Surrender YOURSELF… not the cat!

Written by Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi

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Cats are surrendered to animal shelters every day because of behavior changes that humans interpret as spiteful, annoying and downright personal. Giving up on their companions completely, well-intentioned but desperately frustrated cat guardians throw down the white flag and assume that behaviors like petting/ play or territorial aggression, attention-seeking, excessive meowing and litterbox avoidance / spraying and marking are personal attacks against them. Perhaps if people knew that having a cat came with some personal sacrifice, the true surrender would be happening from within. It’s not always about you, but right now it is.

Congratulations! You live with cats. Notice I didn’t say you “have” or “own” them. That’s because when you agree to add a cat or cats to your home, you just made the ultimate sacrifice. You pretty much just agreed to surrender every possession you have, including YOURSELF to the enigmatic whims of a species put on this earth to make you work for them. In return, you will get conditional love. Yes… I just said that…because truthfully the conditions or compromises that you make just to live among these creatures are what confuses most people. Humans feel the need to control. You have a cat. You are now in control of absolutely nothing.

Cats know how we feel

Your cat does not think like you do. In fact, “thinking” is what is getting you in trouble to begin with. Just for a few moments… zero out your intentions, your ego and your past experiences. Think of nothing but breathing and follow that breathe, in and out. Pay attention to only the breathe. When you start to think about the past, you future plans, your resentments, your insecurities, the smelly guy on the bus that ruined your morning… go back to the breath and pay attention to ONLY what is happening in the NOW. You have just become a cat. Time to surrender to living in the here and meow. This may be the hidden secret to understanding cats.

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Relinquish control, because trying to make cats do anything based on your own intentions is futile. Are your cats misbehaving or are you just not allowing them to make freewill decisions? Ever tried to get your cat in a carrier just 1/2 an hour before a vet appointment. Chances are, your intentions (based on time constraints, fear of being late, the clerk at the desk rolling their eyes at you, etc) will impede on your cat’s freewill decision to enter the carrier on their own, thus resulting in personal blood loss and heightened stress for your cat. It’s like trying to defuse a bomb with a timer. Cut the wrong wire and that clock ticks faster and faster ….until BOOM! You have now pushed your cat way beyond their personal freewill comfort level and it’s on. Oh, it’s so on right now. Your lack of patience just got you served.

That same frightening experience can be changed by allowing your cat access to the carrier 24/7. Take the door off and make it a bed, heck, throw treats in there and your cat’s toys for crying out loud! Cats need time to adjust to things and they make negative impressions last if things are predictably disappointing. Surrender to the fact that your cat needs EVERY experience to go down by their own choice and with self-serving rewards. YOU can’t expect your cat to live by your rules. Mostly because your rules kinda suck. It’s not personal. It is defiance to your intentions. Breathe. Ok, welcome back.

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Your cat is not doing things to piss you off. Instead, you are just upset because they are not doing what you want them to do. Guess what? Cats don’t care about what you want. Once that’s understood, you quickly realize that their actions and your intentions will never line up.  You want the cat to stay off the counter tops. Ok… fair enough. Just realize that cats have an innate need to get up off the ground, particularly in places where the resources are highly valued or shared.

YOU are a resource for food and social bonding. YOU typically prepare the cat’s meals and your own in the kitchen. Trying to prevent your cat from being where the action is and where the  “gettin’s good” is pointless, unless you have vertical climbing  alternatives nearby that are more appealing and a positive experience. In order to stop the cat from going on the counter… that area better be humanely booby-trapped 24/7 and or a total pain in the ass to stand on, both when you are home and when you are not. Trust  me, surrender is easier. You live with cats now. Just give them what they want.

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Chances are…what you want and what your cat wants will never line up completely. Well, not until you give up and set yourself free of this burden. Stop expecting a cat to do what you want, stay where you put them, sleep in the beds you buy, eat the food you heard was good, play with the toys you fail to keep interesting and pee in the world’s crappiest litterbox  that you purchased for it’s convenience. You have a cat. Now you also have a job. Right now, you are so close to getting your ass fired. The solutions to making the cat bosses happy are in allowing them to make yes-no decisions and reading between the lines of their requests. Your review is coming up and so far “sometimes meets expectations” is your overall rating. You can’t quit. Just pay closer attention.

