Dear Cathy: I have a 2 year old female Havanese/Coton de Tulear. I live in Tucson where many members of my community have lost small dogs and cats to coyotes. So, I had her use a potty pad since she was 8 weeks old. She never goes to the ground. But, if there is a rug, she will go on it. I removed all my carpets but I would like to put them back. I don’t know how to break this habit. I think she just thinks of them as “luxurious tampons!” No suggestions? —Joan, Tucson, Arizona
Dear Jane: Pee pads can be confusing for some dogs. If she’s never relieved herself outside, then she only knows to go over something on the floor of your house. In this case, she sees mats as a viable alternative to potty pads.
The only way to fix it is to recycle it. This involves catching her relieving herself on the pee mat, using a clicker or word marker/reward when she does to let her know she did something right, and following up with a treat. You should do this every day, as often as possible, for the next few weeks. Treat her like an 8 week old puppy who has just learned the house rules.
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After a few weeks, bring a rug back into your home and spray it with Bitter Apple (available at pet stores and online). This scent should help deter her from relieving herself on the carpet. Also, make sure the pee pads aren’t near rugs or even in the same room as rugs, as this may disturb her. When she manages to ignore that mat and is compatible with the pee pads, remove the second mat and repeat the process. Over time and with training, she should be able to tell the difference between the two and figure out which one she should use.
Dear Cathy: My husband and I had to put our 13 year old male cat to rest in April 2020. That same June my husband agreed to take in a 5 year old all black short haired male for a year while his human went away on active reservist service outside the country.
Due to life circumstances, he is still our guest at home for the third year. When he arrived he had a small area of matted fur near his hindquarters. During the first year, he grew. Worried for his health, we took him to a local vet who said the problem was not health but grooming and that an appointment should be made with a groomer.
Luckily the vet brushed him and encouraged us to try brushing him daily. He is normally quiet when picked up for short durations, but he has no part of being brushed. It attacks our hands and the brush, so we immediately stop. It is now a large matted patch of fur on its back. It looks awful, and I imagine it must be uncomfortable. My husband wants to put it to sleep and then shave that area. I won’t let him, but I don’t know what to do. —Karen, Wantagh, New York
Dear Karine: If the mat is as bad as you describe it, it could be pulling on her skin and causing your cat discomfort. You will need the help of a professional groomer or your veterinarian to trim or shave it, as your husband suggests. Also ask your veterinarian if there are any health issues that could be contributing to this problem. Diet can play a role in a feline’s coat health, so talk to your veterinarian about switching to a diet that might better address this issue.
Although training a cat to accept brushing can be difficult, it seems that this feline needs some help with grooming. Try a pet grooming mitt or grooming wipes instead of a brush to remove loose fur. These tools are more like petting than brushing a cat, so they are more likely to tolerate it. Use the mitt or wipe daily and wipe her back several times.
Over time, count on how long your cat will tolerate being “petted” in this way, always stopping before you think it will react negatively. If you do this every day, he should eventually become more comfortable with the process, and you’ll be doing him a big favor by keeping his fur healthy and tangle-free.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist, and pet 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