Our Cat's Place – Living With Cats

thoughts, articles, & information on cats, their behavior, and their relationships with us.

  • Dec 14

    Cats can be elusive creatures, and sometimes the task of getting them to come when called can seem daunting. However, if you approach this in the right way and with the right attitude, it can be much easier than you think! These are the steps that can be taken.

    • Step 1: Begin by making it a habit to talk to your cat often, and create a strong bond with her through petting, brushing, and spending time together. Take every opportunity to give her your love and attention. Having a good relationship with your cat is very important.
    • Step 2: Find a special dry treat that she really loves. This should be something that she doesn’t have very often, and it will only be used for this purpose. While you are training her to come when called, make sure you don’t give her this particular treat at any other time. Please choose something small and nutritious. A snack that is good for your cat’s teeth would be ideal.
    • Step 3: Find a special word that will be used for training her to come. This will become a word that she associates only with this special treat, so think of something that she won’t often hear at other times.
    • Step 4: The next time you give your cat a snack, use the special word. Put one treat in her empty food bowl while speaking the word out loud.
    • Step 5: Say the word again after she eats the treat. Then give her another of the same treat, and use the word again in the same way.
    • Step 6: Step away from your cat now. If she protests that she is “starving” you can say the word again and give her one more piece. Then leave the room.
    • Step 7: About 4 minutes later, repeat the entire process again. Your cat will begin to learn to associate the special word with her special treat.
    • Step 8: Continue doing this a few times a day for the next several days. Eventually, your cat will learn to come to you when you say the special word.
    • Step 9: When your cat starts coming to you every time you say the special word, start giving her the treat only once in a while. The rest of the time, give her lots of attention (petting, scratches, playing with a toy, whatever she likes) for a few minutes. Then let her go. Repeat this process a few minutes later.
    • Step 10: If you have created a strong bond with your cat, and if you have followed the above procedures correctly, your cat will now associate your special word with the extra attention and loves she gets from you. She should now be coming to you when she hears you say the word.

    Please remember, the treat must be a small and nutritious snack, not something large, or a whole bowl of food. She will be eating a fair number of these during training, and we don’t want her to gain extra weight!

    Make sure that you use the special word every day, just so that she will come to you for affection and hugs. If you use it only when it is time to take her to the vet or give her a bath, she will learn to associate the word with unpleasant times and it can undermine the effects of your training. When these types of occasions do come up, give your cat the treat and then wait a little bit before following through with your “hidden motive”.

    So why does this technique work so well?

    What this all boils down to is conditioning your cat to associate your special word with getting attention from you. The word becomes the trigger, to which she responds in order to get something she wants. Once this happens, any time you say the special word your cat comes because she knows she will be rewarded.

    As you can see, the bond you form with your cat is the most important aspect of getting her to come when you call. When your cat knows that she will get love and affection from being close to you, then she will WANT to come to you any time she can.

    I learned these tips and many others from Mary Matthews’ book “Ultimate Cat Secrets”. If you would like to enjoy a loving relationship with a perfectly well behaved cat, this is well worth a read!

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

  • Nov 2
    Flowers & Trees

    Cat IN Autumn Tree

     

    Seven Things You May Not Know About Your Own Cat
    By Robert Seigal

    Longevity – It is said, give a cat three years for every human year and you have an idea of how old he is compared to us. Not so. A cat at one year old is capable of reproduction and fully able to take care of himself. A three year old human is helpless. Such mathematical formulas for understanding the ‘real’ age of an animal don’t work because their internal, and external developments vary and do not correspond to human development.

    But did you know that the life span of cats seems to be increasing, from around twelve years or so several decades ago to eighteen or more and it seems now not uncommon for cats to live into their twenties? Not only advances in cat medicine but apparently in genetic changes as well are contributing to longer life and some cats live to be much older indeed. Several cats in Southern California have been reported to live as long as thirty and thirty four years.

    Independent & Loners – Cats are thought to be solitary creatures by many, but anyone who has visited a farm where there are cats will find they congregate in colonies, sometimes nearing twenty in number and seem even to hunt together. There is little fighting because there is always one dominant cat which the others all accept, the rest being equal. At least until a new cat arrives and dominance must be re-established.

