Jun 23 2017

Fourth of July Safety Tips

It’s the time of year to celebrate Independence Day! It is an annual Federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and registering as a country, the United States of America. We typically celebrate with family, friends, fireworks, and good times. However, our furry friends don’t enjoy the holiday as much as we do, so we here at Wayside thought it would be helpful to provide tips on Fourth of July safety for our four-legged family members.

1. Have updated ID and photos of all your pets.

This goes without saying, but sometimes the animals get so nervous and scared they might try to run off and find a safe place. Having proper identification and updated photos greatly increases their chances of coming home sooner. At our store Whiskers & Wags, we sell a variety of collars and ID tags that you can purchase on campus.

2. Leave your pets at home.

To avoid something like a lost pet happening, and to ease your furry friends’ stress, consider leaving them at home for the celebration. Most pets do not want to be near fireworks when they are set off, and find the most comfort at home. Please do not lock them in the car either, because they could suffer from heat stroke and/or brain damage.

3. Don’t put insect repellant on your pet.

This also should go without saying, but if your family is having a get-together and you would like to take your pets before the fireworks show, do not put insect repellant or sunscreen on your pet. There are certain ingredients in both that are poisonous for animals, and will have effects like neurological disorders and lethargy.

4. Never leave alcoholic beverages unattended to where your pets could reach them.

Dogs and cats are naturally curious, and if a beer or cocktail is left on the ground, they might consider knocking it over and drinking it. If consumed, the animal can get intoxicated and very weak, and could even go into a coma. Put those drinks on coasters on a high-rise table so they are unable to reach it, and provide fresh water for them to drink instead.

5. Keep your pet on their normal diet.

This is the time of year when people are barbecuing more and more because the weather is nice. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea.

6. Don’t give your pet access to glow jewelry. 

Glow jewelry is that super popular item that people put in freezers and wraps around your joints in place of bracelets and necklaces. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

7. Don’t force your pet into a costume for the holiday. 

It may seem cute to dress them up in the red, white, and blue, but unless your dog (or even less likely, your cat) loves to play dress-up, don’t push the issue. If they have a medical condition, some sort of loose clothing is definitely acceptable. Also, if your animal shuts down during the fireworks, consider purchasing a thunder shirt, which can be found at our store Whiskers & Wags. They are proven to help make animals feel safe and secure, while keeping anxiety levels down.

8. Do keep matches and lighter fluid out of the animals’ reach.

Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. Keep those items on a high-rise table out of their reach, and all will be well!

9. Consider getting calming treats and Adaptil collars

Calming treats and Adaptil/anti-anxiety collars are both sold in our retail store Whiskers & Wags, and they have been helpful to ease stress for our animals here. The collar mimics the dogs’ natural pheromone that helps ease tension, and can help them relax during a fireworks display, as long as they are indoors. Calming treats will help do the same things, and will taste good as well!

10. Brush up on flea/tick treatment.

Ticks and fleas are more abundant than ever because of the mild winter we had. They will find a host environment in dogs and cats, and during a celebration it might go unnoticed. We also sell seresto collars which help battle unwanted visitors for up to eight months. They will help during that barbecue and high heated areas! They can be found at our retail store Whiskers & Wags.

These are just some tips that help our furry friends, and you, prepare for the celebratory holiday! Enjoy, and be safe! Our retail store Whiskers & Wags is open during our adoption hours, provided below.

Adoption Hours:

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: Noon-8pm
Thursday: Noon-8pm
Friday: Noon-8pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn


Jun 9 2017

Expect A High Tick Season in KCMO

It’s summertime, which means family vacations, trips to the pool, and fun times had by all. However, the hot summer days also bring things we don’t enjoy so much: ticks! Here are just some visuals of ticks that have been found in the KC Metro area;

Lone Star Tick:
Lone star tick American Dog Tick:TK5KAK4K6KAQ10WQ30VQJ0NQ10KKTK1Q1KBQC05Q10LKO05QNKKKTKIKCK8KBK9QTKBQAKVQT01QJ0BQTKQKTK4K Brown Dog Tick:male brown dog tick(1) Black-legged Tick:lymetickfemale_86086_7

Because we had such a mild winter, during the spring and summer, ticks become more active. KSHB 41 did a piece on what to look out for, which you can find here.

Ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, such as tree limbs, bushes, branches, and leaves, and the more time you spend outside, the more chance you get of facing off ticks, including your furry friend.

Even if you don’t suspect you or your pet has a tick on them, it is always recommended that you do a full-body check after coming from outside. If you see a tick, using tweezers to remove them is the best and safest way. Check your pet regularly, and fitting in a bath might be a good idea too! Here is a video tutorial on the whole process!

While they are a nuisance, the potential diseases they can transfer to us and our furry friends are not fun. Flu-like symptoms can start if you don’t notice them quick enough, and sometimes people develop Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is not necessarily prevalent in the KC area, but still something to watch out for!

Don’t let this scare you into staying indoors for the summer! Continue to go on walks, that is great bonding time for you and your pet! Having a dog version of a pool party is always a good time! Here at Wayside Waifs, we also sell Seresto collars that can help ward off those fleas and ticks at our retail store, Whiskers & Wags, purchased on site. Now is a good time to also check with your veterinarian to see what preventative you can get prescribed. From all of us here at Wayside Waifs, have a great summer, and be safe!

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Written by: Teryn J.


Dec 6 2016

Frosty Paws – Keep Your Pet Safe This Winter

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Winter is definitely upon us! Not only is it time for humans to dig out their cold weather clothes, it’s also time to think about keeping our pets safe during these arctic cold days. Here are some tips to keeping your pets safe.

1. Keep your pets inside. Limit your pets outside time for bathroom breaks when temperatures start to tumble. If it’s too cold for you, it’s defintely too cold for your pet. If your pet is normally outside, move them to a sheltered garage or heated dog house, away from the wind.

2. Outdoor cats have been known to find refuge underneath the hoods of cars. When the car is started, the cat could become injured or even killed by moving parts of the engine. If you have an outdoor cat, honk the horn before starting the car to give the cat a chance to escape.

3. Keep your dog on a leash in the winter weather. Pets can lose their scent in the snow and ice and find refuge in unfamiliar places. This is also a good opportunity to check your dog or cats id tag to make sure they have the most current contact information in case your pet becomes lost or stolen. We also recommend mircrochipping your pet. More dogs are lost during the winter than any other time of the year.

4. When getting your pet groomed, don’t have them shaved down to the skin. A longer coat provides more warmth. Bathing your dog? Be sure to completely dry them before taking them out for a walk. For short-haired breeds, put them in a warm sweater with a high collar that gives the pet coverage from the base of their tail to the belly. My toy poodle Lucy loves to wear her jacket and waits for me to put it on her before going outside.

5. Make sure to keep a dry towel near the door when you bring in your dogs from being outside. Thoroughly dry their paws, legs and belly. They can pick up bits of salt, antifreeze and other lethal chemicals from being outside. It can also be painful for the animal to have shards of ice in their fur. A dogs paws can actually bleed from encrusted ice. This is also a good opportunity to give them some extra love and praise them for good outdoor behavior.

6. Never leave your pet alone in a vehicle. The vehicle can act as a refrigerator, keeping the cold inside and causing your pet to freeze to death.

7. If your pet spends a lot of time playing outside, increase his food supply. Make sure to include extra protein to help keep his fur in great shape.

8. Coolant and antifreeze are lethal for cats and dogs. If you have any spills in your garage or driveway make sure to clean them thoroughly. Stay away from product s that use ethylene glycol. If your pet should ingest any of these products, call your veterinarian immediately.

9. Rock salt is also dangerous for pets. “Safe Paw” is pet safe ice melt is available for sale at Wayside Waifs and is safe for pets.

10. Give your pet a warm place to sleep. Make sure beds are located away from doors and drafts. Warm blankets or a large pillow is great.

 

Written by: Trish Stinger, Digital Marketing/Brand Manager
Wayside Waifs


Sep 30 2015

Luna’s Journey to Finding a Forever Home

Scared and hungry, Luna came to Wayside Waifs in need of medical attention.

Scared and hungry, Luna came to Wayside Waifs in need of medical attention.

This is Luna. She came to Wayside Waifs from a well-meaning animal lover that did not have his animals spayed/neutered. After a time he ended up with too many animals to care for and was over the city limit for owned animals. That’s when several cats and kittens were brought to Wayside, including Luna.

She was only 2 1/2 months old, underweight and suffering from Coccidia (a parasite that when not treated, can cause damage to the lining of a cat’s intestines.) We were able to give her life-saving medications to treat the parasites and she also received standard vaccinations. Once she was well, she was spayed and received a microchip.

