Balancing Style & Purrspective

By Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi

Your home is a sacred place for both you and your cats. It’s where you retreat, recharge and relax. If you’re a cat person, it means so much more. Let’s face it, some of us are home a lot. So, why not create an environment that exemplifies your style, keeps your stuff organized and allows your cats to share the same space with you, while still calling it their own? It can be done….even in your tiny apartment!

I think most people are hesitant to add cat furniture to their homes, because the choices we are used to are bleak and unattractive. I mean, beige on beige carpet is cool and all, but we’re living in modern times. We ARE doing so much better with cat enrichment and design. You just have to take the time to create the design. Manifest the vision. It’s meow or never.

IMG_0635

My consult in Mountain View with my clients, Sean & Bonnie and their cats, Dudley, Xena & Clyde was a total blast! I just had to feature their catification project on my blog, because I think it really combines aesthetic style, attention to comfort, cat logistics and just straight up consideration for the happiness of their cats. Virtually every nook and cranny in this house has thoughtful cat enrichment of some kind, paying extra attention to scent soaked areas like scratch pads, posts and perches.

Using Kate Benjamin & Jackson Galaxy’s book, “Catify to Satisfy” as a guide, the preferences of each cat to get up off the ground and into the mix have been embraced and catered to with modern elegance and kitsch. They added cabinets and shelves to areas that had the most social significance, like home offices, workshops and of course, the living room and bedroom areas.

Check out their hard work below. Most of the cabinets are Ikea models and the climbing pole was DIY, based on the book referenced above.

Five Rules for Humans Living in Catlandia

13227089_10209437477034240_3535615008188107170_n

Written by Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi

Humans and cats have been trying to peacefully coexist for centuries, and for the most part, we are doing ok…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 look and feel. It enables a sense of urgency to how fast we like our conflicts to be resolved. Cats however… have not changed one bit. If anything, they may have become lazier from our influence and they have all the time in the world to do nothing.

We’ve basically evolved into beings that fit their whole lives into boxes. Sometimes, we invite cats to live inside and outside our boxes with us. Heck, we even expect them to use a box as a bathroom, regardless of how it looks, smells or where it is located. Basically, we set our own ground rules for living and expect our cat friends to adhere to the lines we draw around them. We come to understand that our feline guests have their own agenda pretty quickly. In fact, they’re not acting like guests at all. They’re treating our homes like their personal AirB&Pee!

The cats have taken over. They’ll live in your box… sure, just not by your rules. Think about the CAT, not the BOX. Your home has a different name now … Welcome to Catlandia, which is basically any place that cats live! You invited cats to stay; now you have to obey! Resistance is futile. Surrender is inevitable. Please consult the following guidelines for peaceful coexistence in a world free of your own frustration:

3859972696_881425df36

Cats don’t understand “property”.

So here’s the thing… cats don’t see a difference between your stuff and their stuff. They aren’t drawing lines between where they are “allowed” to go. We do that; expecting them to understand that jumping on a countertop or dinner table is unacceptable. The problem is, cats go anywhere they please, because to them, everything in their territory belongs to them, including your stuff and sometimes…YOU. They expect it all.

Cats have a natural instinct to get off the ground, especially if it’s not rewarding on the floor. They want to be where the action is. That’s why cats choose to hang in places with high social significance, like couches, dressers and countertops or anywhere they can get the best possible vantage points. If you haven’t provided alternatives like cat shelves, climbing structures or made it practically impossible to sit or stand in places that you can’t compromise, cats are going to take advantage of what the landscape provides.  You’re going to have to give in a little to strike a balance and erase the lines.

Cats scratch furniture. True story! But… it doesn’t have to be that way! Give cats alternatives to your furniture and be observant of their preferences for location and material. Cats are going to scratch places that they consider important. That’s usually any scratch-able surface that you sit on too! If you’re having a hard time accepting their compliments, then make sure to provide your cats with places that they can call their own and scratch-friendly options that respect their preferences. The ultimate compliment is embracing their need for ownership.

ZWfAgrX

 Cats Are Disobedient.

Like fuzzy little punk rockers; cats have a way of pawing their noses at authority. They just can’t be told what to do and the harder you try to make them conform, the more they push back against your will to change them. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be influenced or trained. It just means that if it’s your idea to make them do something, it’s probably not going to happen the way you planned.  They read your intentions like a psychic.

Cats are not motivated to please you the same way that dogs are. They have unspoken expectations and even a sense of entitlement to the resources that humans provide. That doesn’t mean that they don’t understand reward. It’s quite literally the one the thing that a cat understands best! They just prefer to get those rewards on their own terms and not on your behalf. The trick is allowing them access to the rewards without stepping on their toes too much.  If there are benefits to be had, you can bet a cat will be around to receive them.

