My Pet World: Reintroducing Cats Can Help End Bullying | Lifestyles

Cathy M. Rosenthal

Dear Cathy: I read your Newsday column religiously and hope you can help me with my cats. I have two tabbies who were adopted as kittens five years ago. They are brothers. About a year ago tabby “A” started bullying tabby “B”. “B” then started spraying and urinating around the house. The bullying had gotten so bad that “B” was urinating blood. I took “B” to the vet, where he was checked out and is now on a low dose of Xanax. “A” was also examined and declared healthy. “A” doesn’t hiss or growl as much. But “B” is still urinating in the house. I really don’t know what else to do. No suggestions? — Sandy, Glen Cove, NY

Dear Sandy: Since they are not sick, I propose to reintroduce them. I know they’ve been together for five years, but sometimes it can help to break them up and slowly reintroduce them. Give each cat their own room for a few days. Let each go out separately to walk around the house and check under the other cat’s door.

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After a few days, change the blanket so that he can adapt to his brother’s smell again. Then change rooms. When you feel they are comfortable with each other’s scent, let them sit in kennels in the same room but away from each other. If it goes well, then that day or another day, let them out of the kennel to engage again. If they fight, repeat the process, but take each step slower this time.

Also, “B” is on Xanax. Is “A” on something? There are calming chews for cats that promote relaxation and calm a cat’s anxiety. Maybe if “A” is calmer, there will be more peace between them.

I also recommend pluggable pheromones for a multi-cat household and pheromone collars for the next 90 days. Pheromones do not solve the problem, but can help calm anxious cats.

Dear Cathy: I have two female dogs: a Lab mix who is almost 5 years old and a Miniature Schnauzer who is 12 years old. Lately, the Lab has ridden the schnauzer. I’m curious to know why. Can you please give me some information about this behavior? — Bill, New York

Dear Bill: Dogs jostle for a variety of reasons, only one of which is for mating. If both of your dogs are neutered, whether female or male, they may bump into each other to display dominance over the other. Some dogs also do this as part of playtime or when really excited, which is why they may bump the leg of a newly arrived guest in your home.

When dogs play archery (when their front end goes down and their back end stays up) seconds after hitting another dog, she is trying to communicate to the other dog that this mounting behavior is great fun and that the other dog doesn’t need to be threatened by her.

But even when playing, many dogs don’t like to be ridden. The receiving dog may look sad or stressed, walk away, snap the other dog, or even start a fight. Unless both dogs do this back and forth while playing (which is acceptable behavior), chances are the schnauzer won’t like it and you should stop the Lab. Tell the lab to “drop” if it is trained to understand this command or to come to you when called. Your schnauzer may tolerate it more since they live together, but even two happy, friendly dogs can get into a tiff if one dog constantly bumps the other.

Dear Cathy: As for Wayne and his cat pooping in the tub, since the cat is 7 months old and stray, it may belong to someone who trained him to use the toilet. A sink or tub may look more like a toilet than a cat bed. Has he tried leaving the toilet seat up to see if she’ll use it? — Judy, Indiana

Dear Judy: This is a possibility I hadn’t considered, mainly because I guess most people train their cats with litter boxes. I think potty training can be stressful for cats because their instinct is to cover their waste and there’s no way to do that on a toilet seat. I’m curious, though. If any of my readers have toilet trained their cat, please let me know how he or she reacted to it.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist, and companion animal expert with over 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to [email protected] Please include your name, city and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.

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