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Published November 26, 2010, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Spraying can be sign of aging

Dear Dr. Fox: I’ve had four feral cats since they were kittens. The oldest, Rudy, is 15 years old, and he’s driving me up the wall, spraying all around the house.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I’ve had four feral cats since they were kittens. The oldest, Rudy, is 15 years old, and he’s driving me up the wall, spraying all around the house.

He has been to the vet several times, and they say he’s fine and that it’s behavioral – like he’s not happy about something. I don’t know what he could be unhappy about, but he’s ruined my furniture and carpeting. I keep cleaning the spots, put mothballs around, and nothing helps. I finally had to replace the carpet, and I put tile down. Still, I’m finding more yellow spots.

I don’t know where to turn. Friends say I should put him down. I don’t think I can do that, but I may have to.

Do you have any suggestions? The vet even put him on amitriptyline, to no avail. – D.R., Cape Coral, Fla.

Dear D.R.: Your cat is 15 years old and could have the feline equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease. Check with your vet about trying seligiline, which can help older cats showing signs of anxiety and dementia. As an alternative, good-quality catnip may help calm him down, which contains similar chemicals found in valerian and in the derived prescription drug Valium but is much more palatable.

Also discuss with your veterinarian the possibility of giving your cat glucosamine, which helps with irritable bladder problems (as does valerian). Plus, give your cat a drop or two of good quality fish oil in his food, working up to a teaspoon daily. Fish oil has potent anti-inflammatory, heart and circulation effects that can help older cats with cardiac, arthritic and other problems.

Dear Dr. Fox: We have a 5-year-old neutered male miniature fox terrier. Our vet determined that he has diabetes. Every morning after he eats, I give him 0.15 milliliters of Vetsulin in a shot to his buttocks. I would like to know if there is an oral method for giving him this medicine.

How many times can I use a syringe for him? This medicine and the syringes are expensive for a retired person on a fixed income like myself. – K.B., Wappapello, Mo.

Dear K.B.: I am sorry you have the financial and emotional burden of coping with a diabetic dog. Unfortunately, this condition is common in some breeds like your mini-terrier. It can be aggravated by high-cereal, carbohydrate-containing dog foods. Some even contain sucrose and corn syrup (high fructose), which I consider criminal. The latter is partly responsible for America’s obesity and diabetic epidemic.

Ask the veterinarian to supply you with re-usable syringes and needles (throw-away syringes are another abomination); and instruct you how to clean and sterilize them. There are no oral medicines to help your dog. A half-teaspoon of cinnamon in his low-carb food every day may help.

Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s website at