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Quick Cat Behavior Tip: Trimming Claws

By the PPG Cat Committee  While there are a lot of cats who may not initially be terribly keen on the whole claw trimming process, there are ways to make it enjoyable and fun for both parties. This article will explain the steps cat owners can take to make it a more pleasant, stress-free experience all round. Important Reminders: Trimming a cat’s claws can prevent damage to furniture and other household items, as well as to humans, from inadvertent scratches. Often the biggest challenge isn’t the claw trimming itself but… Continued

Quick Cat Behavior Tip: Petting-Induced Aggression

By the Pet Professional Guild Cat Committee Petting-induced aggression is a commonly reported feline behavior issue whereby adoring owners often find themselves at a loss to understand why their beloved kitty is so accepting of their affection one moment, only to go completely on the offensive the next. Important reminders about the behavior: As both a predator and prey species, cats need to be highly sensitive to their environment to survive, which includes being sensitive to touch. Cats have touch receptors all over their bodies, some of which are continually… Continued

Feline Behavior Unmasked: Superfecundation

By Beth Adelman  Q: I recently adopted two young cats that the shelter told me are littermates. But one is a black shorthair and the other is orange and kind of fluffy, and they’re actually not much alike. If they were really siblings, wouldn’t they be more like each other? A: Cats from the same litter are not twins or triplets or quadruplets. In fact, while they all have the same mother, it’s possible none of them have the same father. That’s why you can see littermates with different coat… Continued

Quick Cat Behavior Tip: Destructive Scratching

By the Pet Professional Guild Cat Committee Important Reminders about the Behavior Scratching is a normal, natural behavior for cats that serves many purposes: To communicate and modulate social interactions with other cats by: o                Leaving behind a long-lasting visual mark (claw marks) and an olfactory mark by way of the interdigital glands. o                Being seen physically marking an area (e.g., a confident, assertive cat might scratch in front of a less confident cat). To remove the layered sheaths that comprise the claws (claw maintenance). To stretch the muscles in the backs,… Continued

Feline Behavior Unmasked: Acting on Instinct

By Amy Martin  Q: My older cat does something frustrating while eating his food. He eats some of it, then tries to cover the rest of it with miscellaneous items nearby. Sometimes he even paws at the ground around his food plate or drags his placemat across his food plate, covering it a bit. My other (younger) cat does not do this. Is it related to age? Does this behavior mean he does not like his food? A: Two of our feline family members do this too! Understanding the why… Continued

Quick Cat Behavior Tip: Counter Surfing

By the Pet Professional Guild Cat Committee Important Reminders about the Behavior Getting up high is a natural feline behavior that enables cats to survey their territory and feel safe. Other reasons cats might jump onto counters include to obtain food, look out a window, get attention, find something to play with, hide, or avoid a dog, toddler, or another cat. High spaces that cats consider acceptable or desirable need to be in places that are interesting to them and/or where they feel safe—which, depending on the circumstances, may mean… Continued

Feline Behavior Unmasked: Emesis in Cats – Common but Not Normal

By Dr. Liz Bales  Q: I have 2 cats. One throws up constantly. She has thicker fur (she a tortie) than the other. I try to brush her as often as I can but she’s not a huge fan. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! A: This is such an important and misunderstood topic. We can help a lot of cats and the people who love them with this information. Most cat parents deal with cat vomit. Vomit is so common in the regular life with cats that we have… Continued

Feline Behavior Unmasked: Kitten Socialization

By Francine Miller  Q: Should I socialize my kitten? I’ve heard that this is important for puppies, but is it important for kittens too? A: Yes! Although very few people are aware of how important this is, the socialization period is the time when all primary social bonds are formed and constitutes the single most important period during the cat’s life. During this phase, striking behavioral changes occur because of growth and experience. Socialization can occur between a kitten and humans, or between a kitten and its “natural enemies,” such… Continued

Feline Behavior Unmasked: Why Cats Paw at Water

By Tabitha Kucera  Q: Why does my cat paw at the water in her bowl prior to drinking it? A: Pawing at, playing with or even splashing in a water dish is not as strange for cats as you might think. There are multiple reasons that may be motivating your cat to do this. Cats’ whiskers are very sensitive because they are filled with sensory collecting nerves that collect information about objects, vibrations, and wind currents around the cat. Some cats may become uncomfortable when their whiskers are regularly being squished… Continued

Feline Behavior Unmasked: Nighttime Wakefulness

By Paula Garber Q: Why does my cat wake me up in the middle of the night? Is it because cats are nocturnal? A: Cats are actually crepuscular, which means they tend to be most active at dawn and dusk when the animals they prey upon (e.g., rodents and birds) are most active. This activity pattern often doesn’t match the owner’s schedule of getting up, going to work all day, and then coming home to relax and unwind. Many cats adjust their activity patterns to those of their owners, but… Continued

Training Your Cat to Sit on Cue

By Jennifer Van Valkenburg I actually came to cat training completely by accident. My kitty was overweight and unhealthy so her vet recommended an entirely new lifestyle. This came with adding exercise (I remember thinking, how do you exercise a cat? – more on that later) and a new food regimen. No more leaving a pile of food in her dish every day, now her diet was strictly controlled. So now instead of eating whenever she wanted, she had to wait for me to feed her twice a day.* The… Continued

Litter Box Victory

By Jennifer Van Valkenburg In this post, I am going to talk about a very basic feline need – going to the litter box. Cat owners may wonder, when there is a perfectly good litter box, why does their cat think it is preferable to use the floor, the laundry basket or maybe even the bed to do her business? The answer can be complicated. First, go to the vet to check for any physical/medical problems such as urinary tract infections (UTI). UTIs are very painful. As a result, a… Continued

