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Cat got your tongue

Cat got your tongue??

opal tongue

Is your cat leaving you speechless?

Here are 5 tips to get you started and to help you scratch out some of your feline faux "paws"!

Tip # 1 : Preparing for Kitty

Kitty-proof your home before the new addition arrives. This means keeping harmful electrical cords tucked away out of reach, removing toxic plants from the home, and providing acceptable alternatives.

Acceptable alternatives include a variety of toys and scratching posts. Toy balls with bells in them, fishing-rod lure toys, and ones that are free standing or hung from doors are great! Try to spread toys throughout the house, especially in areas where they may have curtains or other attractive objects you don't want them to play with.

Consider free-access crate-training to help avoid wrestling your cat into their carrier when its time to go to the vet. Starting from day one, keep the crate accessible where your kitty may go to it for rest and relaxation. You can also try periodically feeding treats or a portion of their meals inside the crate to create a positive association.

Deciding on kitties lifestyle – indoor vs. indoor/outdoor. There are many risks associated to letting kitty have an outdoor lifestyle. Environmental hazards (cars/wildlife/dogs etc) as well as infectious disease from other cats. An indoor cat generally has a longer, healthier lifespan!

Be sure to provide fresh water daily and an appropriate diet based on their life-stage, activity level and individual nutritional requirements (consult with your Veterinarian).

Tip #2: Just say NO to claws and teeth!

Some cats, especially kittens, love to attack and play with anything that moves! This can include fingers and toes. Try to take some time each day, approximately 10-20 minutes, to spend playing with your cat using toys or laser pointers for them to "hunt". This will encourage appropriate play sessions, enhance your relationship, and help fulfill their needs as a natural-born hunter.

Discourage play with hands and feet right from the day you bring kitty home. If your kitten is playful, and you want to engage him/her, use a toy! If you aren't able to play when they want to, simply stay still and ignore them, they will move on to something more fascinating. Reinforce this rule with children and your cat will have a better relationship with them too!

Tip #3: Putting a claw into Furniture Destruction

Scratching is a natural and necessary behaviour for our feline friends. Stretching out for a good scratch helps to condition their nails and provides a sign for any passersby. That's right, "Felix lives here"!

Because cat's like to show off their work, it is recommended to have at least two cat-appealing scratch posts or cat-tree's in high-traffic areas. Make sure the posts are sturdy and at least 32" inches high. If your cat has already started on the sofa, try positioning one of the scratch posts in front of this area. Praise your cat every time you notice them going to the scratch post instead of your furniture. A little positive reinforcement will go a long way!

Do not reprimand your cat for scratching the sofa. Attention is attention, be it positive or negative. If you pick up your cat and remove it from the sofa everytime they are scratching it, they will associate this as attention and will likely continue scratching in that area. Praise the good and try your best to redirect the bad. A temporary tin foil shield over the attractive area can help to deter them as well.

Tip #4: Soaking up the Urine issue

Cats can be finicky when it comes to bathroom habits. Prevention is the key! We recommend having one litter box per cat plus one. Some cats prefer to urinate in one litter box and defecate in another. Providing multiple litter boxes in different locations will reduce the chances of house-soiling.

If you are currently experiencing inappropriate elimination it is important to rule out any medical issues by having a visit with your Veterinarian. If kitty checks out healthy, there are a number of things to try.

Cleanliness is next to "catliness"! Keep the litter boxes clean and use an enzymatic cleaner when you are doing a complete litter change. Consider offering a variety of litter boxes, different styles and sizes, along with a variety of litter substrates. Try placing one of the accepted litter boxes in the accident-zone.

Is your cat spraying on vertical surfaces? This is likely an attempt at marking their territory and may be anxiety-related. Try to visualize what might be triggering it. It could be that something in the home has abruptly changed (new housemate, visitor, renovations, etc) or the neighbourhood tom-cat could be taunting your cat from outside the window. Manage the situation as best you can – gradually introduce new situations and close the blinds if that's what it takes to stop the neighbourhood distractions.

If you need further assistance, consult with a Veterinary Behaviourist and remember to NEVER punish your cat. Punishing your cat may make matters worse and will make resolving the issue much more difficult!

Tip #5: A time to Feed

Regulating meals allows us to judge more accurately the amount our cats are getting. Ideally feed half the daily ration in the morning and half in the evening. This also makes it more convenient if a diet change needs to happen in the future. Keep in mind that gradually transitioning between diets is easier on their system and decreases chances of gastric upset.

Cat's bodies are built to conserve water and in their natural environment would get most of their water-intake from their food (birds, mice, bugs, etc). Therefore, they tend to have a naturally weak thirst drive and if solely fed a kibble diet, they may not be getting enough water in their system. For this reason, it is recommended that a portion of their diet be canned to ensure proper hydration. As a bonus, increasing their water intake will help keep their urinary tract system healthy!

Websites:

http://www.dogstardaily.com/files/CatManners -cat manners for new kitten/adopted cat

http://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/– general info

http://www.catsinternational.org/ – cat behaviour information along with numerous articles of interest

http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/ List of potentially toxic plants and poisonous foods

http://www.mmilani.com/feline-crate-training.html – for free-access crate-training tips – VERY handy to avoid stressful car-rides and when you need to bring your kitty in to see us!

Need more help or suggestions? Please don't hesitate to call us!

By:

Laura McCredie

"Opal" in photo above