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March 2016

Litter Box Problems and How to Solve Them

 by petbucket on 24 Mar 2016 |
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If you’re frustrated with a cat that has taken to thinking outside the box when it comes to kitty litter, you’re not alone: At least 10 percent of cats develop an elimination problem at one point during their lives. Once your cat cultivates an aversion to his litter box, it can become a chronic issue. What’s worse, his new favorite place to do his business could be your living room carpet or prized sofa. If kitty’s gone AWOL when it comes to his litter box, the first step toward solving the problem is finding its underlying cause.   If your cat is uncomfortable with his litter box or can’t easily get in, chances are he’ll avoid it altogether. Make sure his litter box is cleaned thoroughly once a day and that the litter isn’t too deep— just one or two inches is enough. Cats prefer larger boxes, so make sure your feline friend isn’t feeling cramped by choosing a litter box roughly one-and-a-half times the size of the cat using it. Your cat may avoid his litter box because he doesn’t like the type of litter you’re using, so try switching to a clumping, unscented litter or the litter your cat used as a kitten. Most cats are averse to covered boxes and kittens and older cats with arthritis find it hard to climb in and out of high-sided boxes, so keep these factors in mind when choosing a litter box.   Another common issue is the litter box-to-cats ratio in multi-cat households. Be sure to provide one box per cat, plus one extra. Location can also cause major litter box woes, as cats that can’t easily get into their boxes or don’t feel safe there might forgo them altogether. Make sure the box is in in a quiet, but not cornered location so kitty can see other pets or people approaching and plan an easy escape route. If your cat has an aversion to a self-cleaning litter box, trying a more traditional box might do the trick.   The best way to curb litter box problems is to prevent them from the outset, so make your cat’s litter box as appealing as possible by following the guidelines above. If your cat’s already eliminating outside his box, try placing the litter box in his preferred spot and slowly inching it back to the desired location over time. You can also deter your cat from using inappropriate elimination surfaces by making them less appealing— by placing your cat’s food bowl there or using upside-down carpet runners, tin foil or double-sided tape in the area where your cat has eliminated in the past, for example. Pay attention to your cat’s behavior so you can catch any problems before they become bad habits. If in doubt, seek your veterinarian’s guidance, as some litter box issues can be caused by serious medical conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones or feline interstitial cystitis.

The Cat’s Meow: Excessive Meowing and How to Curb Cats’ Cries

 by petbucket on 12 Mar 2016 |
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Many cat owners have experienced the frustration of coming home to a seemingly endless barrage of meowing. Certain breeds, such as Siamese and Bengal cats, have a reputation for unnecessary “talking,” but the truth is any cat can take to excessive meowing. If kitty’s communicating too much, try to figure out the cause first. Once you know why he’s wailing, you can appropriately address the problem.   Cats call out for any number of reasons, and these reasons change as kittens mature into full-grown felines. Youngsters will meow for their mother’s attention when they’re hungry, uncomfortable or scared. But as your cat grows, he uses his voice to communicate with you, his owner. He might meow to greet you when you come home, for example. Your cat could also call out because of stress, which can happen after introducing a new pet, moving house, or any other major life event. Older cats tend to meow more when they feel confused or disoriented. Sometimes, your feline friend wants to communicate basic needs, such as an illness or hunger. Or, your cat may simply be seeking attention.   Don’t just ignore persistent meowing without ensuring there isn’t a problem first. Older cats can bump into objects in the dark, a problem easily solved by leaving a light on at night, and persistent meowing can be a cry for help when your pet is sick, trapped in a room, or out of water. If your cat is stressed, try to determine the source and help him adjust to the change, or offer extra attention if you cannot change the situation. However, if your cat is meowing for more self-satisfying reasons, the most important step in solving the problem is to not give in: Don’t reward kitty with a treat if he cries every time you walk past the food bowl, for example. Only give him attention when he’s quiet, reinforcing positive behavior— but still be sure to spend time with your cat daily. Remember, loneliness can be a catalyst for caterwauling, so seek ways to improve your cat’s life. If you can’t give him enough attention, consider hiring a pet sitter or engaging him with alternative activities, such as placing a bird feeder outside the window for your cat to watch. Don’t punish your cat by shouting, throwing objects or spraying water, as this rarely works to quiet him, but does create a distrustful pet. Continue rewarding quiet behavior and ignoring meowing, and eventually your cat should catch on and trade yowling for purring. If your cat seems to cry for no reason, consider a trip to the vet, as pets are often masters of hiding illnesses.

The Lowdown on Declawing Your Cat

 by petbucket on 05 Mar 2016 |
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Declawing cats is a hot-button issue among veterinarians and pet owners alike. Onychectomy, as the procedure is formally known, is regarded as a serious surgery and involves not just amputating a cat’s claws, but also the small bone that comes before his first knuckles. This isn’t just a painful process for your pet, but removes your cat’s first line of defence, can alter his sense of balance, and may even leave him with long term complications like lameness, behavioural problems, and chronic pain. The Humane Society and ASPCA suggest declawing only as a last resort after all other avenues to curb scratching have been explored. Some countries go even further, banning declawing outright as a form of animal cruelty. With cats’ claws the issue of such hot debate, the question remains: Why does kitty scratch your prized possessions in the first place? Clawing is a cat’s way of marking his territory. Both through the visual markings and scent left behind from glands on his paws, your cat stakes out his space in the house with his claws. Clawing can also serve as a form of exercise, stretching and working your cat’s front legs and spine, keeping him in prime condition for hunting. Finally, scratching is a natural action that loosens and removes the outer shell of the claw, revealing a sharp, healthy surface underneath.   Scratching is in your cat’s nature, but there are several alternatives to declawing if your cat is ruining your furniture or trim. You can trim the tips of kitty’s claws once or twice a month to make them less destructive— remember, though, only exclusively indoor cats should have their nails trimmed, as outdoor wanderers may need their claws to defend themselves and for climbing. Even with shorter nails, your cat can continue to claw, so it’s important to provide him with an acceptable alternative. Look for objects with similar textures to the surface your cat is currently clawing and place them at a comparable height. A range of commercially available scratching posts exists, or you can fashion a DIY scratch pad by attaching a square of loop-weave carpet to the wall. Remember, cats won’t use posts that don’t provide enough resistance and new scratching posts should be introduced in areas of the house that your cat frequents to encourage use. Try to provide one scratching post for each cat in the household. Others methods to deter clawing include cat adversives, such as aluminium foil or double-sided tape, placed over scratch-prone areas; trying Soft Paws, small latex caps that you or your veterinarian can glue onto the tips of your cat’s claws; or using Feliway, a product that mimics cat pheromones to help deter your cat from scratching to mark his territory.   Clearly, there are many avenues to explore before taking the plunge into declawing your cat.  As with any surgery, declawing comes with inherent risks such as pain, infection, and nerve trauma and should only be considered as a last resort.
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