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Is Oakland cat’s preference for drinking from a cup just a ‘cat thing?’

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DEAR JOAN: I have a pet cat, Chong, who for some strange reason only drinks water from cups.

I have a bowl next to his food, but when he sees me drinking water from a cup, he thinks it’s better than his water in the bowl.

A friend told me it’s just a cat thing.

— Phil Wilson, Oakland

DEAR PHIL: Oh, it’s definitely a cat thing, but in this case, it’s an explainable cat thing.

Cats tend to prefer eating from wide bowls that don’t press on their whiskers, which can lead to an actual thing called “whisker fatigue.”

And many cats prefer a narrow container, such as a cup or glass, for drinking. That’s because, generally speaking, cats don’t like to get their whiskers wet. A narrow vessel keeps the whiskers pushed up and away from any accidental dipping, and because cats tend to drink water without raising their heads several times, as they do when they eat, their whiskers don’t get fatigued.

I know, it’s a subtle difference, but cats can be particular, and I certainly don’t blame them.

If Chong prefers his water served in a cup, I say you should give him a cup. I’d draw the line, however, at any insistence the water be served in great-grandma’s treasured bone china cups with the hand-painted periwinkles.

DEAR JOAN: I had carrots growing in a steel trough about 2 feet off the ground. Over the period of a week or so, something ate all the carrots from below and left the stems untouched on top. Now another critter, I assume, is eating lemons in a tree that is about 3 feet tall.

I’ve put out mouse/rat traps to no avail. I’ve also put out sticky traps, which I hate to use, and some of them get moved, but nothing is ever caught.

Any idea what might be eating the lemons and how to get rid of the critter?

— Tom, Brentwood

DEAR TOM: Vegetables attacked from below is the work of gophers, which are rare but not unheard of in a raised bed. However, it might not be an animal at all.

Sometimes, if you’ve got carrot tops but no carrots, there is too much nitrogen in your soil, which feeds the green tops but doesn’t produce the actual carrot. In addition to looking for signs of a gopher, do a soil test and check your fertilizer.

The lemon thief is most likely a rat, although we can’t rule out squirrels of both the tree and the ground variety.

Please get rid of the glue traps. They catch a lot of innocent animals, and creatures trying to free themselves can rip off their skin or even chew off a limb in a desperate bid for freedom.



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