    If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, as do I, you no doubt find him asking to be let out, even though he has his cat doors. Mine does daily, usually at night. I go to the door, open it and he eagerly runs into he mudroom, awaiting the opening of the next door, though both are equipped with cat doors. If I actually go out into the back patio with him he seems delighted, rolling around on the stones, watching me. I suspect he would love a hunting companion. (Preferably, I expect, one a bit quieter and more stealthy than myself.)

    Cats can’t be trained – Training is entirely possible and we have probably all seen on television performance cats trained to walk a rope, roll a ball and even swim underwater. We attribute this to some sort of showmanship business and think our own cats are not trainable. Depending on the breed and the particular cat, they are probably all trainable to some degree and they are certainly able to train us!

    Particia Moyes, in her book How To Talk To Your Cat, relates how one of her cats and she have a game, the object of which is to remove from some precarious perch – the top of a chair, say, an object, without disturbing anything around and without knocking the item to the floor. The one cat does this with care and great attention, and success. Her other cat, she tells us, takes the game simply to mean, ‘get the thing regardless’ and will also retrieve the item but in the clumsiest fashion, knocking it to the floor.

    Ms. Moyes speaks of two other game she and her cats have; fetch and carry and hide and seek. In the first, the person throws a ball of tinfoil (or what-have-you) and the cat returns it, dropping it at the person’s feet. The second she says her cat invented. She (the cat) will bring the ball of tinfoil, drop it, then leave the room. Ms. Moyes will hide it, then call her cat who will begin excitedly exploring all the hiding places, find it, drop it and leave the room again. Keep in mind that Ms. Moyes creates and maintains an unusual and unusually close and respectful attitude towards her cats. Very likely, and many pet owners, indeed, parents, have discovered that, the more you anticipate your pet (or child) to be capable, the more capable your pet or child becomes.

    My own cat offers a less dramatic, but useful example. A stray taken in at about 8 months he at first caused some alarm with his tendency to ‘do his nails’ on the furniture. I would bang my foot on the floor and tell him no and he’d stop. Now I just tell him, in no uncertain terms, to stop and he does. He only does this when he wants something and I’m not paying attention.

    In fact, this is one way a cat has to get your attention and let you know he needs something – he does what he knows he is not supposed to do. My cat knows he’s not allowed on the kitchen table, for example, but if his food bowl stays empty too long, onto the table he leaps and I know right away he wants feeding.

    There is an ancient Egyptian papyrus of the twentieth dynasty showing a dog walking on his hind legs, carrying a staff, herding goats. In the same picture there is a cat, walking on his hind legs, carrying a staff, herding ducks. The picture depicts the dog and cat on their hind legs carrying staffs, no doubt, to indicate that they are in control. Were they shown on their fours, one, they could not be shown carrying a staff and two, they would seem to be on the same level as the goats and ducks, not in charge of them. My guess is that one time, before the dark days of cat extermination, cats were trained and used and I expect they themselves were very responsive to this arrangement.

    Aloof – When one considers the terrible history the family of cats has endured at the hands of man, repeatedly throughout Europe and even in America, it is no wonder the cat keeps himself aloof. Associated with witches, Satan and evil, as a race, cats have been betrayed, condemned, tortured and exterminated, many times, by the thousands and tens of thousands. Those which survived the pogroms passed on their genes to progeny, along with the survival sense to be wary of man. Yet every cat owner knows how truly attached a cat can become and how genuinely grateful they are for the affection and care given them.

    Cats & Music Start playing an instrument, even something gentle, such as folk music on a guitar, and a dog is likely to leave the room. A cat, on the other hand is likely to come near, lay by you, roll around, purr and seem to enjoy the sounds immensely. My previous cat used to be my biggest fan, particularly of my fairly elaborate finger picking.

    My current cat loves to hear the guitar but the obvious deep pleasure he gets from that doesn’t even compare to when I pick up the Celtic Harp and play on its strings. I can only describe his state as ecstatic, as if each tiny individual sound washes him with almost unendurable pleasure. Many composers throughout history relate the same story.

    The famous harpist, Mlle Dubuy, noticed that her cat purred pleasantly when she played a piece on her harp well but cried when she played less so. She used this phenomena to improve her skill. Recognizing how much she owed her success as a harpist to her discerning cat she left him her substantial inheritance and endowed loyal friends likewise to ensure her cat was well cared for.

