The following questions are answered, to the best of their ability, by members of the Animal Rescue Fund who are experienced in the care and handling of cats. It must be remembered that your best advice on health care matters will come from your veterinarian.
WHY WOULD MY CAT SUDDENLY STOP USING HIS LITTER BOX? - This is one of the most frustrating problems associated with an indoor cat, as there could be several reasons, and several possible solutions. The first thing to do would be to have your veterinarian check for a medical problem, as cats will refain from using their litter box if they are ill. Other reasons include a change of environment or location, such as relocating the litter box or moving into a new house. Cats also like privacy, and do not like their litter box to be in the same area as their food. Even unusual stress in the household can cause a cat to forgo his litterbox. Of course, a litter box that has not been cleaned for a while can be a turn-off for a cat.
SHOULD I HAVE MY CAT DECLAWED? - This is a very controversial topic, and some veterinarians refuse to do it. The reasoning given for it is to prevent a cat from scratching furniture (or people). It must be remembered that this is considered something greater than just minor surgery, and your cat will be in pain for a time. It should NEVER be done to an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat, as he would be unable to defend himself or even climb a tree to escape danger if necessary. If you feel that you must have it done, consider leaving the hind claws intact, as these are rarely if ever used to scratch furniture. -RB
-Think twice before you have your cat declawed on all four paws. Try to scratch with just your knuckles. Try to get in your car using only your knees and balled up hands... This is the everyday life of a cat without any claws. All this plus the effect this has on their emotional state. -DD
A QUESTION FOR THE HOLIDAYS: ARE XMAS DECORATIONS DANGEROUS FOR MY CAT?
-Cats are inquisitive and playful by nature, and will investigate anything new in their environment, including XMAS decorations, and several are very dangerous to cats.
Live poinsettia plants are extremely toxic and even fatal for cats. Even a small amount can make your cat ill. Hanging glass ornaments can pose another hazzard, especially if your tree is in an area where a dropped glass ornament can break. Cats will naturally play with hanging tree ornaments, and have been know to try to eat brightly colored bits of glass. Broken glass can also cause nasty cuts on their pads. Place glass ornaments higher on the tree so they do not become cat toys. Or, better yet, replace glass ornaments with fabric, wood or paper mache.
Tinsel "icicles" are another danger. Cats will eat them, every time. Sometimes these will pass through the cat, but occasionally they can cause a twisting of the intestines, a condition correctable only through surgery, and if not caught in time, will cause death. Angel hair provides the same danger.
The solution is to use ornaments made from cat-safe materials. Silk poinsettias will look lovely, and can be reused for many years. Old-fashioned beaded or garland tinsel can still make your tree beautiful.
Common sense is your best guide. A good rule of thumb is to decorate your tree as though you have a 2-year-old child in your house for the holidays. -DL
A.S.P.C.A. TOLL-FREE HOTLINE OF FAQ - To get answers to questions from the A.S.P.C.A., call their 24-hr. hotline at 1-888-252-7387. Enter one of the following 3-digit codes for the type of question you have: