Cat Myths Debunked

Cats are shrouded in superstition, myth, and folklore. People used to think that a cat could suck the breath out of a baby. You’re believed to be the unfortunate recipient of bad luck if a black cat crosses your path. Some cat myths are harmless and even quite interesting, however, believing in certain cat superstitions can put your feline at risk. We’re debunking cat myths so that you can better understand your pet and give him the care that he requires.

Cats Always Land On Their Feet

The Cats Inn explains that felines have especially flexible spines. They can lick their own backs, twist in mid-air, and spring into strange spaces with relative ease. Cats also have a righting reflex that is initiated around four weeks of age. This allows them to rotate their upper bodies to face downward when they feel like they’re falling. Although this reflex helps cats land on their feet, it’s not foolproof. Even if they do land on their feet, they can become injured from a fall. Don’t test this theory by throwing a cat or dropping him off of a high surface. Keep your pet safe by closing upper-story windows and keeping him off the balcony.

Pregnant Women Should Get Rid Of Their Cats

According to the ASPCA, more than 3 million cats end up in shelters every year. Many owners give up their cats when someone in the family becomes pregnant because they fear toxoplasmosis. The condition is caused by a parasite that can come from cat feces. However, the parasite is also found in soil. Also, women are more likely to get toxoplasmosis from undercooked meat than from the litter box.

Most people who contract toxoplasmosis don’t have any symptoms, but pregnant women can pass the infection to their unborn babies, leading to miscarriage or stillbirth. Children with toxoplasmosis can be born with serious issues. Still, the CDC says that pregnant women don’t have to get rid of their cats. They can protect themselves by keeping cats indoors, where they are less likely to become infected with the parasite. They should avoid giving their cats undercooked meat. If they must scoop poop themselves, they should wear gloves and a mask while doing it.

Milk Is Good For Cats

Feeding your pet a high-quality cat food will give him the proper ratio of nutrients. Milk doesn’t add much nutrition to your cat’s diet. In fact, most adult cats don’t have the enzyme that’s necessary to digest lactose, the type of sugar that is found in milk. Therefore, giving your cat milk can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach.

Cats And Dogs Can’t Be Friends

Almost half of the pet owners in the U.S. have more than one animal, and the cat-dog combo is common. Those numbers point to the fact that cats and dogs can get along. Their interactions will be guided by their personalities as well as their environment. Some breeds of dogs are more likely to chase cats. Playful, rambunctious dogs shouldn’t be paired with anxious, skittish kittens. Getting your pets to love each other involves matching their personalities.

You can use obedience training to get your dog to leave the cat alone. Giving the cat plenty of places to escape when she wants alone time can also help you manage a household with more than one type of pet. If you’re bringing home a pet for the first time, gradually introduce her to the rest of your furry companions, and never leave them alone together if you’re not sure how they’ll treat each other when you’re away.

Cats Need Outdoor Time To Be Happy

Although cats have held onto more of their wild instincts than dogs, they can be perfectly happy when they’re kept indoors. Most animal experts agree that keeping a cat inside is the best way to keep it safe. An indoor cat can live for 10 to 20 years.

Indoor Cats Don’t Need Vaccinations

Even if you don’t let your cat outdoors, she will need some vaccinations. Core vaccines protect your kitty from the most common feline diseases. If your cat does escape and spend some time outdoors, she’ll be better protected from many additional conditions if she has had her vaccines. Many states require you to vaccinate indoor cats for rabies.  

You Don’t Need To Groom Your Cat

Cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves. Some pet owners think that they don’t need to spend time grooming their immaculate kitty. Brushing your cat can help prevent hairballs, which can cause vomiting, and mats which are uncomfortable clusters of knotted hair. Clipping your cat’s nails can prevent the claws from breaking and causing pain. Cleaning your feline’s teeth can help prevent oral diseases and allow you to keep an eye out for growths or tumors.

Cats Can Be Left Alone When You Travel

Your dog needs to be let outside and taken for walks every day. You would never think of leaving him home alone for more than half a day. You may think that your independent cat can take care of herself. Many pet owners take off for up to a week at a time, leaving their cat with food, water, and no supervision. This can be dangerous. Cats can get sick or get into trouble at any time. They should be checked in on at least every 24 hours. Even the most autonomous animals require some playtime and affection. Your sweet kitty could get depressed without human interaction.