    There is a video on YouTube of a cat playing the piano. She is quite intentionally sounding the notes, utterly absorbed in the phenomena. When his mistress plays Bach on another piano the cat stops and listens with obvious appreciation. It is quite as if this cat, and in fact, all cats, truly do appreciate beautiful music and the one in this particular YouTube video, aspires to musicianship.

    Movement – We all know how agile and flexible cats are – owing to a variety of factors. Unlike man, in whom the vertebrae of the spinal column are held together by ligaments, in cat they are bound by muscle, giving the cat great range of movement. Because of the construction of his shoulder joint he can turn his foreleg in almost any direction.

    But have you noticed, probably without thinking about it, that there is something funny, something odd in the way a cat runs?

    Unlike almost all other mammals who advance by moving the front leg of one side of the body and the back of the opposite, the cat moves front and back legs of the same side. So it’s, front, left, let’s say, slight pause, back left, right front, pause, right back. The only other mammals said to do this are the camel and the giraffe – and they both have funny gaits too.

    Food, water and health – Cats can live just fine on dry food. This is a dubious statement many authorities state as being downright false. Cats need meat. They have not the biological capability of taking various elements from a variety of non-meat foods and constructing the needed proteins, which man and dogs can do. And much of the content of dry food, i.e. Carbohydrates, not only are not natural foods for cats, they are said to be wholly unnecessary and can be harmful. Meat in some form, usually canned food, is a necessity for cats, not only for the proteins but as well for the water.

    Cats do not have, as every cat owner has probably verified, a strong drive to drink. Their normal prey is their primary source of water. Deprived of that and not given sufficient wet food a cat can easily, and all too often does develop kidney disease from dehydration.

    Regardless of whether your cat eats wet or dry food or both, fresh water should always be available to her. Many cat owners have observed that cats are more likely to drink if their water bowl is not located next to their food bowl, which makes sense, as in nature, animals go in search of water independently of their search for food. Also, being clean animals, it may not ‘feel’ as hygienic to have food and food smells next to their water source.

    It is also advised to avoid plastic dishes for both food and water. Plastic tends to getting scratched and in those nicks and scratches harmful bacteria can grow. Also, some cats are allergic to plastic and develop skin conditions on their chins when fed and watered from plastic bowls.

    Still water may run deep – but it still doesn’t suit a cat. Almost every cat owner has noticed that their cats love to put their tongues under the tap or even raise their mouths to falling rain. My cat used to put his head under a drip in the bathtub and let the water run to his tongue until we had it fixed – the tub, that is. Many cats will drink from any form of water other than still water.

    Some people, including some vets think there is some molecular difference in moving water. Some think it is the sight of the movement of the water, or the sound. Whatever the reason, (and considering what a big subject this is if posts on the internet are any measure it is a bit surprising that the motivations for this are not better known), cats prefer moving water.

    This fact has spawned an entire industry of cat fountains, almost all plastic, though there are several sources for ceramic cat fountains and cat bowls. Whether it is one of the plastic fountains or a ceramic cat fountain or cat bowl, all need the same care, which is simply to keep it filled and give it a thorough cleaning regularly. Some sources for pet fountains are listed at the end of this article and if you go to http://www.etsy.com and type in ceramic cat fountains you can find others.

    Recommended reading: How to Talk To Your Cat by Particia Moyes The Life History and Magic of THE CAT by Fernand Mery

    Web sources –

    http://www.ceramiccatbowls.com/

    http://www.artfire.com/users/indoorfountains

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Robert_Seigal

    http://EzineArticles.com/?Seven-Things-You-May-Not-Know-About-Your-Own-Cat&id=3385892

     

     

  • Aug 27
    Cat Conspiracy

    Cat Conspiracy (Photo credit: Tjflex2)

    By John W Dowdell

    So you’ve got a cat or cats. Congratulations. Having a cat or cats can be hugely rewarding. Not only do you have a companion to share your daily life with, but they can keep you entertained for hours, comfort you whenever you aren’t feeling well, inspire you when you can’t seem to get it together, and generally they seem to conspire to make it easier to keep your feet on the ground.  That is – if you have a well behaved and well balanced cat.

    Exactly what is a well behaved cat? Well everyone knows that cats possess a mind of their own, and no matter how much we endeavour to exert control over them, they’ll always manage to please themselves. Of course, that’s in the nature of a cat, and it doesn’t mean they’re misbehaving, just doing what cats do.

