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Useful tips on cat behavior and care

Questions can be answered at our Forum.

On this page I will answer some questions that people often ask me considering me a cat expert. I'm not a vet or animal behaviorist, but I've had cats for all my life, and have learned to understand them to some extent. My experience and knowledge are far from being complete, but some tips may be helpful especially for those who are new to PeopleCats World. These tips came from my personal experience with cats, and should not be considered as legal advice :-) However, it worked for me and my PeopleCats!

Adapting to a new home

Q: I got a cat from a neighbor who moved. The cat used to be such a darling when I saw her in her previous home, but now all she's doing is hiding under the bed, hissing and refusing to eat. It's been already 4 days she's acting like this. She scratched me badly when I tried to pull her out. Will she ever love me too?

First of all, all cats act nervous when moved to a new environment. They say that dogs get used to a person, and cats get used to a place. It is very true, although cats get attached to their owners too. However, for different cats it takes different time periods to get adjusted. Believe it or not, that adjustment time can range from a few minutes (!) to a month or even couple months. It really depends on a PersonCat. Mr Barcy, 5 yo male who spent a few weeks in a shelter cage and was rescued from the death row right on deadline, walked into my house like he already owned it. He just checked out a few things, like you would do when buying a new property, it took him hardly 5 minutes, then he found my cats' food bowl, emptied it and jumped on my bed with words "the place approved!". Then he slept for 12 hours, ate again and slept again, no hiding or hissing, just complete appreciation of the Blessing that happened to him. On the opposite, Miggy (same age and breed) suffered badly. His "parents" got a divorce, mom moved overseas and dad moved to no-pet apartment. It seemed like he knew that his family had some trouble. He was literally crying with tears and didn't eat anything for over a week. I gave him his freedom in my bedroom and let him explore the house during the day (he moved like a spy!). In about over a week he came to me and kissed me. Then ran to a food bowl and ate a few pieces. That was a start!

  • Try to provide a cat with a small space to start - like one room. A cat needs to learn new layout and sniff around. Once it feels home in this room, open more horizons - one step at a time. Don't let it panic from being lost in a huge house.
  • Generally speaking, younger kittens usually adapt quickly, and the older the cat, the longer time it usually needs to get used to a new home. But it's all very individual! PeopleCats are the same like people. Some of us can feel confident in a new company and environment, others feel uncomfortable or shy.
  • Leave the cat alone and don't impose your love and care. If they don't eat - they won't, even if you persuade or push it. They'll eat when they feel like it. Provide water bowl and litterbox. They won't eat, but they will drink for sure, and use the bathroom.
  • Leave closet doors half-open and provide any other "shelters" to hide: boxes, empty shelves, etc. Some cats like to hide under blankets or behind pillows. Lets the do so. The more hidden the cat gets, the more secure it feels, the sooner it will get out of its stress "shell".
  • Be patient with a cat. Forcing your company won't do any good, just opposite. The cat will come to you ONLY on his/her own, it will take the exact time that this particular cat wants! Some day cat's attitude will change overnight, and he/she will give you a big hug, rewarding you for your patience.

Indroducing a cat to a new cat family

Q: I want to adopt another male cat but I already have two and not sure if they can get along. My two boys grew up together. Is it true that if I get another male cat they will fight and spray the house marking their territory?

Very few cats stay friendly when they meet a stranger cat. Usually they hiss at least once :-) When you bring a new cat home, most likely there will be some hissing for a while, but remember that hissing is not necessarily a sign of aggression or attack. In most cases, cats hiss at each other when they feel unsure/insecure - hissing is a warning sign that says "I am not sure who you are, so just in case stay away, or..." What is going to happen after "or", they are not sure either. But it doesn't hurt to give a warning, does it? So both parties will try to carefully walk around and stay away from each others way and won't start a fight until... until they know each other better. Once they do, a cat that has dominant personality, may start picking on another one who is less "cocky". But those not necessarily will be both males! Keep in mind that some female People-Cats are real bitches! I have 11 male cats happily sharing the house, all came in different times, and a grumpy Gramma-kitty always hissing at them.

As far as spraying territory, usually neutering takes care of this problem. Some exceptions may occur though. In this case, when male cats keep spraying inside the house to mark territory and show other male cats who's the boss, there is a good solution that helps: expand the territory if possible. In my experience, when Tim started† spraying because of personality conflict between him and Mr Barcy, we moved the litterbox outside on the lanai. Eventually cats started to go outside in the garden (using cat door) and there was no use in litterbox anymore. The spraying problem disappeared. Of course this solution works only if you can let your cats outside. We'll talk about it in a special topic.

Furniture scratch. Solutions and realities.

Q: Can you suggest any other solution for furniture scratch problem besides declawing?

