Pets' corner: Your questions answered

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We have three Tonkinese cats. The 12-year-old is in good health but has always been slightly neurotic. Since Christmas she has started to defecate in one particular spot in the house rather than going in the garden. How can we stop this?
Robin & Linda, Howe, Norfolk

There are several possible reasons for your cat's behaviour. Kitties are very sensitive to their surroundings and any changes or disturbance could cause them to act out of character. Your cat is a good age; as cats get older they develop problems that you may not have thought of. Your older moggie may not want to poo outside because of the cold weather. Stiff joints and pain may prevent her from pushing the cat flap open. Let her out yourself so she does not have to struggle with it; this will encourage her to go out more. We have to break the habit of your cat's toileting problem. When cats relieve themselves, they tend to return again and again to the same place, guided by their sense of smell. What you can do is to keep the cat away from that particular area for as long as possible, or wash it with a solution of biological washing powder or liquid, and then use a plant-mister to spray it with surgical spirit. Scrub this off and leave it to dry, but before doing so, test a small area of your carpet to make sure it won't damage it. Also, place some dried cat food where your cat has been defecating; this should hinder her from picking up the bad habit again.

Send your queries to The Independent Magazine, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail petscorner@independent.co.uk

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