Q: I walk in the forest with my dogs and sometimes see injured wild animals such as squirrels or rabbits. Can I bring them to a veterinary clinic to get them help or do you have any other advice?
A: We are very lucky in Northern Arizona to share our forest with a lot of diverse wildlife. However, this does mean that potentially you may run across hurt or injured wildlife.
Animals living in the wild are not accustomed to human contact and will act aggressively if you try to handle them. This will be even worse if they are hurt and in pain, so you risk significant injury yourself if you try to pick them up with your bare hands.
If you come across a very large animal or a bird of prey, such as an eagle, that is hurt, my best recommendation is to call the Arizona Game and Fish department to handle the situation. It is specifically trained to handle these issues so that no one gets hurt and the animal gets the best possible care.
I highly recommend not getting near any large wild animals or trying to capture them in any way. A perfect example of what not to do was exemplified recently when tourists in Yellowstone thought they were helping a baby bison by getting it into their car. However, due to their actions, the baby had to be euthanized, which is a devastating end for the bison.
These animals are not meant to be interfered with by humans and we can cause devastating consequences by trying to get involved. For smaller animals it is still recommended to stay away from them since it can be unclear why they are sick, and there are cases of wild animals having rabies in Northern Arizona.
In most cases, it is highly recommended to not touch or try to capture injured or sick wildlife due to the risk of exposure to diseases and the possibility of injury. The best course of action to take if you see an injured wild animal is to call Arizona Game and Fish and get their advice.
Any injured wild animal that is humanely caught can be stabilized by a veterinary clinic willing to treat it, but after that the animal must be transported to a licensed rehabilitation center within 48 hours of capture or humanely euthanized.
Q: My cat has been urinating outside the litter box and it is making me crazy. What can I do?
A: Unfortunately, there are many reasons why a cat will urinate outside of a litter box.
First, it is important to take your cat to your veterinarian to rule out any medical issue that might be causing the behavior. The most common medical explanations are a urinary tract infection, feline cystitis, kidney disease, diabetes and other metabolic issues.
If a medical issue is identified, then treating the issue appropriately should help resolve the behavior.
If no medical reason is identified, then you must look at your household’s environment and assess possible causes: Are there enough litter boxes available and where are the boxes located? There should be one litter box per cat and the boxes should be in quiet, out-of-the-way locations that are not near any noisy doors or high foot traffic in the house.
Is there another animal in the house that might be stressing your cat by following them to the litter box or guarding the litter box? Simply adding litter boxes and placing them strategically can help with the behavior.
If all that fails, then it's likely this has become a behavior for your cat and this is the hardest issue to treat. Sometimes behavior-modifying drugs, over the counter supplements and environmental pheromones can help modify the behavior.