Ann Eliopulos | Pets
Do you stock your house with cat scratch posts, only to have your couch shredded beyond shabby chic? Or, do you have a dog that howls every time they hear a siren, but your neighbor’s dog doesn’t make a peep? Some of our pet’s behaviors are explainable from a medical or psychological perspective, while some may forever remain mysteries. Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked most frequently.
Why does my dog howl at sirens?
I used to have a dog that howled whenever I sang. I like to think that she had my back and tried to cover for me, because I have one of the worst singing voices ever, but in reality, she was exhibiting a normal dog behavior: the group howl. Our dogs all share the wolf as a common ancestor. Wolves and dogs communicate with sound and body language. Dogs hear frequencies and pitches undetectable to humans. Sirens may have a pitch that some dogs mistake for another dog, so they join in. Of course, only your dog knows for sure, and they aren’t telling.
Why did my cat start peeing all over my house?
Inappropriate urination may signal medical or behavioral issues in a cat. Non-cat lovers think all cats have behavioral issues, but those of us who love our cats know that feline stress has specific causes. New pets or people in the house, strange cats outside of the house, new objects, new cat litter, furniture or other items can cause psychological stress, resulting in unwelcome pee.
Medical problems with varying severity, such as Diabetes, can also cause cats to urinate in the wrong place. Since some of the medical causes can have disastrous consequences if left untreated, an exam, blood work and urinalysis are recommended before concluding that the cat is acting out. Cat pee is no fun in the box, much less outside of it.
Why does my neutered or spayed female dog hump?
There are many reasons for this behavior. Dogs can and do masturbate, so the simple answer is because it feels good. Some dogs assert dominance with mounting and humping, while others may be acting out conflict such as anxiety or uncertainty. But, since this behavior can have a physical cause, it’s important to sort it out.
Genital inflammation or infection (yes, you’d rub it too if it were yours), excessive steroid production, certain tumors or exposure to testosterone can also cause humping. A veterinary exam is recommended if the behavior is frequent, or just embarrassing.
Why does my cat ignore the scratch post and use my furniture instead?
Oh, if I could find the one answer to this question, I’d be famous. Scratching objects does two things for the cat. It allows them to shed their claws and also mark their territory. Cats may also scratch if they are anxious. Yes, we’ve established that cats can stress out on occasion.
Cats are tactile creatures. Some textures appeal to them, and others, not so much. My one cat loves the sisal rope posts, but hates the ones with carpeting or cardboard. If your cat is rejecting your posts, and preferring your furniture, it may be that they just like that material better. Try duplicating it on the post.
Feliway, a feline pheromone spray or infusor, and catnip on the post, may calm the cat and direct them to the post. Frequent nail trims and Soft Paws, vinyl kitty nail caps, can help mitigate damage when all else fails.
Finally, the perennial question I’m asked most frequently is, why does my dog lick their genitals?
Granted, there could be infection, or inflammation or other medical conditions. However, barring physiological causes, I think we all know that the one real answer is this: because they can!