Common Cat Problems Solved: Separation Anxiety

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Common Cat Problems Solved, Featured

Question: My cat really struggles to be alone. When I leave the house for any extended period of time, such as to go to work or out for a social occasion, I return to a scene of devastation and a very unhappy cat. I can hear my cat crying out for me as I leave the house, and while I’m not there, they have a habit of destroying furniture and knocking things over. I can’t always be at home – so how do I stop it?

Answer: One of the most common causes of this is loneliness, as this type of behaviour is seen most commonly in house cats where they are the only animal present. A simple solution is to take on another cat, as company for your existing animal. When they have another animal to socialise with, your existing cat may find being separated from you less distressing.

However, that isn’t always an option, so the next step is to create a comfortable scenario for your cat to be alone in. Fill a room with toys and a comforting, familiar blanket. Then, use a small wind-up radio and leave it running. Your cat will therefore always be able to hear a human voice, which they should find reassuring. Ensure when you come home, you lavish affection on your cat to cheer them up and create a sense of confidence that you will always come back.

If your cat is destructive when you are not there, it is best to keep them to one room only while you are not present. Make sure ‘their’ area has some toys, a water dish and a tray, and remember to let kitty out as soon as you’re home.

Common Cat Problems Solved: Bathtime Blues

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Common Cat Problems Solved

Question: Whenever I try and bathe my cat, I have a real fight on my hands. My cat will bite, scratch and claw at me in an attempt to get free, making the entire experience an absolute nightmare. I need to know how to bathe a cat – how do I do so without losing blood and making both cat and myself angry?

Answer: Cats are not big fans of water, and while you may think their monthly bath is completely reasonable, they’re unlikely to agree. They will fight, claw, scratch, hiss and make an almighty noise as they struggle for a dry freedom – and during this, you’re meant to be able to apply shampoo! It’s a nightmare.

The main reason for their aggression is fear; your cat cannot understand what is happening, so they object to it. Try and keep bath time a calm and simple affair. Begin by preparing your bath prior to fetching your cat. Lay out all of the items you need (shampoo, a comb, a towel) within easy reach of the bath, and only when the room is completely ready to go should you bring your feline in.

As you put your cat in the water, make soothing “hush” noises in the back of your throat. Do not shout if the cat scratches you; just keep calm and bite your tongue. Just imagine how scary it would be if someone suddenly threw you into a big tub of water for no apparent reason! The calmer you remain, the more likely it is your cat will also remain calm. Make the process as quick as possible, move efficiently from step to step and – most importantly – don’t lose your temper!

Common Cat Problems Solved: Stealing Food

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Common Cat Problems Solved

Question: My cat does not seem to understand that he / she is not allowed to eat human food. They will often steal food off the kitchen counter or our dinner plates if we happen to turn our backs for one second. They are extremely sneaky and make life very unpleasant, as we have to constantly be on our guard. How do we teach them that they cannot eat human food?

Answer: The problem here is that the cat does not understand why they are not allowed human food, and no amount of cat training will actually rectify the issue. As an animal, who cannot understand reasoning, the idea that they cannot eat the incredibly tasty food they see before them is a cause of confusion. They want it, it looks nice, it’s right there… why not eat it?

As you cannot explain the hygiene and behavioural problems with a cat, the situation has to be dealt with differently. When your cat does eat food off a kitchen counter or a dinner plate, your reaction should be swift. Say “no” in a firm and powerful voice, then remove the cat from the room for the rest of the meal. If possible, keep the cat out of the room when food is around.

In terms of prevention, this is a difficult thing to achieve – as mentioned, you cannot override that instinct for wanting to eat what a cat conceives to be nice food. Always ensure your cat is well fed, so they are less likely to want to steal food – ideally, feed your cat a half hour before humans are going to eat. This, combined with clamping down on bad behaviour, should see a reduction in food theft.

Common Cat Problems Solved: Bullying Cat

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Common Cat Problems Solved

Question: We are a multi-cat household, and one of the cats is bullying the other animals in the house. They are generally very aggressive, to the point where the other cats fear the bullying cat and will not eat or drink when this cat is around. I love all my cats, but this can’t continue – what can I do?

