Feb 27 2009

Is your cat the queen of snags & scratches? More tips for taming those troublesome claws

In a previous post, we looked at techniques for teaching your cat to scratch in healthy, acceptable ways.

Here are a few more tips on scratching behavior and how to care for your cat’s claws.

Practice the art of dissuasion
Punishment after the fact won’t change a cat’s behavior, and may cause her to be afraid of you or the environment. It can also elicit defensive aggression. If you attempt to punish your cat, she’ll just learn to refrain from scratching in your presence but will continue to scratch when you’re not around.

Instead of trying to punish your cat, try to dissuade her in a way that she won’t associate with you. When you catch her scratching something she shouldn’t, startle her by making a loud noise (using a whistle, shaking a soda can filled with rocks, or slapping the wall) or spraying water with a squirt bottle.

This approach applies to adult cats as well as kittens, who begin to retract their claws at 28-days-old and begin to scratch at 35-days-old. Eight-week-old kittens are just beginning to scratch when they are adopted into new homes and can be introduced immediately to scratching posts and other acceptable objects to satisfy their natural need to scratch.

Keep your cat’s claws trimmed
Cats keep their claws retracted until they’re needed in order to keep them sharp. As the claws grow too long and become curved, they can’t be retracted completely. To keep them from becoming snagged in carpets and fabrics, not to mention your skin, you should clip off the sharp tips of your cat’s front claws every two weeks or so.

Before trimming your cat’s claws, help her get accustomed to having her paws handled and squeezed. You can do this by gently petting her legs and paws while giving her a treat. Gradually increase the pressure so that petting becomes gentle squeezing, as you’ll need to do this to extend the claw. Continue with the treats until your cat tolerates this kind of touching and restraint.

When your cat is comfortable having her paws handled, here are some tips on how to clip her claws:

  • Use a claw trimmer designed especially for pets. These are better than your own nail clipper because they won’t crush the claw.Apply a small amount of pressure to her paw—with your thumb on top of her paw and your index finger underneath—until a claw is extended.
  • Don’t cut into this pink portion, which is called the “quick” and is actually a small blood vessel, as it will bleed and be painful for your cat.
  • Just cut off the sharp tip of the claw, the “hook,” to dull the claw and prevent extensive damage to household objects and to your skin.
  • One claw or foot a day is enough of a challenge. Until you and your cat are used to the routine, don’t push to do all of them at once, or you will both have only negative memories of claw clippers!

A few words about declawing…
Declawing is a procedure whereby a veterinarian amputates the end digit and claw of a cat’s paws—similar in scope to cutting off a person’s finger at the last joint. The Humane Society of the United States opposes declawing when done solely for the convenience of the owner. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats and can be directed to appropriate items. Declawing is almost never medically or behaviorally necessary, and should never be considered routine or done preemptively.

This information adapted from the HSUS fact sheet Destructive Scratching.

Feb 26 2009

Senior to Senior program offers benefits for pets & people

Wayside’s Senior to Senior program encourages the adoption of older Waifs who have many years of love and companionship left to give – but who often have trouble finding a forever home.

The Senior to Senior program offers half-price adoption to people age 60 and over who select a pet who is at least 6 years old. For older adults – especially those on a fixed income – the discounted adoption ($37.50 for cats, $55 for dogs) is designed to make it a little easier to make the decision to adopt a new pet.

Pet ownership offers many benefits for people in their golden years. According to the Humane Society of the United States, a pet in an elderly person’s life can offer a sense of well being, a sense of encouragement, and even a reason for living.

Being responsible for another life often gives new meaning to the lives of those who are living alone or far from loved ones. Caring for and providing a loving home to a companion animal also helps elderly people to remain active and stay healthy.

In addition, older animals are a great fit for older adults. Animal care professionals often advise seniors to consider adopting an adult dog or cat because older animals are more likely to be calm and housetrained, and less likely to exhibit unpredictable behavior or high energy.

Are you ready to adopt?
If you are over 60 and are interested in adopting a pet, be sure you have the time and the means to care for a pet, both physically and financially.

