Q My wonderful cat Buddy is almost 9 years old. As with all my cats, he is a rescue. Since my husband passed away three years ago, he has been my light each and every day. I will be moving in six months and do not want him outside. He has been an indoor-outdoor cat his whole life. I have had two serious problems in the past year: one, he was bitten by a feral cat and two, he was taken off my front steps as the people thought he was lost. I was reunited with him through 24-hour Pet Watch, which had his ID on his collar. I was frantic though, that people actually took him away from his home. I have been keeping him inside for eight weeks and the constant meowing and howling going from front door to back door is so upsetting that it is stressing me out. I have bought him new scratching posts, toys and treats. I sing to him and give him extra attention, all to no avail. I ordered composure chews, which he will not tolerate, refusing to eat his food when I mix it in. I don't know what to do anymore. Can you help?
— Carol, Plainview
A Cats can be quite persistent when they want to go outside and usually outlast humans in getting their way. It can be quite difficult to listen to this howling all day and not want to give in. Here's how to stay strong.
First, this may sound silly, but get some ear plugs at the local drugstore or put headphones on and listen to music so you can ignore his pleas. Don't give him any extra attention.
Next, get some feline pheromone plug-ins for the house and a pheromone collar for him. This may make him feel more content inside.
As for scratching posts, make sure they are near windows where he can see out. Play nature or bird sounds in the house to see if that redirects his attention as well. Finally, introduce a laser toy (handheld or interactive automatic) to increase his activity and wear him out every day.
Q I read your column about the reader whose cat makes swimming motions while trying to drink water. I also have a 4-year-old cat who did this — all four feet scraping the floor. It looks quite comical, except when he hits the water bowl, sloshing water everywhere. I purchased a cat water fountain and he no longer swims around the bowl. He drinks from the fountain instead. I now realize he did not like putting his nose down to drink. My other cats also love the flow of the fountain. Please pass this along to Alexia and Dave in Hopkins, Minn.
— Audrey, Osceola, Wisconsin
A Thanks for the suggestion. I hadn't really thought of that before, but it makes sense when you think about how so many cats love to drink from sink and tub faucets. If someone else — or Alexia or Dave from Minnesota — buys a cat water foundation and the "swimming around the bowl" behavior stops, please let me know. Audrey from Wisconsin may be on to something here and I want to know if it works for others.
Q We have a tuxedo cat that is 9 years old and was a feral cat until we rescued her eight years ago. We love her very much, but she has developed a nasty habit. She continually urinates outside her box. We clean her box religiously. She does use her box to urinate and poop, but for some reason will go outside it just to urinate. We feed her dry food and occasionally give her wet food. Any thoughts as to why she goes outside her box?
— David, Tamarac, Florida
A Cats pee outside the box for many reasons, from not liking the depth, scent, texture and cleanliness of the cat litter to not liking the size, privacy, location and traffic around the box. Stress and illness can also cause this problem.
If your cat has always used the box and nothing has changed, take her to the veterinarian to make sure she doesn't have a urinary infection. If she is healthy, then purchase some litter box attractant (online or at pet store) and sprinkle it in the box as directed. I find these attractants work well in coaxing a cat back to the box.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.