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Published April 15, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Will our two cats readjust?

Dear Dr. Fox: We are living in Hawaii for a year, helping our son with his business. We have a home in Wisconsin, and we have two cats there, being cared for by a house sitter named Chris. We have heard that they are doing well and bonding to him.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: We are living in Hawaii for a year, helping our son with his business. We have a home in Wisconsin, and we have two cats there, being cared for by a house sitter named Chris. We have heard that they are doing well and bonding to him.

Our cats are named Casey and Stitch. Casey is 6 years old, but we got him when he was 5. Stitch is just under a year old. Stitch adapts well to any situation, but Casey does not and urinates on beds when he is upset. We learned to keep plastic tablecloths on the beds to protect them. This is one reason why we elected to leave them in Wisconsin.

By the time we return home next spring, the cats will have been with Chris longer than they were with us before we left. Do you have any suggestions as to how we should make the change easier for them to adapt to our return? Do you think they will remember us? – L.M., Honolulu, Hawaii

Dear L.M.: A couple of weeks before you return home to your cats, send two separate packages of three to four T-shirts that you have worn, sealed in plastic bags. Have your cat sitter open them up and set them where you normally sit; he can put them in different places. This will probably trigger your cats’ scent memories and re-sensitize them to your once-familiar presence prior to your arrival.


Dear Dr. Fox: Our 9-year-old spayed female cat had a urinary-tract infection recently, for which she received an injection of antibiotics. She lost a couple of pounds, but her appetite seems better. Her blood tests showed everything else was OK – no feline AIDS or leukemia.

She was a kitten from a feral cat and has always been skittish. She bites if confronted or even petted unless she instigates it. Around the same time of the urinary-tract infection, her back toward the tail started to spasm. Her eyes get large, and she runs and hides, remaining hidden for hours. We have not had her X-rayed or CT-scanned yet because she would have to be sedated.

We use Fresh Step clumping litter. The vet said to try to give her vitamins and fish oil. When we put the crushed vitamin pill in her food, she won’t eat the food. She eats a variety of mostly wet canned food and freshly baked chicken, sauteed shrimp, cut-up steak, canned tuna water with a small amount of tuna and other people food. If we aren’t looking, she will lick bacon and eat creamed, chipped-beef gravy (very salty).

We never see her drink any water, so we started giving her a small amount of 1- or 2-percent milk after the urinary-tract infection. What else can we do? – J.K. & D.L., Fairfax, Va.

Dear J.K. & D.L.: Your experience confirms the connections between temperament, stress susceptibility and feline cystitis. Check www.feline-nutrition.org for more insights and possibly transitioning onto a raw-food diet.

The bottom line is to avoid stress (veterinary visits, vaccinations, etc.) as long as she seems well. Encourage plenty of water drinking, like seasoned, salt-free beef or chicken bouillon flavor or a ½ teaspoon of mackerel in 1 cup of filtered (not tap) water. Even having your cat lick from a dropper or pipette of diluted skim milk would be a good preventive of further episodes. Also, do not used scented cat litter, because volatile chemical fragrances can make some cats ill.


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 www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.

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