Monday, June 27, 2011

Common Cat Behavior Problems

There are some common issues that cat owners might experience. Some of the more common issues include excessive meowing, litter box problems and scratching furniture. All three of these behaviors can be easily corrected.

Some cats are more vocal than others. "Talking" is part genetic (some breeds like Siamese are more prone to it) and part learned behavior. You may have innocently reinforced this by talking back to your cat when it meows, playing with her, feeding her or even yelling at her. Like children, cats can view negative attention as better than none at all. There are several ways to correct this behavior. Do not reward your cat for meowing. Instead, give her attention when she is being quiet. Wait for a moment of silence before feeding her. If you give in at all during this corrective process, you will have to start all over again! Make sure the litterbox is kept clean and he/she has fresh water at all times. Another way to curb the “talking” is to make sure that all of your cat’s needs are met. Cats need attention and interaction so it’s important to allow time for playing with and petting your cat in your daily schedule. Provide your cat with stimulation such as cat toys, catnip and food cubes. Cats can also meow to express discomfort, pain or agitation. Females in heat will meow excessively to attract males. Unneutered males will yowl in conjunction with mating. Getting your pet spayed or neutered may cut down the vocalizations, if not eliminate them completely.

One of the more undesirable cat problems involves the litter box. Some cats are very particular about their litter box being clean. They can also be particular about the type of litter box. Some may not want to share their box. For this reason, having the same number of litter boxes as cats is recommended. If your cat goes somewhere other than their litter box, it is extremely important to clean that spot immediately with an odor removing cleaner because the smell will draw them back to that spot.

Another common problem that some cat owners experience is inappropriate scratching. Scratching is natural for cats for several reasons. Cats lose the sheath of their nail by scratching rough surfaces. Scratching also helps your cat release pent up energy or emotional stress. Although it’s natural for cats, it can wreak havoc on your furniture. The best way to curb this behavior is to redirect it to a proper scratching post. Once you find the right scratching post for your cat or kitten, it is important not to put the cat’s paws on the post for him/her. Cats don’t like to be handled this way. It may create a negative association with the post. Instead, get the cat interested by playing interactive games around the post. Your cat will begin to scratch the post as a way to relieve pent up excitement. Give her plenty of praise when she does. In the meantime, you need to make your furniture less appealing. You can do this several ways. Cover the furniture with aluminum foil or Sticky Paws, a transparent product that prevents your cat from scratching the surface. There are also repellant sprays you can put on your furniture, but they aren’t affective on all cats. When behavior modification doesn’t work, you can try a product known as Soft Paws. These colorful plastic caps can be glued on your cat’s claws. She can go through the motions of scratching and get enjoyment out of it without causing damage to your furniture. The caps will need to be replaced every three months after your cat’s claws are trimmed.

With any behavior problem, patience is key. It takes time for cats to learn behaviors. Often, it will take even more time to unlearn them. In order to make the changes permanent, you need to be very consistent and allow your cat time to adjust.

Friday, June 24, 2011

FUN Friday

We hope you had a good week!

Let's ring in Friday with some FUN.

GEICO answers the age old question - do dogs chase cats?

Who needs a treadmill when you have a slide?

Does your dog dream? Does he/she bark?

Have a GREAT weekend!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Fun

We have an American Staffordshire Terrier. This means summers are rough when it comes to getting in her exercise and keeping her occupied on the days too hot to walk. Though she lives inside the house with us, and spends the majority of her time there, she still needs to get out for some fresh air and exercise.

We get up early to walk her before the heat sets in, but it's very hard on the mornings the temperature is already hovering around 80 degrees. Lily doesn't do well in direct sunlight. She can go a few blocks and then she has to take a break in the shade. Here are a few things we've come up with to get her moving and work her a bit:

1) Ice cubes - I fill the ice cube tray with chicken broth or beef broth and drop a little Zuke's treat in each one. Pop it in the freezer overnight and you have a fun, icey treat. She loves to chase them around the house or lick them on a blanket under her favorite tree in the yard!

2) Sprinklers - We have one that moves. I got this idea from my own childhood. My parents would set it up on a hot day and we would run through it. Hours of wet fun! We can water our lawn AND exercise Lily while keeping her cool at the same time!

3) Kiddie Pool - Be sure to get a solid plastic one. We tried the blow-up one and her nails went right through it. You may have to ease your dog into it. Lily LOVES water, but she was hesitant about the pool at first. We tossed treats in it to get her in. The second day we had it, we filled it with just enough water to cover the bottom. Again, we threw treats in. By the end of the week, we had it full of water and she was enjoying splashing in and out with her doggie friends!