If you are ready to adopt and want to take advantage of our Senior to Senior program, we invite you to visit Wayside Waifs during our adoption hours. Our professional Adoption Center staff will help you find the best “over 6” companion to fit your lifestyle and needs. Together we will make sure the fit is perfect for you and your pet.

Visit the adoption process page on our website to learn more and to take a look at the animals currently available for adoption. Each waif’s age is listed under its photo.

Some information adapted from the HSUS article Senior Partners: Older Americans and Mature Pets.

Feb 25 2009

Do you have your Fur Ball tickets? Don’t miss out on the fun!

Wayside Waifs invites you to join us for our 2009 Fur Ball on Saturday, May 9, at 6 p.m. at the Overland Park Convention Center.

Fur Ball table sponsorships are a great way to join your business colleagues or a group of friends in supporting and celebrating Wayside Waifs. This year’s theme is Cattyshack, with table sponsorships ranging from Tiger Woods ($25,000) and Slice of Heaven ($10,000) to Wedgy Woof ($5,000), the Chevy Chaser ($2,500), and Putt for Pets ($1,750).

Individual tickets are also available for $175. For more details about the specific benefits associated with each sponsorship level, as well as general information about the event, visit www.waysidewaifs.org/furball.

If you or your company would like to sponsor a table, please contact Marla Svoboda by email or call 816-986-4401.

Going, going, gone!
The Fur Ball features an exciting auction, with all sorts of great items up for grabs – including a week for two to Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa, a VIP trip for two to the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, a weekend trip to Chicago in a private jet for a group of eight, and much more!

If you have an item you would like to donate to the silent auction, please contact Trish Stinger by email or call 816-986-4418.

Feb 19 2009

Looking for a great gift for the animal lovers in your life?

Make a lasting impression and share your love for animals with an Honor gift to Wayside Waifs.

An Honor gift is a wonderful way to celebrate the special people, animals and events in your life. Dog and cat lovers of all ages are sure to appreciate a birthday gift to Wayside made on their behalf. How about a Wayside wedding gift for the happy couple? Or a tail-wagging anniversary gift?

Honor gifts are also the perfect way to celebrate a new dog or cat in someone’s life while making a difference for animals that are still looking for a forever home.

How to make your gift
Making an Honor gift is quick and easy – just visit our secure online donation page, fill out the form, and complete the donation using your credit card.

You can request that Wayside send a letter announcing your gift, or choose from a selection of e-cards. You can send your e-card right away (great for last-minute gifts!) or schedule it to be delivered in the future so that it arrives on a special day.

Every dollar makes a difference
Honor gifts of every size help Wayside provide for the hundreds of animals in our shelter. A gift of $500 can help us feed animals for a week. A gift of $120 covers the cost of spaying and neutering a litter of kittens. $65 can buy formula for puppies. Even a gift of $10 can truly make a difference in the life of a deserving animal.

Giving online reduces our administrative costs and allows your gift to go to work faster. However, if you prefer to submit your Honor gift by mail, please send the details about your gift along with your check to:

Wayside Waifs
P.O. Box 9791
Kansas City, MO 64134

If you have any questions about making an Honor gift, call Wayside at (816) 986-4401 and we’ll be glad to help you.

Feb 18 2009

Born to scratch: teaching your cat to stretch her claws in acceptable ways

Is your cat scratching where she shouldn’t? Try these tips to encourage healthy, non-destructive scratching.

Scratching is a normal behavior for cats, and one that they are highly motivated to display. Cats scratch objects in their environment for many reasons, including:

  • To remove the dead outer layer of their claws
  • To mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent (they have scent glands on their paws)
  • To stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws
  • To work off energy

It’s unrealistic to try to prevent your cat from scratching. Instead, your goal should be to redirect the scratching onto acceptable objects. Here are some tips adapted from the Humane Society of the United States to help you understand and modify your cat’s scratching behavior.

