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Check out personality change
First a special thanks to those who have sponsored me in my Walk for the Animals for the DE Humane Association. If anyone still would like to pledge a donation, please call. Dear Dr. Spiegel, Our nine year old male cat for the past 3 weeks has become "anti-social." He only wants to hide under or behind things. He is eating when food is offered near "the hiding place." This cat is neutered, has had all his shots and had always been very friendly and happy. Should I try to get him to the local vet or "wait it out?" Any help will be appreciated. Sincerely, M.W., Laurel DE
Dear M.W., Any sudden changes in an animal's behavior or personality can be related to underlying physiological/medical problems. So, a friendly/social cat that now just wants to hide is a concern. To me, the old expression, "it's better to be safe than sorry" holds here. The last thing you'd want to do is to ignore your instincts/concerns only to find out later that there was a problem which had grown worse while you waited uncertain how to act. Animals can be especially stoic. They are often very good at hiding or masking their illnesses. And it is often not until more advanced stages of disease that they really appear to be sick. So the sooner you can address potential problems, the better. We all know how much joy our animals bring to our lives. It's our job to return the love by caring for them as best we can. In other words... Check it out!!
Dear Dr. Spiegel, My husband and I are planning a week trip this fall and leaving the care of our 2 cats (Tilly 2 yrs., and Baly 4 yrs.) to our daughter and son who live elsewhere. I am concerned the cats, one indoor and one indoor/outdoor will think we have abandoned them, as this is the first time we will be gone this long without someone house sitting. Both are affectionate and like attention. Most likely they will be fed and their litter will be changed at regular intervals. My daughter is expecting sometime soon, so my son may be the primary caretaker. He is not exactly a cat person. Will my cats be upset when no one is there at night? Am I being overanxious? My daughter has two cats of her own so she can't take my two home, and my son lives a half hour away. I would be afraid the older cat would stray if he took them home. Any suggestions? Please, no kennel. I would appreciate advice. P.L., Bear
Dear P.L., If it's going to be a good trip, you'll want to first get some peace of mind with regard to the situation you're leaving behind at home. Your worries and concerns are understandable. You want what's best for your "cats" [which in many households now-a-days could easily be substituted into the phrase, "...what's best for your kids"]. They are accustomed to certain routines and rituals, most significant of which is the presence of you in the household with them. If past house sitting experiences went well, then there is certainly less to be concerned about. It sounds like you might feel a whole lot more comfortable with a firm understanding of who amongst your children will be doing what as far as care giving (feeding, litter cleaning, attention-giving). Since your daughter is pregnant, she should avoid litter cleaning, due to potential risks associated with Toxoplasmosis. In place of a lengthy explanation of this, the bottom line is Pregnant Women Should NOT Clean litterboxes, ....but someone still needs to assume this routine duty. She could, however, take care of feeding and attention giving (1-2x's per day). If the cats have any particularly hi energy times in their day, then your daughter may want to provide them with a concentrated period of play around that time. If your son cannot get there to do litter scooping daily or at least every other day, then you might consider adding two or more additional litter boxes (same location, if possible). This way there will be a greater amount of clean surface area for them to eliminate in. This will be significantly more pleasant and less stressful for your cats, and will also reduce the likelihood of them deciding to go off and eliminate in or on something else. They should adjust fine to being left alone at night. And the choice to keep your cats in your home is a wise one. They tend to do better remaining in an environment that they are accustomed to. Sons-in-law and neighborhood kids are good for these various pet care needs, as are some reliable local pet-sitting services. I have to say, even though I know you don't want to hear it, there are some good kennels as well.