From Ask Lutz

Cat Trouble?

Dear Lisa,

We have a cat (as I know many, many others do). The thing is that she has some strange quirks that are un-cat-like, or otherwise might be cause for concern, or at the least might pose some questions. 1. She follows me around the house. 2. She only drinks water from a running tap (which is kind of unhealthy, as when we're away, she won't drink for a day, and will be really thirsty when we return) 3. She won't go to bed at night until we do--and meows at us until we do—basically anytime after 10pm, if we're not heading in that general direction.

Do we have need for concern? Is there something we should do differently with her?

Thanks so much,

Concerned in the Castro


Dear Concerned,

Are you sure you have a cat? I have attached a picture of one, so you can double check. I am not a veterinarian, but I feel confident in saying your cat is out of control. Should you be concerned? Hell, yes! Should you be doing something differently? Frankly, I’m afraid it might be too late. However, I am going to answer your question anyway, in the hopes that there are others out there we can help by using your unfortunate case as an example.

Let me begin by saying, a cat is a pet, often a welcomed addition to your home, perhaps even a member of your family. But a cat does not check off the “head of household” box on its W-4 form and list you as a tax deduction. Cats, like dogs, and other animals are creatures of habit and if you have unduly encouraged your cat in any of the above mentioned areas, then you yourself are responsible for this tap drinking, bedtime bossing, pseudo-stalking feline with whom you reside. And when I say encourage, that can simply mean not discourage properly. I'd like to reiterate that I am NOT a veterinarian, however, I do have some suggestions that might help you with your problem.

Although I’ve never had a cat follow me around my own home, on the rare occasions when I’ve had people follow me around, I put my foot down right away. Usually, I start by reasoning with the person: “If you don’t stop following me around, I’m gonna rip off both your legs and beat you over the head with them.” If reasoning doesn’t work, I find spritzing person with a water bottle, tends to do the trick. But, Concerned, you never did say whether this following business actually bothered you or not. If you don’t care that you’ve got some out of control, co-dependent cat watching your every move, who am I to judge?

Let’s move on. Now you say that your cat will only drink from a running tap. That is certainly unhealthy and wasteful. Have you ever explained to your cat that water is limited resource and must be conserved? I gather not. Your cat has to quit the tap cold turkey. Turn off all faucets. Fill the cat bowl with fresh, bottled water. Throw in a lemon wedge to make drinking from the bowl (which is just fine for millions of cats around the globe) more enticing. If you find that your cat continues its water strike, you might have to invest in one those hamster bottles, which resemble a tap, but are far less wasteful and made for an animal, so that your cat knows its place. But, Concerned, I am still a bit fuzzy on how your cat learned to drink in this manner to begin with. Is this how you consume water in your own home? Perhaps if you started using a glass, your cat’s table manners—so to speak—would improve as well.

As we all know, cats are notorious for sleeping excessively. But recent studies have suggested that humans are not getting nearly enough sleep. (Apparently, we need about 14 hours a day.) So, I say, if your cat is encouraging a healthy habit, I can’t find fault with that.

Sweet dreams and please Ask Lutz again if you got any more problems.

Best Wishes,


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