Training a cat is easy to do, if you understand what motivates them and are willing to devote the time. For some cats, it might be food or treats that keep their eyes on the prize, while others prefer playtime or affection.  You can clicker train cats to do all sorts of tricks and tasks, if they’re willing to work for food. Food might be the one thing you can actually control in this relationship, but don’t get cocky. Using food too much robs you of power and might ultimately backfire on you.

wYTCtRu

Cats Can Be Selfish.

To say that cats are self-serving creatures would be a bit of an understatement. They mostly do what benefits them personally. When sharing living spaces with humans, cats learn quite quickly that there are very specific benefits to the partnership. We provide access to never ending buffets of food, along with all the bells and whistles (sometimes literally) to keep them happy in our homes. But is it ever enough? Probably not; the more benefit you provide, the more likely a cat is to be there waiting for it each day.  I call this the “Double edged sword of cat companionship”.

Most cats don’t like to collaborate with other cats when it comes to playtime. When faced with one target in a group dynamic, some cats just take a seat and wait until it’s their turn, which may never come, because one cat is monopolizing the playing field. In a multi cat home, it is essential that each cat have solo opportunities for interactive play. This helps to reduce tension, competition, anxiety and boredom. Keep it real and the benefits will balance out the rest.

Does it seem like some cats just don’t appreciate petting? Or are we just opting to pet them in the wrong places? Cats like to be stroked in self-serving places like their cheeks, flanks and shoulders. Respectfully petting these areas, allowing the cat to steer the experience, releases pheromones and solidifies the bond between guardian and friend on equal terms. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Serve the cat first and you’ll be richly rewarded later.

Pot-Plant-Cats-EMGN8

Cats Need Choices.

Most cats have a pretty clear threshold for how much physical attention they want. It’s the human need for petting and physical affection that often supersedes and disregards a cat’s crystal clear warning signs to cease and desist.

Before reaching above or below to pet, hug, carry, snuggle, kiss, move or dress your cat, ask yourself, ”Did I ask permission first?” Giving your cat the opportunity to answer, “Yes” or “No” to a proposal, allows them the free will to make a choice. We already know they won’t obey us or do anything for our benefit, so why would petting be any different? Cats are masters of the art of the deal. When given a choice, a cat will likely always say, “No”, if the benefits don’t outweigh the proposal. Eat your heart out, Trump.

cat_pushing_head_in_bowl

 In multi-cat homes, competition for shared resources, like feeding stations, toys, perches and litterboxes can be a huge trigger for tension, bullying and even inappropriate elimination outside of the box. It’s essential that each cat in the home have accommodations that match their individual preferences for privacy or party time.

Pay attention to your cat’s habits, particularly when it comes to litterbox placement and design. It’s always better to think about the cat first! Spread out scratching posts, cat trees and climbing structures and be sure to have places to soak up individual and group cat scents, along with the places that harness your own.

1089567053_946f4ad172_z_0

Cats Are NEVER Wrong.

There’s never going to be a time when your cat thinks that they did something wrong. Their actions are 100% justified, even when the result is negatively received.  That’s why involving yourself in any form of punishment is a futile endeavor. Cats don’t follow directions or do things on your behalf, remember? So, unless your providing a benefit, getting yourself involved in the correction of their behavior will never get the point across.

Yes, I know, the pee incident happened on your pillow, and that is enough to anger anyone, but that doesn’t mean your personal reaction will have any impact on change. Shouting, scolding, or physically reprimanding your cat will only serve to complicate your relationship more. Remember, a cat is not motivated by spite or anger. That’s what WE do.. Don’t get angry! Get to work on your relationship. Your cat is telling you that something within our world of lines …. does not line up.

breakfast-at-tiffanys-1961-002-audrey-hepburn-bed-mask-cat-1000x750

CONCLUSION:

When cats “misbehave”, you can usually hold a mirror to their guardians to find the reason. After all, they are trying their very best to live in our boxes with us; to live in a world where lines are drawn and grey areas are quickly filled in. We can find Purrvana together. It’s really quite simple. Embrace the grey areas. The happiness and love we seek in Catlandia is just within our reach, but it will take collaboration. It will take humility. You’ll have to let go of yourself… just a little.

 

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

Surrender YOURSELF… not the cat!

Written by Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi

c200685392cfec05799e67b713112c1e

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.

h1D376F91

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.

cat-owner-14

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.

cat-owner-26

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

 

images

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.

 

 

 

 

SF Cat Guy in the news again!

cats

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

People Behaving Badly

Written by:
Daniel Quagliozzi
Cat Behavior Consultant
mischief_ntnews
Is Mr. Fluffandstuff being naughty? Are your punishment techniques unsuccessful at getting results? A new approach to “bad behavior” may help you change how you look at your cat and find solutions that work for both of you. Punishment doesn’t work with cats. Here’s why:

There are often times when we may find ourselves at wits end with our cat. However, most behaviors that cats are punished for are actually normal, they just may not be what we humans consider acceptable.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of outdated or just plain inaccurate information about punishing cats available. Whether you heard it from your veterinarian, your friend or the internet, I’m here to tell you that all types of physical punishment are not only detrimental to your relationship with your cat, but they JUST DON’T WORK. Physical punishment has many negative effects on your relationship with your cat. The first thing you may notice is that your cat starts to cower whenever you approach with your hands. For fearful cats, this will only reinforce their apprehension of humans.