Answer: While cats are not pack animals by nature, they do tend to form roles within a social grouping. One of these roles will be as the alpha male or female; one cat who believes themselves to be the leader of the group, and takes a very authoritarian attitude.

In some cases, this manifests itself in aggression. The lead cat is often extremely territorial, and may – behind your back if necessary – be extremely protective of the food and water dishes, and sometimes the litter tray. Therefore the best way to deal with this problem in the first instance is to use separate food and water trays for the problem cat. Do not feed all cats together, but rather remove the one causing the issue and feed he or she in a separate room. When they have eaten, remove the dishes and trays so that the other cats cannot approach them; if this is allowed to happen, it can trigger aggression from the dominant cat.

This should calm the worst of the problems associated with territory – anything else you will have to deal with as it happens. If you see the problem cat being unnecessarily aggressive, remove them from the situation for a ‘time out’. They should soon learn you are not on their side, and you are ultimately the dominant one in the household.

Common Cat Problems Solved: Fighting With Others

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Common Cat Problems Solved

Question: I have more than one cat in my household, and the cats fight with each other continually. Sometimes, it can even become so aggressive I fear for their safety. What should I do?

Answer: There are two, very different reasons, two cats (or more) could be fighting.

Firstly, there may be genuine emotional issues between the two. Some cats, just like humans, will naturally dislike one another. They may see themselves in competition for your affection, or there may be some other territorial transgression which neither animal can deal with.

If this is the case, separate the cats as much as possible – do not force them to interact with one another in the hope that they just ‘get over it’. Use separate feeding dishes (preferably in separate rooms), separate beds, separate toys – and ensure you lavish affection on them both equally. When they do fight, put each kitty in a separate room immediately until they have calmed down.

However, the primary reason for cats who live together actually fighting is boredom. What we as humans constitute as fighting may actually just be playing; even if they do occasionally hiss and scratch at each other. For cats, this is just a form of fun, a way to play around with their friend. You can alleviate this problem by introducing a range of toys into your home, such as mobile or cat DVDs, which will keep their attention off each other. All cats have different preferences, so experiment with different cat toys until you find something that truly holds their attention – and then, you can relax in a fight-free environment.

Common Cat Problems Solved: Excessive Meowing

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Common Cat Problems Solved

Question: My cat meows and makes a lot of noise, seemingly for no reason. What can I do to stop it?

Answer: Firstly, you need to ensure there genuinely is no reason for your cat making noise or meowing excessively. One of the only ways a cat has to communicate any discomfort they are in is by making noise, so while the problem may not be immediately evident, one should not assume nothing is wrong.

If your cat is making too much noise, have a quick examine of he or she. Run your hands along their body and study their reactions; look for particular discomfort when you touch any areas, and investigate fully if your cat does express any sign of pain. Check their eyes, ears and teeth for any problems such as infections, and ensure their claws are trimmed and healthy looking. If you do find any problems, book an appointment with your veterinarian.

If, however, you find no problems, it is safe to assume the issue is more psychological than physical. Essentially, when a cat makes too much noise and they are not in any physical discomfort, they are attention seeking. They may want to be fed, to be played with, or just to sit on your lap – whatever, provided they have your attention.

The only way to combat this is to ignore them. If necessary, shut your kitty in a separate room until they have calmed down. By giving in and fussing over your cat, you will teach them that their cries for attention absolutely work – so they will see no reason not to continue to do it. Stay firm, and soon they will lose patience.

The Difference Between Cats And Dogs

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Cat Training Tips

When it comes to training an animal, there is no doubt that different limitations apply to different animals. Anyone who has seen a dog show will know that dogs can be trained to do a great number of things. Training a cat is certainly possible, but there is no doubt whatsoever that most of the training you can give a cat is corrective rather than creative. It is important to be aware of this before you set out to train your cat.

Undoubtedly, it would be fun if a cat could be trained to run around an obstacle course and bring its owner a rubber bone, like dogs can. However, this is never likely to happen because cats are not of that nature. You can train a cat to go in a litter tray, to stop scratching the curtains and to wait patiently for its food rather than try to catch it on its way out of the can. However, you will be waiting a long time to get it to play dead or roll over.

