Q: We adopted a kitten in 2001. Now, she's a full-grown, 16-pound problem. A few years ago, when my mother-in-law passed away, we took her dog. This cat doesn't get along with the dog or my older cat. Also, since the dog arrived, the problem of the younger cat relieving herself anywhere has escalated. Sometimes she uses the box, sometimes she pees in front of it, and sometimes she pees somewhere else. A month ago, I took off my pants and laid them on the sofa; when I picked them up, there was cat pee on them.
Our vet says the problem is behavioral, but I believe there may be some physical condition the vet doesn't know how to diagnose. I noticed the cat's urine stream doesn't flow straight down but sprays out. What should I do?
A: In my experience, when people say there may be something physically wrong with their pets, they're usually right. Dr. Ilona Rodan, past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners in Madison, Wis., agrees. She advises a thorough physical exam, including a urine analysis. Diagnosing a urinary tract infection may take more than one test. Even more common in cats is cystitis, a condition often provoked by anxiety.
Here are some basics Rodan suggests:
"Since your cat is at least occasionally peeing near the box, this is a clue that she doesn't mind the location of the box but something else is preventing her from going inside it. It's possible it's just too dirty for her, and simply scooping more often will help. It may be she has an issue with the litter. Or it may be your other cat or the dog is nearby. Certainly, her relationship with the other pets may be causing her great anxiety and could well be the source of the problem."
Though you didn't indicate how many litter boxes you have, simply adding another box or two (all in different rooms) could help; in your case, it's likely the more litter box locations, the better.
Rodan suggests bringing in hands-on help — a veterinary behaviorist (www.dacvb.org) or a member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (www.avsabonline.org) to further investigate any potential medical explanation or suggest ways to modify your cat's behavior toward other household members.
Directing dog to
a new potty spot
Q: I want to teach my dog to do her business in a concrete dog run. How do I do that?
A: This is what sod is for. Place a section or two of sod in the dog run. Take your dog there in the morning, maybe 30 minutes later than usual, so she's really crossing her legs. Keep her on leash. For further encouragement, relocate some of yesterday's business to the sod. When your dog relieves herself, praise her and offer a special treat. You can cut back on the goodies when you know she's got the idea, which shouldn't take long. Then, start literally cutting back on the sod, taking inches off each day until you eventually have next to nothing remaining, and your pooch is doing her business on the concrete.
Send questions to Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.