The other thing that happens is that punishment can turn a sweet cat into an aggressive one. If you swat or spank your cat, he may feel that you are “escalating” the situation or provoking it to fight. Many cats respond to a nosetap with a bite or swat – not exactly the response you may have been expecting…especially if you were looking for guilt or remorse.

Cats have a fairly limited concept of punishment. Many people assume that their cat “knows” he’s is being bad, because he did something wrong, such as scratching the furniture, and then skulks away. In fact, the cat is just associating the presence of it’s owner with being yelled at. He is not recognizing that scratching the couch is bad – again, to your kitty, scratching is a normal behavior (that also happens to feel good, and that may be reward enough to risk being yelled at).

beer-cat

Many cats engage in problematic behaviors out of boredom. Just as with children, they may see “negative” attention (such as being yelled at) better than no attention at all. Often, in the case of a very bored cat who isn’t getting enough mental stimulation, humans actually reward negative behaviors by shouting. In this situation, the cat is looking for some sort of response from the human – that reaction is frequently enough of a reward that the cat will knock things off your dresser or scratch your furniture, even if he knows he may get in trouble for it.

towelrack

So, do we just give up and let the cats do whatever they want? The answer is an unequivocal, no. But, there are ways to “correct” bad behavior that are much more effective than yelling or getting physical with your cat. Cats learn by trial and error. If they try something and have a good experience, they will do it again. If they try something and have a bad experience, the behavior is more likely to be extinguished – although not always immediately. Sometimes they will keep trying in hopes that the good experience will return – just as humans will play the slot machines time and time again, hoping for the “big payoff” – before finally giving up.

Here’s an easy 4 step plan!

1. Prevention: Give your cat an appropriate outlet for “normal” feline behaviors

2. Use correction, but only when appropriate

3. Use Remote punishment to discourage undesirable behaviors

4. Reward to reinforce good behaviors

I have identified two of the most common reasons people will punish their cats below.

clawing couch

Scratching Furniture

The most common cause of furniture scratching is a lack of an appropriate scratching post. Since the couch fulfills most of the cats scratching needs (tall, sturdy, a material they like to scratch, and in an easily accessible location), it seems like the best place to sharpen those claws.

To work with this behavior:

1. Give your cat an adequate scratching post. Scratching is a natural behavior, and necessary for all cats – it’s how they stretch, mark their territory, relieve stress and shed their claws.

2. Correction or punishment, such as yelling or squirting with a water bottle, is not appropriate in this case. Cats learn quickly that the punishment only happens when humans are around, and will just return to scratching furniture when you leave. They may also scratch furniture, anticipating some attention (remember, to a bored cat, negative attention may be better than no attention at all).

3. Make the furniture an unappealing place to scratch by using tin-foil, double sided tape, or a product called Sticky Paws. These are all unpleasant sensations for a kitty trying to scratch.

4. Encourage your cat to use the scratching post by using treats, toys or catnip to lure them into a natural stretching position. Praise them for using their post instead of the couch.

OfficeCat

Climbing on Furniture/Knocking Over Items

Cats love to be up high. They also need lots of mental stimulation. When they don’t have outlets for these needs, they may start climbing up on your dresser, kitchen table or counters. In a playful mode, they may start batting at small objects, trying to knock them off. Not only does this provide them with some playful activity, but they may get a response from their human out of it, as well.

WickedChaos2_090830

1. Start by giving your kitty its own cat condo or high-up places to hang out (you can clear off some shelves and put fleece pads on them to make them more appealing). More interactive playtime with toys such as the cat dancer or DA BIRD, in addition to solo play toys (ping pong balls, fuzzy mice) will provide more mental stimulation.

2. As in the case of other attention seeking behaviors, punishment is not effective for this behavior, and may just reinforce it.

3. Make counters and other surfaces unappealing – you can use cookie sheets or pieces of cardboard with tin foil or double sided tape attached to them. You can also “booby-trap” the area with empty soda cans with a few pennies taped inside – when the cat jumps up on the counter, the noise of the cans being knocked over will be a deterrent. Keep in mind, this deterrent is not a good idea with shy cats or in multi-cat households where a non-guilty kitty may be scared off by the punishment.

4. Praise the kitty for using its cat tree, and make it a fun place to be – try placing some catnip, or solo play toys on the cat tree. Try incorporating the kitty condo into your interactive playtime – get your cat climbing or jumping on it to chase a toy.

So, with a little understanding, a watchful eye and maybe a little preventive re-arranging of your environment, your relationship with your furry roomates can stand the test of time!! Don’t be a human that behaves badly. Lead by example.