Monthly Archives: November 2011

Preventing Litterbox Problems

Keeping your cat’s litter box up to his standards is very important. The following suggestions should keep your cat from “thinking outside the box.”

Location, location, location
Most people tend to place the litter box in an out-of-the-way spot to minimize odor and prevent cat litter from being tracked throughout the house. But, if the litter box ends up in the basementnext to an appliance or on a cold cement floor,your cat may be less than pleased.

So you may have to compromise.

Keep the litter box in a spot that gives your cat some privacy yet is also conveniently located. If the box is too hard to get to, especially for a kitten or an elderly cat, he just may not use it.
Avoid placing litter boxes next to noisy or heat-radiating appliances, like the furnace or the washing machine. The noise can make a cat nervous, while the warmth of a dryer or furnace can magnify the litter box smell, which could make him stay away from it.
Put the box far away from his food and water bowls. Cats don’t like that smell too near their food and may not use the box.
Place at least one litter box on each level of your house. That way your cat has options if access to his primary box is blocked (the basement door is closed or your dinner party has him holed up in the bedroom.) If you have more than one cat, provide litter boxes in several locations so that one cat can’t ambush another cat using the litter box.
If you keep the litter box in a closet or a bathroom, be sure the door is wedged open from both sides to prevent your cat from being trapped inside or locked out. Depending on the location, you might consider cutting a hole in a closet door and adding a pet door.
Pick of the litter
Research has shown that most cats prefer fine-grained litters, presumably because they have a softer feel. The new scoopable (clumping) litters usually have finer grains than the typical clay litter and are very popular because they really keep down the odor. But high-quality, dust-free clay litters are fairly small-grained and may be perfectly acceptable to your cat.

There are several different types of cat litter on the market. The most popular ones are: traditional clay litter; scooping/clumping litter; crystal based/silica gel litter; and plant-derived/bio-degradable litter.

If your cat has previously been an outdoor one and prefers dirt, you can keep him out of your houseplants placing medium sized rocks on top of the soil and/or by mixing some potting soil with your regular litter. A cat who rejects all types of commercial litters may be quite happy with sand. Once you find a litter your cat likes, stick with it. Switching litters constantly could result in your cat not using the litter box.

Smelling like a rose
Many people used scented litter to mask litter box odors, but those scents can put off many cats. For the same reason, it’s not a good idea to place a room deodorizer or air freshener near the litter box.

A thin layer of baking soda placed on the bottom of the box will help absorb odors without repelling your cat. And if you keep the box scrupulously clean, it shouldn’t smell.

If you find the litter box odor offensive, your cat, with his keen sense of smell, probably finds it even more offensive and won’t want to go there.

How many?
The general rule of thumb is one box for each cat plus one more. Then none of them will ever be prevented from eliminating in the litter box because it’s already occupied.

It’s not possible to designate a personal litter box for each cat in your household, as cats may use any litter box that’s available. That means a cat may occasionally refuse to use a litter box after another cat has been in it. In this case, you’ll need to keep all of the litter boxes extremely clean, and you might even need to add additional boxes. However, it’s best not to place al the boxes in one location because your cats will think of them as one big box and ambushing another cat will still be possible.

Under cover
Some people prefer to provide their cats with a covered litter box, but doing so may introduce some potential problems. To discover which type your cat prefers, you may want to experiment by offering both types at first.

Some cats, especially those who are timid or like privacy. may prefer a covered litter box. Others will not, especially if it’s not clean. Covered boxes can decrease the amount of litter that flies from the box when your cat buries his business.

Pros and cons:

You may forget to clean the litter box as frequently as you should, because the dirty litter is “out of sight, out of mind.”
A covered litter box traps odors inside, so you’ll need to clean it more often than an open one. A dirty, covered litter box is to your cat what a port-a-potty is to you!
It may not allow a large cat sufficient room to turn around, scratch, dig or position himself in the way he wants.
It may make it easier for another cat to lay in wait and “ambush” the user as he exits the box.
Other types of litter boxes
There are wide variety of litter boxes on the market today. Keep in mind that some fancy litter box innovations are for the owner’s convenience, not the cat’s. In fact, some of these features may actually turn your cat off. It’s really best to keep it simple—a basic box, litter, and a scoop.

Keeping it clean
To meet the needs of the most discriminating cat, you should scoop feces out of the litter box daily. How often you actually change (replace) the litter depends on the number of cats you have, the number of litter boxes, and the type of litter you use.

