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By Dr. Michael Fox, Published January 01 2010

Cat’s messes a concern

Dear Dr. Fox: My 14-year-old female domestic shorthair cat has used carpets in my house as litter boxes from time to time since she was a kitten. Lately, however, she has been using the carpet almost constantly. I recently had a host of tests done, as I thought she might have diabetes, but all the tests came back negative. I have used numerous sprays and place foil on the areas, to no avail.

Other than this behavioral issue, she seems to be in perfectly good health. There have been no changes in our home, and I give her a lot of attention. What do you think? – S.E., Crofton, Md.

Dear S.E.: Some cats develop a place fixation or imprint, choosing to evacuate routinely in one area outside of the litter box. There are many reasons for this, such as the wrong kind of litter, a dirty litter box, an ammoniated covered box, impacted anal glands, constipation, cystitis and bladder stones. The surface on which the cat chooses to evacuate may also be a trigger, especially when it feels like grass, gravel, shag rugs or retro beanbags.

Your cat may be drinking and urinating more because of chronic kidney failure. Have your animal doctor check this out, especially considering the cat’s age.

Since some cats defecate in the litter box and urinate in an empty box, I would line an empty box with a strip of your cat-stained carpet. This way, you will protect your floors. Once this new situation is accepted, you can work on restoring your floor. Enzyme cleaners and the nontoxic organic Orange TKO cleaner (800-991-2463) are a must in every pet’s home.

Dear Dr. Fox: My Tibetan terrier is 15 years old. Three weeks ago, she tore a tendon in one knee – the cross-tendon that keeps her knee from moving from one side to the other when she puts weight on it. The vet said it was a larger tear than usual and that it could be operated on, but at the risk of her life. He said her health is good, but he would have to take more tests to be sure.

I did some checking on the Internet and found that some small dogs accommodate themselves after about six months. However, this tendon never heals.

Do you have any insights or suggestions? – J.T., Accokeek, Md.

Dear J.T.: Surveys on dogs with torn cruciate ligaments indicate that small dogs usually do well without surgery, provided their recovery is carefully monitored. It is important to restrict the dog’s activity levels – no running or jumping for three to four months – and to regulate the dog’s weight. The slimmer the better. Eventually, inflammatory tissue and arthritic changes help to stabilize the knee, which may eventually have considerable range of motion.

As per my book “The Healing Touch for Dogs,” gentle massage therapy every day will do wonders. A joint supplement such as chondroitin, glucosamine, MSM, hyaluronic acid, ginger and turmeric will also help if given daily with food. I would advise trying New Chapter’s Zyflamend herbal supplement (888-874-4461), their smallest capsules being most suitable for animals the size of yours.

Many factors underlie this all-too-common knee disorder – poor conformation, being overweight and possible vaccinosis (an adverse reaction to vaccination that can lead to deterioration of joint ligaments).

Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.