TOP TEN CRAPPIEST LITTERBOX CHOICES

 Written by Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi

 

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As a cat consultant that visits your home, I am frequently called to troubleshoot litterbox avoidance problems that end up being a cut and dry case of the cat’s refusal to use the litterbox style selected by a well-intentioned consumer. Cat guardians can easily be seduced into buying litterboxes that appeal to the convenience of not having to scoop it, low litter tracking, small compact size or a design that stylishly camouflages it from public view. You have a cat. Time to put the work into sharing your space together.

I’m here to tell you that being lazy about cleaning your box and hiring a robot to do it for you is going to blow right back in your face. Shit WILL eventually hit the fan… and then your rug, couch, comforter and throw pillow. Technology and the elimination of waste should probably not mix. I’m just saying. Take a moment to yourself and mindfully scoop your box. You laugh.. but it makes the task less…well …shitty. Remember to breathe… on second thought, you might want to inhibit breathing.

Stylish but complicated in execution.

Stylish but complicated in execution.

Cat guardians are easily pissed off when their cats refuse to use the fancy-free accommodations they provide. After all, they dropped a dime or two on a box that will make living with a cat easier….right?  How’s that working out for you so far? We can fix it. You’re just going to have to slum it for a while with a more basic box that is bigger than you might like to display, but the upside is you’ll be living in a home that doesn’t smell like a veterinarian’s waiting room. Just simplify your approach a little and remember, a cat wants to crap in a huge sandbox (twice their size at a minimum) with lots of drop zones and no minefields (clumps, nuggets, dingleberries, etc) to avoid. Keep the box clean. Keep the litter soft and scent free and match the depth to your cat’s preference.  Some like it deep. Some like it shallow.  Some want the moon. Give it to them.

A cat using the litterbox on the moon. Ideal size and substrate make the moon a destination for space traveling cats.

A cat using the litterbox on the moon. Ideal size and substrate make the moon a destination for space traveling cats.

Covered litterboxes reduce the headroom a cat needs to sit upright and urinate. This is why they often urinate out the entrance and on to your shag rug. You have given them little choice but to duck and squirt.  Now…add to the lack of headroom, an entrance with flaps, stairs, rough feeling entry ways (to avoid litter tracking) or a freakin’ turnstile for dog’s sake and we have a recipe for physical graffiti on the outside of the box.

Clevercat fail.

Clevercat fail.

Dude…I’ve seen cats stand on top of covered boxes and drop a deuce right on the lid. Some won’t even walk into a box and crap-blast the entrance mat, making it a no fly zone. YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!! Don’t you get it? They want to use it. They really do. You just have to remove the barriers, auto-scooping and flaming hoops that are blocking them from walking in like a cat.

Your cat is not mad. He is just telling you to get your ass moving and scoop more.

Your cat is not mad at you. He’s just disappointed in your housekeeping abilities. Get it together.

Guardians choose covered boxes with doors because they don’t want to smell what’s inside. Trust me, your cats are just as sensitive and they don’t want to walk into a smelly pee-swamp, day after day. Clean your friggin’ box,! Twice a day keeps the stench away. It only smells because you are a bad housekeeper.

 

 

Using the litterbox should not be a balancing act. If your cat is teetering on the edges or reluctant to enter at all, you have to change the presentation a bit. Top entry boxes are not ideal. They allow your cat only one place (where the hole is) to stand upright once inside, thus limiting the most desirable places to squat to one side, the entrance. Not to mention, climbing out of the box, rather than walking straight out is cumbersome and not appropriate for older cats with less agility. Another potential shit show that can be remedied by replacing it with a storage bin and cutting a hole in the side for a smooth entrance.

You want the ideal box, for any cat… Well, here it is…

 

Aren't they gorgeous? Easy Peesy! Your problems are solved.

Aren’t they gorgeous? Easy Peesy! Your problems are solved.

 

Check out DQ’s Top Ten Crappiest Litterbox Choices below. Did your box make the shit list?

 

Number 10: “The Stairway to Urine”

 

Half of this box is wasted by stairs. Trust me, your cat does not want to shit in an igloo.

Half of this box is wasted by stairs. Trust me, your cat does not want to shit in an igloo. Not to mention most cats pee against the back wall, which seeps through the seam and leaks on your floor.

It’s the spiral staircase entrance, low headroom and limited elimination area that bugs me on this one. Also, many of my clients ditch them because the seam on the side is not urine-tight.