While at Wayside, she lived in our kitten nursery with her sister Squirt, receiving nutritious food, care and love from our staff and volunteers.

Stay tuned for more about Luna’s story…


Jun 16 2015

Beat the heat! Keep your pet cool this summer.

Spending summer days with your furry friend can be a lot of fun but the weather conditions aren’t always suitable for your pet. The rising temperatures and extreme humidity that the summer brings can be fatal for your animal if you aren’t aware of the dangers they can bring. On a really hot day your pet probably prefers a cool, air conditioned environment, but if you take on the outdoors with them there are a few things to remember.

Keeping your pet hydrated is crucial. Make sure you provide fresh, clean water that your pet can access at any time.  Also, if you’re unable to keep them indoors make sure that they have a shaded area they can go to when they need to get out of the sun.  If they are outdoors in the sun for too long, your pet can become overheated.  If you are transporting them in a vehicle be sure to never leave them in the car while it’s parked. A parked car can quickly become way too hot for your pet, whether the windows are down or not. Leaving an animal unattended in a parked vehicle can be fatal for your pet so make sure you are able to keep them with you when you’ve reached your destination or just leave them at home so they can stay cool.

Another way to keep your pet cool is to trim their fur. If you have a breed that grows long hair, it can be beneficial to get their hair trimmed short in the summer time. This can keep them much cooler on hot, summer days. It also helps to brush your animal’s fur more often than usual.

Be sure to pay attention to the heat of the asphalt. If it is a hot day, chances are the concrete and asphalt have reached temperatures that can potentially burn your pet’s paws.  Don’t let your pet stand or walk where the ground might be too hot for their paws.

Taking your pet swimming is a great idea for the both of you to cool off.  If you decide to let your pet splash around in a pool, lake, or other body of water do not leave them unsupervised! Not all dogs are natural swimmers and may need help. Don’t just assume that they will be able to swim and take care of themselves while in the water.

It is important to know the symptoms of overheating so that you can know when there is a problem and when you need to take action. Some symptoms of overheating are excessive panting or difficulty breathing, an increased heart rate, excessive drooling, or mild weakness. When body temperatures get too high they can also experience seizures, diarrhea, or vomiting. Pay attention to the weather and be aware of the potential danger that the hot summers can bring. By doing this you can beat the heat and have a fun but safe summer with your furry friend!

 


Apr 24 2015

Dog Training Tips: Excessive Chewing

How to help your little chewer 

It’s not uncommon for dogs to enjoy chewing on different objects, regardless of whether or not it’s something they should or shouldn’t be chewing on, all dogs have the natural instinct to chew.  Dogs chew on things for different reasons, some of these include: they’re bored, they’re panicking due to separation anxiety, they’re teething, they’re exploring the world around them, they’re hungry, or they just naturally enjoy chewing as a daily activity.  It’s our responsibility as their owners to try to figure out why they’re chewing and ensure they have appropriate items for them to chew on.  Below is some additional information about how to manage a dog that likes to chew a lot.

