DEAR ABBY: In our family, pets are irreplaceable, full-fledged, beloved members. One of them was a beautiful, very affectionate cat we had rescued as an abandoned kitten. Tragically, he didn’t make it through an operation we hoped would save his life. His death was a needless accident, and we are writing this in the hope that you will print it to warn other readers so no other animals will die in a similar fashion.

On the day before he died, he suddenly stopped eating and drinking. He became lethargic and vomited several times. Our vet diagnosed him with a bowel obstruction. Apparently, he had eaten a piece of a palm from Palm Sunday. Unable to pass through his system, it had perforated his bowel. The damage was too extensive to fix.

The vet later told us about many other items he had removed throughout his experience: Q-tips, cotton balls, coins, twist ties, string, buttons, Easter grass, Christmas tree icicles, etc. Abby, please warn your readers to pick up anything that’s small enough for a pet to put in its mouth, and to keep anything a pet might be tempted to taste out of reach. If you do, perhaps our precious kitty’s death will not have been in vain. — IN MOURNING IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR IN MOURNING: I’m sorry about the untimely loss of your adored pet. I, too, hope your letter will alert pet owners — as well as parents and caregivers of small children.

DEAR ABBY: Do dreams have a meaning? I have the same disturbing dream over and over again. It happens often. The scenario is the same, but the place in the dream varies. I wake up feeling anxious and can’t fall back to sleep.

Do you have any advice or suggestion on what I can do about this? You have helped many people; can you help me? — SLEEPLESS IN KANSAS CITY

DEAR SLEEPLESS: Some dreams have a “meaning” — others do not. Your dream may be an attempt by your subconscious to work through something in your life that you haven’t been able to resolve consciously, which is why the dream is recurring.

However, it’s important that you understand that dreams usually aren’t literal. An example would be a person who dreams he or she is naked in a public place. It could be caused by fear of “exposure” of some secret, or wish fulfillment having completed a successful diet and exercise program. Because the dream is causing sleeplessness and anxiety, it may help to discuss it with a psychologist. Just talking about it may help the problem go away.

DEAR ABBY: Our group has a problem. One of the women takes out her dental floss and uses it at the table regardless of where we are — a restaurant, banquet, anyplace. We have all asked her please not to, but she’s the type who, if you tell her she’s wrong, insists she’s always right. According to her, flossing one’s teeth at the table is acceptable.

She’s in her 60s and she’s a representative for our AARP group, which means she attends a great many functions. There has been a lot of talk about this, and it has made a lot of people uncomfortable.

She reads your column as we all do. So please address this subject. Thank you. — GROSSED OUT IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR GROSSED OUT: With pleasure! Flossing one’s teeth should be done in PRIVATE, in the powder room. Under no circumstances is it proper to do it at the dinner table. For her to insist upon doing it in spite of being told it makes others uncomfortable is extremely rude, so tell her to chew on that!

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054- 0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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