Pet Advice

5060 Jackson Road

Ann Arbor, MI 48103


Locally Owned Since 1986


How do I get my cat to use the scratching post I just bought her?

You can introduce your cat to a scratching post by playing with her near the new object. You might want to rub a catnip toy or dried catnip leaves over the surface to arouse your cat’s interest. Every time your cat pounces on the post and sinks her claws into it, you should offer praise and an occasional treat. Some people have tried to introduce their cats to the idea of using a cat post by taking the paws and running them over the post in a scratching motion. This is usually counterproductive and should NOT be tried. Cats resent being forced to do anything, so this action on your part will only give them bad associations with the scratching post.

My cat usually uses his litter box, but lately he’s been marking different areas around the house.

Like many animals, cats will mark their territory with their scent as a way of declaring “ownership” of their surroundings and providing themselves with a sense of reassurance. Marking is often done by rubbing scent glands on an object, but at other times urination is the preferred calling card. If your cat has never marked before, and has suddenly started to leave urine markings, you should first consult a veterinarian to eliminate any underlying medical cause. However marking is more often a behavioral issue that is brought on by sudden changes in a cat’s life. Cats often take time to accept change. Ask yourself if there have been any dramatic events in the household recently. Have you moved into a new house? Has a new person entered or left the household? Is there a new pet? Are there new neighbors with a dog or cat? If there has been a big change in the cat’s life recently, marking may be a phase that will pass. To remove the scent cues your cat may use to trigger urination, immediately clean the area with a good stain and odor remover formulated for cats. You can also treat an area with feline facial pheromones. This will discourage your cat from urinating, since cats tend not to urine mark on areas where they have left facial pheromones.

Gross! My dog keeps eating poop from our cat’s litter box!

Coprophagy, the act of eating feces, is not unusual in the animal world. Aside from it being an unpleasant thing for us to see, the practice of using the litter box as a buffet tray does pose some health risks to the family dog, especially if he ingests indigestible clumping clay litter. For the sake of dog / human social interaction this is a habit that’s best broken. This can be done through training and by keeping the litter box free of feces. Try erecting a barrier around the litter box which will keep K-9 out while allowing Feline to enter. This sometimes works depending on the size and weight of the dog. You can also try changing your cat to using a covered litter pan which will make it more difficult for the dog to access the contents. There are also products available, which when given to the dog will curb the cacapolia drive, making the litter box contents less appealing.

My dog gulps his food very quickly, is this dangerous?

Scarfing food too quickly will increase the risk of bloat and digestive problems. It can also be a choking hazard just like with people. You should try feeding your pet out of a larger bowl, and placing a large ball in with the food (too large to easily be picked up or swallowed) to slow him down. Or, there are special dishes called Slow Feeders that act as a food puzzle for your dog to make it more difficult to get at all the food quickly. By slowing your pet down at mealtime, he will be safer and happier when eating.