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.

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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

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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:

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

 

DQ & Cubby give you the skinny on food toys

 

 

Are you being constantly annoyed by your cat begging for attention or food or who knows what? Cubby “The Munchkin from Mars” and DQ took a few moments today to show you some simple techniques for food foraging,  which can work wonders for cats that are easily bored or looking for jobs to do. Change what seems like an annoying behavior into a designated activity. Make a those cats work instead of giving them an all-you-can-eat buffet every day! It’s super easy! Foraging toys are easy to find online or you can DIY your own out of common household items. However you make it happen, your cats will be happy and the best of all… not under your feet or on your desk begging for your attention. Check out the video!

 

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

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

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.

I’m sorry, did you say something?

Dear Go, Cat, Go,
 
What are the challenges of adopting a deaf cat? Do they require special housing? Can they live safely with other cats?           
 
Shelly – San Francisco, CA
 
 
 
Great question Shelly!  Most of us are used to our cats ignoring us. We try and try to get their attention, but they are too busy staring off into space or licking their paw to give us the time of day. Is kitty preoccupied with the art of zen or is Mr.Fluffypants just hard of hearing?Believe it or not, it’s not terribly uncommon for cats to lose their hearing, just like humans. In fact, they can get along just fine without it, but it does present interesting challenges for those of us who care for their special needs.

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In addition to the usual causes of deafness, most people don’t realize that a cats’ coloring often plays a huge role in the degree of hearing loss. Studies show that about 65% of white cats who have two blue eyes are deaf in one or both ears. White cats with just one blue eye have a 40% chance of being deaf, and white cats without blue eyes are deaf, or partially so at a rate of around 20%.

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Whether the hearing loss is sudden or gradual, behavioral changes may alert the guardian to the possibility of deafness. The kitties compensate so well in many cases, that it may be a very long time before the hearing loss is noticed, particularly if it is a gradual loss. Hearing impairment can cause any kitty to become irritable, confused, easily frightened, skittish, and insecure. Since they can’t hear their own voice, cats may vocalize loudly and often. In some cases the hearing impaired cat may become mute.

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In the case of my client Snowpea (pictured above), she tends to get lost in her own world, sleeping most of the day, unless there are fun activities, playful interludes with people or the distractions that can only be provided by another cat.

Deciding whether or not a deaf kitty is better off as a single pet is difficult. While some cats will take behavior “cues” from other resident cats or litter mates, some will not. Some deaf kittens will play fight more aggressively, and swat and bite more because they cannot hear the cries of the other kittens. Deaf cats living with hearing cats and/or dogs may become the “victim” of surprise play attacks, and over-react causing friction in a multi animal household. In this stalking type of situation the deaf kitty may redirect his or her aggression toward the humans in the household. All in all, a deaf cat will probably do best as a single pet or with another kitty he or she has known all their life.

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If you are thinking about adopting a deaf cat, remember the following:

Hearing impaired cats will do best with routine handling and an out pour of love. I know, what a hassle right? Cuddling them close to the body and speaking will possibly allow them to “hear” your voice through vibrations. You may even experience a closer relationship with your cat as a result of all of this body to body interaction.

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Hand signals similar to the ones used in dog training may be effective with some cats while others may not rely on it as much. If you are at close range and clap your hands sharply, the air might vibrate enough to attract their attention. Some people have noticed that their deaf kitties learn to respond to lights being turned on and off as signals that someone is entering a room, etc. Maybe a laser pointer will help to signal your arrival or dinner time? You will surprised how resourceful a cat can be when dinner is served. The ears may not work but the nose never breaks!

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Adopting one of these “special needs” kitties is totally a rewarding and admirable responsibility to take on, as long as you are aware that it will require a bit of extra work. These cats cannot be allowed outdoors as they would be unaware of the dangers around them and fall prey to a myriad of hazards. If you’re the type of person who can learn to predict a cats behavior while being a predictable schedule planner at the same time, you may just be the personal assistant a deaf cat needs. Interested in the job? See if your local shelter has a deaf cat that needs a guardian angel like you.

 
 
Daniel Quagliozzi
 
 
 
 

Why do black cats still cast a dark shadow on the superstitious?

Check out this article on Catster.com

http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/as-halloween-approaches-we-contemplate-the-shadow-cast-upon-black-cats?v=1

It’s hard to believe some of these misconceptions still exist.