DEAR JOAN:Â I think you missed a teachable moment with your answer to the reader who left her cats home alone for four days and came home to find one with a serious health problem. That reader probably learned a valuable lesson, but Iâ€™d bet that a lot of your other readers need to hear this:
You should never leave a cat or any pet alone for more than 24 hours. Donâ€™t assume that your cat will be fine alone for more than a day, even if left indoors with what you think is plenty of food and water while youâ€™re away. So many things could go wrong.
Iâ€™ve read that a cat needs to drink an ounce of water per pound of body weight daily. And it needs to be fresh cool water or kitty is likely to turn up her nose and not drink it. If you leave water in a bowl for four days, even assuming the quantity is sufficient, itâ€™s going to get warm and dirty and possibly get spilled, so kitty has nothing to drink at all.
Cats, like dogs, can experience separation anxiety and stress when left alone. They need daily social interaction and playtime, otherwise boredom could lead them to get into mischief that could have serious consequences, like chewing on electrical cords or sampling your cleaning products.
And what if your cat gets sick or injured while left alone for days? If there is someone checking on the cats daily, an injured cat will get medical attention sooner.
Boarding your cat while youâ€™re away is a possible solution, but can be expensive for you and stressful for the cat. A better solution might be to hire an experienced pet sitter, or ask a trustedÂ adultÂ friend or neighbor to visit at least once daily and provide fresh food and water, and some interactive playtime and affection. Your cat will be happier and it could even save his or her life.
Â Amy, Walnut Creek
DEAR AMY: Thanks for bringing up the issue.
Cats give the impression that they can take care of themselves, but thatâ€™s not the case. Having someone come by to check on the cat is a good idea. They can make sure the water hasnâ€™t been tipped over, ants havenâ€™t invaded the food dish, and kitty hasnâ€™t been watching pay-per-view for hours on end.
While some cats are persnickety about their water (I had a cat that would only drink from the toilet bowl), cats receive almost all the water they need through their food. However, cats that eat a dry food diet do require more water. Regardless, water should always be available to any pet.
DEAR JOAN: As to your suggestion about adding extra hummingbird feeders to cut down on territorial behavior, extra feeders might not eliminate the problem, but they could change the dynamic.
I have four feeders, all with multiple access holes, and an ongoing show I call â€śGreedy Guts vs. the Gang.â€ťÂ Greedy Guts is an Annaâ€™s Hummingbird that considers all four feeders his. He wastes a lot of energy chasing off the Gang. His success is only temporary. The Gang is a group of Annaâ€™s hummers that appear to be happy to share the feeders with each other.
Needless to say, they all harass me if the feeders are empty.
Margit Macomber, Kensington
DEAR MARGIT:Â If I ever form a band, Iâ€™m calling it Greedy Guts and the Gang.