My Pet World: Local ordinances can guide you when helping a neglected dog
I felt sad to read in your column about a dog possibly being neglected. I liked your idea for the questioner to help in a non-confrontational manner. I've been in this position myself and know how difficult it can be to have help taken the wrong way or refused. In the column, you said, "There is no law that says the dog can't be outside."
I wanted to add that might depend on where one lives. I live in Connecticut, and the laws recently changed here so that an animal cannot be outside 24/7. Dogs must be taken in for at least a portion of the day, which means they can get some relief when it's below freezing or 100 degrees outside. I thought that this might be important for your readers to know.
— Susan, East Hartford, Connecticut
You make an excellent point. Many state laws and local ordinances dictate how long a dog can be outside, under what conditions they should not be outside, and what the pet owner must provide to protect them from inclement weather, etc. In fact, in most states, dogs can no longer be chained outside.
If one is concerned about a neighbor’s dog, refer to local pet care ordinances or talk to animal control about the situation to determine if the dog is being neglected, and what steps can be taken to remedy the situation.
I hope you can help with a problem regarding our senior tabby cat, Kitty. My husband and I adopted her around age five. She was a rescue, so we don't know what her early life was like before us. While she was always skittish, she has always been wonderful, quiet, and affectionate. She has never scratched the furniture and always used her litter box.
We have been through some big changes in recent years. Kitty has always been the only pet, but we fostered some stray kittens a few years ago. She hated and avoided them, spending most of her time outside in the yard, where she began to urinate and defecate, even though we got an extra litter box for the kittens. Then, a year ago, we moved across the country. Since moving, she continues to urinate in the litter box but almost never defecates there. She uses the bedroom rug instead.
She's now 15, so we thought it may be arthritis in her legs. We tried CBD oil but could rarely get her to ingest it if added to her food. We've gradually changed her diet from kibble to fiber treats and mostly wet food, thinking she had constipation. However, she defecates daily, so constipation doesn't seem like the culprit.
We clean up with an enzymatic cleaner. We tried putting an extra litter box on the rug, but she still uses the rug. She goes up and down the stairs multiple times daily and pees in the litter box, so it doesn't seem too difficult for her. The vet gave her a clean bill of health.
We love her, and she seems otherwise content and healthy. Any ideas?
— Irene, Mansfield, Connecticut
Stress can lead to litter box issues and, over time, can develop into poor habits. You are doing the right things by providing a second litter box, cleaning with an enzymatic cleaner, and giving more water in the diet in case it is related to constipation.
At this point, provide her with an open litter box. Some cats, especially arthritic ones, like to stand on the edge of the box to pee or poop; if they can't do this, they will pee and poop somewhere else instead. Place it in a quiet location where she can’t be startled when using it. Then, sprinkle a litter box additive into the litter (available at pet stores or online) to lure her back to the box.
Finally, use a pheromone collar on her for 60 days to provide emotional comfort. Pheromones can help resolve any lingering anxiety, which can help turn things around.
Let me know how she does with these changes.
My new kitten always scratches the side of our mattress. I tried sprays, which my cat didn’t seem to mind, and sticky tape on the mattress. He just tore the tape off with his teeth. I finally put a fitted piece of plywood against the side of the mattress. We lived happily until his death 14 years later.
— Ron, Henderson, Nevada
I love it when readers find humane solutions for handling a problem that results in peace and harmony in the home. Thanks for sharing.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)
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