  • Puppies go through two teething phases, one when their puppy teeth or “milk teeth” start to come in at about 3 weeks old and the second when their adult teeth start to come in at about 3 months old.  It’s not uncommon for young dogs up to two years of age to continue to want to chew a lot into their teenage phase even though they are no longer teething.
  • Generally speaking, younger dogs have a lot more energy than older dogs so as a result they are much more active and need to be given constructive outlets to burn off all that energy.  If they’re not given the appropriate exercise and mental stimulation for their age and breed, young dogs can become very destructive in your home.  It’s imperative that you make the time to exercise your young dog, train basic obedience behaviors to your young dog so that they learn some manners, and give them appropriate chew bones and toys.  A tired dog is a good dog.
  • Always supervise young dogs to ensure they are not chewing on inappropriate objects and to ensure they are not choking and/or ingesting parts of the toys you’ve given them to play with and chew on.  Baby gates, crates, or keeping your dog on a leash tied to your belt are all good tools for total supervision until you get to know your dog and his or her chewing habits.  Not all dogs can play with the same toys safely so it’s imperative that you monitor your dog when you give them a new toy for the first time.  Ingested toys can cause serious life threatening intestinal blockages and the surgery alone to remove the blockage can cost a few thousand dollars at a veterinary office.
  • You can ensure that your dog is not chewing on inappropriate objects by keeping your personal items picked up and put away.  Also make sure that rooms are safe for your dog and that things like plugged in power cords are out of your dog’s reach.  Closing doors to extra rooms like bedrooms and bathrooms will ensure that your dog is not sneaking off and chewing on your things or harming herself.  Remind your children that it is their responsibility to keep their items like toys and shoes put away if they don’t want them chewed on by the dog.  It’s not uncommon for dogs of any age to want to chew things that smell strongly of their owners like dirty socks, underwear, shoes, etc. so make sure they are out of your dog’s reach.
  • If your dog is chewing on an inappropriate item, always redirect their chewing to their dog toys and bones instead of scolding them.  Scolding them will not diminish their need to chew and do something mentally stimulating; it will just teach your dog to fear you.  Instead teach them what they should be doing by offering them toys or chews that they should chew on.  See the list below of toys recommended for excessive chewers.
  • If your dog is chewing on larger items that you can’t put away like furniture, you may want to try a taste deterrent spray like bitter apple spray.  However, the best option is always going to be supervising your dog when you’re home and then redirecting them to an appropriate toy when they feel the need to chew.  If you’re not home to supervise then you may need to crate train your dog or baby gate them in a dog proof room like a kitchen or bathroom.  Some people can safely give their dogs toys to chew on while they are away while others cannot because their dog may have a history of ingesting or choking on toys.
  • If your dog is excessively chewing when you are not home and is doing things like escaping out of its metal or plastic crate and then chewing up carpets, doors, or the molding around your doors or windows, you most like have a dog that is suffering from separation anxiety and should seek immediate help from your veterinarian and a behaviorist.  Please see our separation anxiety handout.  Your dog is experiencing extreme mental and emotional distress, akin to a panic attack. Do not continue to try to crate your dog; she may severely injure her body or teeth while trying to escape out of a crate.
  • Recommended dog toys for excessive chewers*:
    • Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or wet dog food and then frozen
    • Himalayan Chews
    • Goughnuts
    • Nylabones
    • Wholesome rolled rawhide bones
    • Deer, moose, or elk antlers
    • Bull horns
    • Bully sticks
    • Rope toys
    • Tuffy plush toys
    • Leather toys
    • Red Barn or Merrick marrow bones

*Items above are generally safer if they are made in the USA compared to products shipped in from overseas, particularly animal products such as rawhides and marrow bones.  Wayside Waifs does not receive any financial reimbursement for endorsing these products.  Wayside Waifs can also not be held liable should your dog have problems while interacting with these toys.

 


Mar 31 2015

Dealing with Destructive Cat Scratching

The first step with any behavioral issue is to take your cat to the veterinarian for a full evaluation.  Cats are very stoic animals and will hide illness and injury.  Sometimes our only clue that something is physically wrong is a behavioral symptom.  Many behavioral modification programs can begin in conjunction with or shortly after your trip to the veterinarian.

Scratching is a normal behavior for cats!  It serves many purposes, such as marking territory, relieving stress and excess energy, stretching, and removing the dead outer layer of their claws.  Cats need to scratch and this should not be taken away from them.  Cats that scratch on undesirable objects just need a little guidance as to what is acceptable and beneficial.

Choosing a scratching post

Every cat must have at least one good scratching post; preferably more than one, especially in multi-cat homes.  Figuring out which type of scratching post your feline will prefer might take a little bit of trial and error.  Most cats like to stretch upwards, so providing a tall cat tower that is at least 3 feet tall with a stable base is always a good idea.  Even if the cat doesn’t use it to scratch on, it provides a nice perch to survey their surroundings, look out windows, or to provide some solitude when needed.

A proper vertical scratching post needs to suit the needs of an adult-sized cat.  A kitten is going to grow quickly, so it’s best to get the proper height right from the beginning.  The taller the better, but ideally it should be tall enough for an adult cat to stand on the hind legs, and stretch all the way up as far as they can reach.  This gives the cat plenty of surface area to work on and a proper stretch.  The scratching post needs to be sturdy as well.  If it tips or falls over, it may scare the cat, and the cat may never approach it or use it again.