 

Number 9: “Flash Gordon”

The Jestsons meets Futurama porta-potty. This one sports superior odor control while your cat is humiliated.

The Jetsons meets Futurama porta-potty. This one sports superior odor control while your cat is once again… humiliated.

This looks silly to me. Maybe remove the glass helmet shield and it would almost be ok. This one offers odor control. I dunno. Looks like your cat might come out with a perm afterward.

 

Number 8:” Crazy cupboard ”

Two diagonal entrances? Whats wrong with walking straight? Almost there...but the entrance is jacked.

Two diagonal entrances? Whats wrong with walking straight? Almost there…but the entrance is jacked.

This box might be ok if you remove the inside wall or line the two entrance holes up. Otherwise, fill that whole cabinet with litter. Don’t squander one square inch of real estate to avoid tracking litter.

 

Number 7: The Cradle of Filth

This one is all kinds of wrong. A baby carriage for your cat to crap in. Awesome. I hope it doesn't rock.

This one is all kinds of wrong. A baby carriage for your cat to crap in. Awesome. I hope it doesn’t rock.

Rockabye Baby. You’ll be hating yourself for even thinking about this one. Litterboxes should be stabilized with the entrance on ground level. I’d be willing to bet that this cradle will rock. Not to mention the crapcake cage on the side. Just scoop your box, people.

 

Number 6: Turd raker

Lazy people love an automated box. Better save up because you'll be buying another when this one clogs and malfunctions.

Lazy people love an automated box. Better save up because you’ll be buying another when this one clogs and malfunctions.

Automated boxes often clog up, scare cats and require special litter types that may not appeal to your cats sensitive paws. If you really want one though, just go to your local landfill. There will be thousands to choose from.

 

Number 5: “Klevercat”

There's nothing clever about it. No cat should have to dumpster dive to use the box.

There’s nothing clever about it. No cat should have to dumpster dive to use the box.

Oh Klevercat. You and I will never get along, I’m afraid. I have literally seen cats stand on the top and shit all over the entrance rim. Some particularly agile cats seem to do fine, but most of the time, this choice is the garbage can of litterboxes.  Use it as such.

 

 

Number 4: “Kitty Cement Mixer”

The Cement mixer of litterboxes. Again... smearing poop and pee on the sides of the box is not the way to go.

The Cement mixer of litterboxes. Again… smearing poop and pee on the sides of the box is not the way to go.

Ok, so how does it makes sense to roll cat feces and urine soaked litter all over the sides of the box? Are you going to clean it? Nope. I didn’t think so.

Number 3: “Litter Spinner”

Another cement mixer / crap roller. Imagine yourself sitting in there. That's what I thought.

Another cement mixer / crap roller. Imagine yourself sitting in there. That’s what I thought.

Again…a defecation mixer for your cat to stand in. You’re better than this.

 

Number 2: “No room at the Inn”

 

Do I need to explain why this will go badly?

Do I need to explain why this will go badly?

If your cat can stand upright… you’re golden with this automated gem! Why? How? Just don’t. ok

 

 

Number 1: “R2D-Poo

 

The Litter Robot is like a ferris wheel of cat poop in your living room.

The Litter Robot is like a ferris wheel of cat poop in your living room.

The automated poop mixer of your dreams. It does the rolling for you and traps the poo and pee smearings in a little box for you. The sides of the box remain an olfactory nightmare for your cat.  This one appeals to your disdain for cleaning the box and your love for science fiction. R2DPoo will be a great ice-breaker for your dinner parties and a wonderful experiment in futility.  Your cat will likely decide your open clothes dryer or washing machine is “The place to be/pee”.

This is not the droid you are looking for.

 

 

 

 

Serving up hardcore cat behavior. Blunt force reality with DQ.

 

 

 

DQ appears on KGO 810 AM RADIO!

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I had the honor and privilege of being on KGO radio’s “Hangin’ with Langan” show this weekend. Maureen Langan and I talked about everything from the Portland 911 cat to the common behavior misconceptions that I see everyday through my adventures with Go Cat Go. We took some really funny calls too! I had such a blast on the show with Maureen. Her comic timing and brilliant approach to late night radio made me feel really at ease. I don’t need an excuse to talk about cats and the way humans contribute to their problems. Just straight shooting on this show. I love that!

