- Catnip seems to make my pet high. Is this addictive and dangerous? - Ronald Sommer from Rolling Hills, CA
Catnip is not addictive or dangerous, it is generally considered non-toxic and safe to give your cat, but can cause vomiting and diarrhea if the cat eats a very large qua [more]
Catnip is not addictive or dangerous, it is generally considered non-toxic and safe to give your cat, but can cause vomiting and diarrhea if the cat eats a very large quantity. In addition, it has been shown to lower the seizure threshold in rodents, so it is not recommended for cats that have a history of seizure activity. Cats who get catnip regularly can become less responsive to the effects if it is offered too frequently (every few weeks is an acceptable interval). Pregnant cats should not be allowed to have access to catnip, however, as it can stimulate contractions of the uterus resulting in premature labor. [less]
- I have a 5 year old female Bichon Frise who has a bad habit of tinkling in the house even though she is house broken. I also have 3 other small dogs and it seems when she does not get enough attention or scrapes of food she does this in an attempt to get attention. She will do htis deliberately in from t of me. This used to happen infrequently, but now itis quite frequent and she has done it on the bed and sofa. I have taken her to the vet and it is not a urinary infections. Please help. I am at my wits end. Thanks you. - Pat Romero from Gardena, CA
If she is doing this as an attention-getting behavior, you need to be absolutely certain you are not inadvertently reinforcing the behavior. Be sure you are not giving he [more]
If she is doing this as an attention-getting behavior, you need to be absolutely certain you are not inadvertently reinforcing the behavior. Be sure you are not giving her any attention, positive or negative when she does this behavior. You can pick her up and put her outside or into confinement (such as a pen or a crate) when she does this without making any eye contact or saying a word. In other words, this behavior equals separation from you and no attention whatsoever. In addition, to help encourage her to make the right decision, walk outside with her several times each day and stand quietly with her on leash until she eventually urinates. When she does, make a big deal out of it and give her a lot of attention, affection and a yummy treat. It is important that you go with her outside and are there just at the moment she performs to provide the positive reinforcement. Eventually she will learn that the only way to get your attention is to do her business outside just like everybody else. [less]
- I have two buetiful black and White Tuxcedo Cats, Pebbles and Bam Bam. Pepples is nearly six years old. Bam Bam, newly aquired, is about 4 months old and still a little boy. Both are rescues. Pebbles hisses and wants to attack Bam Bam, but Bam Bam just wants to play. I wish they would be friends, I try my utmost to do this. Any ideas you have I would appreciate. I read Ask The Expert every Tuesday. - Amy Rose Ellis from Carson, CA
This is a difficult situation and could be a very dangerous one if the aggression progresses. The first step is to separate the two cats completely to avoid any further e [more]
This is a difficult situation and could be a very dangerous one if the aggression progresses. The first step is to separate the two cats completely to avoid any further encounters that can heighten the fear and aggression between them. There are a few possible scenarios for what is causing this. The first is that Pebbles is the aggressor and Bam Bam is the victim. This could be for territorial reasons or for status reasons if Pebbles is feeling like her place is being threatened by the new kitten. The second is that Bam Bam is the aggressor (i.e. playing rough) and Pebbles is reacting to this with aggression because she feels like she needs to defend herself. It will be helpful to resolve the issue if you can figure out what is triggering the fighting and avoid those situations. After a period of separation, slowly start to allow the cats supervised visits together. Make sure you are entertaining the younger kitten during these times to help avert him from playing with Pebbles and potentially initiating an attack. You will also want to make sure there are several litterboxes as well as several feeding areas separate from each other to prevent one cat from guarding the resources. Over time, many cats will eventually adjust to each other and come to accept living together in harmony (although this usually doesn’t happen until the younger, wilder kitten calms down a bit and stops annoying the older, grumpier cat). [less]
- We have 4 cats and they are all rescues two are sisters opne has recently started to lick and make bald spots on her body and legs. We have had her to the VET and there is no ringworm or mange. None of the other cats are heving this problem. The areas are bald and are not inflmated but she is looking really ugly. - Terry Salmon from Redondo Beach Ca.
