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Reasons Why Your Kitty Won’t Use the Litter Box

This Reasons Why Your Kitty Won’t Use the Litter Box Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Reasons Why Your Kitty Won’t Use the Litter Box

Litter box avoidance and inappropriate elimination are the most frequent and irritating disagreements humans have with their kitties. Inappropriate urination and defecation may mean that the litter box facilities are sub par, that there’s a medical problem or, in the case of marking behavior, that your cat is trying to signal something. Cats use elimination of urine (and sometimes feces) for communication – a kind of pee-mail, if you will. That can be a sign that something is wrong. In the latter situation, your kitty is not being mean or spiteful. She’s got a problem and you’ll have to figure out what it is if you want it to go away. Punishing your cat for inappropriate elimination will not solve the problem. It will only teach her to fear and avoid you, and eliminate when you’re not around. In fact, it can actually make the problem worse, since inappropriate elimination is often caused by stress, and punishment will only add to her stress level. When your cat eliminates outside the box, you should first schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), a group of disorders and diseases affecting the urinary tract, and colon disorders, such as irritable bowel disease, can cause inappropriate elimination. Symptoms of FLUTD include frequent voiding, straining at the end of urination, and blood in the urine. If your cat shows any of these signs, schedule an appointment immediately. Both males and females are at risk, but males are more likely to develop life-threatening blockages. If your cat strains to urinate and produces only a tiny amount of urine, rush him to the veterinarian. This is a life-threatening emergency. Once your veterinarian rules out a physical problem, then you should start to unravel the problem by looking at what’s going on in your cat’s life. Watch carefully and find out when and where she is eliminating inappropriately, and what’s happening in the household at the time. Recognizing the reasons for litter box avoidance and addressing the cause will help you find a solution to the problem. With understanding, patience, and persistence, most such problems can be overcome. The top six reasons and solutions are: 1. Dirty Litter Box A common reason for litter box avoidance is the cat’s natural cleanliness. If you think the box smells bad, just imagine how it smells to your cat, since she has 200 million odor-sensitive cells in her nose compared to your 5 million. If she is turning up her nose at the box and eliminating elsewhere, it could be that it’s not clean enough and offends her sensitive olfactory apparatus. In the wild, there’s a good reason for such fastidiousness. Predators locate prey by scent. This is one good reason why cats are so...

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How to Keep Your Cat Off Tables and Counters

This How to Keep Your Cat Off Tables and Counters Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

How to Keep Your Cat Off Tables and Counters

Counters and Your Cat Why do cats find counters so appealing? Take this quiz to find out: A. Because they’re there. B. Because cats naturally prefer a three-dimensional environment. C. Because cats occasionally find food morsels while patrolling countertops. D. All of the above. Answer D is correct. The Downside There are many good reasons why your cat should stay off the counter. Cats spend a fair amount of time each day in their litter box, scratching around and covering up their waste. Although they frequently “wash” their paws with their tongues, it is likely that some traces of urine and feces will remain on their paws to be deposited on your countertops in molecular concentrations. Not a great thought if you are about to prepare food. Also, while they are up on counters, cats may pause to lick the butter or steal nibbles or whole chunks of food that you have left lying around. It can be pretty annoying to find that your cooling bacon strips have been dragged to the floor as cat fodder. In addition, not everything the cat steals will be good for him – and some things, like chicken bones, can be downright harmful. Counterpoint Some may argue that healthy cat urine and feces has never poisoned anyone. Urine, as you may know, is normally sterile. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi used to drink a pint of his own urine each morning to start the day. When a cat has urinary tract disease or intestinal parasites (especially Toxoplasma gondii), however, this safety factor is lost. UTDs are easy to spot and the presence of intestinal parasites can be determined by laboratory tests. Both are usually easy to treat. Just ask your vet. As far as disappearing food is concerned, cats don’t eat much and, with the correct dental care, their mouths should be fairly healthy places anyway. How To Get ‘Em Off Here are several things you can do to keep kitty where he belongs: Make sure that your cat has other places to climb so that the countertop is not his only vertical challenge. Climbing frames positioned by a window, providing a perch with a view, may divert some attention from the counters. Make sure that your counters never have food items lying around on them. Always clean up properly by putting unused food away. A cat that finds morsels of food once in a while will keep looking for more for many moons. Make counters unattractive. Cats, generally, do not like the smell of citrus or disinfectants. Try using a countertop cleaner with a citrus odor or wash the countertops down with Pinesol® after use. Train your cat – preferably using “click and treat” methodology. Train your cat to jump down to the...