Cats Are Hands-Off Pets

Some people get cats as pets because they think that they don’t have to do much to be a responsible pet owner. Caring for a cat is an important job. You have to keep the litter box clean, provide fresh food and water, and give your cat love and attention. Although your cat may be aloof, she still wants to be part of your life. Play with her, stroke her fur, and keep her safe so that she doesn’t become another animal shelter statistic.

A Look Inside the World of Show Cats

You might be more familiar with dog shows than with cat shows. After all, it seems a little crazy to parade cats around a ring on a leash. Even still, your cat is fancy, gorgeous and loves attention. Shouldn’t she get the admiration that she deserves? If you’ve ever wondered how to show your cat, then be sure to stick around. This article will give you a glimpse into the lives of show cats.

The Quirkiness of Cat Shows

Dog shows often seem like serious, momentous events. Cat shows are a little more lighthearted. They attract some eccentric characters, and we’re not just talking about the cats. Cats typically stay in their cages during cat shows unless one manages to escape. The judges take the cats out one at a time to examine them. The atmosphere can be loud and boisterous as judges yell out numbers and the audience oohs and aahs over each amazing contestant.

Believe it or not, show cat cages are elaborately decorated and personalized. The CFA requires entrants to line the cages with show curtains. If the feline participants can see their neighbors in the cages next to them, they’re more likely to hiss, growl, and mewl. A show cat likes to think that it’s the only beautiful cat in the world. Most show cat owners use bright and colorful fabrics for their curtains to complement their cat’s appearance.

Show Cats Must Live up to Labels

There are different cat show categories. The Championship class is for unaltered and pedigreed cats. The Premiership class is for spayed and neutered pedigreed cats.

The Non-Championship class is separated into six categories:

  • Kittens – between the ages of 4 and 6 months

  • Any Other Variety – cats that don’t meet specific breed standards

  • Provisional Competition – breeds that haven’t attained Championship rank

  • Miscellaneous – new breeds that haven’t reached Provisional status

  • Household Pet Competition – spayed or neutered non-pedigreed or non-breed cats

  • Exhibition Only – the cat is registered for the show but will not be removed from the cage.

The life of a show cat involves constant judgment and labeling, so your cat’s ego must be capable of bearing this immense pressure if they want to succeed. Furthermore, your cat must be pedigreed as a breed that’s accepted by the organization hosting the show (unless it is entered in the household pet competition). Sometimes, declawed cats are not accepted. Show cats must be healthy and up to date on vaccinations.

Knowing Your Show Cat

The decision to show your cat involves a lot of research. You should understand what characterizes an ideal example of the breed you want to show. Going to shows can help you research what it takes to be a show cat. You can also familiarize yourself with different breeds by looking at show cat pictures. Even small details and aspects of your cat’s physical appearance (like an unusually dark patch of fur or a slightly bent tail) could make it ineligible for competition, so be sure to do your homework.


The Cost of Showing a Cat

Cat shows are relatively affordable. The average entry fee is $35 to $50. You may get a discount for certain cat breeds or colors, and you can often get early bird deals. You’ll want to adjust your show cat schedule depending on your budget to ensure that you don’t spend too much.

Show Cat Life

Show cat owners spend a great deal of their pet’s life grooming them. If your cat resists grooming, chances are it’s not going to cut it as a show cat. Show cats should be bathed a few days before the show. This allows their natural oils to get back in balance before the big day. Some owners blow-dry their cat's’ fur or use mousse, conditioner or other products to achieve a particular look. However, using certain products may disqualify you. For example, you’re not allowed to use color-enhancing shampoos that leave a visible residue. Your show cat’s eyes, ears, and hindquarters should be meticulously cleaned before a show, too. Judges can spot dirty ears from several feet away.

How How to Keep Your Cat from Eating Your Houseplants

Houseplants can liven up your décor, bring nature indoors and even clean your air. But, if you have cats, you might need to take extra precautions when bringing plants into the home. Some plants are poisonous to cats. Cats can also dig up the soil, nibble on leaves, or use the pots as a litter box. Here’s how to prevent cats from eating your plants.

My Cat Is Eating Houseplants!

Have you ever seen your cat chomping on the leaves or flowers of your indoor plants? Sometimes, cats amuse themselves by batting around the stems. Maybe your cat rips off the grassy stalks of your palm plant and runs around the house with them. You might have a problem if your cat is actually consuming the plants, though.