Provide a desirable alternative for scratching
You must provide objects for scratching that are appealing, attractive, and convenient from your cat’s point of view. Start by observing the physical features of the objects your cat is scratching:

  • Where are they located?
  • What texture do they have – soft or coarse?
  • What shape do they have – horizontal or vertical?
  • How tall are they? At what height does your cat scratch?

Substitute similar objects for your cat to scratch (rope-wrapped posts, corrugated cardboard, or even a log), placing them near the objects she is already using. Make sure the scratching objects are stable and won’t fall over or move around.

Make favorite scratching spots less attractive
Cover the objects you want to protect from further scratching with something your cat will find unappealing, such as double-sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, sheets of sandpaper, or a plastic carpet runner with the pointy side up. You can also give objects an aversive odor by attaching cotton balls containing perfume, a muscle rub, or other safe yet unpleasant substance. (Be careful with odors, though, because you don’t want the nearby substitute scratching object to repel your cat as well).

Be patient and persistent – new behaviors take time
When your cat is consistently using the new scratching object, it can be moved very gradually – no more than three inches each day – to a different location. It’s best, however, to keep the new scratching object as close to your cat’s preferred scratching locations as possible. Don’t remove the unappealing coverings or odors from the objects you want to protect until your cat is consistently using the new scratching objects for three or four weeks. Then you can remove them gradually.

A few words about declawing…
Declawing is a procedure whereby a veterinarian amputates the end digit and claw of a cat’s paws—similar in scope to cutting off a person’s finger at the last joint. The Humane Society of the United States opposes declawing when done solely for the convenience of the owner. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats and can be directed to appropriate items. Declawing is almost never medically or behaviorally necessary, and should never be considered routine or done preemptively.

This information adapted from the HSUS fact sheet on Destructive Scratching.

Feb 12 2009

How sweet it is: Keep chocolate danger at bay this Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day close at hand, we want to remind pet owners that chocolate is toxic for both dogs and cats.

Even a small amount of chocolate can make your pet sick, and a larger amount can be deadly. How much it takes depends on the size and overall health of your pet, but just a few ounces can kill some animals. All kinds of chocolate – milk, dark, semi-sweet and baker’s – are poisonous, with varying levels of toxicity.

The culprits are caffeine and theobromine, two compounds in chocolate that dogs and cats have difficulty metabolizing. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually develop within 4 to 24 hours, and may include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, increased urination, and restlessness. More serious poisoning may lead to seizures, coma, heart arrhythmia, and hyperthermia – all of which can be lethal.

  • Don’t give any amount of chocolate to your pet. Even very small amounts can cause illness. Instead, show your love with a special dog and cat treats!
  • Store chocolate in paw-proof locations. Dogs are especially attracted to the smell of chocolate, so be sure Valentine’s Day treats safely out of reach.
  • If you take your dog to someone else’s house, be on the lookout for chocolate that may be left at nose-level. Even the best-behaved pet will have a hard time resisting the chance to gobble down chocolate when no one is looking.
  • If you know or suspect that your pet has ingested chocolate, call your vet immediately. Be prepared to provide an estimate of how much chocolate was consumed and your pet’s weight.

More holiday reminders…

  • Chocolate isn’t the only human treat that can cause problems. Gum, candy and other treats that are sweetened with xylitol can result in hypoglycemia, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. For safety’s sake, keep all candy well out of reach in pet-proof containers or cabinets.
  • Lilies are toxic to cats. If you’re sending Valentine flowers to a cat owner, be sure to specify a Lily-free bouquet. If you have a cat and receive lilies, remove them from the arrangement and discard or pass on to someone who doesn’t have cats.
  • If you’re thinking about giving someone special some “puppy love” this Valentine’s Day, remember that giving an actual pet is not a good idea. Instead, give a Wayside Waifs gift certificate and let your special someone select just the right animal companion for a lifetime of hugs and kisses. To get a gift certificate, just drop by our office or call 816-986-4426.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all your friends at Wayside Waifs!

