Q. We have three cats in our household, two females and one male. In the past three weeks, our male cat has started to urinate in various places in the house. He is 2 1/2 years old and is neutered. He seems to be healthy and eats well. We are becoming concerned that he may have a bladder problem that we heard is common to male cats. All three cats are indoors and eat the same food. Does this sound like a bladder infection? Is there anything that we can do at home?
Gladys Powell, Brea
A. When a cat starts to urinate outside of the litter box, there may be several reasons. If there is only one litter box, he may be objecting to sharing the box with the other two cats or it may be an indication that the box is not being kept clean enough for him. You may have to get an extra litter box or keep the current box very clean.
Your male cat may also be starting to exert his dominance by marking his territory--in this case, the house--by spraying in various locations. Even though he is neutered, he may still spray to show that he is the No. 1 cat in the house. This is a behavioral situation that may require medications from your veterinarian to help change.
If your cat is straining to urinate or can't seem to hold his urine long enough to make it to the litter box, he may in fact be developing a urinary problem. It would be wise to have him checked by your veterinarian and a urinalysis done to rule out the possibility of an infection or cystitis. Your vet may want to start him on antibiotics or special diets to keep the infection under control.
Q. My 6-year-old female cocker is starting to cough, especially when she gets very active. She doesn't seem to be uncomfortable otherwise and eats well. I have not seen her vomit or cough anything up. I have kept her vaccinations up to date and her vet said she was healthy on her last exam. Could she have developed kennel cough? She has played with other dogs at the park where we run but I haven't heard any of them cough. Should I have her checked again?
Bill Eisenmann, Irvine
A. Since coughing is a non-specific sign of so many disorders, I would recommend that you have your dog examined again. There are so many possibilities--from having a tracheal irritation from a foreign body, such as grass, to the beginning signs of heart disease. Your veterinarian will want to examine her thoroughly. A chest X-ray will probably be necessary. In the meantime, I would reduce or eliminate her running exercises.
Got a question about your pet? Write to: Dr. Glenn Ericson, Ask The Vet, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.