Cats are primarily carnivores. Because they eat so much meat-based food, they may try to get more fiber in their systems from time to time. In the wild, cats get their fiber from the stomach and intestines of their prey. They may also supplement their fiber intake by eating grass. In your home, a pet cat might try to eat your potted plants or floral bouquets for the same reason. It’s like eating a salad for extra roughage.

Cats don’t have the enzymes necessary to digest plant fibers. Their bodies can’t make use of the solids, so the grass either works as a laxative or gets regurgitated. Some experts believe that cats eat grass to remove other indigestible objects from their systems, such as feathers or fur. Drs. Foster & Smith say that eating plants may provide cats with nutrients that they’re missing from their diets. Some felines simply crave veggies now and then. If they don’t have a safe option, they might try to chew on your houseplants.

Does My Cat Like Plants?

Not all cats like to eat plants. Some will ignore grass and other vegetation. Others chow down on the green stuff like rabbits. If you’re concerned that your cat is eating too much plant material, you might want to have her checked out by her veterinarian. It could be an indication that there’s something else going on. You should also know which plants are safe for your pet to eat.

Poisonous Plants for Cats

Lilies are toxic to cats. Even just licking the pollen or drinking water from a vase filled with lilies can cause kidney failure. Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies aren’t fatal to cats. They can cause minor irritation and make the cat drool, foam, or paw at his mouth, however. The more hazardous lilies are true lilies, including tiger, day, Easter, Western, Japanese, Asiatic hybrid, Show, wood, red, stargazer, and rubrum lilies. These may be found in bouquets, pots, or even outdoor gardens.

Some holiday plants are also poisonous to cats. Poinsettias are mildly toxic. Cats that eat this flower or part of the plant can develop itching and pain around the mouth. They may salivate a lot. You don’t usually need immediate medical attention if your pet eats this plant unless symptoms are severe. Mistletoe, on the other hand, can cause seizures, collapse, gastrointestinal irritation, and low blood pressure.

You might love growing daffodils, paperwhites, and amaryllis indoors. These plants, including the bulbs, are dangerous to your feline friends. If your cat has eaten part of one of these plants, it may exhibit symptoms similar to mistletoe intoxication. Take your cat and the plant to the vet immediately.

What to Do If Your Cat Has Eaten a Poisonous Plant

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, it’s imperative to get help quickly if you know that your cat has ingested a toxic substance. Bring your cat and the plant to the vet as soon as you can. If you’re not sure if your cat has eaten a plant, you might want to consult with your veterinarian to be safe. Get your cat checked out if he is showing any symptoms of plant poisoning, including:

  • Gastritis

  • Excessive vomiting

  • Refusal to eat or drink

  • Weight loss

  • Difficulty breathing, chewing or swallowing

  • Diarrhea

  • Excessive urinating or drinking

  • Lethargy

  • An irregular heartbeat

You can try to get the cat to rinse out its mouth if it has eaten something irritating. This is easier said than done. Have you ever tried to force a cat into anything? Giving the cat chicken broth or water-packed tuna can help eliminate acute mouth pain.

Walking Your Cat — It Can Be Done!

Why should dogs have all the fun? Walking your cat is a wonderful bonding activity for you and your feline friend, and a great way for her to safely explore the great outdoors.

Almost every cat loves an adventure, but if your cat lives solely inside, the outside world can be a big and scary. There’s plenty of dangers out there that your cat can get into, so letting her roam free isn’t a viable option. Walking your cat, however, is a great way to allow your cat to experience the great outdoors without putting her life at risk.

Believe it or not, plenty of pet parents talk their cats out for walks — and their cats actually enjoy it! While putting a leash on your cat might seem like an impossible feat, with a little patience and training, your cat just might find that she doesn’t mind it.

Actually, if you want to try walking your cat, you’re going to need more than a little patience. This isn’t a process that’s going to happen overnight. First, you’ll want to get a harness that was made specifically for cats. You’d be surprised how fast your cat will slip out of a small dog harness, and a collar alone just won’t cut it.

Tips For Walking Your Cat

Walking your cat is a fun activity that will get your cat out of the house and allow her to release some pent-up energy. If your cat is climbing the walls and constantly getting into mischief, training her to go on walks might be just what she needs to calm down. On the other hand, if you’re worried that your cat is bored and not getting enough stimulation throughout the day, a walk could be an energizing boost that perks up her mood.

