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Ask the Doctor October 2016 Issue

Dear Doctor - Finding the culprit in a multi-cat home

Determining the culprit in a multi-cat household

Dreamstime.com

Living in a multi-cat home means that detective work will sometimes be required.

Q Recently, one of our two cats has started to urinate around the house. Both are spayed seven-year-old females, who have always been very well-behaved and loveable pets. I know that the first course of action is to have a veterinary examination to rule out the possibility of illness before creating a plan of action. But here is the problem: How can we determine the culprit? We have been unable to catch either of them in the act. Do we need to take both cats to the vet to figure it out?
Lance Howell

A Dear Lance: A good way to determine which cat is having “accidents” is to obtain fluorescein eye-stain strips from the vet and give them to one of your cats inside a gelcap (also obtained from your vet). You will need to use the orange tips of three of these strips scrunched up inside the gelcap. Then, a day or so later, using a black light to help you spot urine deposits, deduce the culprit. If the urine stains fluoresce brilliant green under the UV light, then the cat you gave the loaded gelcap to is the perpetrator. If not, then it is the other cat by default.
Nicholas Dodman, BVMS
Professor Emeritus
Cummings School of Veterinary
Medicine at Tufts University

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