Some cats prefer to scratch horizontally.  There are scratch posts that provide this option as well.  Again, finding one that won’t slide around or tip is very important.  Place the scratch board on a carpeted surface or purchase a gripper mat to prevent movement. Texture is important as well.  Some cats prefer carpeted posts, some prefer sisal, and some prefer corrugated cardboard.  Sisal is the most preferred as it is durable and helps the claws to lose the dead outer layer.  Corrugated cardboard will need to be replaced periodically as the scratcher deteriorates from use.

Training your cat to use the scratching post

If you have a multi-cat home, you should have 1 scratch post per cat (or more).  Each cat might have a preference of where it is located as well.  If there is any conflict between your cats, if you recognize these conflicts re-occurring in the same areas of the home, place a scratch post in those areas.  Any of the cats feeling stressed can have easy access to an instant stress reliever.  Scratching posts should be placed in common cat traffic areas and near items that the cat has previously used for scratching. If your cat is scratching on your couch, for example, place the scratch post in front of that particular area.

Sprinkling or spraying catnip onto the tower will attract the cat to the tower.  Lure your cat to the scratching post by dangling a favorite toy on the scratcher to encourage exploration and use of the scratcher.  Always praise your cat when the scratcher is used even after the training phase is over! Once your cat is consistently using the tower, you can begin to move it a few inches at a time until it is in the location you would like it to be. Be patient and allow the cat time to consistently use it after each move.

If you see the cat about to scratch on an undesirable area, do not frighten the cat or punish the cat.  Distract the cat by dangling their favorite toy near them and guide them with the toy to the scratching post.  Continue to play with your cat by dangling the toy high up on the scratching post so your cat jumps or stretches to catch it.  This will show the cat that the scratching post is stable and feels good to scratch.  Interrupting a cat who is already scratching can be done with a distracting toy or an aversive sound.  When the cat uses the scratch post, be sure to praise and reward with an extra tasty treat.

Alternatives to Declawing

Declawing is a procedure where a veterinarian amputates the end digit and claw of a cat’s paw.  Declawing should never be an option unless it is for medical reasons (ie:  injury).  Declawed cats are more likely to suffer from painful arthritis and behavior issues. Declawing a cat also takes away one of its first defenses.  This can result in a cat biting more than it might have if it still had its claws.  Declawing can also lead to litter box problems, as it can be painful for a cat to rake its paws through the litter. There is a product called Soft Paws that is a wonderful alternative.  They are plastic caps that fit right over each claw.  A cat can scratch, and there won’t be any damage.  Groomers and veterinarians can help apply these if you need any help putting them on. The caps can stay on for several weeks before needing to be replaced.

Keeping your cats nails trimmed on a regular basis will also help to prevent you from getting scratched, or the cat getting its nails caught on something, possibly causing damage to the item or to the cat.  Clip off the sharp tips every two weeks or so.  Work on desensitizing your cat to make this a tolerable interaction.  Petting her paws or legs and providing treats at the same time will help the cat to associate the touch as a positive interaction.  You can then begin to increase the pressure with gentle squeezes.  Eventually you will need to do this to extend the claw in order to trim them.  When you extend the claw, you should be able to see the pink or “quick” inside the claw.  This is a small blood vessel, and you want to be sure you do NOT cut in that area, or it will bleed and be painful.  This will help to dull the claw and prevent some damage to furniture or to you.

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.


Mar 30 2015

Introducing A New Cat

cat hugs

The purrs and hisses of a successful introduction

Normal Feline Communication and Behavior :

Hissing, growling, staring, swishing tail, ears down.

Redirection is your friend. If you see tension building, redirect your cat with treats/toys. If you are able to break up the tension, the cats will have less animosity towards one another. Never physically break up a cat fight; use a chair, broom, etc. to gently block them from each other.

Quick Tips – Take it one sense at a time – Provide a stress free environment – Allow normal feline communication and behavior – Redirection is your friend

The Introduction: Cats are not similar to dogs in the way that they can make a friend in two seconds. It usually takes time and a lot of patience. 

Step 1—SANCTUARY: Make sure your new cat has a ‘sanctuary’. This is a safe place that the resident cat cannot get to. This room needs to have their litter box, food, bed and toys, as it will be housing them for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Have “hiding spots” in this room for your new cat. Boxes make great hidey holes for cats that are feeling a little shy and intimidated for the first few days. Both cats will be curious– sniffing under the door. See “Normal Feline Communication and Behavior” information above and what to do if it escalates. 