In order to get started walking your cat, you’ll need to make sure your cat is absolutely familiar with her new harness. You’re going to want to tackle this process in stages, and take everything as slowly as your cat wants. Remember that whether or not this works is up to her and not you, so don’t push it too hard.

Leave the harness on the floor in a room she frequents so she can check it out and get acquainted with it. Once you’ve made it through this step, you can try putting it on her, but keep in mind that if she’s not into it, you shouldn’t force it. For this to work, your cat has to be willing, otherwise you’re going to end up dragging an angry cat down the sidewalk.

After you’re able to clip the harness on, let her walk around the house with it so she gets used to wearing it. You can do this for a few days or however long it takes until you feel like your cat is comfortable. Again, patience is the most important part about walking your cat. It’s possible that it could take weeks for your cat to get used to wearing the harness, but don’t give up. You’ll know when she’s OK with it once there’s no issue putting the harness on, and she doesn’t have a problem walking with it.

Then, and only then, you can attach the leash and let her see what it’s like walking around with it. Make sure you watch her to see if it’s better to hold it or let her drag it — some cats can be frightened by the leash behind them. Be generous with treats while you’re doing this so your cat understands this is a good thing. Play wither her or engage her any way you can to help reinforce this; it’ll make it more fun for you and easier for your cat to adjust.


Into the Great Wide Open

The next step is to take your cat outside, preferably in your own backyard, to an area that’s quiet and safe. Be sure to carry your cat outside. Don’t let her just walk out on her own. Carrying your cat outside prevents her from making a break for it and getting into harm. Any and every time you walk your cat you should carry her out. Even the best leash-trained cat could still make a mad dash if left on her own.

The Guide to Training Your Cat

Sit. Stay. Come. Do these sound like commands you would only give to a dog? Well, if you are a cat owner who thinks that cats can’t be trained to respond to commands the same way that dogs do, you’re in for a surprise. Basic training for cats involves obedience training just as it does for dogs.

Cats often do not respond to commands unless they want to, so the real trick is making your cat want to do what you want. All animals, including humans, are conditioned to respond to cues in their environments. Conditioning is already at work in your home. Your cat has probably already learned to associate mealtimes with certain sounds and your behavior prior to feeding time. She has probably learned that when she hears you flip the top of a cat food can or shake a container of treats it’s time to come running. Your cat knows that she will be rewarded with food when she hears these sounds. When you train your cat, you can reinforce any specific behavior with a food reward, preceding the reward with a sound that your cat will associate with an action to be taken.

Litter Training Your Cat

Since most cats prefer to eliminate in private, put litter boxes in places that are easily accessible but away from heavy foot traffic. Recesses or the corners of rooms are suitable locations. Position the litter boxes away from your cat’s feeding or bedding area to avoid sending mixed signals.

Cats generally are fastidious creatures that groom themselves meticulously and bury their bodily waste. Show your kitten a litter box, demonstrate how to scratch in the litter, and she’ll generally get the picture pretty fast.

You can be sure that your cat prefers his or her litter box to be clean and fresh. Scoopable litters are preferred by most cats. Both urine and feces should be scooped from the litter box daily and the entire litter box contents should be changed periodically. Clean the box with warm, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. A litter box liner may help reduce cleaning time but may deter some cats from using the box.

There are a variety of litter materials available, including clay litters and those made from plant materials. Some cats will refuse to use certain litter material while others have different preferences for urination and defecation. Find out what works best for your cat.

Litter box avoidance and inappropriate elimination (urinating outside the litter box) 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.

Clicker Training Your Cat

Using clicker training, it is extremely easy to teach a cat to sit or lie down, or to jump up or down from a surface. With patience, cats can be trained to run through tubes and boxes, to leap from place to place, and even to complete complicated behavioral chains of activities.

A strange thing happens when you train your cat. Instead of the two of you coming together briefly at feeding time and when the cat presents herself for petting, the whole dynamic relationship changes from cat to owner and owner to cat — and for the better. It’s as though a mutual appreciation society emerges from an otherwise perfunctory relationship, and the cat’s and owner’s lives are both enriched.

