inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #76 of 90: Angie (coiro) Mon 4 Feb 08 10:35
    
(No problem with the food/nutrition conversation continuing, as I
follow up on some earlier stuff too.)

Arden, thanks for the links! I'm hoping for some of your own
perspective, too. What have been some of the more challenging cat
behavior jobs you've taken on? Some of the earliest, and how you worked
your way through them? Surprising elements of cat psychology some of
us lay people wouldn't know?
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #77 of 90: (martyb) Mon 4 Feb 08 12:39
    
(Just one more nutrition comment: Arden, when you do your next dog food
book, maybe you could have a section with low carb menus (ranging from low,
say 15% carbs (DM or kcal%) to carb-free) in addition to the more carby
recipes.)
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #78 of 90: Arden Moore (arden-moore) Mon 4 Feb 08 13:17
    
Hi all:  I am writing you during a break in Palm Springs where I am
attending two cat conferences:  the latest in medical news is being
presented at the American Association of Feline Practitioners' meeting
AND a new North American plan to promote wellness in cats is being
hosted by a group of people who represent the "who's who of cats" at
the Catalyst Summit.

Marty - I will definitely address - and enlighten the dog lovers of
the world about the real truth about carbs (plus plan to do the same
with cats - who as you may know - need very little carbs).

Some of my most challenging cat behavior cases usually share one
common clue: the litter box. Specifically, boycotting the box. I've had
owners come to me totally frustrated - and some angry - that their
cats are suddenly skipping the box and urinating (and defecating) on
rugs, against walls and bed pillows. The knee-jerk reaction is always,
"I travel now more... or I have a new boyfriend... or we just adopted a
puppy... and now my cat is being spiteful!"  Well, cats are not
spiteful. They don't sit up at night plotting revenge tactics.

But what they are is feeling stress. Cats, more so than dogs, are
impacted by stress due to changes in their environment (new person, new
pet, home alone more, etc.). They can't write you a "Dear Jane" letter
or email you why the changes in the house are upsetting to them.

So, they rely on their own form of communication: spraying/marking.
People are often surprised to learn that these acts performed by a cat
are designed to help them calm down. Scent is a big deal in the world
of cats. Especially when that scent belongs to them. Think of it as
feline graffiti - kitty was here.

So, after ruling out a possible medical cause (book the appointment
with the vet), then I try to play cat detective and help the owners go
through changes in the household routine that may have triggered this
unwanted behavior. Sometimes, the culprit is another animal - like a
stray cat or raccoon who "taunts" the indoor cat through the window or
sliding glass door. The indoor cat can't shoo the trespasser and so
pees or poops in his "castle" as a way to declare, "hey, this is my
place - scram!"

Another possible reason is because the litter box is dirty and hasn't
been cleaned daily - or, it has been relocated next to a noisy
appliance like a washer or dryer. One nice client sought my help when I
was on the national book tour last summer for their cat, Emma, who was
not using the litter box any more. Turns out that Emma is 17 and has
some arthritis. The couple has moved the litter box down stairs in the
unfinished basement from its original location in a guest bathroom on
the main floor. Poor Emma's eye sight - and reduced mobility - were no
match for mastering the rickety, narrow steps and the dark basement to
try to locate the litterbox now stashed in a corner.  Once the couple
offered Emma a clean box on the main floor, the problem was solved.

As for cat psychology, I often gently remind people that cats are not
"little dogs in feline fur." What works for a lovable lab does not
always work for a bossy Aby. To outfox a feline, you need to present a
better option than the current one. For example, adding a sturdy cat
tree in the house and sprinkling organic catnip is far more appealing
for a cat than walking on the kitchen counters (especially if you keep 
food stored). Or giving the cat a window perch (ones are available
that are fleece-lined and extend the width of the window sill) to be a
nosey Nelly and watch the neighborhood activities often curtains a cat
from howling or clawing the curtains.

Each situation needs to be thoroughly addressed before solutions can
be offered. Hope this helps.
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #79 of 90: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 5 Feb 08 14:22
    

Oh, I love those fleece-lined window perches for kitties. Unfortunately, the
configuration of the windows in my house preclude that, so my cats must
suffer the indignity of climbing up on chairs or onto the back of the
couch if they want to look out the window. 

Arden, do you have any advice for the following situation?

I have two cats that I acquired four years apart. Both were adopted as
kittens from my local pound. When I brought in the second cat in 2000, 
I was thinking it could be a nice companion for my first cat.

NOT!

They have never gotten along. Initially I thought it was just that the
kitten energy of the new one was exhausting for the older one. By the
time it was clear they weren't going to reach any kind of accord, it
wasn't possible [emotionally, for me] to get rid of either one. 

They would each like the other to drop dead, thank you very much. Their
dislike of having to share living quarters has put both of them in a
permanent bad mood. That bad mood extends to the way they interact with
me and my husband. They're irritable, they're quick to scratch and
bite, sometimes with no tail-flick warning or growl or anything. The 
younger of the two is so aggressively hostile that the vet can't even 
give her an annual exam without knocking her unconscious. 

