over  two years ago is fine.
Yes, the cat I treated for thyroid problems even though his bloodwork said it was okay is fine.
Yes, the cat who was drooling and not eating 4 months ago is fine.
And yes, the cat who couldn't walk for 2 hours a couple of weeks ago is fine.

Clancy, the Conundrum, continues on....

Seriously, the only noticeable 'problem' he has right now is that his fur is oily and matted near his tail and had to be shaved off.  I would have bathed him, but I worry about over stressing him.

I know we are on borrowed time and he has cashed in several lives.  He has, however, become more affectionate and snuggly, so I do wonder if he understands that his time is limited.

I'm also very thankful for him.  More than ever before.  He has taught me a lot about CRF, trusting my instincts, and diet.

I wish there was more I could do for him and truly heal him.  But I know that physically that won't happen.  I am beginning to believe that his shattered little personality is beginning to heal.  He is so enjoying the petting and snuggling now -- until a couple of years ago.

Herbs: Slippery Elm

"What the heck is slippery elm?" is the normal response when I mention this herb.  While it is an uncommon herb, it is a very useful one.

Slippery elm comes from the inner bark of the elm tree, Ulmus rubra.  It is harvested, dried and then powdered.  Unfortunately, the harvesting does damage the tree and if not done correctly, the harvesting will kill the tree.  Commercially, slippery elm comes in bulk powder (the form I use) or as capsules of dried powder.  I know it also comes in tablets, syrup, and lozenges, but I have never tried any of these forms.

Slippery elm, as its name implies, is 'slippery'.  I mix the powder with water, gently cook it, and allow it to cool to form a gelatine-like substance.  The basic recipe is 1 teaspoon of powder in 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pan and stir. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. Let cool. Give 1 tsp of cooled syrup 1/2 hour before a meal. Cover and refrigerate the rest. (It will be okay for about 7 days.)  It has a earthy smell and taste which some cats do like enough to eat off a spoon.

For other forms of slippery elm, the 1/8 tsp of the powder can be mixed with food, but added water is also needed.  (1/8 tsp is about 1 capsule.)  Most cats do not object to it being added to food.

So what is this stuff good for?  I use it mainly to coat the intestinal tract when it's upset.  Specifically, when  a cat is vomiting or has diarrhea, slippery elm soothes the intestines and helps return the intestines to normal function.  It will not stop diarrhea, but will calm the intestines so that the need for the diarrhea is removed.  (Most diarrhea is caused by something irritating the intestines.)  It also has the appropriate carbohydrates to encourage 'good' bacterial growth in the intestines and can be used as a stool softener.

Other than intestinal problems, another good use is for CRF cats with mouth ulcers.  The slippery elm coats the mouth and makes the ulcers less sore, so a cat will eat.  Obviously, the slippery elm must be given as a decoction, and not mixed in with the food.

Slippery elm is also reported to help with urinary tract infections and open skin wounds.  I have never tried it for these problems because I use other herbs for these problems which I believe would work better.

10 February 2013

3-Day Weekend, Part 1

I know one of the joys of teaching shouldn't be having holidays off, but, honestly, it is.  I have a 3-day weekend this weekend and next.  One for Washington's birthday and the other President's Day.

I had a rough week:

  • Clarissa was sick
  • Meetings with parents 4 out of 5 nights concerning grades
  • Meeting with principal about observation/evaluation
  • New wild student in one class that turned the whole class chaotic
I literally wasn't getting home until 6:30pm or later.  That left 2 hours to eat, feed the cats, figure out lessons for the next day, and get to bed by 8:30-9:00 so I could get up at 4-4:30am.  Needless to say, I rarely got to bed before 10pm, so by Friday, I was totally exhausted.

So, where did I spend Saturday?  Yep, at school, doing grades and working on clearing my teaching credential.  The worst part is I still have tests to grade and credential stuff to do!

The good news is I have 2 days left to do.  But I do have a 'full' schedule already:
  • grade 120 tests
  • finish 2 parts of credential work
  • bath Isabel and Wendy
  • make cat food
  • figure out what I'm teaching (including worksheets) for the coming week
And somewhere in there, I HAVE to snuggle some cats!  But right now, I need to change and take hubby up to Lucerne Valley which will eat up 3-4 hours.... sigh....

08 February 2013

Tortie Tot's Not-So-Fun Adventure

For the last week, Clarissa, my miniature tortoiseshell Persian, has had quite an adventure.

It all started about a week ago, when she pooped a lot -- like 4 times.  The pooh was well formed but soft. One got caught in her butt fuzz and had to be cut out. She ate breakfast with a bit reluctance, but refused lunch and supper.  I was mildly concerned.

