Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to
Q My cat is 4 years old. Last year we left for a four-day trip and had someone check on her each day. After we returned, the cat would stay on the bay window at night and come up to us while we were watching TV or reading and have a strange, crazy look in her eye, then viciously bite us. She has even attacked us in the middle of the night while we were sleeping. But, during the day, while not on the window, she is very pleasant. We try to cover the window at night. But this is all very exhausting. I believe there may be a stray cat outside. What can we do to get our cat back to normal? -- Sydney Clark, Farmingdale
A You are doing the correct thing by covering the window at night because this removes the trigger, as long as you are consistent about doing it. If you block out the trigger for a long enough period of time, the behavior should stop. How long that might take I can’t say, because each case is different.
I also would talk to your vet about putting the cat on some of the new anti-anxiety medications are available. Some may say prescription drugs for this sort of thing seem to be the easy way out, but they are based on sound science and I have seen them work many times, making life easier for both pets and their keepers.
Q I have lived in Smithtown for 50 years now and never saw anything quite like what I saw the other day.
I went to the high school to run on the track, and in the parking lot I saw a large group of crows — perhaps 20 or more — all gathered around something on the ground. They were not feeding on it as they do on roadkill. They were just looking and milling about. When I got out of the car to get a closer look, they all flew off and I saw that what they were looking at was a dead crow that must have been hit by a car.
I know that a group of crows is called “a murder,” but nobody was getting murdered here. It almost looked like they were paying their respects to the dead bird as you would at a wake. Do you think that is what they were doing? -- Frank Alba, Smithtown
A Intelligent, social animals that have the mental ability to have a sense of the past, present and future do gather around the dead bodies of members of their own species. Birds of the corvid family, such as crows and ravens, qualify with this cognitive ability. Most species of birds will grieve for their dead, but this emotion is usually just experienced by the bird’s mate or close family. Because you saw such a large gathering, I doubt that was the case. I would think the birds were using this moment to work out a new group hierarchy, because they are very social and tend to stay in large flocks in the winter.
The dead bird may have been one of the more dominant crows in the resident flock, and when the others witnessed its death, they may have been trying to figure out who’s the new “boss bird.” However, this is just a guess.
Q We really want to get a dog in our family now as we feel our children are old enough. Although there is a gap of about six hours during the day when nobody is home, we are in and out the rest of the time. Is it possible to train a puppy under such circumstances, and, if so, what breed do you advise? -- Suzie O’Brien, Garden City
A Training a puppy of any breed is challenging. Everybody likes getting a puppy, but it is even more challenging if your time is limited. Realistically, most of us just want to come home to a happy dog that wags its tail when it sees us and does not chew the furniture and poop on the rug.
One option that many people do not consider in a situation like yours is to adopt a retired racing greyhound. They make the perfect additions to a dog-loving family that is very busy. They have spent such hard lives at the racing tracks that when they have been retired and given the opportunity to just lay around the house all day, they are happy to do so. They are also very clean and do not need to be taken to a groomer once a month. There are many organizations run by dedicated volunteers who do a great job of rescuing these dogs and fitting them with the perfect family. I think such a dog would compliment your life rather than complicate it.