Talking Cat Dynamics: Are some cats just hard wired?

Does Your Senior Cat Really Want to Live with a Kitten?

Keeping it Real: The Art of Interactive Cat Play

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 Written by Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi Cat guardians are always telling me that their cats show no interest in playing, yet their play/prey drives are misfiring like an antique musket. They tell me that their cats get bored easily and just sit there, staring blankly at the toy moving in front of them without budging an inch, but at night time they stalk ankles like a ninja. Is your cat truly bored? Maybe it’s the way that you’re playing that has them waiting for something better to happen.  Let’s discuss.

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As a consultant that visits your home, I see all the lonesome toys that you choose for your cat. I see the baskets (aka toy graveyards) filled with discarded and skinned mice of all sizes, clunky automatic toys, broken wands, wet and shriveled feathers, laser pointers, cat dancers, catnip socks, rainbow fleece shoelace things that are disintegrated from cat saliva and that homemade contraption that’s hanging by a thread and falling apart, but it’s the only thing your cat truly loves anymore. We can do better. Let’s troubleshoot some of the potential problems.JippyJooDon’t take the art of play for granted. It’s not always easy to keep your cat’s eyes on the prize. Let me ask you some crucial questions about how you get down with the business of cat play:

  • Are you sitting in a chair, waving the toy around in a two-foot radius?
  • Are you moving the toy back and forth, so quickly that your cat just watches it for a few minutes, get’s confused and then gives up?
  • Are you… yes, YOU, petering out before your cat does?
  • And finally… Are you being the toy? That’s right, are you making the toy move like the actual creature that you are simulating?

Here are five key pointers on how to BE THE TOY! 1234628_10202021109629690_123156539_n Pick the Right One. Cats like to chase small, lightweight toys that are easy to carry in their mouths. I find that pretty much every cat that I meet likes Neko Flies because they are realistic looking and if moved correctly, spark that prey drive almost instantly. I also like DA BIRD because it flies and sounds like a real bird. Your cat might like less noise and more skittering. Finding the right fit for your cat’s play style takes some awareness of what makes those eyes light up. Pay attention. Bored Don’t Be a Couch Potato If you’re sitting down, you are limiting the playing field. Get up and move that toy around the room like a mouse, bug or bird would. Cats want prey to run away from them, not run to them. You are failing at making it seem realistic if YOU are too lazy to get up. Take some time and be the toy. Forget what happened at work today and take 15 minutes to clear your head and be a bug instead.

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Keep Your Distance Don’t use short wand toys with a toy on the end that have you leaning over and lurching around the room. Your cats will likely just advance right up your arm and nail you. Choose a toy with a long wand and a long string, so that your cat only concentrates on the toy, not you. Being the toy means separating your physical self from the action. Get your mind inside the toy instead. cat-owner-24 Use the environment Keep prey targets moving along walls, around corners and through the cracks and crevices. Cats like challenges. You’ll notice once something is harder to catch, a cat seems to want to catch it even more. Weave in and out of table legs and between couch cushions. Make it worth it. target sighted“Now You See Me. Now You Don’t” Cats LOVE it when a toy suddenly disappears. Try this experiment. Move your prey target to a doorway and pause at the doorsill. Now make it turn the corner out of view. That one moment where it disappears is golden. You’ll notice your cat take chase once the toy is “getting away”. You can try this under the rug or in a bag or basically anywhere a toy can crawl under. Never make a toy run to the cat. That’s just ridiculous. Watch for the wiggle. The wiggle is worth the wait.

If you can just concentrate on the toy and be in the moment, you’ll find your thoughts jumping into the mind of the creature that you are simulating. You’ll find that your worries drop away. Try this for fifteen minutes a day. Meditate on mouse movements. You owe this quiet time to yourself and your cat will be very grateful for the hunt.

Cat Meets Dog….Can’t we all just…get a room?

By Daniel Quagliozzi

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In all my years of working with cats in a shelter environment, perhaps the most popular question asked is; “Can you help me find a cat that will get along with my dog?” As simple as this question may appear to be, it’s a huge math equation that requires a predictive approach to finding the answer. It involves a little guess work, prior knowledge about the independence and gregariousness of the cat and also some background on the resident dog. To put it frankly, it’s very hard to answer without thumbing through an entire list of animals and trying to imagine them adapting to a specific situation or enviroment.

So, to make things simpler for all of you, I have compiled some tips to help you out with the search for the ultimate dog-friendly-feline.

Smoothing Out the Rocky Road Ahead:

The best predictor of how cats and dogs will get along together is their background. Have you walked past a cat with your dog? Did it growl, bark or lunge, or did it just get curious or not care? Audition your dog on leash with a willing cat that already has dog experience – they are less likely to run away and pee on your brand new Ikea sofa. It’s also good to try out the same cat on more than one occasion and to try out more than one cat. The trick will be finding this brave and un-frazzled feline. Some cats, or shall I say most cats …will want nothing to do with this experiment.

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Read up on the cats past history. If you are adopting from a shelter, ask the adoption staff to dig up any information on the cats prior experiences. This will be essential in trying to imagine how it will be effected by a dogs approach, play and general cohabitation.

Be aware that certain dog breeds are hard wired to chase small prey. A feisty terrier that digs holes in your yard and brings home dead critters may not be a good companion for a 2 month old kitten. Predatory types are much more stressful for cats and must be constantly managed when around the cat if they are to live with one. Predation is not something a dog can be easily trained not to do as it is deeply ingrained.

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Cats who have not been socialized to dogs will almost always behave defensively, by fleeing and/or with an aggressive display the first time they encounter a new dog. If the dog does not come on too strong, and if the cat is given dog-free zones to retreat to, many cats will gradually get used to the dog and sometimes even become bonded.

Ok, So you did it. You combined a cat and a dog. What should you do to make your home more appealing to both?

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  • Have a “safety room” or rooms as well as high places the cat can access but the dog cannot. Baby-gates, cat doors and clearing high surfaces can accomplish this. It is important that the cat can retreat to regroup and relax away from the dog and then venture forward into “dog territory” at her own pace. The cat should have access to food, water and litter in this area so no interactions with the dog are forced.

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  • Never force the cat (or dog) into proximity by holding them, caging them or otherwise restricting them from escaping. This is defintely not going to help matters. Aside from it being inhumane, stress is a common reason for cats to break litter box training and nobody wants that!
  • For the first introduction, have the dog on leash in case he decides to chase. If it seems to be going well, take the leash off and supervise closely.
  • If the dog is behaving in a friendly and/or cautious way, try to not intervene in their interactions, except to praise and reward the dog for his good manners.

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  • Interrupt any intense chasing and try to redirect the dog’s attention to another activity – this is very difficult so you may be forced in future to manage the dog on-leash around the cat until you have worked out a routine or divided up the house.

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  • In the first few weeks, observe the trend: are things getting better or worse? Monitor interactions until there is a pattern or plateau in their relationship.

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  • If the dog is the newcomer, be sure to give plenty of extra attention to the cat so she does not associate this change with reduced attention and affection. If the newcomer is a cat, it’s also a good idea to make sure the dog associates the new intruder with good things for him. Shoot for positive associations always.

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  • Dogs should not have access to the cat litterbox – it is too stressful for the cat and the dog may eat cat feces and litter. Most dogs will also eat cat food the cat leaves behind – we suggest feeding cats in the cat’s “safe” room or on a high surface.

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>;If you are successful with getting the dog and cat to live in harmony, perhaps you want to try adding a rat for good measure?

P.S. I purposely chose pictures for this blog where the cat had the upper hand over the dog. No offense to you dog folks.