What to do when a cat stops grooming itself

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A Maine Coon is groomed ahead of competition

A Maine Coon is groomed ahead of competition during an international cat show in the Warsaw, Poland. (Feb. 12, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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Marc Morrone Newsday columnist Marc Morrone

Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to

Q. Our 7-year-old Maine coon cross has not been taking good care of his fur lately. His coat has lost a lot of its luster and, when you touch it, quite a bit of dead fur falls out. Plus, his coat has an odor that it never had before. We gave him a bath, blew him dry, and he came out all nice and fluffy. But the next day, he looked and smelled the same as before. We are giving him a diet of premium canned food and were wondering if you knew of any supplement that we could add to it that may help this issue. --Gary Girardi, Glen Cove

A. I think a trip to the vet is in order. Your cat may have some kind of a dental issue. When a cat has a toothache, it will not groom itself anymore, as it is too painful.

A cat with a bad tooth usually has a stinky mouth and, if he does try to groom himself, he spreads that stinky saliva over his fur. That is what the odor on his coat may be.

There is no dietary supplement that would help this situation.

Dental issues are very common in the modern day house cat and regular trips to the vet for cleaning and other treatments can prevent such dental issues.


Q. I am writing this letter for my 5-year-old son, Matthew. He wants to know what happens to all the crickets that we listen to now and why we only hear them in the late summer and fall. --Eileen Smith, Garden City

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A. The chirping and clicking and other sounds that serenade late summer and fall nights are from quite a few different species of insects -- not just crickets. There are katydids and many others that call all night long this time of the year.

They are singing now for the same reason you hear birds singing in the spring -- to attract a mate. The females will then lay their eggs; they all die at the first frost. The eggs will be dormant all winter and hatch in the spring.

When the babies hatch, they are very small. It takes all spring and the first part of the summer to grow, and that's why you do not hear them. By late summer, they are fully grown and then start to call for mates. Then this amazing cycle of the natural world starts all over again.

Q. One of my cats has taken to climbing my curtains and resting on the curtain rod at the top. Why she feels that balancing on the curtain rod is a more comfortable thing to do than to lie on one of the two cat play gyms in the same room is beyond me. I keep her nails trimmed, but even so they are tearing up the curtains. Is there any kind of spray that I can use on the curtains to keep her off them? --Alexandra Blanco, Syosset

A. I have tried those sprays and I have never seen them work very well. Instead, try to give her another option of where she may like to spend her time (since she does not seem to enjoy the cat furniture).

Take down the curtains temporarily and install one of those cat window seats on the windowsill. Since there are no curtains to climb nor the curtain rod to balance on, all she needs to do is jump onto the window seat, spread out and watch the world go by. After a couple of weeks of her enjoying herself this way, you can safely put the curtains back up.

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