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My Pet World: Cat loudly demands food, but needs empty stomach before surgery

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy

Several years ago, my family adopted an outdoor kitten. We trapped her and had her spayed, fed her, and now, six years later, she lets us pet her and enjoys spending some time in our house. We live in Tucson, so I try to coax her inside whenever temperatures are extreme. Here's the problem: She will not use a litter box. I have tried providing one for her outdoors (for odor control — I can tell she uses our yard as it smells strong when the rains come!) and indoors, to no avail. A couple times, I found her sleeping in the litter box. Do you have any recommendations?

— Janet, Tucson, Arizona

Dear Janet,

Try mixing some of your outdoor soil with the litter so there is a whiff of what she is used to smelling outside. Then sprinkle some litter box attractant (available at pet stores) on the litter to lure her to use it. I also would provide her with a comfortable bed in a cozy place since she seems to like to sleep in small rectangular spaces. I usually tuck cat beds under end tables or beds, so they have a place to hide, out of the way of traffic. Make sure the litter box is in a quiet area too.

Dear Cathy,

As a long-time cat mom, I recommend Nature's Miracle for urine. I started with the spray bottle, but now I buy it by the jug. It will cost more than baking soda (to eliminate odor), but it really works. However, the baking soda might work as psychological warfare with the dog owner who lets her dog pee in the street in the same spot every day. Sprinkle some baking soda on this spot, and the owner might wonder what that "white stuff" is and, not wanting her dog to be poisoned, will move on.

— Vicki, Douglaston, New York


Dear Vicki,

I had been thinking of ways you could deter the dog from going in the same spot daily when the solution really was to find ways to deter the owner from walking over to that spot. Indeed, seeing a white blotch of powder in the middle of the street would make any dog owner walk around it, so the dog isn't walking through this unknown (albeit safe) substance. This is cunning and humane. I like it! Thank you 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 Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

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