Step 2—ONE SENSE AT A TIME: After your new cat starts feeling comfortable in their environment, you can start feeding special treats/meals to each cat on either side of the door. See how close you can get the bowl to the door, but don’t push it. Over the next few days, you’ll gradually decrease the distance be-tween the two cats and the door. The intent is to get each cat eating on either side of the door without any problems. You can also Room Swap; switch one cat out with the other. Allow your resident cat to explore the new cat’s sanctuary, and the new cat to explore your house. This gives them an opportunity to smell the other cat’s food area and litter box. Only do this for an hour at a time maximum and at most twice a day. We also suggest rubbing each cat down with a cloth, and placing the cloth under the other cat’s food dish. This helps them associate the other cats scent with a good thing– food. 

Step 3—INTERACTION: Once both cats are comfortable, and are not exhibiting stress/fear signals you can open the door to the sanctuary and allow them visuals. It’s always a good idea to go slow; open the door a crack, then a little more, then a little more still. If you see tensions mounting be sure to redirect with toys or treats. If this doesn’t help, do not continue and try again tomorrow. If everyone remains calm, allow your new cat to explore the household while keeping a close eye on each feline to ensure safety.

Step 4—HAPPY HOME: Now that both cats get along they should be able to be out and about together happily! It is suggested that you do not leave them out alone together when you are not at home for the first week or two. If something happens, you want to be present! Don’t get rid of the sanctuary right away! Allow your new cat time to become comfortable and slowly start removing items from the room.

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.

 


Mar 18 2015

Cats in Conflict: Feline Social Behavior

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The first step with any behavioral issue is to take your cat to the veterinarian for a full evaluation.  Cats are very stoic animals and will hide illness and injury.  Sometimes our only clue that something is physically wrong is a behavioral symptom.  Many behavioral modification programs can begin in conjunction with or shortly after your trip to the veterinarian.

Cats are socially selective creatures, which means that they do not need each other to survive but they will choose to socialize with each other.  Cats are individuals with personalities and because of this they will get along with certain cats and not others.

Most people miss the subtle way cats communicate with each other and only start to notice problems when a fight occurs.  Often times there are other signs that things are getting tense between your cats.  One of the other signs is not using the litter box.  Cats have elaborate ways to share territory and disruptions to their agreements can disturb the delicate balance.  When these problems arise it is important to address them as soon as possible.  The more fighting that occurs the more difficult it will be to resolve.  Cat do not “just work things out” once they get into a pattern of fighting.  This process will take time and commitment to resolve and you may need the help of a behavior specialist.  Pay close attention to all your cats’ behaviors and document your findings.  Be patient as each cat will progress at their own pace.  Use the following information to help you evaluate the situation.

Territory and access to resources

Territory is one of the most important things in your cat’s life.  Territory aggression can occur when a new cat is brought into the home, when a cat reaches social maturity (usually around the age of 2 or 3), when one cat comes home from the vet or if the cats view their resources as insufficient to share.   The behaviors you might see include chasing, swatting, hitting or ambushing.  You might also notices one cat sits directly in the path of the litter box or food bowl or waits outside the litter box to attack as the other cat tries to leave the area.  Other signs your cats might be having territory disagreements would be having stare downs, posturing and moving slowly while starting, blocking access to food and water, finding alternate locations to urinate or defecate, marking the perimeter of the home or major walkways(face rubbing, scratching or spraying), or one cat always leaves a room when another walks into the room.  Many of these signals go unnoticed so as the owner you may have to play detective.

Redirected aggression

Redirected aggression happens when your cat is frustrated that it cannot attack something and he will turn and attack the closest cat (or human) he can.  A neighbor cat visiting your yard, for example, could make your cat upset about his territory being invaded.  Since he cannot get out and attack the stranger in the yard he will take that energy and anger out on his housemate.  Cats will also redirect onto humans or anything moving (like a housemate) if they haven’t had enough play time.  There is also the potential for a redirection if your cat is suddenly startled and attacks the closest thing to him out of fear.

