DEAR JOAN: Can you comment on whether it is OK to flush cat feces down the toilet. I have read articles that say this is not a good idea due to the fact that cat feces could contain the eggs of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite.
According to sources found on Google, this parasite may survive the wastewater treatment process and contaminate waterways. The parasite rarely affects healthy people but can cause defects and brain damage in babies whose mothers were exposed when pregnant.
If all of this is true, how can the flushable cat litter manufacturers get their product approved to flush?
DEAR JANET: Don't flush cat feces. It's not so much a human health problem, although it can be. The problem is that cats shed those parasites in their feces and there is no treatment for destroying the eggs. They make their way into the waterways, killing marine life.
California requires litter makers to include a warning on packaging, but there is no law against flushing, which is why litter makers can continue to market "flushable" litter.
DEAR JOAN: I am responding to the lady who was having trouble with cats climbing up onto her kitchen counters. I have some additional suggestions.
Most cats need to climb up high so they need climbers or other places -- preferably with a window view -- where they are allowed to be up high. Are they getting on the kitchen counters to get to the sink to drink water? Get them a cat fountain that you place on the floor. They love moving water.
Choose a deterrent that is not associated with you so that they associate a puff of air from an air canister or a squirt of water with the kitchen counter rather than you. Another effective deterrent is a product called "Scat Mats." They are pads that produce mild electric shocks that will help cats learn that the kitchen counter is very dangerous.
The other suggestion I have for cats that are breaking rules is to regularly wear them out through intensive play. I use "Da Bird Feather Teaser," a toy with various attachments to provide exercise for my cats. I play with them until they are lying down and panting. This fulfills their need to hunt and expends their energy in a positive way. I never see bad behavior after a play session. I have learned a great deal about cats from cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy. He is the host of "My Cat from Hell" on the Animal Planet channel.
DEAR BARBARA: All excellent ideas. I hadn't heard of the "Scat Mat", but others suggested it, too.
DEAR JOAN: We have mice at work and mainly in our warehouse. Yesterday one decided to run into my office. The warehouse cat now lives with me and will not be going back.
How can we in a humane way get rid of these cute creatures?
DEAR KATHIE: There are humane mouse traps available that capture the mice in small containers but do not harm them. You then can release them outside the building.
I always joke that you can make it even more fun by writing numbers on their backs and then running an office pool to see which one makes it back first.
If you choose this method, first find out where they are getting in and block up the holes with steel wool. You should also make sure that they don't have young babies that might starve without their mothers.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.