Q: After having a cat for about a year, she’s developed a new behavior in the garage. We keep her in the garage as a mouser. Now, she goes on top of the vehicles. It isn’t for warmth because two of the vehicles are driven very little. Can you tell me why the sudden change? D. S., Cyberspace
A: Certainly, I’m glad you put your cat to work. But please tell me what kind of pet is a garage pet? I feel badly for your cat. Your cat belongs in the home. You could certainly invite her into your house, and still periodically allow her into the garage to pounce on errant mice.
Not only do you expect your cat to be content in the garage, but you apparently don’t expert her to be a cat. Cats like to scamper on things – this is what cats do. In your home, it may be chairs and your sofa that get run over. There may not be much else to climb on top of in a garage. I can only hope the garage is kept warm. No matter, it’s not surprising to see this activity begin in the winter. Even if the cars aren’t frequently warmed up, it’s actually a tad warmer the higher you go because heat rises. I’m also concerned about the myriad of dangers in most garages; most particularly any dripped antifreeze a cat may lap up. One t-spoon of antifreeze might kill a cat.
Q: My cat has been missing the litter box for many months. We love pets but we are exacerbated. Our three dogs run around the house, but we don’t allow the cat in the rest of the house because my husband doesn’t care for cats and the dogs don’t either. So we keep the cat downstairs. She’s pretty happy down there, unless one of the kids lets a dog down there. And my kids are at the terrorize the cat age too. We’ve read about offering more than one litter box, so we now do that, and we switched litters. And I do keep the box as clean as I can. What else can it be? C. H., Jackson, MI
A: Your poor cat. Please do explain what ‘terrorize the cat age’ means. I’m not sure what that is. Children should never be permitted to stick a finger into a light socket or put a hand over a hot stove. Just the same, children shouldn’t ever be allowed to terrorize an animal. Your poor cat is living in fear, dreading that any moment an errant toddler or not-so-friendly canine will appear. Cats are most vulnerable in the littler box so it’s amazing to me that your cat has held it together this long. You can add 100 more litter boxes and you won’t solve the problem.
It’s clear to me that your cat is a second class citizen in your home. I don’t know whether your dogs are just chasing the cat in play and you have little control over their over-enthusiasm, or at least one of the dogs seriously wants to hurt the cat. It doesn’t really matter at this point.
I hardly ever suggest re-homing. However, unless you can find a way to secure the basement from the marauding dogs and find a way to control your toddlers, I don’t see how I can help, except to say your cat may be more content to live elsewhere.
Most people with cats, love, adore – even worship – their feline friends. However, the sad truth is that cats simply don’t enjoy the same status as dogs. More cats are relinquished to shelters than dogs and more cats are abused than dogs. Cats don’t receive as much veterinary care as dogs. For example, according to a recently released American Veterinary Medical Association Survey, more than twice as many cats as dogs went without a veterinary visit in 2006.
We poke fun at kittens and cats in popular culture as we never do with ‘man’s best friend.’ For example, recently on late night TV, a comic referred to closing a cat in a microwave as a part of a joke. He’d never tell that same joke and refer to a puppy in a microwave; it just wouldn’t happen.
I’m sick and tired of cats being the Rodney Dangerfield of pets; they deserve respect! And I’m not alone. Pfizer Animal Health and the American Association of Feline Practitioners are bringing together a coalition which includes the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Humane Association, American Animal Hospital Association, Cornell Feline Health Center, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, Society of Animal Welfare Administrator’s, Winn Feline Foundation and others to discuss the surprising but true plight of the cat in America. I am honored to be a part of this meeting, held February 5 and 6 in Palm Springs, CA, called CATylist Summit. Learn more at www.catylistsummit.org. For me, 2008 is the Year of the Cat.
© Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services