We've tried extra attention. We've brought in numerous toys -- catnip
mice, cat dancers, laser lights -- to try to exercise them and burn
off some of that aggressive energy. 

I've had many cats in my life. I've never had a pair like this. Is
there anything else we could try to get them to mellow out?
"cat d
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #80 of 90: Carol (carolw) Tue 5 Feb 08 14:46
    
And also Arden, do you work with Dr. Nicolas Dodman at Tufts?  I read
"The Cat Who Cried for Help" and he has had success with prozac-type
drugs in these kinds of cases.

And Cynthia, are they both females?
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #81 of 90: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 5 Feb 08 15:39
    

No, the older one's male, the younger is female.
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #82 of 90: Angie (coiro) Tue 5 Feb 08 16:04
    
Arden, once you've tackled these - what are the toughest cat
behavioral issues to crack? 

And since you're well-versed in dogs, too - how do the stubborn cat
behaviors compare to those of dogs? I'm imagining they spring from
their very different natures, so might be quite opposite. 
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #83 of 90: Arden Moore (arden-moore) Wed 6 Feb 08 17:59
    
Yes, I do work with Dr. Dodman from Tufts. He is a top vet/behaviorist
who did significant studies on the benefits of using Prozac and other
meds in toning down feuds between felines in the same house. Please
work with your vet when using this med or other meds designed to calm
cats down or address anxiety. Yes, cats are not invincible from stress.

Cynthia, sorry to hear that your two cats will never exchange
Christmas cards or civil greetings. Just like people, some cats just
don't like particular other cats - even if they happen to be roommates.
A couple solutions: plug in Feliway into outlets - it mimics feline
facial phermones and is designed to bring an "air of calm" into the
home. We can't smell the odor, but cats can.

Also, you probably need to offer separate places for these two cats in
your home and stop, for now, attempts to force them into playing or
eating together. Well intentions only cement their mutual disgust for
one another. 

Cat behavior that ranks as the trickiest to combat is boycotting the
litter box. Stress triggers can range from taunting by the other cat in
the home, wrong location for the litterbox, dirty litter box and more.
This is the no. 1 reason why cats are surrendered to shelters and
unfortunately, it often means a death sentence for the cat. That's why
it is very important to work with a vet or behaviorist at the onset of
bathroom boycotting to "nip it in the bud" before it becomes a
hard-to-break habit.

As for dogs, a big behavior issue is aggression - toward other dogs in
the home and even people. When there is no perceived human leader in
the household - from the dog's perspective - some canines step up and
try to assume the leadership - resulting in aggressive behavior
(growling by food bowl, failure to give up toys or heeding come
commands).  

Each behavior problem needs different approaches to counter. With
cats, it is all about pinpointing the cause of the stress that is
promoting the cat to go elsewhere. With aggressive dogs, it is about
employing the "Nothing in Life is Free" program in which they must earn
all privileges. They must sit before getting their food bowl or before
going outside on walks. The people in the house must be clear and
consistent on the commands so that their status becomes that of
benevolent, confident leader and the dog gets to relax and enjoy being
a dog. This NILIF program is outlined at many consumer education sites
from shelters as well as Tufts University's Animal Behavior Hotline and
in my book, The Dog Behavior Answer Book.
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #84 of 90: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 6 Feb 08 18:17
    

About my fueding felines: they're fed at the same time, but in separate
rooms, we've been doing that for 3-4 years now. All of our efforts to get
the cats to play are one-on-one (one human, one cat) kind of activities.
They're not even interested in the same kinds of toys. The female responds
to laser lights and fake mousies. The male sneers at these, but goes crazy 
for catnip-laced balls and curling ribbon dangled before him. 

I've not heard of Feliway before. Thanks so much for the recommendation,
Arden. I'll check it out! 
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #85 of 90: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Thu 7 Feb 08 14:39
    
We're turning out Inkwell spotlight to another topic, which means that
it's time to thank Arden and Angie for a delightful conversation about
the creatures my wife calls "the little fuzzy masters."  

Thanks for joining us in Inkwell, Arden! 
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #86 of 90: Teleological dyslexic (ceder) Thu 7 Feb 08 17:06
    
Thank you!
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #87 of 90: Arden Moore (arden-moore) Thu 7 Feb 08 21:31
    
Thank you all for sharing your feelings, frustrations and fascinations
about all things feline. It has been an honor to chat with you and I
hope that you take the time each day to spend a little one-on-one time
with a favorite purr machine. Remember, cats can do a body (and mind)
good!

Paws Up!  Arden
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #88 of 90: Angie (coiro) Thu 7 Feb 08 21:43
    
With Miss Violet Divine perched upon my hip even as I type - thank you
so much, Arden, it's been a pleasure. Continued good luck with your
book!
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #89 of 90: Idea Hamster On Speed (randomize27) Thu 7 Feb 08 21:51
    <hidden>
  
inkwell.vue.319 : Arden Moore, "Planet Cat"
permalink #90 of 90: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Thu 7 Feb 08 22:02
    
Assuming room temperature....never heard that one.  That's a goodie.
  



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