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How to help a cat who overreacts to a visitor

Cats can get annoyed when they smell dogs

Cats can get annoyed when they smell dogs on people's clothes and bags.  Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q I have an 8-year-old female gray tabby named Beckett. She is an adorable and lovable cat except when my daughter comes to visit. My daughter has many dogs; most are rescued Chihuahuas and Yorkies. They are very well cared for, but Beckett must pick up on some smell because she just goes crazy, growling, hissing and attacking. Even a carry bag from my daughter's house will set her off. If she is in the bedroom, we lock her in for the visit. This is our only problem with her; she has yearly check-ups, shots, etc., and is healthy. Please help.

— Carol, Roseville, Minnesota

A It's very possible Beckett is reacting to the scent of the dogs on your daughter's clothes and belongings. Ask your daughter to buy a feline pheromone spray so she can spray her clothes, purse, carry bag and anything else she might bring into your house about 15 minutes before she arrives. If this alone doesn't calm Beckett down, then use a few plug-in feline pheromones around your home, spray her cat bed with pheromones, and/or put a feline pheromone collar on her, if she will allow it. Pheromones often soothe stressed felines.

Even if Beckett appears to calm down as a result, don't let your daughter pick up or pet the cat. Trust with cats is built by cats coming to us, not us going over to them.

Q I read your column about the American bulldog belonging to Hilary in South Jordan, Utah, (who didn't like to have his nails cut or his bottom wiped when poop got stuck on it). I had two beautiful bulldogs for 13 years that have since passed away. Muffin was mellow and let us trim her nails and clean her bottom. Haley was another story. She would snap whenever we tried to clean her bottom or ears or trim her nails. I put a muzzle on her to avoid being bitten and cleaned her bottom quickly with pet wipes. As for the nails, we purchased the Pet Dremel for about $25. It is battery-operated with a rechargeable battery that files the nails. It doesn't make much noise and you don't have to be perfect to file the nail down a little. I would just pick up the paw and pass it over the nail like you would your own nail. This is so much safer without the chance of the nail quick bleeding. I hope this advice will help Hilary.

— Michele, Las Vegas

A Nail Dremels are great and definitely work for some pets, but sometimes dogs who are sensitive to nail trims or to having anything done to their paws whatsoever will still react to the sight and sound of this device. I have tried for years to use them on my nail-sensitive dogs with no success. As soon as I bring it out or turn it on, they run for cover. That's the thing about pets though; what doesn't work for one might work for another. Hilary, if you are reading this, see if the nail Dremel works for your dog.

Q I read your column about Monty the picky terrier-mix from Arizona and have a few suggestions. I also had trouble getting my mixed-breed pup to eat. After trying many things, I found two products that worked great. One is Stewart Flavor Enhancer food topping. It comes in a shaker bottle and you sprinkle some on top of the dog's food. You can also add a little water to make it like a gravy. The second product is Nature's Variety Raw Boost Mixers. These are little dried bits that come in several flavors, like chicken, lamb, beef and other varieties that include dried pieces of vegetables and fruit. The big name pet stores even sell small sample packs so you can try them before buying larger quantities. I just put a tiny bit mixed in with her food and it worked great. At this point she no longer uses either of them, and eats everything.

 — Lois, Bethpage

A When I searched on the internet for flavor-enhanced topping for dogs, I was surprised at the number of products available that can encourage picky eaters. These products are definitely worth a try to encourage a dog to eat again. 

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 cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.

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