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You’ll hear me referred to as “The Cat Hipsterer” which is just my way of poking fun at the way people use “whisperer” to describe anyone with intuition about animals.. and also some razzing about my own aesthetic. People get so insulted when they are called hipsters. Can’t take yourself too seriously when your job is to find out why cats pee on people when they’re sleeping. It’s ok to be hip… and it’s hip to be square.

You can hear the radio podcast here: DQ on KGO RADIO

(It’s 30 minutes long, so make some muffins with your feet and find a comfy spot sit and laugh.)

DQ Joins Animal House TV!

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I am bursting with happiness to finally be able to share this news. In June, I will be flying to Othello, Washington to film the pilot episode of Animal House, a reality show dedicated to changing  animal shelter conditions in rural communities. Imagine an extreme makeover show for animal shelters that are struggling to save lives with very little.  Myself and a team of 7 animal welfare professionals from around the U.S. and beyond… will travel to rural shelters and help them redesign their buildings and educate the communities they serve.

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Having worked in the animal welfare world for 12 years, this project is very near and dear to my heart.  My mission of preventing the abandonment of cats due to behaviors that are simply misunderstood and changing the existing conditions for homeless cats in shelters will soon be very very real. I’ll be able to reach the masses with my mission now. This is a dream come true for me.

Please take a look at the Sizzle reel below….This is what the show would look like, only with 8 hosts on the team. If you can, support our show through a contribution or just sharing the buzz on social media.

You can find out more about Animal House on the Webpage or Facebook.

“Animal House” Sizzle Reel – a series for people who LOVE animals! from Lucky Head Films on Vimeo.

 

Thank you all for your continued support and for helping GCG spread cat behavior awareness across the world!

~DQ

WILL WORK FOR FOOD

Written by:

Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi
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Got yourself a flabby tabby? Is your feeding routine the same every day – just a free for all, help yourself, all you can eat until you fill the bowl again type situation? I know why you do it….believe me, I do. It’s because cat’s are low maintenance companions, right? Just fill the bowl, refresh the water and it’s off to work you go, go, go! Sounds easy enough, right? This is why you got a cat, because they require so much less than dogs. I get that. But then, why is kitty extra vocal in the early morning hours (like around 4 AM), running aimless laps around the apartment at night or suddenly misfiring his play-drive on his best friend, ending in a fur flying? Better yet, why is kitty gaining so much weight? Could it be that just putting food in the same open bowl every day with no real challenge or activity could be slowly chipping away at the moral fiber of your cat? His very will to live has transformed into accepted boredom, as his meals are now expected and reliable disappointments. Worse yet, some cats share this disappointment with a friend. It’s more like an internal disappointment, though. That’s why it never occurs to us until the shit hits the fan in our own lives – AKA lack of sleep, breaking up cats fights and being bitten with “No provocation”. What if the provocation was boredom? I just blew your mind.

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Don’t feel guilty. It’s not your fault. As resource manipulators and protectors, cats learn to adjust to the accommodations we give them, even if it is against their innate best interests.  Cats adjust to convenience easily, this is for sure, but when they are given he option to work for their food, they quickly realize a whole new appreciation for “The hunt”. You have a trained killer or four (let’s be true to this audience) in your house. You can’t expect them to sleep in everyday when their every thought is on simulated murder. Give them what they want…just don’t give it away for free. Sleep is the reward for a day filled with activities only a human can provide. Your cat isn’t lazy. He just accepts life as it is…and right now it’s boring. You can fix this. Only YOU can fix this.

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Now, don’t be scared. I’m not proposing that you simulate the hunt literally. No need to release mice or beetles in your house. Just opt for a better, more challenging presentation. Hopefully, one that just adds a little time and thought to the process. You can start with something simple like a bowl that has built-in obstacles or store bought foraging toys- There are so many types on the market!  Heck, throw some food in a paper bag or box and watch your cat go ape shit trying to get it out. Make it a challenge and if kitty is hungry enough, the hunt begins! Just changing it up a bit makes it more appealing. Ever wonder why cats make a beeline for a new box? That’s because It’s NEW (Not to mention similiar to the space ships that cats arrived in many moons ago).  Cats can be sensitive to change…but where boxes and toys are concerned…sometimes…. change IS good.

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Some of my clients have made DIY puzzle feeders out of anything from a soda bottle to a plastic Silly Putty egg. Sometimes, smaller, lighter weight toys are more desirable over clunky ones. Test your cats preferences each day with a new and creative food foraging routine. If your cat is not stoked on food, try a high value treat that is only given on special occasions. The more desirable the treat or food, the more motivation there will be to hunt for it.