Defensive aggression

When a cat feels that he cannot escape from an attack he will choose to either freeze or fight.  The defensive cat will hiss, growl or scream to keep the attacker away.  He will fall to the ground, show his teeth, pull his ears and whiskers back and get his paws in the air ready for protection.  What can happen in multi-cat homes is a cycle of behaviors.  We often will not know the original incident that starts the cycle so it may take some investigation.  When one cat is attacked over a territory dispute or is a victim of a redirected attack (and therefore confused why she was attacked) she will be wary of the other cat and will often run away from him.  As she runs, his desire to chase her becomes even stronger.  Pretty soon the cycle of running and chasing has been established even without a precipitating event.

Separate the cats and follow the same instructions in the article on Introducing a New Cat.    Modify the environment.  Do not punish cats any cat that is involved; this will may lead to further aggression between cats and fear or aggression towards you.  See a veterinarian for a full examination on both cats and treat any injuries to prevent infection. In severe cases, talk with your veterinarian about supplementing your behavior plan with medication.  NEVER medicate your cat with consulting a veterinarian.  Many over the counter and prescription medications are harmful or even fatal to cats.

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.

 

 


Mar 6 2015

Managing Your Kitten’s Rough Play

Abner

The first step with any behavioral issue is to take your cat to the veterinarian for a full evaluation.  Cats are very stoic animals and will hide illness and injury.  Sometimes our only clue that something is physically wrong is a behavioral symptom.  Many behavioral modification programs can begin in conjunction with or shortly after your trip to the veterinarian.

Kittens love to play but kittens also NEED to play!  Kittens use play to explore the world, learn social skills and practice hunting.  Chasing, pouncing, biting and kicking are all normal ways that cats and kittens play with objects and with each other.  For a young kitten up to a few years old, you ideally should have 3 to 4 scheduled play sessions a day.

Typically, kittens adopted in pairs or who have had adequate time with their siblings will learn appropriately to not bite and to retract their claws to keep from hurting their playmates.  They will learn stalking and hunting behaviors by playing with toys.  You should be using interactive toys to play with your kitten several times a day and you should be leaving smaller toys laying around for them to explore while you are away.  The most popular interactive toys are wand toys with a long string that ends in a feather, mouse or another toy.  You should also consider purchasing interactive feeders for your kitten to bat around and receive a portion of her daily kibble or treats throughout the day.

You should be the one setting rules and boundaries for your kitten.  Make sure everyone in the house is aware of the kitten’s rules and inform guests as well.  One of your rules should be that the kitten is NEVER allowed to play with hands, feet or any other human body part.  Allowing this behavior will lead to injuries and aggressive behavior towards humans.  It is a very important lesson for your kitten to learn when it is appropriate to play and what things are appropriate to use as toys.

It is not uncommon for a kitten or young cat to test the boundary of acceptable vs unacceptable playing.  As a parent, your job is to clearly enforce that line and redirect the kitten’s play to an acceptable target.  For example, if your kitten has previously been encouraged to bite and kick human hands you will need to redirect that need onto a soft toy that is about the same size as your kitten.

Scheduled play times are very important.  You should be initiating play with your kitten several times a day, ideally BEFORE your kitten decides to pounce on you to get you to play.  It might be helpful to keep track of your kitten’s favorite times to play and schedule your play session 20 to 30 minutes before that time.   A natural schedule for a cat would be to play, eat, groom and then sleep.  Use this pattern to your benefit especially if your kitten wakes you up at night wanting to play.

Encourage your kitten to play by dragging a toy along the floor for her to pounce on or throw a toy across the room for her to chase.  Keep things interesting by changing the toys you use each day and putting away the interactive wand toys when you are finished playing.  Provide small toys, ping pong balls and plush toys to wrestle with when you are away.  When you are using the interactive wand toys, mimic the movements for live prey to encourage hunting behaviors.

Discourage your kitten from inappropriately playing by withdrawing your attention.  If your kitten starts playing too roughly stop the play session.  Say “ouch” in a high pitched voice and leave the room if your kitten bites or scratches you.  The kitten will quickly learn what behaviors make you end the play session.  She may continue to test how rough she can play so be consistent in which behaviors cause the games to end and which behaviors cause you to leave the room completely.  Be sure to reengage your kitten in a play session after a short break.

Do not attempt to tap, flick or hit your kitten.  Any form of physical punishment will lead to fear and further aggression from your kitten.  Even picking her to move her to a time out room could be reinforcing her behavior.  That is why YOU should be the one to leave the area.  Be sure to clean all wounds thoroughly and consult a doctor for severe bites.

 

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.

 


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