Once the positive training interaction has become a regular feature of daily life, all it takes is for the owner to stand up and say, “Wanna have some fun?” and to show the cat the clicker, and the cat will resonate with excitement in anticipation of the impending activities. Interactive training of this type, for just a few minutes a day, will exercise the cat’s mind and promote relaxation. It seems that a short period of intense concentration during such training sessions is equivalent, output-wise, to a much longer period of physical activity.

How to Get a Cat to Stop Scratching Furniture

The question of how to get a cat to stop scratching furniture is one veterinarians get quite often. Cats are wonderful household pets, but the damage they can do with their claws is a deterrent to many potential cat owners.

The sure sign of a cat in the home is furniture with shredded fabric on the arms and a cat owner who has given up on purchasing nice things.

However, living with a cat does not need to include the promise of ruined furniture, and there are many steps you should take to learn how to get a cat to stop scratching furniture.

Here’s what you need to know and what you can do.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Scratching is a natural behavior of cats, and it helps to shed the outer layer of their claws. Scratching also serves to mark their territory in a visual way, while also scent marking the territory via glands on their feet. In addition, scratching provides exercise and stretching opportunities. Although a small scratching area may work for some cats, most cats appreciate a large, tall space for scratching vigorously and fully stretching their bodies — which is why many end up scratching furniture.

Providing a Dedicated Scratching Space

When you introduce a new cat to your home, teaching her the best place to scratch is a great way to get started with setting expectations in a harmonious home. If your current cat has already developed a habit of scratching your furniture, you will need to take steps to change her behavior. A solid approach is to create a scratching space in an environment that is more appealing than your furniture. Three ideas to keep in mind are height, rewards, and safety as a starting point for figuring out how to get a cat to stop scratching furniture.

Height: A Cat’s Delight

Cats love high perches, which give them opportunities to feel safe and observe their surroundings. Providing cats with a tall cat tree — or scratching post with a perch — means they have a dedicated space to enjoy up off the ground. Cat trees include sisal or carpeted surfaces for cats to scratch, and the height of the posts means a cat can stretch up and sink her claws into the textured surfaces. Like in nature, your cat reaches up the “tree,” scratches the “trunk,” and leaps to the top of the “branches” to survey her domain.

Rewards: Make it Interesting!

Cats are stimulated by many things in their environment, and the location of the cat tree and the amenities and enrichment it provides will help to focus your cat’s interest on scratching the tree, not your furniture. Placing the cat tree near a window with a view of the outdoors allows her to view birds and other activities in the outdoor environment, which is especially stimulating for cats who live exclusively indoors.

Small toys and moving items on the cat tree stimulate prey drive and play, and cubbyholes for hiding appeal to cats who need a safe, secure space to sleep or hide. Adding the scent of catnip to your cat tree will attract your cat to the space and stimulate her to engage and scratch the appropriate surfaces. In contrast, your living room furniture begins to hold much less interest for your cat, making cat trees key to determining how to get a cat to stop scratching furniture.


Safety: Your Cat’s Sanctuary

It is imperative that your cat’s scratching tree be located in an area that is quiet and safe. A busy location by the front door or near your dog’s favorite play area may not offer your cat the comfort, safety, and solitude she craves. Choose a space where your cat tends to enjoy spending time, and this may mean putting your cat tree near the furniture your cat is scratching. As your cat spends more time on his or her cat post, you can consider moving it to a new location.

Additional Options to Change Your Cat’s Behavior

Some cats are very dedicated scratchers, and your cat may persist in ruining your furniture, even with your efforts to make changes in his or her behavior. Although declawing has been used in the past to address this as a behavioral issue, it is generally seen as a cruel procedure and is no longer recommended by veterinarians as a method for how to get a cat to stop scratching furniture. Trimming your cat’s claws is easy to do, and it can greatly improve your cat’s scratching issues. In addition, plastic nail caps can be purchased to cover the sharp portion of your cat’s claws, preventing her from scratching.

How to Convert Your Reclusive Cat to a Cuddly Lap Kitty

First of all, let it be said that it is not possible to convert every single cat into a “cuddly lap kitty,” though there is no harm in trying. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for example, to take a formerly feral cat and convert her into a feline lap-lover that was fawning on anyone’s lap. Experiments in England have shown that if cats are raised without human company for the first 7 weeks of their lives, they will never be fully accepting of people. The best you could expect from a cat with this kind of background is occasional fleeting visits during which the cat might tolerate a modicum of petting. This level of trust on the part of a cat like this represents something of a psychological breakthrough.

