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Kitty is hard-wired to find places he feels secure. / Brand New Images/Getty Images

Q. Our kitten is 5 months old, and he’s very nice except when he uses the washing machine as a toilet. Then, we confine him to a bathroom with two litter boxes and his food and water, and he does as he should. There is a litter box in the laundry that he could use, but he usually does not. His two older “brothers” don’t have a problem. Does he have a loose wire? T. B., Houston

In fact, your kitten is hard-wired to find a bathroom place where he feels secure. My guess: He feels unsafe with those brothers nearby. Even if it seems they’re all getting along, the kitty may feel intimidated. The washing machine provides him a safe lookout. There should be the same number of litter boxes as you have cats, plus one. The boxes should not be side-by-side-by-side in the same room — that’s like having one giant box. The problem may simply be your kitty is persnickety about in-box hygiene. There are other possibilities as well, and you should see your vet for a physiological explanation.

Q. My cat likes to be outdoors. Please tell me how to use brewer’s yeast to prevent fleas. M.T., Safety Harbor, Fla.

“Using brewer’s yeast will ... very probably help a flea population thrive,” says Michael Dryden of Kansas State University-Manhattan, a parisitologist. “I use brewer’s yeast in my lab to grow fleas. See your veterinarian about choosing the right product. If your cat goes outdoors and you live in Florida, without using an appropriate product, fleas are a certainty.”

Q. My 14-year-old boy wants a ferret. Opinion? S. H., Southfield, Mich.

European ferrets, the kind you find at pet stores, are domestic, fun, always on the go and curious. Without supervision, though, they can get into trouble, so rooms require ferret-proofing (such as locking cabinets and sealing small spaces they could “ferret into”). Ferrets, even when de-scented, have a musky odor that some people like, others not so much. Because they are social, two ferrets may be better than one, and they need daily human interaction. For the right family, ferrets are wonderfully entertaining pets.

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Contributing editor Steve Dale is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant. He writes a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column and is the host of two syndicated radio shows. Most recently he is the author of two e-books that answer common (and some not-so-common) pet-behavior problems, Good Dog! and Good Cat! (available wherever e-books are sold).