This is perhaps why people make the mistake of saying that cats cannot be trained. Without a doubt, you will not be able to convince a cat to do creative things, but this does not mean that it cannot be trained. You simply have to become conscious of the limitations. Sometimes, through practice, a cat will begin to do things that entertain, but this will be as a pleasant side-effect of a fuller training program. After all, cats like to play. Just give them a catnip mouse and watch them go.

Letting Your Cat Train Itself

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Cat Training Tips

There is absolutely no doubt that cats are among the most inquisitive creatures on this planet. In fact, they have this in common with humans in many ways. Just as humans are wired up to look at the way something works and consider how it might be improved, so cats have a tendency to explore and work things out – which can work for good or for bad.

Not for nothing is it said “Curiosity killed the cat”. Cats, as wise as they may be, still sometimes make bad decisions. We’ve all heard stories of cats spending some time in washing machines which are in operation, because they sneak in and lie on the clothes before the machine is switched on. However, you can use your cat’s curiosity to work in your favor.

It is very common to find when you take a delivery in your home, that when you take the item out of its box and have a look at it, your cat will have an equally inquisitive interest in checking out the box. Usually it will hop in and curl up to go to sleep. This natural curiosity can be very beneficial when it comes to getting the cat into its carrier when you need to go somewhere.

About half an hour before you need to go, just take the carrier down and leave its door open with a cat bed inside. Your cat, rather than needing to be chased around the house and then stuffed, claws and all, into the carrier, will usually get in of their own accord and go to sleep – making your task a lot easier, and less bloody.

How Noise Aversion Can Work For You

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Cat Training Tips, Featured

Training a cat does not need to be any more difficult than training a dog. In fact, you will find that as long as you are faithful to the principles of cat training and discipline, that your cat will respect your authority and behave more reasonably. However, it is important to remember that the conferment of this power should not be seen as licence to go overboard with the punishment.

One mistake that any pets owners make is in thinking that all old wives’ tales work because there is some truth in there, somewhere. When you think about it, a cat may very well stop digging in your carpet because you slap it for doing so. It will do the same if you throw a brick at it – but do you want to be that person?

Certain aversion techniques are far more efficient in persuading a cat to behave reasonably. Among these, one of the best is noise aversion. This has the benefit of making problem behavior seem unpleasant and convincing the cat to stop it. Instead of reaching for a paddle or going to slap your cat, why not invest in a clicker?

A sharp clicking noise will annoy a cat without hurting it. clickers are available in most pet stores, but in actual fact may not even be necessary. If you have a small apothecary bottle with a child proof lid, try twisting that lid when your cat is misbehaving. The cat will then begin to associate its problem behavior with an unpleasant noise, and will behave better as a result.

Humane Ways To Correct Problem Cat Behavior

December 8, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Cat Training Information

It is certainly true that pain acts as a deterrent for just about any sentient creature. Therefore, if your cat has a tendency to exhibit problem behavior, it will become markedly less likely to do so if you inflict pain as a punishment. However, we have reached a stage where it is frowned upon for humans to use physical punishment as a way of correcting the behavior of their children – so why would one do this to their cat?

Just because cats are smaller, not human, and have different “laws”, it does not make it OK to beat a cat as punishment for a transgression. It is particularly worthless as a punishment when it is done, as it often is, some time after the event of its misbehavior. This won’t help you and it certainly won’t help your cat.

Instead of physical punishment inflicting pain, it is much better to encourage your cat to behave in a more reasonable way by making the actions which bother you uncomfortable for the cat. Therefore, if you are sick of your cat climbing the curtains, a fine mist of water sprayed from a nozzle can be a whole lot more effective than a slap. By being consistent in this response, you can get to the stage where even reaching for the bottle will warn your cat.

Additionally, if your cat has a tendency to “go” in a certain spot, which it considers to be its territory, sprinkling lemon juice in that spot will encourage it to give that up. Cats hate citrus smells, and “remarking your territory” will convince it of the futility of its actions.

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