Playful kitten makes sleep impossible
Q: My girlfriend and I got a kitten over the summer. He is now 5 months old. We cannot sleep at all anymore. He tears all over our apartment all night long and bounces on our bed over and over again. We put him on the floor and scold him but he is right back again 5 minutes later. There is not a cat toy on the planet that this animal does not have, so there is plenty to amuse him in the rest of the apartment. We are going to neuter him next month. Will that stop his behavior? Is there something else we can try? --Paul Richardson, Manorville
A: Neutering only removes an animal's desire to mate and any behaviors related to that. It certainly will not stop your cat from being happy that it is alive and wanting to share with you his joy in it.
Our cats usually sleep all day when we are not home, so their day is just beginning as ours is ending.
Your kitten has the whole night now to run and play and cannot understand why you do not want to join in. He figures that during the day you have been curled up somewhere sleeping as he has been. You just have to close the bedroom door at night and do not open it no matter what he does. Of course he will cry and throw himself at the door all night long for the first few nights, but after a week of this he will figure out that this behavior does not lead to anything. Only then will he look for some other amusement to keep him busy all night, and you can sleep in peace.
Q: I have a 5-year-old female spayed cat, and a friend has a 1 1/2-year-old sheltie. The dog is well-behaved and housebroken, but whenever the dog is brought to my house, he wants to urinate on everything. He is immediately corrected and brought outside, but as soon as he is brought back in he wants to repeat the process. I've tried "Off"-type sprays, but they do nothing. I think it is the cat's scent that triggers the dog's reaction. What can we do? --John Post, Aquebogue
A: You do not mention if the dog is neutered. This behavior is rare in neutered dogs. It is usually an intact male that feels the need to do this.
This is really not an issue of training. The dog is following a deep instinct. He is not even thinking about doing this -- it just happens. He has the opportunity to do it, and so he does. With careful management, you can deny him the opportunity. Keep the dog on a lead when he is in your house. Monitor him constantly so that when indoors he just gets used to the new smells without marking. You cannot let him out of your sight. If you cannot watch him, put him in a crate. As the weeks of this go on, he will become desensitized to all the smells of the different environment, and since he has not been able to act out the instinct of marking when he smells these things, he will no longer think it an option. The behavior will become extinct. Then you can gradually allow him his freedom again.
Q: Our gray parrot likes to place his uneaten food and whatever trash he can pick up in his cage into his water dish. By the time we get home from work, his water is filthy. We change it right away but it bothers me that he does not have clean water to drink during the day. Will this hurt him? --Lucille Stewart, Carle Place
A: This problem is easily solved by teaching your parrot to drink out of a water bottle. There are quite a few glass and steel models that mount to the outside of the cage with only the spout inside. Mount one so that the spout ends up right above the bird's water dish. Leave water in both the bottle and the dish for a week. After a week, leave the dish in the cage but do not put any water in it. The bird will have been fussing with the spout out of curiosity before this and will know that water is in it, so when he goes to the dish to drink and sees that there is no water in it then he will just reach up to the spout and all will be well.
You still need to change the water in the bottle daily. A water bottle can grow all sorts of bacteria. If you don't have time to clean the bottle before going to work in the morning, keep two bottles on hand. This way you always have a clean one to put on the cage as you leave in the morning and wash out the dirty one later.