This Best of Bogue column originally was published Sept. 25, 2002.

Dear Gary: I have to watch my yellow tabby closely or he eats rubber bands, dental floss or anything long and skinny.

Tommy even eats the whiskers off my other cat, Rags. Rags never has any whiskers, although he did as a kitten. They start to grow and the next thing I know, they get chewed off again.

Tommy tried to get close to our old gal, April, to chew on her whiskers -- she has very long ones -- but April whacked him in the eye. I hope it won't hinder Rags to have extremely short whiskers.

Jackie

Pleasant Hill

Dear Jackie: If you have a problem sleeping because of things that go bump in the night, it's probably Rags.

Rags used to use his whiskers to help him feel his way through dark places by touch. Fortunately, cats see pretty well at night, so he should survive the occasional bumped nose. I hope you pick up all those long, skinny objects so Tommy won't end up with a severe case of indigestion.

Dear Gary: I'll tell you what works for me to keep neighbor cats from marking my yard.

About two years ago I turned my cat into an indoor cat. I got tired of paying vet bills for abscesses he was getting on a regular basis from being on the wrong end of a cat misunderstanding.

Then I started having problems with other neighbor cats coming into my yard and spraying on everything, especially doors. It ended once I put my cat on a leash and started taking him for strolls around the front yard and backyard. He marked his own territory and the spraying stopped from other cats.

I control where he sprays, but it's close enough that the other cats stay away.

Sally

Cyberspace

Dear Sally: That's very clever. Your cat gets a regular fix of fresh air and helps put an end to all the spraying from neighborhood cats.

I hope everyone with cat problems is taking notes on this.

Dear Gary: I chuckled at a letter from a reader and the dirty laundry she found on her backyard clothesline.

I have a planter hanging from a low branch on a citrus tree in my backyard, and after hearing a ruckus one night, I turned on the backyard light to see three half-grown raccoons running, jumping and swinging on the plant hanger.

They were like kids on a playground, and the mom was just hanging around watching them. I shut the light off and left them to their games. I have noticed, however, that the planter is looking a bit the worse for wear these days.

Ellen W.

Richmond

Dear Ellen: You should see them taking turns riding the pool sweep at Friday night backyard pool parties.

A final note

Dear Gary: My husband and I were shopping in Concord and in the parking lot we saw a blond cocker spaniel in a car.

The windows were open about an inch, but it was at least 85 degrees outside. How can people risk their dog's life like this when there has been so much publicity about it?

If it's hot, leave your dog home. Cars become ovens very quickly, even on mildly hot days.

Judie H.

Moraga

Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.