Twice a week is a general guideline for replacing clay litter, but depending on the circumstances, you may need to replace it every other day or only once a week.

If you clean the litter box daily, you might only need to change clumping litter every two to three weeks. If you notice an odor or if much of the litter is wet or clumped, it’s time for a change.

Scrub the box every time you change the litter. Use detergent mild dish liquid to clean it, as products with ammonia or citrus oils can turn a cat off, and some cleaning products are toxic to cats.

Liner notes
Box liners are strictly a convenience for the owner; supposedly, the liner can be gathered together and tied just like a garbage bag, but the truth is that most cats shred it to bits while scratching in the box. However, it might work if your cat doesn’t work too hard to bury his waste.

Depth of litter
Some people think that the more litter they put in the box, the less often they’ll have to clean it, but that’s a mistake. Most cats won’t use litter that’s more than about two inches deep. In fact, some long-haired cats actually prefer less litter and a smooth, slick surface, such as the bottom of the litter box. Adding extra litter isn’t a a substitute for scooping and scrubbing.

“Litter Training” cats
There’s really no such thing as “littertraining” a cat in the same way one would housetrain a dog. You actually don’t need to teach your cat what to do with a litter box; instinct will generally take over. You do need to provide an acceptable, accessible litter box, using the suggestions above.

It’s not necessary to take your cat to the litter box and move her paws back and forth in the litter. In fact, we don’t recommend it, as such an unpleasant experience is likely to make her afraid of the litter box and you.

If you move, however, you will need to show your cat where the box is, though his sensitive nose will probably find it first.

Solving problems
If your cat begins to go to the bathroom outside the litter box, your first call should always be to your veterinarian. Many medical conditions can cause a change in a cat’s litter box habits. If your veterinarian examines your cat and gives him a clean bill of health, your cat may have a behavior problem that needs to be solved. See ways to solve litter box problems here »

Punishment is not the answer, nor is banishing your cat outdoors. For long-standing or complex situations, contact an animal-behavior specialist who has experience working with cats.

The Humane Society of the United States

Polydactyl Cats

Poly- what?!?

The term “polydactyl” means many toes, it is a genetic mutation among felines that gives them extra toes on the front feet and sometimes even on the back. Normally, cats have 4 front toes and one declaw on the inside of their leg, a little bit above their toes. A polydactyl cat can appear to have mitten’s by having several extra dewclaws. Some cats can have 7-8 toes on each front foot!

Famous polydactyl cats live in Key West, Florida at the Ernest Hemmingway Museum. He brought a polydactyl cat to Florida, upon his ship, and a colony has been there ever since. Currently the museum has about 60 resident cats, about half of which are polydactyl.

For more info on the Hemmingway museum and their cats, visit:

“Apollo” is a polydactyl kitten that was recently adopted from Frederick County Animal Control by one of our clients. He has 7 toes on each front foot and 5 toes on each back foot- a total of 24 toes in all (6 extra)!!!

Owners Paul and Michelle Contant of Ontario, Canada own the Guinness World record holder polydactyl cat. “Jake”has 28 toes, with 7 on each paw, as counted by a veterinarian on 24 September 2002.

For more info and pictures of polydactyl cats, visit:

Subtle Can Be Significant

If you share your home with an older per, never ignore that tiny voice telling you “something isn’t right.” If you suspect something-anything-is wrong with a pet over age seven, have it checked out. Recently, I saw a 12-year-old dog that “hadn’t been feeling well for the past couple of weeks.” Sadly, by the time the owners finally listened to that inner voice, it was too late. Their dog was now bleeding internally from a ruptured splenic cancer. Emergency blood transfusions and surgery failed to save the dog’s life. While I don’t fault the owners-there was nothing obviously wrong with their pet and they loved him dearly-I can’t be helped but be nagged by “what if?” What if I’d been able to diagnose the tumor before it ruptured? What if I’d performed surgery before it had lost over half it’s blood volume? I’ll never know, but I can be more digilent in telling my clients not to ignore even the most seemingly insignificant signs. The best news you can ever hear is, “It’s nothing to worry about.”

Fetch Spring/Summer 2010

Pasture Raised Turkeys

“Over the past several years, consumers have become increasingly
interested in knowing more about their food. Is it locally produced?
Were any pesticides used on the crops? How was the livestock treated
and what sort of diets did the animals receive? Knowing more about
food production represents a healthy step towards becoming
better-informed consumers.