    A well behaved cat is one who is: calm, fit and healthy, eats well, toilets suitably, and interacts with all the fellow members in the household (both human and feline) appropriately. A miss-behaving cat can totally disrupt a household (human and feline) to the point of you considering removing the culprit. Commonly there are reasons for the cat misbehaving, sometimes we find it is due to some change in their surroundings, New members moving into the household (human or feline) can have a serious impact.. Some of the more noticeable inappropriate behaviours are, spraying in-side the house, biting, scratching, attacking other cats they usually get on with, ripping up your carpets and rugs, furniture, wallpaper, curtains etc,. Refusing to eat, exhibiting stress and anxiety, fearfulness.

    Health

    This is a no brainer. If your cat is not well it will probably behave differently, in some cases disruptively. Your cat needs to be physically healthy to be a relaxed well balanced member of your household. It’s important you feed your cat(s) a proper diet that’s age appropriate, a good clean supply of drinking water and proper housing. A regular checkup at the vets is advisable.

    Know who’s the boss

    Cats are not a pack animal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t a pecking order. There will almost always be one particular cat which will be at the top of the tree, and the rest will fall into line. If one of your cats tries to move into another ones space, trouble can follow. By a cats space, I mean it’s preferred spot on the patio, it’s preferred sleeping spot, or where it normally hangs out or toilets. The response may be out and out aggression, but sometimes it’s quite the contrary. The cat feeling crowded may become withdrawn and stressed. It’s important to keep close track of who’s the dominate one and ensure all of your cats have sufficient space where they can just be themselves without any interference from others. A cat’s emotional wellbeing is just as important as its physical wellbeing.

    Regular feeding

    Cats are notorious for being fussy eaters, but they will unquestionably benefit from a high quality diet and regular feeding times. Clean drinking water is vital for a healthy cat; they’re well-known for failing to take in enough water. In the wild, cats take in the majority of their water requirements through the prey they feed on, so if you feed them dry food, they need to supplement their intake of water. Yes I know they prefer to go outside and drink the dirtiest water they can find, rather than clean water you take so much care to put out for them. Go figure.

    Suitable toilet spaces

    Cats very much like a non-public quiet spot to perform the necessary. Preferably a place where they’re not likely to be surprised. This is true whether your cat is an inside or outdoors cat. Either way, they need somewhere suitable and secure. If at all possible, somewhere you have access to, not an issue for an inside cat that uses a litter box, but can be challenging for outside cats. Not being funny, but keeping track of your cat’s toilet habits can frequently help pre-empt health problems.

    No favouritism.

    Be fair All cats are different and they will all have varying emotional needs. Some will love lots of pats and cuddles, others prefer a quick hello, a pat and then move on, some will spend hours in your lap, while others may only come inside for feeding and need only a quick acknowledgment of their presence. It’s important to know your cat and to provide them with the appropriate level of attention.

    This all helps to maintain balance in the household. This is by no means an exhaustive list of what it takes for a well balanced cat, but if you follow the above suggestions your cat will be well on the way.

    John Dowdell is a cat owner from a Town called Tokoroa in New Zealand. He owns five cats with which he shares his daily life.
    http://worldofcatz.com

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_W_Dowdell
    http://EzineArticles.com/?Five-Tips-for-a-Well-Balanced-Cat&id=7156144

     

     

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  • Jul 5

    Cats often fight with each other if they feel their territory is being invaded. This happens most often with outdoor cats, who may compete with neighboring cats or local feral cats. However, even indoor cats who share the same home can get into nasty, violent fights that are potentially dangerous to their health and life.

    If your cat gets involved in a fight, you will want to do everything you can to break it up right away. Your cat could risk injury or illness. Cuts, scratches, and torn ears can be very painful. Abscesses resulting from cat fights can pose serious health risks and are expensive to treat. A cat can become infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) when it is bitten – such as in a cat fight. FIV however, will be transmitted only if the biting animal is carrying the virus. If your cat is fighting with a feral cat they are especially at risk.

    Here are some ways to break things up.

    1. The quickest way to break up a cat fight is loud hissing, spitting, and a
    glass of water appropriately applied (aim for the face).