There are several different causes for over-grooming and licking in cats, also called “fur mowing”. It could be an allergy (for example, from fleas, something in her diet [more]
There are several different causes for over-grooming and licking in cats, also called “fur mowing”. It could be an allergy (for example, from fleas, something in her diet, or an environmental allergy from the pollens/tress/grasses), it could be something infectious (such as mange mites or ringworm), or it could be behavioral (usually stemming from stress or anxiety). Once the infectious causes have been ruled out, we usually go through the process of determining if this is due to an allergy. The cat (as well as all pets in the household) must be placed on strict topical once monthly flea control to make sure fleas are not part of the problem. Then a 2 month diet trial is performed where the cat is placed on a special diet that has limited ingredients to determine if a food allergy is the cause. Allergy testing for environmental allergies or a trial of anti-itch medication may be tried to see if her symptoms may be due to the pollens or some other allergen in the environment. Finally, if the medical causes have been ruled out, behavioral causes should be investigated to see if the cat is experiencing increased stress resulting in over-grooming. If a stressor can be identified and removed, improvement in the condition usually follows, however, if it cannot be identified or cannot be removed, anti-anxiety behavioral medications can sometimes help reduce the stress level and stop the excessive licking. [less]
- I have 3 dogs 2 jack russells male and female and a male yorkie poo. The 2 male dogs lift their legs on any box, plastic bag or corner of a bed in the house. I have tried everything to get them to stop. Now they are peeing on the beds in the house. I cannot catch which of the three it is. I have tried everything and do not know what to do to stop all this urinating. It is causing a lot of difficulty in the relationship with my husband. What can I do? Please help! - Jet from Wayne NJ
Dogs can have inappropriate urination issues for a variety of reasons and it is vital that you discover the underlying influence behind the inappropriate behavior to be a [more]
Dogs can have inappropriate urination issues for a variety of reasons and it is vital that you discover the underlying influence behind the inappropriate behavior to be able to adequately address the problem. This behavior may be urine marking (which has both hormonal as well as social influences), incomplete house-breaking, fear/anxiety/stress related, or due to a medical abnormality (such as a urinary tract infection, etc). With multiple dogs in the household, it is also important to identify which of the three is the perpetrator.
Start by going back to the basics. Assume that they have not been completely house-broken and treat them as you would treat a new puppy in the house. Never leave them unattended in the house. If you need to leave them alone, keep them confined in a room where you do not mind if they urinate, or keep them crated while you are not home. When you are home with them, take them outside frequently to urinate, especially following naps, eating, and playing. Make sure you go outside with them to the designated area and wait for them to finish. Keep them on leash and do not play, talk to, or interact with them in any way until they have urinated, then give them attention, affection, and a yummy treat. If you catch someone in the act of having an “accident” in the house, interrupt them and take them outside immediately. Once he urinates in the correct area, reward him with attention and a treat.
It is also really important that urine smells inside the house are cleaned up completely with an enzymatic urine cleaner to prevent them from being attracted to return to those areas. If it is determined that the males are doing the naughty behavior and they have not been neutered, removing the hormonal influences can reduce or eliminate this behavior in many male dogs. In addition, you will want to identify any social interactions (either between the dogs or between the dogs and people) that may be causing them to want to urine mark.
If fear or anxiety is the reason for the bad behavior, it will usually occur when they are left home alone or when some other anxiety inducing event happens. It is important in this case (and in all of the cases), that the dog is NOT punished for doing the wrong thing as this will create more fear and anxiety and worsen the problem. Often what that will lead to is a dog who will continue to urinate but only when someone is not looking. The goal is to ignore bad behaviors and reward good or positive behaviors. Some of these dogs will benefit from anti-anxiety medications, however if not paired with behavioral modification in the home, the medications are unlikely to be completely effective.
Finally, consulting with a veterinary behaviorist who can come into your home and make specific recommendations for your individual case may help you to reach the diagnosis and solution the quickest. [less]
- Our 2 yr old, neutered, male Silver American Shorthaired Tabby is marking the bedroom wall and hardwood floor where one of his two catboxes are. The boxes are cleaned daily, new pinelitter changed weekly. My husband is fed up and ready to deliver Cooper to the pound and I'm at my wits end with a cat I love dearly. Please help.
