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Cats act up when owner leaves town

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: I have two cats, both male, 5 years old. I travel one month at a time in spring and fall.

My two cats do not like it at all. They urinate outside the litter boxes, over-eat and gain weight. Maybe they do not like the cold weather of last November.

Dr. Nichol: Your cats don’t care about November weather but they really do hate it when you’re gone. You and their routine are the essence of their lives. One of them may actually be over-bonded.

This kitty, the likely wayward urinator, is a little lost sheep when you travel. Both of your cats need more to do than pig out and pee when they’re home alone.

Separation anxiety in cats is actually pretty common. In contrast to the frenzied destructive behavior of a wigged-out dog, cats are more prone to urine soil when their person is missing. Alone and apprehensive, your boys have little to do but fret when, as wild animals confined as pets, they should be out stalking prey, climbing, perching, spitting, cussing, and swapping uncouth jokes with their friends.

Except for each other’s company, they have been relegated to a sterile existence. It’s even worse when you aren’t there to entertain them with your comical routines. (Cats think we are very funny. They are known to make jokes at our expense.)

Consider a cats-only boarding kennel like the Monte Vista Pet Lodge in Rio Rancho. Your kitties can hang together and have access to a play area where they can climb and explore. Add an arts and crafts class and it’ll be just like summer camp. I recommend giving the caretakers specific feeding instructions to avoid the dangers of obesity.

There are other ways of improving your cats’ lives if you insist on leaving them home while you gallivant about on your romantic getaways. A pet sitter can spend interactive time with them, sharing stalk and pounce games, but they will still have a tendency to act out their stress.

Zylkene is an anti-anxiety supplement, easily mixed in canned food, that can make life more bearable for your long-suffering, pining cats. The onus of their emotional well-being is on you as you eat, drink, and make merry.

Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). He provides medical care for pets at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital (898-8874). Questions? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.

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