Q: When my cat was injured outdoors, her vet boosted her rabies vaccination, in case a rabid animal had inflicted the injury, but did not give a tetanus shot. When I cut myself in the yard, my doctor gave me a tetanus shot. Should I ask the same for my cat?
A: It is not necessary, as cats rarely get tetanus.
Tetanus develops when bacteria called Clostridium tetani, which survive for years in soil and dust, invade an open wound.
These bacteria then produce a nerve toxin called tetanospasmin which travels through the nerves to the spinal cord and brain. Within five to 10 days, the toxin causes muscle stiffness, rigidity, spasms and tremors. If death occurs, it is usually due to respiratory failure.
Lockjaw, a common term for tetanus, describes the rigidity of the jaw muscles, which prevents eating and sometimes even breathing.
Fortunately, cats – and, to a lesser extent, dogs – are remarkably resistant to tetanus, especially compared to humans and horses, because tetanus toxin does not readily bind to feline and canine nerves.
In the rare event that a cat becomes infected, treatment would include antibiotics and tetanus antitoxin.
People are vaccinated in childhood and again every 10 years to prevent tetanus, which otherwise can be fatal.
Most doctors who treat people bitten by cats or dogs recommend a tetanus booster not because pets transmit tetanus to humans, but because tetanus spores, so abundant in the environment, can invade n any wound.
Q: My dog Rosie often looks guilty when I come home from work. She lowers her head, drops her ears, looks away and tucks her tail. When she had that look in the past, I found out that she broke the trash can or chewed a pillow, so I punished her.
Now, although she still looks guilty, I don’t find anything wrong. Could she have peed on the carpet? If so, how can I find the urine stains?
A: I doubt Rosie urinated at your house while you were gone, but read on and I’ll explain how to find an invisible or even dry urine stain.
Let’s talk about his body language first. You may be misinterpreting her, thinking she looks guilty when she is actually acting submissive.
Rosie has learned that when you come home, you scold her. She probably behaves submissively to avoid punishment.
In reality, punishment after the fact doesn’t teach Rosie what not to do. It only teaches him to fear you.
Punishment should be delivered within the first to two seconds of the misbehavior starting, and it should be applied whenever Rosie misbehaves. You cannot do this when you are not at home.
Even when done correctly, punishment is not an effective training tool. Teaching Rosie good behavior right from the start is the best method.
When he does something wrong, immediately distract him and encourage him to do the right thing. For example, if he starts chewing on a pillow, throw his favorite chew toy to distract him from the pillow and encourage him to reach for and chew on his toy instead. If she is about to urinate in the house, immediately take her outside to her “potty corner” and tell her to “potty”. When she does, praise her.
If she pecks inside while you’re away, don’t punish her when you get home.
To find these urine stains, buy an inexpensive black light from a store that sells fluorescent signs. Darken your home and shine black light on the carpet. Puddles of urine, even dry ones, fluoresce yellow-green. Clean them with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solution.