Another reason why some cats do not take well to the job of being lap cats is to do with inherited disposition. Some cats, by nature, are more independent and aloof than others; whereas some are just plain fearful. Such traits manifest as an anti-social nature with respect to would-be human companions. Some of these reclusive cats may be coaxed out of their shell by kind and patient treatment, but even the best results that can be achieved in terms of friendliness to people may be a far cry from relaxed lap sitting.

You should recognize these “exceptions to the rule” before trying to convert all comers to the noble art of lap sitting and the acceptance of liberal petting and cuddling. Nevertheless, the majority of cats are trainable this way as long as the owner goes about the process in the right way. There are some general rules that owners may want to consider when trying to forge such a close relationship with a cat.

The Way Forward

  • Where possible, select a cat that is the product of affectionate parents.
  • Obtain a very young cat – it’s almost a case of the younger the better (though kittens adopted when they are too young can present the opposite problem of over-bonding or over-attachment).
  • Raise kittens with kindness and never physically punish them or yell at them.
  • If it is too late for any or all of the above, and the cat is already somewhat wary or reclusive, it is never too late to start trying to repair existing damage.
  • The general philosophy for successful rehabilitation is to create circumstances favorable for the cat to approach the owner, rather than the other way around. Striding up to a cat, thus invading her flight distance, apprehending her and placing her on your lap, thus invading her personal space, is exactly the wrong approach.
  • Arrange for rehabilitation to occur in quiet circumstances. Position yourself in a large room with the cat, and arm yourself with a good book and a bag of food treats that your cat finds delicious. The procedure will go more swiftly if you arrange for the cat to be slightly hungry at the beginning of the session as this will increase the cat’s motivation to accept the food treats.
  • Without moving from your comfortable chair or couch, toss a food treat in your cat’s direction and be patient, until she finds and consumes it. Repeat this procedure at intervals, dropping the food progressively closer to yourself and, finally, beside yourself on the couch or chair.
  • Next, arrange for the cat to take a food treat from your hand, gradually moving your hand toward your lap, only releasing the food treat if the cat puts her paws up on your lap.
  • Remember that you will certainly not be able to make a reclusive cat into a cuddly lap-sitting cat in one session. The whole process may take several weeks or even as much as a year. Be patient and be grateful for modest improvements. Never attempt hurry things along; never come on too strong; and never try to force the issue. Allow your cat to be drawn into a vacuum of food, affection, and petting that you provide for her.
  • Sometimes you can focus a cat on what you are doing more acutely by employing a “click” to signal the delivery of a treat. This focuses the cat’s attention on you, the source of the click, and cues her to the subsequent gift of the food treat from you, i.e. you become the common link. The use of a clicker in this way may help quicken the retraining process. Clicker trained cats seem to have more interest and faith in their owners than untrained cats.
  • The person trying to build the relationship with the cat should be the one to feed her regular food. It helps to have the cat ‘meal fed’ and to have the meals put down as obviously as possible by the person wishing to forge the close bond.
  • The person trying to draw the reclusive cat out should probably arrange to play games with the cat at least a couple of times a day. Moving toys are best, such as cat dancers and pull toys on a string.
  • Teach Your Cat to Enjoy Being Held

    Some cats love being held and others don't! How can you train your cat to enjoy being held and touched? We will give you tips to do just that.

    Whether it is for petting, grooming, nail trims or veterinary exams, some cats become stressed when they are being handled and restrained. Your cat may demonstrate his dislike for the physical interaction by trying to wiggle or squirm out of your arms. He may meow or growl as you are holding him, and the most obvious sign your cat is displeased will be his tail flicking back and forth as you handle him.

    Your cat may not enjoy being held, or having the veterinarian examine him, but this is a necessary part of being a cat. It is our job to ensure he is trained to tolerate, if not enjoy, these experiences.