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The bottom line is this. You can do better. We can all do better. Playing with your cat is a patience game. Most of us (humans) lose interest in the hunt, long before our cats do. It’s not that they are bored with the toys you purchased. It might just be the way they are played with. It’s up to you to put aside the time to add enrichment to your cat’s daily routine. Your cats are simply not that inventive. From interactive play (be the toy!) that is more like the way a mouse, bug or bird moves and less like the way your hand does  – to a hassle FULL not “free” session of food foraging Your cat needs challenging meals, not comfort food. Try experimenting with some of these simple additions and watch all those other complaints slowly melt away.

[Read more…]

Venus Hand Traps

By Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi

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Oh, that belly…that terribly inviting, soft and squishy, hard to look away from, magical and mysterious cat belly. It taunts you, or at least you have been conditioned to believe it is. The mere display of this potentially deadly part of your cats arsenal makes you want to tempt fate, each and every time, like a red button that says, “Don’t push me!” You want to put your hand there. I know you do.

My advice to you: Either don’t do it at all or be prepared to get owned like a house fly. I know….I’ve heard it before. Your cat LOVES to be petted on the tum tum and he never bites. Of course, thresholds will vary, but just know one thing- The big belly reveal is not an invitation for petting. It’s more like a finger waving you closer and closer. Doom awaits and you can’t avert your eyes. This is a trap and you are at a severe disadvantage. Your soft and supple, skin covered hand is no match for this wiggling warrior’s weaponry (Say that three times).

Cat’s will display their bellies for many reasons. Sometimes it’s a show of contentment, arousal (either negative or positive) or a reaction to a catnip toy. Most of the time, a belly display is an invitation for rough play. All positive reasons to squirm and show the belly, but still not an invite to put your hand there.

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Sometimes when cat’s are being petted on their back or flanks, they will choose to roll over on their side or back, displaying the gold. This can be confusing to well-intentioned guardians, because instincts will tell you to continue petting, working your way to that golden treasure chest of soft temptations. Be careful…You may be  inadvertently arousing your cat into a playful mood, bringing confusion to the purpose of your hand. One second your hand is petting with compassion, the next….threshold has been reached and you are being bunny kicked, bitten and held down by two very sharp paws. The bottom line is: Don’t take the bait at all or watch your cat’s body language closely. Make sure you aren’t provoking the petting aggression by missing the signals all together. Most of all, don’t take this sudden change in direction personally. It’s not about you. It’s about what you do with your hands.

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 If you see the following before a belly display…You may be heading into a Venus Hand Trap:

  • Flattening, turning or twitching ears
  • Tail swish – Slow to Fast
  • Cranky meow or drawn-out vocalizations
  • Staring or pupilary dilation
  • Quick head turn to watch your hand as you pet
  • Stillness or tenseness
  • Shifting body position repeatedly
  • Back feet push against your hand to keep it away
  • Front paws grab hold
  • Twitching of the back (often described as “skin rolling”)
  • Hissing and growling
  • Licking of your hand
  • Inhibited nipping (soft and gentle)
  • High play drive or need for interactive play
  • You just got bitten and scratched.

What to do if your hand is stuck in the trap:

  • Cease petting
  • Make your hand go limp (dead prey)
  • Do not react by pulling your hand or fighting back (this can provoke more aggression)
  • Redirect the focus to an interactive toy
  • Redirect to your cat’s favorite treat (only when the aggression stops)
  • Apologize for not noticing your cat’s limits
  • Never make the same mistake again
  • Tell all your friends how to avoid the trap

Next week: We’re covering ELEVATOR BUTTS!

SF Cat Guy in the news again!

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Daniel Quagliozzi has a gift for dealing with problem cats. As the Adoption Promotion and Support associate for the San Francisco SPCA, he works with felines that have “needs that need to be addressed.”

Watch him with Powder, who has been returned to the shelter twice for her unruly behavior.

http://missionlocal.org/2013/01/the-cat-whisperer/

Have Cat Will Travel

 This is a very informative blog post by a fellow behavior consultant. Ever have trouble getting your cat into a carrier for a vet visit? Check out what Ingrid has to say!

 

by Ingrid Johnson, CCBC

Have Cat, Will Travel!

