DEAR DR. FOX: This is embarrassing, but I have to ask. When I play with our 10-month-old cat, Shadow, and he is on his back, his penis sometimes comes out. He seems quite excited, even though he has been neutered. When this happens, I stop playing with him so he can settle down.
What is your opinion? -- B.L., Fort Myers, Florida
DEAR B.L.: Young cats, dogs and other animals sometimes have erections when they are playing. I interpret this as an aspect of general excitement, and neutering does not eliminate this reaction, as you have discovered.
When young cats get too aroused when play-wrestling on their backs, it is advisable to back off and let them settle down. Otherwise they may bite or scratch more vigorously, resulting in injury to yourself or to another cat. Intense play with any young carnivore could trigger predatory biting and clawing. Cats playing together learn to control their claws and jaws, but people putting on a protective glove to play-wrestle with their cats are asking for trouble, because then the cat is likely to bite and scratch harder.
Learning to play with a young cat takes understanding. When the cat is engaging in play-wrestling and is getting too aroused, change the game -- have the cat chase after a laser light or feathers on the end of a string tied to a cane. One game many cats enjoy is when you put the end of the cane and the lure under a towel or small rug for the cat to pounce on and “kill.” But best of all is to have two socialized cats who learn how to play with each other and care for each other, especially when left alone all day.
DEAR DR. FOX: We were “rescued” by two adorable dogs in December 2016.
We were told they were mother and daughter (Maltese “Mamma” and Maltese/Shih-Tzu “Babi”), about 6 and 4 years old at the time. The rescue also told us they were feral dogs and had been at the shelter over two years because they had to be re-socialized to people. Once available, everyone just wanted Babi, but the rescue said they had to be adopted together. Babi is tiny, about 5 pounds, and unbelievably cute.
My question pertains to Babi. She will not look at us eye to eye. (Mamma is fine in this regard.) Other than that, they have been great. Is there anything we can do? Attached is their picture after grooming. -- T.C., Boynton Beach, Floida
DEAR T.C.: Thanks for the photo; the two little dogs are indeed adorable. Good for you adopting both of them! Use equal parts hydrogen peroxide and warm water to clean the brown pigment in the fur on their faces once a week, and give them pet foods and treats that contain no artificial dyes. Also get the dogs used to nightly tooth-cleaning, since small breeds are prone to dental problems.
When it comes to shyness, time is the great healer, along with patience. Let the shy Babi see you playing with and grooming her mother, and get Babi used to being groomed and massaged (as per my book “The Healing Touch for Dogs”). Some dogs do not like to be stared at because a direct stare can be threatening. A gentle voice helps, as well as a gentle touch and engaging in eye contact when offering a treat (such as freeze-dried organic chicken or beef) or holding up a squeaky toy for the dog to catch or chase.
BUY A BOOK, HELP AN ANIMAL
Australian activist Christine Townend’s most recent book, “A Life for Animals,” is a gripping tale about a journey to India that changed Townend’s life forever. One hundred percent of the proceeds of this book are donated directly to the charity Working for Animals, which helps fund three animal shelters in India, as well as supporting other causes for the benefit of animals across our planet.
Until now, the book has been difficult to buy in bookshops or online. The book is now available on Amazon for download in Kindle, and as of August, will also be available from Booktopia. When you buy this book, you will not only enjoy an inspiring story, you will also financially help many animals in need in India.
For more harrowing and inspiring in-field accounts of treating and protecting wild elephants, deer, village dogs, monkeys and other creatures great and small, you can also see “India’s Animals: Helping the Sacred and the Suffering” by Deanna L. Krantz and myself.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)