Behavior Bytes | March 2012
by Dr Stefanie Schwartz, Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist
02:04 AM, Wednesday, March 14
Dear Dr. Schwartz,
I’m writing for my cat, who goes out and has narrowly escaped coyotes twice. What’s your advice?
Cat With 7 Lives Left

Dear Cat With Seven Lives Left,
Stay inside!!! Coyotes, cars, disease, snakes, and disturbed people are all dangers to pet cats who are allowed to roam outside, even if they stay close to your home.

Coyotes are hungry and will soon have more mouths to feed as pups are born beginning in early spring. They are more attracted to neighborhoods where cats roam outdoors, which also help them to lose their fear of people. Most cats don’t get a second chance never mind a third. Your cat really is lucky, but how far do you want to push your luck? Cats live longer, healthier lives restricted to the indoors. Is it ‘cruel’ to keep your cat indoors? Isn’t it more cruel to expose him to all the dangers and use him as coyote bait? So ask yourself, do you feel lucky? Well, do you?

Dear Dr. Schwartz,
I rescued my dog Charlie from the shelter last year. He is a 3-year-old Maltese and has a big yard to play in. The problem is he keeps escaping from the front door when we open it and he runs straight across the road to visit the female Yorkie who belongs to my neighbors. Last week he was almost squashed by a truck. What should I do?
Thanks, Charlie’s Angel

Dear Charlie’s Angel,
Make sure Charlie has at least two long leash walks every morning and afternoon/evening every day. Ask your neighbor if one of these could include a play date with their Yorkie in your yard (or theirs) if it’s fenced in. If he has a reliably fun day, he won’t take such risks to get out. Make sure to get him neutered as soon as possible; neutered dogs make fewer escape attempts. Put a bell on his collar so you can hear him coming and be aware of where he is when you open the front door. It can be helpful to leave a short leash on him so you have a better chance of stepping on it if he starts to build up speed. If you prefer, place a baby gate across his approach to the front door to save him from a tragic fate. He was lucky once but we don’t want to test fate.

Dr. Stefanie SchwartzDr. Stefanie Schwartz is a board certified veterinary behaviorist based at California Veterinary Specialists in Carlsbad, CA. She also sees patients at the Veterinary Neurology Center in Tustin, CA. For more information, please call (760) 431-2273 and visit and

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