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My Pet World: Why does my cat 'swim' around the water dish and my dog bark at the TV?

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

The oldest of our two cats has the habit of standing in front of his water dish and making movements as if he were swimming while drinking his water or even when done eating. His little brother likes to paw at the area, but it's not really the swimming motion that his big brother does. These two are rescued kitten, and we can't imagine life without them. -- Alexia & Dave, Hopkins, MN

Dear Alexia and Dave,

Cats often exhibit inexplicable behaviors, and this "swimming" behavior around the food and water bowls sort of falls into that category. It sounds like your cat is pawing around the water dish, and not pawing the water itself, since you said he was doing it while drinking.

But cats can and will do both.

They have scent glands on their paws and may be marking their territory around their food and water dishes. They also are fascinated with movement and like to play with their food and water, reminiscent of what they might do in the wild if they caught a small animal or insect. So, while the behavior is fairly common among cats, it sounds like your oldest cat has developed a unique way of displaying this behavior.


Dear Cathy,

Our 2-year-old female westie, Bella, is driving us nuts. Overall, she's a good dog, but she barks at passing dogs and has issues with the television. Anytime a commercial or show comes on with a dog, or there are sudden movements or violence or bright colors on the TV, she goes into a fit. She barks wildly, jumps at the TV, grabs a toy or stuffed animal and shakes it and runs back and forth.

We've tried distracting her by putting her in her pen until she's quiet. We even had a trainer come in to help. The trainer took her off the floor when she started acting out and yelled and pushed her face into the couch cushions -- a little too violent for me. We've tried an air horn, water bottle, and noise and vibration collar. We can't do the shock collar at this point.

We would hate to have to send her away, but there is no peace any evening. I've attached a short video of her antics. Please advise. -- Ray, Orland Park, IL


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