    How to train your cat to love being held:

    1. Start your first training session when your cat is relaxed. Invite him up on your lap and begin to pet him in long strokes down his body, scratch his ears, and allow him to rub his face in against your hand. Be sure to include other parts of his body such as his tail, legs, and stomach. Always use long strokes, and a soothing voice. Practice this step three to four times per day for thirty seconds. After your cat demonstrates he is comfortable with having his body petted you are ready to move to the next step.
    2. Pick up your cat and place him in your lap. Have your hands around his shoulders while he sits in your lap for five to ten seconds. Offer him a special treat and allow him to jump back on the floor. If your cat is comfortable with this step and can sit in your lap for brief periods, begin picking up his foot, letting go of the foot and offering him a treat. Repeat this step as you touch his mouth/treat, touch his tail/treat, rub his belly/treat. You want to work in small increments several times per day to increase his tolerance for sitting patiently in your lap as well as having different parts of his body handled. The goal is to keep him within his threshold for tolerating the handling. Do not try to do too much, too soon where he is overwhelmed and attempts to get away.
    3. Incorporate these handling exercises into playtime with your cat. Encourage him to chase one of his toys on a string for several seconds. Take a brief pause, handle his feet and begin playing again. The goal is always touch/treat, or touch/play as we build our cat's tolerance level for handling and restraint. If you find yourself in a situation where you cat is becoming stressed, take a break and resume at a later time.

    Practice makes perfect here, so when your cat is comfortable with you holding him, begin to invite others to practice the same steps. Before you know it, your cat will be able to tolerate being held even at the vet's office.



    Litter Box Training Your Cat

    How do you litter box train a cat? Most cats have natural instincts to bury their wastes and will know exactly what to do when you have the right litter and litter box in your home. You need to keep the litter box in an appealing location and keep it clean to encourage your cat to use it.

    How do you get your new cat or kitten to use the litter box? After your new kitten or cat eats, quietly and gently pick them up and place them in the litterbox. You can gently use their paws to scratch at the litter to encourage them to scratch their typical spot to eliminate. If they use the litterbox to urinate and/or have a bowel movement – praise them like crazy! If they don’t go, don’t panic. Keep an eye on them. Encourage them to play and spend time with them. Every 30 minutes or so take them back to the litter box and gently and quietly place them in the box. Once again, if they go – praise them. If they don’t, continue on and keep and eye on them. If they make any motions to dig or look for a spot to eliminate – take them back to the litter box.

    Two more important keys to training your cat to use the litter box is to have the right accessories. The two important accessories are litter and a litterbox. Here’s what you need to know.

    How many litter boxes?

    You should always have one more litter box than you have cats. That is, one cat gets two litter boxes. Two cats get three. If you have a two-story home keep one litter box on each floor.

    How big of a litter box?

    The litter box should be roomy enough for your cat to turn around in it. Forget about trying to get a small litter box to minimize the unsightliness. You have a cat. Your friends will have to understand. If the box is too small, your cat simply won’t use it and will eliminate elsewhere. But if the litter box is too big, you may also have a problem, especially if you have a very small kitten. Don’t buy a huge box and expect your kitten to scale it every time she has to “go to the bathroom.” Buy a smallish litter box for your kitten and invest in a larger one as she grows.

    To cover or not to cover the Litter Box

    That is the question. There are covered litter boxes as well as open ones. If you use a covered box, make sure your cat can get in and out easily. The best types of covered box also have overlapping seams so that sprayed urine will not leak out. Remember, though, that many cats hate being enclosed when they are at their most vulnerable. They often like to see who’s coming and going, in case they need to beat a hasty retreat. And cats really don’t like surprises so if their boxes are covered they may not use them.

    Location, location, location

    A cardinal rule of cat ownership is to never put your cat’s litter box next to her food bowl or bed. Cats do not like to eliminate where they eat or have their nest. If you place a litter box too close to a cat’s nest, she may well pick a more comfortable spot, such as behind the couch, far away from her resting and dining area.

    Put the litter box in a quiet low-traffic area, such as in a spare bathroom. A corner location is better than out in the open because a cat needs to feel secure. If your cat has only got two directions to watch instead of four – and feels she has an escape route – she’ll be more relaxed. Additionally, some cats are nervous and don’t like things too close to them. Even a hanging plant that blows in the breeze or casts shadows can prompt your cat to search for a different location.

    If you have more than one cat, remember that cats are territorial and hierarchical. So, put their boxes far enough apart to be sure that territorial issues don’t come into play if one invades the other’s space.

    What kind of kitty litter?

