Q: Our cat Cali is 6 years old. For the last three or four weeks, she goes in her litter box to urinate, but half of it ends up on the floor. She stands in the box, but her butt is at the edge and it looks like it is shooting out. The good-sized litter box is cleaned every two days. We changed the brand of litter several times. Her sister cat does not do this. We even put two boxes, thinking that may work, and it doesn't. Cali eats well and drinks water. Any thoughts before doctors start poking her with needles? She is a house cat 100 percent. --Peggy DeLuca, North Bellmore
A: I am not there to see the situation, but it sounds to me as if you do have to go to the vet here. When a cat has a urinary tract infection, it does not feel comfortable squatting in a dirty litter box, as its private parts are irritated by the litter. That's why the cat either stands up, as yours is doing, or it just finds another area to go that is not so uncomfortable.
Just think about how you would feel in a similar situation.
Keeping cats well hydrated is important in preventing infections. Many cats do not drink enough water. I have solved that problem by feeding my own cats canned food rather then dry. There is plenty of water in the canned food, and my cats haven't had any issues like this in many years.
Keeping the litter as clean as possible is important, as well. To have a cat squat many times a day in a litter box full of who knows what can only lead to infections like this.
I clean my cats' boxes every day. We put a half inch of litter in the box, so the amount of litter we use or the work involved in cleaning the box daily is not an issue.
Q: This year, I am working an earlier shift, and I have had to leave my house every morning at 5. In the early morning light a few weeks ago, I noticed that the neighborhood was full of birdsong. However, now when I go to my car, the trees are very quiet. I saw a dead robin on my lawn yesterday as well as a dead blue jay the day before. Is there some kind of an issue with the wild birds right now? --Stan King, Wantagh
A: What you are experiencing is a normal cycle of events. In the spring and early summer, the birds are nesting and full of hormones, as daylight is getting longer each day and the growing photo period causes their rush of hormones. So they are singing and breeding and fighting with each other, and they are, in general, making their presence very well known.
Now that the babies are out of the nest and the days are getting shorter, their hormone levels are going down, and defending a territory by singing is not as important. They are exhausted from all that work and are just rebuilding their reserves and molting their feathers to get ready for winter.
The dead birds you saw are just part of the situation. In August, the area is full of young birds with no skills and adult birds with no body reserves -- and some of them cannot survive.
It is just the natural order of things.
Q: It seems that there are no more nice shows about animals anymore on TV. Are there any shows or channels about animals that you can suggest? --Susan Derby, Riverhead
A: I have found that the Smithsonian Channel and Nat Geo Wild maintain a high quality of content, and I still learn things about animals that I never knew before from those two channels.