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Feline Fears

This Feline Fears Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Feline Fears

Fear is a normal response for any animal to a fear-inducing stimulus or situation. Without a reasonable amount of fear neither cats nor humans would fare very well. As unpleasant as fear may be to experience, it keeps our animals and us safe by encouraging caution and by preparing us for fight or flight when danger threatens. Problems arise, however, if fears become so excessive and irrational that they disrupt normal functioning. At this stage, fear has crossed a definitional divide and is now better classed as phobia.  Excessive, irrational fears (or phobias) have three possible triggers:   Other living creatures (especially cats, dogs, and humans)   Inanimate cues (most often noise)   Certain situations, such as being left alone or visiting the vet’s office Development of Fears/Phobias Nature and nurture interact to produce excessive fearfulness. The natural component is the innate hard-wiring that acquires and processes fears. Specifically, it involves neural pathways in the brain to a structure called the amygdala, where fearful stimuli are processed and then relayed to emotion centers in the limbic system. The natural tendency to acquire fears can be exaggerated in individual cats, families of cats, or whole breeds of cats. While nature provides the substrate necessary for fear, learning is key. Without learning, fears do not arise in the first place. Fears can be acquired suddenly and cataclysmically when an extremely traumatic event polarizes a negative learning experience. This can be thought of as a variation on the post-traumatic shock theme. From the time of the negative experience onwards, the fear-inducing stimulus will be avoided or repulsed at all costs. Permanent learning of this type is facilitated by the release of a fight or flight neurotransmitter, called norephrenephrine. Another way in which fears develop is more slowly over time. In such instances, fears are compounded by repeated exposure to the instigating cause. Over time, the fear gets worse. Once acquired, fear learning will fade if not reinforced – but it never completely disappears and can be rekindled quickly when circumstances dictate. Fortunately, it is often possible to reduce fearful perceptions and fearful responding by superimposing new learning that masks an older negative association. Learning What to Fear The “sensitive period” of learning (about many lifelong perceptions) occurs between two and seven weeks of age in cats. During the early part of this period, fearless kittens bravely go where older cats fear to tread. But, as the sensitive period rolls on, a certain caution or tentativeness emerges in our young heroes. This is a necessary development if kittens are to stay out of harms way. The more driven a kitten becomes to explore his environment, the more essential a dose of apprehension and caution are to his continued safety. It is adaptive for...

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Cats with other Pets

This Cats with other Pets Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Cats with other Pets

A lot of people ask, if I get another pet will she get along with my pet? There is no simple answer to this question, but there are some facts to consider that might help forecast the results of such interspecies interactions:   The species of the housemate you intend for your cat (or proposed cat)   The temperament of the individuals to be mixed   The early and later experience of the individuals to be mixed   Which species is the resident animal   Our own ability to monitor and manage the situation   The environmental setup   Humanity While there can be some very harmonious marriages of species, in other cases the result of the mix can be damaging to one or both animals, or even lethal. Cats and Dogs: Former President Clinton found out that bringing a dog (Buddy) into the White House where there was already a cat (Socks) was not as easy as balancing the U.S. budget. The two fought like, well, dog and cat. But do all dogs and cats hate each other? The answer is no. The relationship between these traditionally acrimonious species can range from good friends, to indifferent, to positively hostile. There are genetic influences on the relationship. Dogs, by nature, are predators. Predators tend to chase rapidly moving and furry things smaller than they are … and that is the job description of a cat. So there is a potential problem. But dogs and cats, like humans, are not driven by nature alone. There is also a learned component to what they do. For a dog and cat, there is a sensitive time period when they learn who their friends are. This time period spans the first 2 to 3 months of life. A puppy that is raised with cats during this time, and experiences no adverse consequences of the interaction, will likely grow up to regard cats as benevolent domestic fixtures. The reverse is also true. It may be slightly easier to introduce a new kitten to a resident dog than to introduce new puppies to a resident cat because of the highly territorial and antisocial nature of some cats. But you can also have your work cut out introducing kittens to a highly predatory species of dog. Both situations can be managed by proper chaperoning and protection of the most vulnerable species. Time spent together may even result in a level of mutual tolerance, if not mutual admiration. If puppies and kittens are raised together, neither party should present a problem when integrating with the opposite species, unless the incumbent is particularly mean. Cats should not be introduced to a home with dogs that have chased and tried to kill cats. These dogs will probably find it...