    Cats, by nature, dig and scratch in soft soil out of doors, often burying their waste. The litter you provide substitutes for the dirt outside. The big question is: What is the best material to use? There are a number of litter materials to choose from, including clay-type litters and those made from plant materials. Some cats will refuse to eliminate on certain substrates while others prefer different materials for urination and defecation. It’s all a matter of taste – both yours and your cats. Does your cat prefer fine sand or chunky pellets? Do you prefer clumping or non-clumping litter? Do you prefer a litter that’s ecologically friendly? Is tracking or odor control your most important concern? Either way, there’s probably a litter to suit.

    Clay cat litter is a good absorbent of moisture and odor and a reasonable substitute for fresh soil from the yard. Large granular clay, though economical and absorbent, is often dusty and tracks about the house. Small granular “clumping” litters (also made of clay) have become popular recently due to their excellent absorbency, clumping properties – which lead to the formation of firm balls when moistened – and their ease of disposal. These litters also make litter boxes easier to keep clean.

    Environmentally friendly cat litters are often made of recycled waste products, such as newspaper. They can also be made of biodegradable material, including wheat, corn and wood chips that break down easily in landfills. Some of these litters have the consistency of fine sand while others come in pelleted form. But how do you choose? You may not like the dust of fine litter and your cat may not like the extra work of covering stool with, what amounts to, small rocks. Some choices can be tough.

    Silica gel cat litters have become increasingly popular. These clear plastic beads are neat to look at and absorb odor well. When your cat urinates in the box adorned with these litters you can actually hear a snap, crackle and pop as the beads soak up the liquid. This litter is good for extended periods, about 3 to 4 weeks in most instances. But remember, the litter can only hold so much moisture and must be changed eventually. Also, the beads have a tendency to bounce around the room once they are knocked out of the box.

    Once you find a litter your cat likes, stick with it. Don’t buy whatever is on sale this week. Cats are very particular and litter changes can lead to unwelcome modifications in bathroom habits.

    How often should I change the kitty litter?

    Try to remove feces and moistened cat litter daily. Regular scooping will keep the box from becoming an odor source for your home and maintain it as an attractive place for your cat. Depending on the buildup of soiled litter and odors, completely clean out the box and replenish it with fresh litter every so often. When changing the litter, you should wash the box with warm, soapy water, but remember to rinse it thoroughly before refilling it with litter. And never, clean the box with harsh chemicals, as doing so will likely cause your cat to turn his nose up what will be perceived as an olfactorily repugnant offering.

    I hope this information gives you what you need to train your cat to use the litter box. The most important things you can do is buy the right litter box, place it in the right location and keep it clean.

    How to Train Your Cat to Love the Carrier

    Carriers are important to transport your cat, but how can you make it enjoyable for your cat and not so stressful?

    In order to transport your cat safely he must be comfortable being confined to a carrier. The problem is most cats only see their carrier when it is time to visit the veterinarian, or go to the boarding kennel. These unpleasant experiences can create a negative association with the carrier, and many cats begin running away each time the carrier is brought out of the closet. Rather than fight with your cat, or avoiding taking him into the veterinarian we can train him to be comfortable in his carrier.

    Begin by leaving the carrier in a neutral location in your house.

    If the carrier is out more frequently your cat will habituate to its presence. If your carrier has a door, take it off. You can hide toys, or special treats in the carrier to encourage your cat to explore inside. We want the carrier to become a “room” where your cat feels secure going in and out. Periodically feeding your cat, or offering a small amount of canned cat food on a dish in the back of the carrier will also encourage him to go in. The initial goal is to change the association your cat has with the carrier and allow him to go in and out at will.

    Once you see your cat going in and out of the carrier comfortably, maybe even relaxing in the carrier, you can replace the door. Begin offering your cat a small amount of canned cat food on a dish inside the carrier once or twice a day. Close the door once your cat is inside the carrier and allow him to eat. If your cat will not walk inside the carrier by himself, you can try to gently place him in the kennel, but do not force the issue. He may need more time at step one. Open the door when he has finished his snack. As your cat continues to go in willingly to eat his snack, you can begin leaving him in the carrier for brief periods of time after he is through eating. You will also want to begin picking the carrier up, walking around the house, then placing the kennel back on the floor to release your cat.

    It’s not a difficult process to carrier train our cats, but it does take planning.

    The goal is to use the carrier more like the cats room where he eats, plays with toys, and has snacks vs. the scary box he is placed in when it is time for a visit to the veterinarian.