On Saturday, she ate breakfast and then threw up!  I tried a bit later and again she vomited.  I skipped lunch and wait until supper.  (Fasting a healthy animal which is vomiting is a good idea as it allows the digestive tract to relax.)  So I was hopeful at supper time.  No luck -- 20 minutes after eating, she threw up.  I tried another food and same results.

On Sunday morning, I found a hairball from another cat.  The 'hair' was not hair, but a synthetic fiber, such as the stuffing from a mouse.  So, I got wondering if Clarissa ate the other half and this was now lodged in her intestines.  Given that she threw up breakfast, I decided a trip to the emergency vet was needed, especially since I couldn't take Monday off to get her to my regular vet.

Off we went to Apple Valley, about an hour away.  Initially, they did bloodwork and x-rays, after giving her a mild sedative (as she objected to the vet techs!).  The bloodwork was fine -- a few values a bit close to the extremes of normal, but considering her not eating, it was okay.  The x-rays showed something in her stomach and intestines.  Since she had been throwing up, it couldn't be food.  Maybe hair?  Maybe mouse stuffing?  Maybe...???  They gave her some fluids and then did a series of barium x-rays.  The barium x-rays showed that the 'stuff' had moved.  The vet felt sure she would be fine and sent us home. (The techs, however, we a bit intimidated by her -- 5 lbs! -- so I had to get her out of the kennel.  One person said it took 3 techs and a pair of welding gloves to give her the barium.)

She wasn't given food that night, and I was so hopeful the next day, but she wouldn't eat at all.  She was also very tired and had a truly pathetic look to her.  Monday night, I stopped and got her baby food which she gobbled up!  Over the next few days, she went from baby food to cat food and from tired to full of tortitude!

When things like this happen, I always like to figure out why, ask what I should have done differently, and try to learn what I can.

The why is easy.  Clarissa weighs ~5 lbs.  She had recently been given more food, namely she was fed 1/3 can in the morning, 1/3 can at night, and then 1/2 a small can at noon.  This was too much for her to handle.  So she got soft poohs.  This led to the one in her bloomers which I cut off.  I didn't wash her butt so she groomed herself and gave herself a giant hairball.  This plugged her up so any food she ate had no place to go.  The barium moved it along, so she got rid of it and could eat.

The 'what I should have done differently' is harder.  I think at every step, I made the correct decision at the time.  I'm not sure the hairball would have dislodged on its own.

There are several things I did learn.

  1. Don't discount the problems associated with overfeeding a cat.
  2. When a cat has a poopy-butt, clip and then wash it.
  3. Keep baby food and chicken broth on hand.
  4. Try hairball remedy when a cat vomits 15-30 minutes after eating food.

07 February 2013

Misc. Digestion Thoughts

Some people have asked me why I know so much about cats and cat digestion.  And the answer is, I'm curious and I think.  I know from my students that the ability to link two disparate facts is not common.  Apparently, I'm gifted in that area, because I hear or read something and begin to try to fit it into what I already know.

Over the last couple of weeks, I heard three stories on National Public Radio that have intrigued me.  And I do wonder how they relate to cats.

  1. One form of malnutrition in humans is related to the wrong mix of intestinal bacteria.  I forget what the disease is, but young children in Africa can go from a normal weight to malnourished in 2-3 months because the flora of the gut has changed.  And it seems the change in the flora caused the malnourishment, and not vice versa.  Could more problems in cats, especially chronically underweight cats, be related to intestinal flora?
  2. One difference between dogs and wolves is 4 genes which are responsible for digestion of carbohydrates.  Wolves, the ancestors of dogs, have very limited ability to digest carbohydrates.  But as wolves began to live near humans, the diet changed from all meat to meat and carbohydrates.  Eventually, the genes of the wolf/dog changed enough to allow the animal to digest carbs.  Cats are much younger in terms of domestication, so has there been any similar modifications in genome?  Why is the cat genome not as well known as the dog?  Could cats eventually become omnivores?
  3. The time of day one eats seems connect to weight gain/loss.  One study showed that if humans ate a large meal in the morning and small meals later, they lost weight.  Likewise, people who ate large meals later in the day did not lose weight.  Could this be applied to cats?  Maybe feed underweight cats more at night?
I don't know if any of these directly relate to cats, but I'm already looking into increasing probiotics in the cats' food, especially with Clarissa.  I did look up and find probiotics can help food allergies.  So what else good can they do?

Anyway, to the people that ask, "How do you know all that?" this is a glimpse of what I do -- I listen, learn, and then try to link things together.