Cats visit the veterinarian far less than our canine companions. This is largely due to the common problem that most pet parents cannot get their cat into a carrier; at least not easily. If we change our expectations of cats and train them from kitten hood the way we do with puppies it would certainly make things a lot easier. One of the first activities for families with a new puppy is an exciting ride in the car to pick out a leash and collar. We should do the same with our cats. We also take the puppy to different places, which means the car ride doesn’t always equal a trip to the veterinarian. We should do the same with our cats!

The following is a list of suggestions that can make getting your cat into their carrier easier and less stressful for all involved.

Leave the carrier out in the home. One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is that when they took the cat carrier out of the closet their cat ran under the bed. Well, of course it did! That cat hasn’t seen the carrier since the last time they were sick and didn’t feel well, had surgery, or last year when they went in for their annual visit and got poked and prodded. If the cat carrier sits under the desk in your home office or out on the sun porch 365 days a year than it becomes no more scary than the armchair in your living room. Doing this will essentially desensitize your cat to the carrier. When it is time to go somewhere, simply pick up your cat and bring them to the carrier. DO NOT bring the carrier to your cat.

Make the carrier inviting and cozy.  When leaving the carrier out and about in the house make it a great place for your cat to hang out. Put a nice bed in there or an old T-shirt that smells of their favorite human. Place food and treats in the carrier for your cat to discover. Catnip and toys should be included too. Sliding around inside a slick, scary box that you were put in against your will is pretty unpleasant. Add to that fear and motion sickness and the potential for your cat to vomit and eliminate during travel is it also pretty gross. Having bedding in the carrier makes for a warm and cozy trip. If your cat should eliminate, at least there is something absorbent in there so they are not covered in it upon arrival to the clinic. There is nothing worse than starting off your cat’s annual physical with the stress of a bath! If you know your cat tends to make messes during travel then bring a change of bedding for the ride home. It is also nice to cover the carrier with a towel or specially designed carrier cover to help your cat not feel so vulnerable and exposed. See photo.  

 

The type of carrier is important as well. While there are many varieties on the market a top loading carrier is really the easiest for most people to work with to achieve a successful outcome. A plastic, hard sided carrier with a removable top is ideal. This allows the vet staff to take your cat out with ease and even perform much of the examination in the comfort of the bottom of the carrier. Cats do better when the can stay inside the one place that smells like home or their favorite human, as it is the only familiar thing they have while at the vets office. Soft sided carriers do not allow for this technique. If your cat is challenging during an office visit, then soft sided carriers are definitely not preferred. The mesh sides give the cat too much to hold onto and it can be very difficult to remove them from the carrier. If your cat typically vomits or eliminates during travel then the soft sided carriers are also very messy as the contents can leak out onto your car seats, floorboards, and even onto you! Safety should also be considered, and a hard sided plastic carrier will keep your cat safe should you be in a car accident while traveling with your kitty.

Training can make all the difference. If you are truly motivated to make getting your cat into their carrier less of a struggle, then train them to go in on command! Clicker training is ideal for this to be successful. Simply leave the carrier out for your cat to explore, and leave both the front door and top loading door open. When they approach the carrier or perhaps jowl rub it, click and treat your cat. If they show any interest in sticking their head inside to sniff and check it out, click and treat that as well. One foot in the carrier, click and treat. Basically, you are rewarding any close approximations towards the end goal, which is all four feet in the carrier. Once you have achieved this then you only click in treat when the whole cat is in the carrier. Eventually you can add a verbal cue, such as carrier, crate, or box, etc. You can also play with your cat with the carrier completely open. Dangle a feather toy or piece of string and have them run thru the door and jump out the top. Never getting closed in, but having a good time in there will build trust.

Practice trips can help too. You can take your cat for a quick car ride just as you would your dog. The end result does not have to always equal a trip to the veterinarian which will help your cat not have such a negative association with that pesky travel box. This can be especially helpful if you have an adult cat or newly adopted cat that really hates the carrier. Try to reinforce that bad things do not always happen as a result of being in the carrier while simultaneously reinforcing that they always get to come home.

To start, put your cat in the carrier using one of the positive techniques described above and take them out to the car. Give them a very high value treat such as chicken deli meat and come back inside. The session is over. Nothing bad happened, in fact, chicken happened! You may need to repeat this for a few more sessions before moving on. You want to gradually build to taking a trip around the block, giving that high value reward and then returning safely home, no vet visit, just cruisin’, snackin’ and then home. I even have some clients that bring their cats along to the vet to pick up medications or food and the cat never comes out of the carrier. They just come along for a positive visit. Perhaps their human picks up some yummy treats or a catnip toy and they go home. No needles, no nail trims, no handling; just a positive trip to the vet.

