Some dogs just rub cats the right way. / Gk Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images
Q: We have two dogs and two indoor cats. I do all the right things to protect against fleas. You wrote about seeing a veterinarian for proactive protection — we’ve done that. And we still have fleas! Why? S.V., Sarasota, Fla.
I bet you, like many people, protected your dogs and assumed that indoor cats don’t require a flea preventive. Here’s what can happen, especially where fleas are most abundant, like Florida: A hitchhiking flea can be transported on shoes, pant legs or even a protected dog. The flea drops off, and if it lays eggs, the circus begins. Fleas avoid feeding on the protected dogs, and while they will bite people, cat blood is apparently tastier; they aren’t called the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) for nothing. See a veterinarian about appropriate protection for your cats, too, and I bet you’ll be all set.
Q: How do I stop my dog from chasing squirrels in the back yard? P.S., Skokie, Ill.
You could put up a sign that warns “Danger, Squirrel-Chasing Dog!” But your chances of the squirrels reading the sign are about the same as your unsupervised dog not chasing them. The only answer: adult supervision and a suitable distraction when you are in the yard — such as a favorite toy for your dog to chase (instead of squirrels) or a chew toy.
Q: My neutered male cat makes a nightly ritual of rubbing his face against my 65-pound male mixed-breed dog. The cat purrs loudly and nearly trips the poor dog. It’s as if there’s something X-rated about this. Also, I worry that one day, if the dog falls on the cat, the cat is in trouble. Should I get involved? D.C., Nashville
It’s not sexual. Your cat is depositing pheromones on your dog, as cats also do when they rub against table legs or our legs. Your cat’s purring and rubbing is a sign of contentment and affection. Simultaneously, your cat is tagging the dog as “my dog.” As for the dog, he enjoys the attention — or simply is tolerant. And don’t worry: Unless your dog is elderly, arthritic or shaky on his feet, he’s unlikely to fall on his friend.
Contributing editor Steve Dale, a certified dog/cat behavior consultant, offers more advice on the Petphoria blog at pets.usaweekend.com