By Marc Morrone
Tribune Content Agency
Q: I seem to be facing a move from Connecticut to Southern Georgia. I am at a loss as to how to transport my 13-year-old Tabby cat. We are both too old to drive many hours straight through, and a midway stop with my kitty seems impossible. Any ideas? - Peter Langstrom, Stamford, CT
A: Cats travel a lot better than we think. Cats have traveled with us on sailing ships, covered wagons and on most every other means of transportation. Your cat can easily travel with you from Conn to Georgia.
One thing that you have to accept is that most cats are miserable and unhappy while they are traveling and there is not much that you can do about this. However, you can cater to their biological needs.
I have traveled with cats in long road trips many times and this is how I do it. First I get a rabbit or guinea pig cage about 26- to 28-inches long that has a wire top and a deep plastic bottom. I line it with a pad and then a couple of inches of cat litter on top of it. I then put the cat in and cover the cage half way with a blanket so the cat has some amount of security. Then I put it in the back seat of the car or on the floor if there is room.
I always use a dust free pelleted type of cat litter such as Yesterday's News. There is no point in putting any food or water in the cage, as it is unlikely they will feel comfortable enough to eat or drink. When you make a pit stop you can offer the cat food and water.
By lining the cage with the litter the cat will not feel inhibited to using the litter while you are traveling and that removes one of the biggest discomfort situations for cats in transit. If you stop at a pet friendly hotel for the night then you can just take off the wire top of the cage and leave the plastic base on the floor of the hotel room.
If you have time to prepare your cat for the trip, I would put him in the cage every day and go for a short ride in the car so he can get comfortable.
Q: We only had a few cicadas in our yard last summer but I heard that this summer we are going to have even more due to a cycle. My golden lab loves to eat them and goes out of her way to for them. If we do have a surge this year I am concerned she will get sick if she eats too many. What are your thoughts? - Joseph Richardson, Pittsburgh, PA
A: Most every wild animal and bird will eat cicadas when they are available and they are a good source of protein. However, they do have a very hard and indigestible shell.
The exoskeleton of a cicada is made of the same material as a crab or lobster shell. The issue here is one of volume; obviously a few cicadas here and there are not harmful to your dog. But, if she ate a lot of them, then it may cause an issue.
However, all dogs are different in this respect, and I have had young dogs in the past that have eaten sheet rock, video cassettes and other such items with no ill effects. So this is more of a management issue than anything else.
Keep a jar of dog treats in a secure can on your patio that is out of her reach. When you see her cicada hunting, just shake the can and call her to you for a treat to distract her from gorging herself on cicadas.
Q: We were fishing in a lake last weekend when we saw some toad eggs strings draped over some submerged branches. We brought back a few strings of them and hatched the eggs in one of our aquariums at home. It seems we have several hundred little tadpoles. My question is if we transfer the tadpoles to our fish pond in our backyard and they grow up into baby toads will we be able to populate our neighborhood with toads when these grow up? - Sam Nelson, Baltimore, MD
A: If your neighborhood is a toad friendly place, they would be living there now. Suburban habitats are not conducive to toads and other native amphibians. If you put those tadpoles into your backyard pond they would grow up into toads and will leave the safety of the pond to seek their fortune. This is not safe. Their delicate skin could come into contact with the lawn fertilizers and other poisons that we put on our lawns.
So if you really want to do right by these tadpoles, the best thing you could do is to take them back to the lake as they have very poor future anywhere else. They really need a habitat undisturbed by humans and that is becoming harder for them to find.
Q: Four years ago we got our dog Cindy. At first she was very skittish but she has gotten better over the years. When we first got her my dad was working on our kitchen and making a lot of noise. Now she is still scared of my dad and barks at him whenever he enters and leaves the house. She also does not like to play ball with him unless my mom and I are in the room. Why is she scared of him? - Tiffany Brady, Chicago, IL
A: Only Cindy herself knows why she feels the way she does toward you father, but if she does play ball with him while you are in the room then she is not really fearful of him. However, she barks at him when he is leaving because in her mind she is chasing him away and that little bit of power makes her feel good.
One method that might work is when your dad leaves the room and Cindy begins to bark for him to go back to the room and sit with her. If he sits and talks to her in a nonthreatening way, then she will likely stop her behavior.
If all her encounters with your dad result in no drama then her opinion and resulting behavior should change.
Marc Morrone has kept almost every kind of animal as a pet for the last half-century and he is happy to share his knowledge with others. Although he cannot answer every question, he will publish many of those that have a general interest. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; please include your name, city and state.
Printed in the September 4, 2016 - September 17, 2016 edition.