Q: Our Persian cat passed away after 20 years just about a year ago. My husband has allergies and came along to co-existing with the cat inside the house. My husband grew up on a farm, and has a different attitude about an animal’s place in the world. He says they should be outside, period. Now, I miss having a cat. I would like to rescue an older cat accustomed to being outside. We have two Labradors who live in the shed and garage when not inside the house. If I created a door to the shed, do you think the cat would adjust to life outside with our dogs in a quiet residential neighborhood? K. E., Las Vegas, NV
A: In my world, cats belong indoors (unless they are ‘working cats’ on a farm), and that’s especially true in a big city like Las Vegas. Cars kill a whole lot of cats. People who endorse cats living indoor/outdoor lives talk about quality of life. But death isn’t a very appealing quality of life. In particular, having a relatively slow moving, long-haired Persian outdoors in Las Vegas, especially in the summer, would be downright inhumane. So, I’m glad your cat remained indoors. As a result, your cat enjoyed a nice long life. Now I’ll hear from folks with indoor/outdoor cats who have lived to 20 or longer. But those cats are the exception, statistically most indoor/outdoor cats barely live half that long. You wouldn’t allow your Labs to roam around the neighborhood (I hope), so why your cat?
However, as I understand it – you’re proposing maintaining the cat you adopt to be outdoors all the time. If that’s the case, what’s the point of having a cat?
As much as I appreciate your heart being in the right place by adopting an adult shelter cat, I can’t fathom many shelters will allow it knowing your intent for this cat’s lifestyle.
It seems as if you – at least you periodically – allow your dogs indoors, so why not the cat? Sadly, you’re not alone. Even though there are more pet cats than dogs, we tend to treat cats as if they’re second class citizens. To attempt to figure out why this is so, and what to do about this treatment of cats – industry, veterinary and shelter leaders are getting together at the start of February for a summit called CATylist at a meeting of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Learn more at www.catylistsummit.org.
Cars are certainly not the only danger. But this is also a public health and public nuisance issue. Cats do prey on animals, including songbirds. And they may use a neighbor’s lawn as a regular litter box. And too many indoor/outdoor cats aren’t appropriately vaccinated.
Perhaps, it’s your husband who requires some education here. He may have grown up on a farm, but you don’t live on farm now. I hope you do adopt a cat, but I hope you also treat your newly adopted cat as a member of your family sharing your life, your home, and dare I say – even your bed.
Q: For Christmas my daughter in Jersey is bringing my two cats, Bingo and Jazzman, a gift of catnip. Can she go through airport security with catnip? S. G., Miami, FL
A: There’s nothing on the Transportation Security Administration website which indicates catnip is prohibited. Leon Seidman, president of Cosmic Catnip travels with catnip without incident. He says, “It’s 100 per cent legal. Keep the catnip in the original packaging and there can be no doubts. Still, if you grow it on your own, and place it in a plastic bag, you shouldn’t be stopped. Catnip is in the mint family; traveling with peppermint is legal and so is catnip.” Seidman says if you are stopped by a TSA official, just say, “Sniff it.” If the TSA official begins to roll, scratch and yowl, you have another problem all together.
Seriously, packing the catnip inside checked luggage is the probably the best way to go.
Q: Smokey, my 5-year old cat has fleas and so does my sister’s dog, who shares the same home with us. We’ve sprayed the environment, and used brewers yeast to keep the fleas at bay. I’ve been told garlic can also help. We’re reluctant to use an over the counter option. What do you suggest? S. O., Olympia, WA
A: Dr. Michael Dryden, veterinary parisitologist at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Manhattan says, he doesn’t blame you for not opting for an over the counter option. “In general, they don’t work as well as veterinary purchased products, which are more consistent. Clearly, you need year-round protection where you are (located). The fleas love mild temperatures with lots of rain – it’s never too cold or too hot and dry in Olympia. As for the garlic, well, it might taste good for you, but garlic hasn’t proven to deter fleas. In our lab we actually use brewers yeast to increase flea populations by 15 to 20 per cent. Obviously, what you’re doing now isn’t working. Environment controls can be helpful, but it’s products suggested by your veterinarian which will get the job done.”
Q: My dog has fleas. That old song now applies to Bella. I don’t want to dip Bella (in a flea dip). And she’s a black miniature schnauzer, so the fleas are especially hard to see. What can we do? P. W., Cyberspace
A: It doesn’t matter where you live, the official recommendation of Companion Animals Parasite Control is year-round parasite control (www.petsandparasites.org). Dr. Michael Dryden, veterinary parisitologist at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Manhattan adds that in this instance, consider CAPSTAR (purchased through veterinarians), for a fast knock out of fleas your dog now has. And begin using a monthly preventative. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best option. “You’re right, dips are not consistently effective, there’s no long term action, and dips are not as safe as modern veterinary products.”
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services