Albuquerque Journal Article – Yowling, Fighting, and Lapses in Bathroom Etiquette

Stressed Cats Struggle Behaviorally and Physically

Do you live in a litter pan or suffer through feline caterwauling and brawling? Take a long gulp of coffee just for maintaining your sanity. The story of Larry, Moe, and Curly (not their real names) is sure to help you feel better.

Moe was so young when he left his mother that he required bottle-feeding. With no real concept of playing well with others he powered through a youthful bout of kidney failure but then advanced to periodic vomiting and chewing plastic wrappers. Losing his lunch furthered Moe’s social isolation but it was his yowling and urine spraying while wandering through the house that cost him the respect of his colleagues.

Curly was a survivor of multiple urinary blockages, a stress-related bladder disorder that can make male cats suddenly unable to pass urine. Surgical remodeling of his outflow anatomy (perineal urethrostomy) prevented reoccurrences but since then he’s needed treatment for bladder infections. Curly’s offenses included urinating in the sink. His calling card was blood in his urine.

Curly experienced significant stress if Larry and Moe were also present in their folks’ bedroom in the evening, leading poor Curley to squall while prowling and pacing. When I examined him I found that Curly had chronic pain from infections that had loosened his upper canine teeth. His third eyelids were raised, a telltale indicator of feline stress. A lifelong wool sucker, Curly preferred cashmere. Are we having fun yet?

Larry did his best just to get by. When heading for the head he often encountered Moe, lying in ambush. Scared witless of crossing paths with this local hood Larry might sit and wait and growl. When unable to bear it any longer he made his desperate dash for the litter pan only to be pounced on by Moe. Larry’s attempts to escape his harasser at these inauspicious moments sometimes culminated in a physical feline fracas.

With access to 5 litter pans all three kitties lived strictly indoors. No neighbor cats visited but canine-type creatures with long narrow muzzles occasionally came to their door. Girl Scouts? I think not.

Could these rapscallions be rehabilitated? Come back next week for the final chapter.


Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.