Help them cope with the stress. Despite all of these suggestions, it is still no doubt stressful for most cats to have to go in their carrier which often leads to a vet visit. Feliway should be used to aid in minimizing your cat’s stress. Feliway is a synthetic feline facial pheromone that helps your cat feel comfort in a new or strange place, and helps them feel as if they have already marked this place before so it seems more familiar.  Spray your cat carrier and car with Feliway at least 10 minutes prior to travel. You can also spray the carrier regularly while it is sitting out somewhere in your home.

Lavender and honeysuckle are also scents that cats can find calming and appealing. You should not allow your cat to come into direct contact with these essential oils however. Simply allow the fragrances to aerate the surrounding area so that your kitty has a smell that they may find calming.

Composure treats are calming treats that can be used in many different stressful situations. Giving your cat one or two treats prior to their vet visit may not only help with travel but the examination as well. Some clients have also found Rescue Remedy to be helpful.

Consider carrier storage. Keep in mind where you store your carrier. Is it buried in the garage covered in debris and filled with dead bugs and cobwebs? Is it up in the attic, buried under this years’ yard sale goods filled with dead bugs and cobwebs? Do you think your cat will find this filthy, weird box that is saturated in all of these unappealing smells inviting? Cats are clean and tidy animals, their carrier should be clean too. Not to mention, that carrier is your cats’ ticket to safety if you have an emergency. Take it from someone who has experienced a house fire!! Make sure you can easily access your cat’s carrier. It could be a situation of life or death!

The goal is to not make the cat carrier a big scary monster! Make it a cozy fun place to be!

Happy Travels!

You can read more from Ingrid Johnson here: http://www.fundamentallyfeline.com/Blog.html

Resistance is Futile

By Daniel Quagliozzi

Cat Behavior Consultant

 

 

 

One of the things that I find truly fascinating about cats is their keen ability to train human beings to do their bidding, no matter how inconvenient the task may be. We go to all sorts of lengths to keep our cats happy, eating, drinking and using their litter boxes, even if it means displacing ourselves in our own homes.

Cats are quirky animals. They could even be described as eccentric and little bit manipulative in their methods. Sure, human beings are particular about things too, but cats seem to boggle the mind when it comes to their likes, dislikes and habits. No one ever said that living with a cat would be easy. As long as you are trainable, your cat will have no worries at all.

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Let’s use my former best friend Matilda for example. These pictures are old as she has now crossed over into immortality. When Matilda was living, her old age and experience paved the way for many alterations in my lifestyle. There were certain conditions that she just had to have in order to get through the day. Most of these conditions happened at the my own expense.

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1. Matilda needed very cold water presented to her in a drinking glass, located on the night stand next to the bed. (I  found this out the hard way when I set a glass out for myself in case  I got thirsty during the night)

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2. Matilda demanded that sleeping be accomplished under the covers and on top of my chest… the moment I lay down for bed each night. This required me to lift my comforter up so that she could spin around several times on my chest and get comfortable. Other times, she preferred to be tucked in like a human…and I happily obliged.

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3. In the absence of a blanket, Matilda would attempt to crawl under my bathrobe. As you can see, this is was partly successful as there is only so much bathrobe to go around and I am wearing most of it.

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4. Matilda asked that her wet food be served exactly at 7:00 Am and 9:30 PM, which was communicated by the act of trampling all over me  until I finally give in to her cries for attention as she stood on my wind pipe. Her night-time demands were quite effective to say the very least.

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5. Once the food was served, Matilda would have roughly three or four bites of the food, walk away and make herself comfortable in the now empty master bed. She would remain in the bed until roughly 7 pm… when I returned home.

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6. For her daily work out session, Matilda required that a shoe lace attached to a stick be forever dangling from the same night stand she perched on for water. I guess she decided that having her very ownhome  gym was easier than pestering me for playtime.

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Cat guardians across the country can relate to Matilda’s story. She may be gone in body but the spirit of her quirks will forever live on. Her needs, although not that outlandish… were still her very own.

Freedom of choice is a cats prime directive. They do what they want, when they want and there’s nothing you can do about it. Resistance is Futile.