8/11/2022 | By Cathy M. Rosenthal

In this edition of “My Pet World,” pet advisor Cathy M. Rosenthal offers advice on a dog who needs re-training on using a pee pad – not the carpet– and brushing a cat who desperately needs it but resists. Advice and vetted product recommendations for our furry friends’ health and happiness.

Pee pads are necessary, but the dog prefers the rugs

Dear Cathy,

I have a two-year-old female Havanese/Coton de Tulear mix. I live in Tucson, where many in my community have lost little dogs and cats to coyotes. So, I have had her use a potty pad since she was eight weeks old. She never goes on the floor. But, if there is a rug, she will go on it. I’ve removed all my area rugs but would like to put them back. I have no idea how to break her of this habit. I think she just thinks of them as “luxurious potty pads!” Any suggestions?

Joan, Tucson, Arizona

Javanese dog at home. Photo by Peter Mayer, Dreamstime. A pet advisor offers advice on a dog who needs re-training on using a pee pads and brushing a cat who desperately needs it but resists.

Dear Joan,

Pee pads can be confusing to some dogs. If she has never relieved herself outside, then she only knows to go on something on the floor of your home. In this instance, she sees the rugs as a viable alternative to potty pads.

The only way to address this is to re-train her. This involves catching her relieving herself on the pee pad, using a clicker or a marker/reward word when she does to let her know she did something right, and follow-up with a treat. You need to do this every day, as often as possible, for the next few weeks. Treat her like an eight-week-old puppy who is just learning the rules of the home.

After a few weeks, re-introduce one rug into your home and spritz it with Bitter Apple (available at pet stores and online). This scent should help discourage her from relieving herself on the rug. Also, be sure the pee pads are nowhere near any rugs or even in the same room with any rugs, as this could confuse her. When she successfully ignores that one rug and is consistent with the pee pads, then pull out the second rug, and repeat the process. Over time and with training, she should be able to differentiate between the two and understand which is the one she needs to be using.

Brushing a cat that gets matted fur

Dear Cathy,

My husband and I had to put to rest our 13-year-old male cat in April 2020. That same June, my husband agreed to host a five-year-old all-black male short-hair for one year while his human went on active reservist duty outside of the country.

Due to life circumstances, he’s still our house guest going into year three. When he arrived, he had a small, matted area of fur near his hind quarters. Over the first year, it grew. Concerned about his health, we took him to a local vet who stated that the issue wasn’t one of health but grooming and that we should make an appointment with a groomer.

Fortunately, the vet brushed it out and encouraged us to try brushing him daily. He is normally calm when picked up for short durations, but he’s not having any part of being brushed. He attacks our hands and the brush, so we immediately stop. At issue now is a large, matted patch of fur on his back. It looks horrible, and I imagine it must be uncomfortable. My husband wants to sedate him and then shave that area. I won’t let him, but I am at a loss on what to do.

Karen, Wantagh, New York

Dear Karen,

If the mat is as bad as you describe, it could be tugging at his skin and causing discomfort for your kitty. You will need help from a professional groomer or your vet to cut or shave it off, as your husband suggests. Also, ask your vet if there are any health problems that could be contributing to this problem. Diet can play a part in the health of a feline’s coat, so talk to your vet about switching to a diet that might better address this problem.

While training a cat to accept brushing can be challenging, it sounds like this feline needs some assistance with grooming. Try a pet grooming glove or grooming wipes instead of a brush to remove loose fur. These tools feel more like petting than brushing to a cat, so they are more likely to tolerate it. Use the mitt or one wipe daily and swipe their back a few times.

Over time, build on the amount of time your cat will tolerate being “petted” in this way, always stopping before you think he will react negatively. If you do this every day, he should eventually become more comfortable with this process, and you will be doing him a great service in keeping his fur healthy and tangle-free.

© Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Products linked from Seniors Guide to Amazon have been vetted and recommended. As an Amazon Associate, Seniors Guide earns from qualifying purchases of linked products.

Cathy M. Rosenthal

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.