With the holiday season approaching, families might be interested in
continuing this trend by ordering their turkey, goose or other fowl
from one of the many local Maryland farms that raise these animals.
Rather than buying a shrink-wrapped bird with a plastic thermometer
button jammed into the breast, families can head out to the farm and
see where their bird was raised.”

There are various places to purchase locally grown, pasture raised
turkeys. Many local farms emphasize health and sustainability and use
no hormones, antibiotics or added chemicals.

Visit the following websites for more info..

The Halloween Candy Drive for our troops has been a success. With the help of our generous clients, our staff has collected 123 pounds of candy. It has all been boxed and is ready to be shipped to our service men and women stationed overseas. Thank You!!!

Famous people and their famous doggie names………

Looking to name your new puppy and think you’d like to brand your new loved one just like your favorite celebrity?

Ben Afleck/Martha Stewart
Christina Aguilera/Chewy & Cocoa
Clay Aiken/Raleigh
Jessica Alba/Nancy & Sid
Jennifer Aniston/Norman
Lucille Ball/Tinker Toy & Whoopee
Mischa Barton/Charlie
Halle Berry/Bumper & Petey
Selma Blair/Wink
Orlando Bloom/Essa & Sidi
Marlon Brando/Schlubber
Adam Brody/Penny Lane
Sandra Bullock/Poppy
Mariah Carey/Jackson P. Mutley
Kevin Costner/Rosalita
Courtney Cox/Hopper & Hardy
Tom Cruise/Joseph
Phyllis Diller/Phearless
Hilary Duff/Chiquita & Lola
Jake Gyllenhaal/Atticus & Boo Radley
Jennifer Love Hewitt/Charlie
Paris Hilton/Tinkerbell & Bambi
Star Jones/Pinky
Ashley Judd/Buttermilk
Diane Lane/Milo
David Letterman/Bob & Stan
Liberace/Baby Boy & Lady Di
Lindsay Lohan/Chloe
Eva Longoria/Jinxy
Courtney Love/Lloyd
Demi Moore/Louie
Mary Kate Olsen/Luca
Jack Osborne/Lola
Kelly Osborne/Boris & Piglet
Brad Pitt/Purty & Saudi
Natalie Portman/Charlie
Nicole Richie/Honey Child & Cleopatra
Don Rickles/Clown & Joker
Mickey Rourke/Loki
Ashlee Simpson/Blondie
Jessica Simpson/Daisy
Anna Nicole Smith/Mommie
Britney Spears/Bit Bit
Tori Spelling/Mimi La Rue
Martha Stewart/Teeney & Weenie
Liv Tyler/Neal & Mylo
Naomi Watts/Bob & Chicken
Venus Williams/Jackie
Reese Witherspoon/Frank Sinatra


Doris Day/Autie Murphy, Autumn, Barney Miller, Biggest, Bobo, Bubbles, Bucky, Charlie, Chipper, Daisy, Daisy-June, Dillon, El Tigre, Heineken, Honey, Muffy, Rudy, Schatzie, Snowy, Tiger, Tiny, Trixie & Varmit


Frederick County Humane Society’s First Annual K9K will take placeSaturday, November 12, 2011, at Baker Park, in historic downtown Frederick. Proceeds will help support affordable spay/neuter and rabies vaccines for Frederick County companion animals. The event will be held rain or shine at 8am and registration starts at 7am. You can even participate with your dog. (They must be leashed and have proof of current rabies vaccination.) The first 150 registrants are guaranteed a t-shirt.

Visit for more information and to pre-register for the event!


Andre, Sea Turtle Nearly Killed by Boat’s Propeller, Returns Safely to Atlantic off Florida.

They called him Andre — an endangered green sea turtle that washed up in 2010 on a sandbar on Juno Beach in Florida, nearly dead after a boat ran him over with its propeller and tore huge gashes in his shell.

Today, healed by a team that included veterinarians, a biotech company and even an orthodontist, Andre was safely returned to the Atlantic.

Eileen, Melissa and Jen got to meet Andre at a recent trip to West Palm.

View the full story at:

Hiking with your dog

With the wonderful fall weather in full swing, take your pup out and about to enjoy some fresh and burn off that extra energy!

Several state parks in the area welcome dogs from Oct 1st-April.

Visit the website below for more info: