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Published December 03, 2010, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Feline lacking control

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a beautiful 15-pound orange tabby named Sammy, who’s about 5 years old. A little over a year ago he started spraying/urinating on things in the house.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a beautiful 15-pound orange tabby named Sammy, who’s about 5 years old. A little over a year ago he started spraying/urinating on things in the house. It’s gotten so bad that I don’t think there’s much in the house he hasn’t urinated on – plastic bags being his favorite. A few nights ago, I was awakened by him urinating on me – right in my face! Since then, he is outside most of the time, and when he is in at night, I lock him up in my office where his food and litter box are. There is usually spray on my computer screen or a box or something that I clean up every day. I am a single mom with two young girls, two dogs (yellow Labs) and three cats.

Is there anything I can do to stop Sammy from urinating on everything? – T.J., Sequim, Wash.

Dear T.J.: You have your hands full and my sympathy. Many indoor-outdoor cats, getting aroused outdoors by their interactions with other cats, start to spray indoors to demark their territories. Confinement indoors is the best preventive.

He may need to be boarded at a good facility for a few days to possibly break his behavioral fixation. Use an enzyme cleaner where he has sprayed, and get Feliway plug-in pheromone dispenser for each room you must restrict him to initially when he comes home. Also, give him plenty of catnip dry herb and make a tea from it, which he may like to drink – this is a kind of cat Valium.

Have a urine sample checked for crystals and cystitis. and as a precaution, get him on a corn-free cat food, Evo’s dry and canned foods are good. The fact that he urinated on you could mean he has painful cystitis or a possible partial urinary-tract blockage and is trying to tell you what his problem is, as many cats will do when they have this painful malady.

Dear Dr. Fox: Thank you for the information you publish in your column. My cat is doing much, much better on the natural pet food you recommend.

I had been feeding my cat Boo dry food purchased at the veterinarian’s office. I assumed it would be better than what’s available in the supermarket. In retrospect, it is very disturbing to realize that this may have been the cause of my other cat Trixie’s illness and subsequent death. She was about 12 years of age and had escalating kidney problems. I had to put her down. To know the food could have possibly caused her death is upsetting.

I really don’t understand why a veterinarian would sell something that can cause animals to suffer. I am now looking into the vaccination issue on your website, as suggested in your column as well. Thank you. I wish I had this info when I had my dog. – A.L., Red Bank, N.J.

Dear A.L.: I always appreciate feedback on the advice I offer in my column and invite all readers who feel so moved to do so, as well as sharing their own discoveries. Your cat Trixie’s kidney disease could have been caused by a number of factors, so I would not put all the blame on yourself, the veterinarian or on what you were feeding her. Many cats show general health improvement when given purified/filtered rather than straight municipal tap water to drink, for example. Some cats have kidney disorder (polycystic kidney disease), which has a genetic basis.

I do get some letters from know-it-all pet owners who chastise me for not mentioning every possible cause or cure for some illness. Column space limitations are prohibitive of advice dissertations, but readers with computer access will find a spectrum of useful information in the archives of this column (

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