Deborah Ammar - Deborah from San Pedro, CA
The first step is to try to identify if he is truly marking or having inappropriate urination. The difference between the two is that marking is usually done on vertical [more]
The first step is to try to identify if he is truly marking or having inappropriate urination. The difference between the two is that marking is usually done on vertical surfaces (i.e. walls, drapes, sides of furniture, etc) and inappropriate urination is usually on horizontal surfaces (i.e. floors, carpets, beds, etc). In addition, if you catch him in the act, the posture is important. If they are marking they usually back up to the object with the tail straight up and sometimes twitching and will occasionally stomp their back feet. If it is inappropriate urination, they will squat and urinate just as if they are going in the litterbox. It is important to make this distinction because inappropriate urination and marking have different causes and to appropriately address and ultimately solve the problem, you must tackle the proper underlying cause.
The second step is to determine if there is an underlying medical reason for this behavior, for instance, a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, a hormonal disease (such as diabetes), or Feline Interstitial Cystitis (a condition where the bladder is inflamed and irritated without the presence of bacteria). If an underlying medical reason is found for the problem, solving that problem may also solve the urination issues. If not, and it is determined to be a behavioral problem, it can be challenging but not impossible to fix.
Start by making sure that you have cleaned all of the spots that have been urinated on with an enzymatic cat urine cleaner. The enzymes in the cleaner will break down the urine rather than just covering up the scent. Sometimes it is difficult to tell exactly where the urine is, however cat urine will fluoresce under a black-light so if you turn off all the lights in the house and use a black-light, you can usually find all of the areas that need cleaning.
Next, make sure you give him plenty of litterbox options. Often people with one cat have just one litterbox. However, cats are quirky and sensitive and sometimes they don’t like the box you have chosen, or they don’t like the type of cat litter, or maybe they just don’t like where you have chosen to put the litterbox. Whenever people have this problem, I recommend getting several different types of litterboxes (different sizes, shapes and covered as well as uncovered boxes) as well as different types of cat litter (clumping, non-clumping, pine litter, paper litter, scented, unscented, etc) and place the boxes in different rooms around the house. Try to identify if the cat has a particular box that he seems to gravitate to in the house. This may give you clues as to why the previous box or location was not working out well.
Additionally, make sure you address the cat’s emotional state by ensuring there is not a situation in the home that may be causing him stress. Cats can become stressed by seemingly small things, so evaluate the household with a critical eye. Sometimes it is the relationship between two cats in the home that is tense or one cat is guarding the litterbox preventing the other cat from using it properly. Sometimes it is a dog in the house that is terrorizing and stressing out the cat. Sometimes it is a cat or an animal outside that is taunting an indoor cat which then becomes frustrated because it cannot get outside to defend its territory. Cats need to have adequate emotional stimulation just like dogs in order to be content, especially indoor cats. Make sure there are plenty of places for him to climb, hide, look out windows, etc. Make sure there are toys to play with that stimulate his mind and give him activities to do that challenge him. One way to do this is to split up his kibble into several small meals and hide them all over the house, in high places, low places, behind furniture, etc. This will mimic the hunting behavior that he would be doing if he were outdoors, it will also encourage him to exercise more. Be sure to change the places where you hide the food everyday so he doesn’t become bored.
Finally, you can contact a veterinary behaviorist to come to your house and evaluate the situation and help you determine the cause as well as an appropriate plan of action to bring peace to everyone in the household. [less]
- Dear Animal Expert,
My name is Raina. I was wondering if lions purr like cats. Is it true or false. Do Lionesses have babies on land, water, or somewhere else? - Raina from Los Angeles, CA
Lions do purr but it is different from a housecat’s purr. Small cats (in the genus Felis) can purr when breathing in and out as a continuous noise. Lions and other big ca [more]
Lions do purr but it is different from a housecat’s purr. Small cats (in the genus Felis) can purr when breathing in and out as a continuous noise. Lions and other big cats (in the genus Panthera) can only make a purring sound when breathing out. It doesn’t sound exactly like a housecat purr but more like a grunt or a cough. Lionesses usually give birth in a den such as a cave. [less]
- I would like to start making my dog's food. I've seen some conflicting dog food recipes on the internet. Do you have any suggestions on what to feed them? - Julie Hurst from Redondo Beach, CA
There are many recipes for home cooked dog foods out there and while some are great, there are also some that are inappropriate or deficient. Anytime you find a diet, eit [more]
There are many recipes for home cooked dog foods out there and while some are great, there are also some that are inappropriate or deficient. Anytime you find a diet, either in a book or on the internet, you should have the it evaluated by a veterinary nutritionist to be certain your dog is getting everything that he needs from this diet so he does not develop any deficiencies in the key nutrients. My favorite website is www.balanceit.com which is run by a board certified veterinary nutritionist. I frequently refer my clients here because I know that the information they get will be accurate and the diet will be appropriate. [less]
- I got my cat about 3 years ago from a rescue person. She was one year old and had been kept in a cage her first year.