Five Rules for Humans Living in Catlandia

By Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi Humans and cats have been trying to peacefully coexist for centuries, and for the most part, we are doing okay…with a little room for improvement.  Our relationship with cats has definitely changed over time, with technology allowing us to connect with the masses and disconnect from the very place our cats try their best to meet with us; the present moment, or as I like to call it: “The Meow”. Modern convenience also allows humans to have very specific ideas about how they want their homes to… Continued

How to Achieve Purrvana

By Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi Okay cat guardians, summer is coming to an end and it’s time to make some resolutions that are going to count for your cats. It takes a joint effort between cat and caretaker to make positive changes manifest in the right way. If you can make the right causes for your cat, a bounty of kitty abundance awaits in a place that I like to call, “Purr-vana”, where all of your cat’s needs are met in an environment that honors what it truly feels like to… Continued

Fear Free™ Vet Visits: A Feline Behavior and Training Specialist’s Journey

By Victoria Blais Desperately visiting a veterinarian I had never seen before, I had a sick feeling in my stomach when I was encouraged to put on protective leather gloves to hold my highly anxious cat, Haddie.  My normally sweet, affectionate girl, flattened her ears, pupils dilated, as she leaned away from the doctor.  Reading her cat body language, I knew we should stop, but I reasoned, “This vet specializing in felines knows what is best.”  As the vet approached Haddie, whose tail was thrashing, a loud guttural, fearful sound… Continued

How Big Should a Cat’s Litter Box Be?

By Jennifer Mauger I was recently in a home where the resident cat was eliminating outside the litter box on a regular basis. He was a large Maine Coon mix weighing over 20 pounds. When I went to look at the litter boxes, they were well maintained, clean, and in quiet areas of the home.  There were more than enough boxes for both of the cats too. The first thing I actually noticed was the size of the litter boxes. They were average size commercial litter boxes. When I asked… Continued

Clicker Training for Cats (6/6)

By Paula Garber and Francine Miller Inter-Cat Aggression Living with cats who do not get along is stressful for everyone. Sometimes the cats need to be completely separated and then formally re-introduced. In many cases, the best outcome we can hope for is for the cats to coexist peacefully to a point where they tolerate each other, even if they do not actively “like” each other. To facilitate peaceful coexistence, the environment must be arranged so that the cats can easily avoid each other and do not have to compete… Continued

Clicker Training for Cats (5/6)

By Paula Garber and Francine Miller Introducing Cats to Each Other In a nutshell, cats should be gradually introduced to each other one sense at a time: first by scent, then by sight, and then physically. Throughout the process, positive associations are built up with the scent, sight, and physical presence of the other cat using food, play, brushing, low-key play—anything the cats enjoy. When introducing cats, you can use clicker training to help boost positive associations between them and keep them focused on you instead of each other. During… Continued

Clicker Training for Cats (4/6)

By Paula Garber and Francine Miller Clicker Training for Behavioral Problems: Clawing Furniture/Destructive Furniture Scratching Destructive furniture scratching is a commonly reported problem in cats, and one of the many unwanted behaviors that clicker training can help. Without going into all the reasons cats scratch (for more details on scratching, see Scratch Here, Not There, BARKS from the Guild, July 2016, pp. 25-26), it is suffice to say that cats have to scratch. It is a natural behavior that serves many purposes. Having said that, cats can certainly be taught… Continued

Why Every Cat Needs a Place to Hide

By Dr. Lynn Bahr Has your cat ever gone MIA in your own home? I lost an entire litter of kittens once in a small 1 bedroom apartment. All five furballs disappeared while I was out running errands.  Imagine my panic and the frantic search that ensued to find them.  Where could they have gone?  I pulled out drawers, furniture, and the refrigerator to no avail. Fearing I would find them by smell weeks later, I sat on the couch to have a good cry.  That was when I heard… Continued

Clicker Training for Cats (3/6)

By Paula Garber and Francine Miller Cats learn best when they are comfortable and free from distractions. They are sensitive and will flee from any threat or uncertainty (and we don’t work with them on a leash!) The best place to teach a cat is somewhere he finds quiet and familiar. This may be challenging because with their acute senses of smell and hearing they may be distracted by things we are unaware of. You should train in a place with a litter box available, fresh water and a place… Continued

How to Make Medicating Your Cat Easy

By Dr. Lynn Bahr Cats may look like cuddly little balls of fuzz, but as soon as the time comes to administer medication, all cat people know that they turn into lean fighting machines capable of inflicting serious damage to hands, clothes, and more. The last time we had to give medication to one of our cats, Peanut, she summoned the strength of giant tiger into her little 7 lb. body and managed to successfully fight off two grown adults, before running under the couch where we couldn’t get to… Continued

Clicker Training for Cats (2/6)

By Paula Garber and Francine Miller In clicker training, primary reinforcers are things that are instinctively or inherently rewarding to a cat. Reinforcers for cats should be given in small amounts and frequently to maintain learning momentum. For cats who are food motivated, use high-value food or treats for clicker training. Many cats like foods with a high animal protein content, like cooked or freeze-dried meat or fish. Other foods to try include canned tuna, deli meat, meat-based baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain onions), and liver paste made… Continued

Clicker Training for Cats (1/6)

By Paula Garber and Francine Miller Why train a cat? Why indeed. Myths about the trainability of cats abound: “Cats can’t be trained because they’re too independent.” “Cats are difficult to train because they are not food motivated.” “Cats don’t need training like dogs do.” These are all common misconceptions, but get ready to kick all the myths to the curb and add some useful cat training tools and techniques to your repertoire. Clicker Training Professional dog trainers will already know all about clicker training and many use the method… Continued

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