Home & Leisure

My Pet World: Man’s kindness creates a dilemma for future care of cats

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I started feeding two feral kittens when they were about six-months-old. Over the next year they began acting more like domestic cats. They would come when called, often were waiting for me, lived mostly in my yard, meowed, looked directly at me, and let me sit with them. The male liked being petted. He purrs, curls up beside me, plays with me, and often follows me around. This winter, I brought them into my sunroom at night and during inclement weather. I later kept them inside so they could be fixed. I thought this was temporary, but they seemed to settle in as indoor cats. They are still nervous about sudden moods or noises. The female still will not let me touch her, but she is increasingly comfortable around me. Neither likes being picked up.

As the weather gets warmer, I need to open the sunroom. My dog, a shih tzu mix, prevents me from bringing them into the whole house. My dog and these cats have an established adversarial relationship although my dog has accepted the new boundaries. The only other option is to move them to the basement, but I don't know how they would be in the dark all the time. My longer term problem is that I am caring for my 96-year old mother and this is her house. Eventually I would have to move. Can I find an affordable place that will let me bring a dog and two cats? How could I just abandon them after they have become dependents? What do you suggest?

–Bill, East Meadow, NY

Dear Bill,

Your kindness has presented a little bit of a dilemma. Yes, you can find a place to live with a small dog and two cats, but it might take some searching. I have always had multiple pets and found rental places where they are accepted. Keep in mind, they may charge you a monthly pet rent or one-time deposit that may not be non-refundable. Start checking around to see what your rental options might include because it would be great if these cats could stay living with you.

Until then, open the sunroom and let’s see how the dog and cats react to each other. My guess is, the cats will hiss to let the dog know the sunroom is their territory, and the dog will oblige by not going in there to disturb them. Animals have a way of respecting each other’s spaces. If they get along (and it could take a few weeks for you to know for sure), then you will likely be able to take them with you when you move.

If it turns out this is not a workable solution, please don’t put them in the basement. It’s not healthy for them to be in the dark all the time, and you are only delaying the inevitable. Your other options include putting them back outside and feeding them and then finding a neighbor to take over feeding them when you move or finding someone who can take them into their home, as you did.

In the end, I hope you can take these cats with you. It’s never easy for homeless, somewhat feral cats to warm up to people, but somehow you won their hearts. It sounds like it would be best for everyone if you could keep your furry family together.


Dear Cathy,

We have a seven-year-old rescue dog. He is allergic to chicken. I'm told this is the top allergen for dogs. Yet 99% of dog foods and treats contain chicken. Even the ones that claim to be beef, salmon, etc. still contain chicken. Are there any foods that don't contain chicken? How do find them without taking a magnifier to the store?

–Jani, Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear Jani,

There are a few ways to find dog foods without chicken in them. First, you can search ingredient lists online before going to the store. Look for words like “limited ingredient formula” in the name of the product, as this often indicates the food is for dogs with food allergies and should not have chicken or chicken byproducts in it. Second, you can search alternative protein sources, like duck, salmon, turkey, venison or bison to find different brands of dog food. And finally, you can check out some of the brands — Natural Balance, Orijen, Taste of the Wild, Canidae, and Blue Buffalo, to name but a few, who carry dog food with alternative protein sources.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)




Taylor Jones Hagar the Horrible Drew Sheneman Fort Knox Sarah's Scribbles Daddy's Home