I brought her home - She hid out of sight for weeks - but gradually came out and finally sat on my lap and let me pet her -if I moved suddenly she was gone to hide! When anyone came she hid. Everything seemed to freak her out.
Suddenly the last 6 weeks she will not come out from under her litter box when I am not around.
I talked to a vet and she said sometimes rescued cats revert to the wild and just can't be tamed!?!
Please tell me what to do - but as it is now - she is not a pet. - Joyce from Torrance, CA
If this kitty was caged for the entire first year of her life, she is likely most comfortable in dark, small, confined places (such as under the bed or in the litterbox). [more]
If this kitty was caged for the entire first year of her life, she is likely most comfortable in dark, small, confined places (such as under the bed or in the litterbox). Her lack of socialization and exploration during the formidable kitten years has probably created in her an attitude of fear toward most new or different experiences. It is unlikely that she will ever be a socially normal cat, but perhaps you can work with her to build her confidence at least in your home environment. First, try to create a routine for your day that you keep as close as possible to the same. Predictability is going to be vital in helping her to adapt. Next, try to reward her for expanding her experiences and for coming out of hiding by finding a treat that she really loves such as a piece of chicken or tuna. Every time she ventures out from her hiding place, give her a reward. Keep the rewards small (no more than a pea sized treat). You can also teach her hunting behaviors by splitting up her kibble onto several small dishes and hiding them around the house. This will encourage her to venture out and explore the environment rather than staying cooped up under the bed or litterbox all day. Change the places where you hide the food every day so she has to look in different spots and eventually, start putting the food on different levels (i.e. not just on the floor) so she has to jump and climb to find it as well. The more positive experiences she has out of her comfort zone, the more she will be comfortable and more sociable. [less]
- We have three cats, all about 5 years of age. All are females and have been fixed. Two are sisters (Elvira and Natasha) that I adopted at about 1 year old and the last kittie (Munchkin) joined us at about 6 to 8 months old. All have co-existed without a problem until....About 14 days ago, Munchkin decided that he didn't like Elvira anymore. And since then, every chance he has he hisses and runs towards her. No one has been hurt yet, but Munchkin is 16+ pounds and Elvira is about 9 pounds. Elvira is nervous all the time looking for the other cat.
We separated them best that we could do. This was one suggestion that I found online. There have been a few days when they co-exist, but Munchkin will sit in our hallway and watch every move Elvira makes and then finally runs towards her hissing and growling. So I am always ready to get into the act and separate them.
The article I had read said that this can happen if the dominant cat watches other cats outside and transfer their aggression to another household cat since they can't get to the cat outside. We can not prevent her from looking out but there was a black outdoor cat that always lays in our planters, sits on our porch or walks around on our lawn. Do you believe this is a possibility?
We just need to know what to do. It was wonderful when they all co-existed. Now it's crazy in my house always trying to be the referee.
Thank you. Myriam Dowdy, 624 Sartori Ave, Torrance, CA 90501 (310) 561-4343 - email@example.com from Torrance CA
This is a difficult situation. Munchkin may be transferring aggression toward Elvira because of the outdoor cat or may be aggressive toward her because of many reasons in [more]
This is a difficult situation. Munchkin may be transferring aggression toward Elvira because of the outdoor cat or may be aggressive toward her because of many reasons including status, territorial behavior, fear, etc. The first step is definitely to separate the two cats completely because continued attacks just lead to heightened aggression and fear and can escalate the problem. Start with supervised visits so if things go poorly, you can separate the cats. Try to identify the triggers that cause the attacks and see if you can make adjustments to reduce the number of triggers. Sometimes pheromones (such as a feliway diffuser) can help reduce the stress and calm the cats. Behavior modification is usually the most effective way to correct inter-cat aggression, although sometimes medications are necessary in severe cases. Often it is helpful to hire a trained animal behaviorist to come to your home to evaluate your individual situation and tailor a behavior modification plan specific for your case. [less]