Declawing surgery has become very popular, especially in United States, where we try to make the most comfortable living. When I think of it, the first thing that comes to my mind is Comprachicos from Victor Hugo novel "The Man Who Laughs", - child-buyers who changed the physical appearance of human beings by manipulating growing children, in a similar way to the horticultural method of bonsai... Even trimming cat's nails is believed to be cruel by some cat-lovers. However, let's be realistic and ask the cats to compromise with us in exchange that we promise to never cut more off their body than a nail tip! (and maybe also... you know the body part - but we won't tell them, it's for their good). Here are some practical solutions. If someone knows more, let us know.

  • Scratching pads. Provide "cat trees" and scratch boards. You don't have to buy expensive toys from pet stores (some of that stuff just doesn't work, the cat looks at the thing, then at you and says "what am I supposed to do with it, idiot?". From my experience, the best scratching board that cats really like is a piece of plywood tightly covered with a rough (the cheapest) carpet. You can even try to put the carpet inside-out. Apply some catnip into the scratching surface to attract cat's attention. Carpet piece can be also installed on a wall - very conveniently for PeopleCats!

  • Nail trim. Trim tips of the cat's nails carefully. 1-2 mm should be enough. If you cut too deep, the nail base may start bleeding and it may get infected. The cat will continue scratching, but it will do less damage to your most sensitive furniture. When nail trimming, remember to wrap your baby in a nice big towel to avoid scratching yourself. If inexperienced, get someone to help you to hold the pet.

  • "SoftPaws". After trimming nails, you may want to try SoftPaws - "the humane alternative to declawing". The application is simple. Just fill each nail cap with the adhesive provided and slide it on over the nail. It is very similar to artificial nails women use in Beauty salons. If you can wear it yourself, cats can too! The SoftPaws cap lasts for about couple weeks (sometimes less depending on your cat activity). Every now and then one or two caps may come off, but in general it's pretty strong. A cat still tries to sharpen the claws, but they just slide off :-) My first cat had it and we both were pretty happy, until I realized that it's not cats who should fit my furniture, it's the furniture for my cats. Then I got more cats and gave up on sctratching problem: now we have a couple chairs that they love to do, the chairs are all theirs and there is no problem! Between those "cat-purpose" pieces of furniture and specially provided scratch boards and trees, my cats feel pretty content. So do I.

  • Real tree. If you can, let your kitty outside in the yard where you should have a nice tree to use. To buy special trees that both you and your cats will enjoy, visit toptropicals.com.

  • Wood logs. While you wait for your tree to grow thick enough for the purpose, put a few nice pieces of wood logs with porous bark (you can find them on the side of the road - look around if any of your neighbors trim their trees).

  • Essential oils. Recently I discovered that Citronella Oil and even other kinds of essential oils repel cats. You may apply very small amount on your furniture (but keep in mind the oil may stain polished wood or fabric - so use with caution).

  • Citrus repels. Cats also dislike any citrus smell. So try to experiment with orange-smell or lemon-smell sprays or cleaners. An orange peel may work, too.

  • Reality: Consider one more time what is more important to you - your cat or a fancy furniture. I buy used furniture, which became available cheap nowadays, and never have to think about scratching problem. If you still value your antique or contemporary style, consider getting a dog instead... (it might chew off the legs of your furniture though) or if you already have a kitty, try the methods above.

MYTHS AND REALITIES:

How much freedom do they need? Litterbox or... flowerbed? Indoors or outdoors? This is the question.

Myth: —ats should be always kept indoors for their safety.

Reality: to be answered soon

Food. Dry, canned or... Milk. Good or bad?

Myth: Milk is bad for cats. They should only drink water and eat only special cat food - dry or canned.

Reality: to be answered soon

Air conditioning, fluffy beds... and actual cat needs.

Myth: Pets should be kept indoors in air-conditioned room when it's hot outside.

Reality: to be answered soon

Cat as a passive smoker

Myth: Pets are OK with smoking. They are not children.

Reality: to be answered soon

Vaccination: a truth from a vet

Myth: Cats should get their vaccination yearly for all of their lives.

Reality: to be answered soon

Fleas: what is it that really works?

Myth: Brand name Flea solutions must be applied monthly. They are expensive, but there is no way around it.

Reality: to be answered soon

Living space: about small enclosures

Myth: Sitting in a cage is bad for a cat. Look at poor things in shelters!

Reality: to be answered soon

Cat allergies and allergies to cats

Myth: Allergies to cats are the most common in humans.

Reality: to be answered soon

 

More info coming soon in the following topics:

Become multi-lingual: Cat language

Cat relationships

PeopleCats personalities and changing with age. Temper types.

First Aid: be you cat's doctor before you got to the vet

Cats and Dogs: ruling and drooling

 

Please come back soon!

Mr Barcy accepted new home right away

Miggy was depressed and not eating for a week

Chief sharing the most intimate spots with his new friend Tim

Our boys Tim, Chief and Mishka - three stooges

Tim and Mishka

Favorite couch is almost untouched

Cat scratching "tree"

 

 

 

 

 

 


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