Sometimes my 1-year-old male cat scoots his butt, and he’s sensitive about being petted on the sides of his butt. I’ve taken him to two veterinarians for this, and they expressed his anal glands but couldn’t figure out what was causing the problem. They told me this is a common problem in dogs but not in cats. He eats dry food, gets fresh water daily, and I regularly clean his litter box. Could there be a more serious issue?
—David Grant, Chicago, IL
Now that you’ve ruled out packed anal glands as the problem, it’s time to consider two other possibilities—tapeworms or allergies. Cats get tapeworms by ingesting infected rodents or fleas. Diagnosis is based on seeing little white grainlike segments crawling around the derrier or by microscopic examination by your veterinarian of your cat’s poop. Allergies, especially those due to fleas, can also cause itchiness, especially of the rear end. In some cats, a few hidden fleas can cause a dramatic hypersensitivity response.
Our 3-year-old Spaniel mix, Ruby, doesn’t know a stranger. She is passive around all other dogs, even those smaller than her, and is great with kids. She loves everyone, and we’re so grateful for her loving disposition. Lately when we have friends over, Ruby’s demeanor changes. After the initial excitement of visitors, she’ll sneak away and stay under the kitchen table. It’s almost like she becomes depressed because there are so many people in her house and they’re not giving her total attention. My husband says I’ve spoiled her with too much affection, and this is a result of too much attention. Have I done that? What can we do to ensure Ruby stays happy while guests are over?
—Sara Laycock, Indianapolis, IN
If Ruby’s used to being coddled continuously, then it is possible that she’s just sad. If so, you can fix the situation by teaching her that lying down quietly on a dog bed in the room earns her the attention and rewards she wants. Once she’s lying down, reward her intermittently with several seconds of petting or small treats. Start with frequent rewards, say every three to five seconds, and gradually decrease the reward rate.
—Dr. Sophia Yin, a 1993 graduate of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is the author of three books: The Small Animal Veterinary Nerdbook, a best-selling textbook for veterinarians, How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves, and her forthcoming textbook, Low Stress Handling, Restraint, and Behavior Modification in Cats and Dogs.