Pets Questions & Answers

Dogs are one thing. But come on, can you really train a cat?
True, it’s a lot easier to train a dog. But you can walk cats on a harness out­doors and you can teach them to do basic things, like sit or come, using food rewards. You just have to be more patient.

Okay,  let’s  start  with scratching up the furni­ture. How do you get your cat to cut it out?
Scratching is a natural behavior for cats—they do it to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, to mark territory with the scent glands in their paws and just to get exercise. Since you can’t stop the behavior you need to give your cat some­thing that’s okay to scratch. Cats like the feel of rough, irregular surfaces, which is why most scratch­ing posts are carpeted. Put one right beside the piece of furniture your cat has been using and encourage it to scratch that instead.

What about a cat that suddenly stops using the litter box?
First, check with your vet to see if there’s an underlying medical condi­tion such as a urinary tract infection. Then it’s time to play detective. Is the litter box near its food or water? They don’t like that. Is the litter clean? Has the arrival of a new baby or animal in the household upset the cat? Sometimes cats don’t like a particular brand of litter, so if you decided to change it recently, switch back.

So many cats insist on drinking out of faucets. What’s up with that?
Cats love running water, probably because it’s cool and fresh. You can buy a water fountain that’s made specifically for cats. It’s basically a plug-in water bowl with a reser­voir. The device recirculates water, so it’s always running. Put the fountain next to the faucet the cat has been drinking from and gradually move it from there to wherever you want it.

How do I keep my cat off the kitchen counter tops? Give it something more interesting to do. Put a climbing tree right in the kitchen and buy new cat toys. Also, cut clutter. The more stuff on the coun­ter, the more appealing it is to a cat.