Oct 7 2009

Kali’s Kitty Adoption Tips



HI!  I’m Kali, an eleven year old adopted kitty.  I was a proponent of adoptions long before my mom starting working at Wayside Waifs (the best place to adopt, in my opinion!).  My mom asked me to talk about some of the things you should think about before you adopt a kitty.

My first bit of advice is to consider your living arrangements.  Landlords usually require a pet deposit and they sometimes require your kitty to be declawed.  If you live with other people they should all meet the kitty you are planning on adopting.  It’s also a very good idea to find out if anyone is allergic to kitties before you bring one home!

Speaking of declawing…please consider all alternatives! This is a very painful procedure which can cause some serious behavior issues and it’s simply not necessary.  My parents trim my toenails every week and I have several scratching posts around the house.  Just for the fun of it, I got some purple soft claws, I loved them!  (Wayside sells them and can put them on your adopted kitty before  you take her home).

Another thing to think about before you adopt a kitty is your financial responsibility.  When you adopt from Wayside Waifs your kitty will be spayed or neutered and will have all age appropriate vaccinations.  But as a pet parent, you will be responsible for any future medical care, yearly vaccinations, food, litter and toys.

And while you’re thinking about your finances, I’d like to talk to you about adopting two cats or kittens, rather than one!  While it will increase your financial responsibility, most cats and kittens really like having a partner.  I love snuggling and playing with my parents but my best friend is Fiona, a beautiful black kitty with green eyes.  Wayside offers a discount when you adopt two at a time!

I’m so glad you are considering adopting .  There are hundreds of amazing cats and kittens at Wayside Waifs and at shelters across the country that need a loving caring home.  Adoption is a lifetime commitment with tremendous rewards.  Spend time talking with the staff and volunteers who work in the shelter, they know the cats and can help you find the right match for you and your family.

Written by Barbara Poe on Kali’s behalf
Adoptions Program Manager

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.

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