Ask Einstein the Cat: My Folks Took in a Stray and He’s Making Me Itchy


Dear Einstein,

My people just brought home a cat they found in a field where someone left him. Newton seems nice enough. After we got our hissing and spitting out of the way, I found out he likes to play and wrestle, but ewww. The smell of his poop could peel paint. And his manners leave a lot to be desired.

He’s always scratching. He shakes his head. He scoots on his butt on the carpet. Do I have anything to worry about? I don’t know if it’s my imagination or not, but I think I’m starting to itch, too.


Dear Itchy,

I’m glad your humans helped the little beggar, since the life expectancy of an abandoned kitty isn’t very long. And if he managed to avoid the cars, dogs, and wacko malicious kids, he’d still have to worry about starvation, diseases, and parasites.

Your humans should have asked for my advice before they introduced the two of you. Although he looks healthy, he could have exposed you to an upper respiratory infection, distemper, or a life-ending virus. Your humans shouldn’t have introduced you until Newton got the official okey-dokey from your vet.

It sounds like Newy has brought along some pets of his own. I bet he’s got fleas (scratch, scratch), ear mites (scratch, scratch), and a healthy crop of internal parasites (ugh).

When you joined the household, I bet you had to endure some rites of passage. Well, it’s your little buddy’s turn to go to the vet. He won’t believe what the pet doc does with a thermometer! Speaking of that, after Newy’s temperature has taken, the vet can get a stool sample from the glass tube. (And I’m not talking about the kind of stool they have in a tavern.)

Reading poop is kind of like reading catnip leaves (or tea leaves). The psychic poop reader can see if your pal has any worms or little bugs. If Newy brought along some intestinal mascots, he’ll need to be wormed (and probably you will, too.) If I was a betting cat, I’d put catnip down that he’s got an ear full of black stuff. The vet can get rid of ear mites by squirting stuff in his ears every day for couple of weeks. Or a monthly application of Revolution or AdvantageMulti prevents fleas and gets rid of ear mites and most internal parasites.

Also Newy needs to endure a blood-letting ritual so the vet can make sure he doesn’t have anything that can hurt you, like feline leukemia (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). End the day with a full set of vaccinations of vaccinations for Newy, and the two of you can live happily ever after.

Since you two have already been thrown together, your people might want to take you along for a checkup as well. Hopefully you’re already up to date on your vaccinations.

One final word to your humans (maybe more than one): If you boys weren’t already getting along, I would warn them to introduce you two slowly. Keep the newcomer in the bathroom and let you get acquainted by playing footsie under the door. People have a tendency to pay lots of attention to the new guy so he’ll feel comfortable. But they should really play with you more than Newy. No matter how well you get along, they need to invest in separate dining utensils for your new friend. And the rule of paw is one litter box for each kitty, plus one extra. Don’t put the bowls next to each other and position the litter boxes in different parts of the house.

And remember, the advantage of having a friend is that you can blame any broken knickknacks on Newy.

Read more about stray and feral cats:

Read stories of rescue and love on Catster:

Got a question for he who knows everything feline? Just Ask Einstein in the comments below and you might be featured in an upcoming column. (Letters don’t have to be written from the cat’s point of view.) Remember, any change in your cat’s behavior or activities could be a symptom of disease and should be investigated by your vet, even if it unfortunately involves glass tubes and cat posteriors.

About the author: Einstein’s assistant, Dusty Rainbolt ACCBC, is the vice president of the Cat Writers’ Association, editor-in-chief of and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She’s the award-winning author of eight fiction and non-fiction books including her most recent paranormal mystery, Death Under the Crescent Moon.

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