Solutions to Common Pet Problems
Why it happens: “If this is an older cat, a vet should check the thyroid. Nighttime vocalization is one sign of hyperthyroidism,” says Patti Iampietro, a veterinarian with Best Friends Animal Society, in Kanab, Utah. An aging pet may lose certain cognitive abilities, says Edward Moser, a veterinarian in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. “Older animals become less restful at night,” he says. Other causes could be something provoking the cat, a change in her routine or environment, or boredom. And if your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, these night howls could be mating calls. Even another cat hanging around outside at night can evoke vocalization, says Iampietro.
What to do: If mating is the motive, promptly “fix” your pet. If not, test the cat for hyperthyroidism with a simple blood test. Treatment options are surgery, daily medication, or radioactive-iodine therapy. A change in diet may also help. “Antioxidants and vitamins E and C may reverse brain-aging changes,” says Moser. Once you rule out medical issues and outside disturbances, you’re probably dealing with a cat who wants attention at 3 a.m. Shain suggests giving the cat some nighttime-only toys before you hit the sack. “It’s a test of will, so steel your nerves and ignore her,” she says.
Problem: Your Pet Sheds
Why it happens: Excessive shedding may be due to dry skin, a poor diet, or stress.
What to do: The first line of defense is to groom your pet for five minutes a day. To reduce shedding, try moisturizing your pet’s skin and hair through his diet. “Dry skin sheds more hair. Dry hairs drop off animals like the needles off a Christmas tree,” says Szabo. She recommends adding a few drops of olive or flaxseed oil to your cat’s or dog’s kibble. Your veterinarian might suggest a dietary supplement such as Derm Caps, which include fish and safflower oils and vitamin E, to improve coat condition. When it comes to cleanup, Szabo swears by the Dyson DC17 Animal ($550, dyson.com), a vacuum designed for a hairy home, and StickySheets ($20 for 12, stickysheets.com), which provide the fuzz-lifting action of a lint roller for a larger surface area.