    2. Be sure you are not touching the cats or getting your hands anywhere near their
    mouths. Hitting could cause the fight to get much worse, and could even make the cats redirect their attack toward you.

    3. Use a hose to spray water on the attacking cat (or on both of them if you can’t tell who started it!) Again, this is most effective if you aim for the cats’ face.

    4. Force the cats apart by holding a stick or broom between them.

    5. Make lots of noise with something loud like a horn or whistle. Be ready to move away from the cats quickly, and protect yourself from any possible attack.

    6. If the cats are not yet fighting, but they are frozen in position starting at each other, here is something you can do to prevent the battle from starting. Put a magazine or a newspaper between the two cats to block their view of each other. This allows the frightened cat to run away (if it can) and you can pick up the dominant one if it is tame. It is very important to stop the cats from looking at each other before you try to pick one up. Without blocking the sight of the other cat, picking up or even touching the aggressive cat can make the attack start. Usually the frightened cat is cornered and can’t get away, so your only option may be to move the aggressor after blocking it’s view.

    Hope that helps,

    Beth

    P.S. I learned these tips and many others from Mary Matthews’ book Ultimate Cat Secrets. If you would like to enjoy a loving relationship with a perfectly well behaved cat, this is well worth a read!
    *****************************************************

  • May 14
    Panther, a cat using toilet, photographed in S...

    Image via Wikipedia

    For many owners, daily litter box duties are one of the less pleasant aspects of caring for a cat.  Some cats love to dig and scratch in the litter, and can fling it outside the box and onto to the floor.  And it’s very easy for the cat to get litter stuck in his paws and track it all over the house.  Then, there’s the scooping and cleaning….

    So for some people who have the time and patience to put into it, toilet training cats is an ideal solution.  Be aware from the start that this won’t happen right away, and that you will need to be watchful and diligent as you go through the process.  But in the end, won’t it be wonderful to have a cat who willingly uses the toilet?  No more litter boxes, no more cleaning, no more litter tracked all over the floor.  Sound great?  Read on!

    If at all possible, have the family use a separate bathroom while you are training your cat.  This may not be an option for you, but if it is, it will make things that much easier.

    The first step will be to move your cat’s litter box into the bathroom and next to the toilet.  It will be important for all family members to be sure that they always leave the toilet seat down and the lid up, so that your cat will become accustomed to being next to the open toilet.  Next, begin slowly raising the litter box up to the level of the toilet by placing newspapers or other flat and stable items underneath.  Be sure not to use anything slippery, as this could scare your cat and defeat all your good efforts!  Do this gradually over a period of many days.  At first your cat will climb into the box, but as it gets higher up, he will probably jump onto the toilet seat before stepping into the box.  When this happens you are on your way!

    Once the litter box has been raised to the level of the toilet seat, the real work begins.  At this point, get a metal bowl that fits inside the toilet bowl and under the seat.  Make sure it doesn’t slide around when your cat jumps up on the seat.  You can use tape or another method to get it to stay if necessary.  Fill the bowl halfway with litter, so that it is similar to the litter box.  Remove the actual litter box from the bathroom at this point.  When your cat jumps up on the toilet bowl, he will see the litter in the bowl and should begin to use it for elimination.  Now, gradually reduce the amount of litter in the bowl (warning – this is the most unpleasant part of the process of toilet training cats – it will get VERY smelly for a while, hang in there!).  Encourage your cat to stand on the toilet seat instead of in the bowl, by gently moving his paws onto the seat.  Be sure the seat isn’t too slippery for him to stand on.  A cushioned toilet seat may be a good investment at this point!

    Finally, when you have reduced the amount of litter in the bowl to nothing, start putting in water, little by little so your cat can get used to it gradually.  Once you are filling the bowl part way with water, remove the bowl from the toilet altogether so that your cat stands on the seat and does his business directly into the toilet.

    Hopefully this will be a smooth process for you, but there are lots of things that can go wrong and your cat may refuse to cooperate.  There are some very useful resources on toilet training cats that you may want to refer to in this case.  One good one can be found in Mike Whyte’s book “Thinking Outside the Box”, a book on litter box issues with cats, that includes a chapter on toilet training along with how to deal with some of the potential pitfalls.  The techniques for toilet training cats are wonderful, and if you are having any other litter box issues with your cat, this guide is indispensible!

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

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