We love our feline friends when they rub against our legs, knead our laps,
or look us in the eye and purr. Yet sometimes we may not like everything about
our four-footed friends. Not when they streak through the house at 3 a.m. or
reject a perfectly clean litter box.
The good news is that just about every common cat problem can be managed
with a little help. That's why WebMD turned to the pet pros to get their
solutions for some of the most common kitty conundrums.
Cesar Millan, the self-taught dog trainer whose television series The Dog
Whisperer has made him famous around the world, is now juggling his TV show
with writing best-selling books, creating DVDs, publishing a magazine, founding
non-profit organizations, even appearing in movies. And he has a wife and two
children. WebMD the Magazine caught up with the busy dog trainer and
asked him about his health habits, his family, and what he's learned about
humans by working with dogs.
Litter box issues. This is "numero uno by far" of problems people
report with their cats, says Linda P. Case, MS, author of The Cat: Its
Behavior, Nutrition, and Health. And no wonder. It can be extremely
frustrating when your kitty decides that the litter box is off-limits. But
there's usually a reason cats avoid their box, and fortunately there's a lot
you can do to address the issue.
Talk to your vet first. Bladder stones, urinary tract diseases, and
crystals in the urine are all reasons your cat might start avoiding the litter
box. To rule these and other health issues out, be sure to have your cat
checked by your veterinarian.
Have at least one litter box per cat. If your kitty has to stand in line
before she can relieve herself, she may decide to take her bathroom break
elsewhere. Try test-driving a few kinds of litter and litter boxes. Some cats
prefer covered boxes, some don't, and some cats prefer one litter over another.
Always keep the litter box clean -- even clumping litter has to be changed
regularly. A rule of thumb: Clean the box at least once daily, twice if there's
more than one cat in the house.
Scratching. It may seem like kitty is scratching your couch and
curtains to annoy you, but she's really doing it to work off energy, to play,
to mark her territory, even to get rid of frayed bits of claw. Good news:
"Scratching is easy to prevent," Case tells WebMD. So you don't have to settle
for raggedy furniture or stop kitty from expressing her natural behavior. To
prevent scratching damage:
Buy one or more scratching posts for your cat, then dab a bit of catnip on
the posts to entice your feline friend to use them.
Trim your kitty's claws. It may seem daunting, but trimming is easier than
you think. Get a quick tutorial from your veterinarian, who can probably do the
deed in 10 seconds -- a skill that can be learned.
Turn your cat into a fashion plate with colorful claw caps (also called
nail caps). These small, vinyl sleeves fit over kitty's claws, preventing them
from doing damage when they scratch.