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How to Keep Your Pets From Feuding

This How to Keep Your Pets From Feuding Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

How to Keep Your Pets From Feuding

Pets are supposed to be a joy to keep and, in many instances, that’s exactly the way it is. But though they may dote on you, two or more pets may not get on well together. Aggression between pets is one of the more common undesirable behavior problems facing pet owners in multi-animal households. Cat to cat, dog to dog, or dog to cat, aggression within and between species can make living with the feuding parties a veritable nightmare. Let’s deal with the problems separately. Feuding Between Cats Intercat aggression is one of the most common feline behavior problems. Cats fight with other cats for a variety of reasons, not least of which relates to differences in their personalities and agendas. Like dogs and humans, cats don’t get along together simply because they belong to the same species; they often have strong individual likes and dislikes and minds of their own. You could say they’re fussy. The best recipe for peaceful cohabitation is to have related cats that have been raised together. The second best situation is to have unrelated cats get to know each other from an early age so that they can develop time-sharing arrangements and other mutual understandings.  Combining unfamiliar adult cats is a crapshoot but sometimes things work out quite well. The worst case scenario is for an early-weaned loner cat that has been raised with a doting single owner to suddenly find herself with an unwelcome roommate. Such cats are not good mixers and often prefer to be only cats. Problems related to individual cat personality differences can be assessed: a) with reference to the past experience and known sociability of the cats, and b) by observing the cats’ attitudes toward each other when they are first introduced. A small amount of hissing is not a good sign but may settle down in time, typically over about 4 months. Major meltdowns should probably cause you to rethink the wisdom of the mix. Aggression may escalate in unfriendly cats, with one becoming the aggressor and the other the more passive aggressive or simply terrified victim. This situation, fueled by dominance on the part of the aggressor, is termed territorial aggression and is one of the hardest behavior problems to resolve. It’s probably better not to go that route. Occasionally, aggression suddenly explodes between two previously friendly cats. The motivation in such instances can be either: a) redirected aggression b) fear aggression or c) non-recognition aggression. Redirected aggression occurs when one cat sees something that gets her excited, but that she can’t reach (usually because a window separates her from the object). Instead, the angry cat redirects her wrath at a nearby feline companion, an innocent bystander. The motivation behind this type of aggression is analogous...

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Feline Training and Behavior

This Feline Training and Behavior Article is Listed in Cat Training Cat Breed Information

Feline Training and Behavior

It is a widely accepted notion that it is impossible to train cats. But, then again, why would you want to? Most people acquire a cat because they view her as a relatively low maintenance, relatively independent pet that they can interact with when they want or leave to her own devices and desires. To some extent, they’re right. Cats do tend to be more independent than dogs and some were literally born to walk by themselves. Their temperaments vary from self-absorbed to curious, from social to anti-social, and from stable to highly volatile. The average slightly inquisitive, reasonably friendly and tolerant cat is a pet that, like Victorian children, tends to be seen but not heard. At either end of the behavioral spectrum, however, are cats that keep to themselves and react negatively to attempts to force them out of their shell and demanding in-your-face cats that won’t take no for an answer. Although it is possible to cater to shy cats, coexist with the middle-of-the-road variety, and work around the more demanding types, such strategizing isn’t necessarily the way that things have to be. Training cats is eminently possible and can help to improve the quality of life for both cat and owner. It has been said that if a cat is trained to perform one new trick per month, the likelihood of behavior problems is substantially reduced. But how do you train a cat? Not with a collar and lead, that’s for sure. And punishment doesn’t work well with cats, either. So what does that leave? The only remaining strategy is to employ positive reinforcement to coax the cat to perform the behaviors that you want. Professional cat trainers have known this for years and their main training tools are delicious cat food and a spoon with a clicker attached to the handle. The clicker, itself, is not absolutely vital but, when clicked, serves to illustrate a precise point in time that the cat has performed a desirable behavior. During the time it takes to say, “Well done, good cat,” the cat may have performed several different behaviors following the one desired. The click, however, is precise and serves as an audible mark that a preferred behavior has been successfully completed. Training with a clicker produces an instant reward that signals the imminent arrival of the real reward. This methodology is easy for most owners to grasp and produces results quickly. Using click and treat training, as it is called, the “trainer” goes with the flow of nature and rewards behaviors that the cat naturally performs, initially at least. The behavior can then be progressively “shaped” toward a more desirable form. Using clicker training, it is extremely easy to teach a cat to sit or lie...

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