Feb 6 2009

Arts and Hearts – help homeless pets and homeless people in Kansas City

Hi fellow bloggers!  I wanted to chat about an upcoming event to benefit Wayside Waifs and Artists Helping the Homeless.  Next Saturday, February 14th from 1pm to 4 pm we will be at JM Porters Gallery for an open house event!  Students from the Kansas City Art Institute will be doing pet sketches and art demonstrations.  There are also several unique pieces of art for sale to benefit the two charities. 


The event came about when Karl Woo, owner of JM Porters and founder of Artists Helping the Homeless contacted me about possibly partner for a fundraising event.  He’s dedicated his life to helping feed the homeless and is an animal lover who supports Wayside Waifs. 

 Help homeless people and pets like James and his dog, Baxter. 

 James and his dog Baxter are just some of the people and pets who will benefit from this event.


If you are looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift stop by with a photo of your pet and for $20 one of our sketch artists will do an amazing sketch of your pet that you can frame and give to that someone special on Valentine’s Day!  All of the proceeds from this event go to benefit Wayside Waifs and Artists Helping The Homeless.


Check out the details on our website by clicking here.

Feb 5 2009

Is your dog still leaping, even though it’s not a leap year?

This February, let Wayside help you teach your canine Valentine to sit and stay.

Whether it’s general obedience, puppy classes, or more targeted training such as jumping, barking, or reactivity, Wayside Waifs is here to help you make a lifetime of loving memories with your pet! Through our Companion Training Solutions Program, our certified trainers will help you create a lasting bond with your canine companion.

  • If you have questions about our classes and what is involved, we invite you to attend one of our Meet the Trainer Q&A sessions, which are offered every Sunday at 2 p.m.
  • You can also get answers through Ask A Trainer, a special feature on our website that allows you to submit a question about your dog or cat to one of our certified trainers. All you have to do is fill out this online form.
  • For hands-on help in training your dog, we invite you to register for Puppy 1 or Basic Dog training classes – we have two sessions of each class kicking off the last week of February. See below for details.

February 2009 Training Classes

Meet the Trainer Q&A
Free to the public!
Date: Sunday, February 8, 2009
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Repeats every Sunday

Wayside trainers will answer your puppy, dog or other issues with your pet. This is primarily an owner-only session, but please let us know if you want to bring your dog or puppy! If you wish to attend, please RSVP to Skip@DaigerDogTraining.com

Puppy 1
(6 sessions, $85)

We will help you build a strong relationship with your new puppy based on trust and cooperation. Puppy classes are an indispensable foundation for the rest of your dog’s life.  All training is gentle and fun, and you will learn how to help your puppy blend into your family. Puppies must be 8 to 20 weeks old with proof of vaccination history (puppies are required to be vaccinated every 3 to 4 weeks until 20 weeks of age).

6 sessions starting Sunday, February 22, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Click here for schedule and to register for this class

6 sessions starting Thursday, February 26, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Click here for schedule and to register for this class

Basic Dog

(6 sessions, $100)

This is as a basic pet owner course with a maximum of 5 dogs per class. You and your dog will learn basic commands, and the class will also try to address any individual behavior issues that you may be experiencing with your dog. Dogs must be over 6 months of age. Proof of vaccinations required.

6 sessions starting Sunday, February 22, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Click here for schedule and to register for this class

6 sessions starting Thursday, February 26, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Click here for schedule and to register for this class

Feb 4 2009

Pics and Paws for a Cause is this Saturday!

Bring your canine or feline valentine to this unique benefit for Wayside Waifs! Pics and Paws is your chance to capture you and your pet in a moment of love. For just $15, you will receive a 4×6 professional portrait and a special valentine.

Cover model Jennifer fell in love with tail-wagging Abner from Wayside Waifs.

Pics and Paws for a Cause
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 7
Brookside Barkery & Bath
14040 West 119th Street
Olathe, Kansas

Wayside Waifs extends a very special thank you to the sponsors and partners who make Pics and Paws possible: Biao Magazine, Brookside Barkery & Bath, theRYEstudio, and KCTV5.

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