What about you - how do you keep your pets cool during the hot summer?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


"I had a bunny, but we let it go."

Meredith and I hear this comment in the classroom all the time. It's an unfortunate reality - most people think that their rabbits and can take care of themselves.

This isn't true. Setting your bunny free only makes them FOOD. Pet bunnies are a different species than the ones we see in our parks and yard. They lack the instincts needed to survive outside of a home. Wild and domestic bunnies do not breed. Their feral counterparts do not allow them into the group. Pet rabbits don't know how to burrow properly. They will often just sit out in the elements and catch pneumonia. They have been fed in their cage while at your home so they aren't used to foraging for food. These poor bunnies don't know where to look or what to eat. This makes them weak from hunger and eventually makes them an easy target for predators.

It is also against the law. It's considered Animal Cruelty. This means if someone like Meredith or I spot you, we will write down your license plate number, take pictures if we have our camera with us and report you to Animal Control. If you don't want the responsibility of caring for your rabbit, you should take it to your closest Animal Shelter. This will give it the chance to get adopted and live with a family inside the house where it belongs.

For more information on rabbits, see our website or click here for a link about bunny care - why they should be inside the house with family and pictures of their habitat indoors.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kid Funnies

We love teaching Humane Education because we truly believe that we are making a difference. Many times we return to a school the following year to find that many kids took our information home and their parents got their pets spayed/neutered. We know that we are slowly making a difference. One of the perks of this job is the honesty of children. Here are a few of the fun stories:

Jenn was teaching Dog Safety to a Pre-K class. When she got done, she was letting the kids share.
"I have a puppy."
"I have a goldfish."
"I have a baby brudder." (no pets, but he didn't want to be left out)


Meredith was teaching Dog Safety. She asked for a brave helper to demonstrate what can happen when you pet a dog who is sleeping (our puppet barks at them). When the little boy got to the front of the classroom, he announced, "My name is Menos and I take karate!"


Jenn was teaching 2nd Grade Kindness. We play a fun game where the kids pull items out of a bag and we have to decide if they are Kind or Unkind. If the item is kind, we have to decide who it would be kind to give it to (Bugs the Bunny, Harry the Hamster, Pip the Cat or Nemo the Chihuahua). If it's unkind, we toss it in the trash.

A girl pulled out milk. She held it up so everyone could see as she announced, "Milk."

Jenn: Is it kind or unkind?

Class: KIND!

Jenn: I know a lot of tv shows and movies show people giving milk to cats but it's not good for them. It's unkind. When they're kittens, where does their milk come from?

Class: MOM!

Jenn: And where does our milk come from?

Girl in the back row: CARTONS!


Jenn was teaching a 3rd Grade Class City Wildlife. When she finished, she opened it up for questions. The first question?

Boy: Are you married?
Jenn: Yes.
Boy: (pause) How married?
Jenn: Very, very married.
Boy: (complete with an aw shucks expression and arm movement) Aw, man!

She couldn't bring herself to ask 'why'. She turned my back to take another question, but he continued.

Boy: Because my dad really likes blondes. A lot. And you seem super cool.
Jenn: Thank you.
Boy: You're his type. Blonde and he likes his women curvy. (he stands up and waves his arms for curvy - curvier than I am)
Teacher: Miguel! We have had this conversation about inappropriate questions and gestures before.
Boy: (whiney) I'm just looking for a new stepmom.
Teacher: ENOUGH!

You NEVER know what is going to come out of the mouth of a child. They are always entertaining. And always, well mostly, honest. We love our jobs and wouldn't trade them for anything!

Monday, June 6, 2011


Getting an adult dog from a rescue group or a shelter off Craigslist is an admirable thing. Many friends who do rescue advertise their dogs for adoption. Unfortunately, many backyard breeders do as well. Even though it's against Craigslist policy to sell dogs on their site, it is still being done. And these greeders, as we like to call them, have gotten smart. They advertise their 8 week old puppies with an 'adoption' or 'rehoming' fee. A lot of people are falling into this trap.

If they are advertising a litter of purebred, eight week old puppies, they didn't get them from the shelter. Shelters post their dogs with links to their page. Rescues will post pictures and state where the dog was rescued from. If there is a litter for adoption, they will also be stating that the mom is for adoption as well. They will advertise that the dog comes: spayed/neutered, microchipped, shots. If you do not see these words, the puppies are NOT rescues.

Red flags - an entire litter of purebred puppies from 6-8 weeks of age with no mom listed. The greeder will still say "adoption" or "rehoming" fee. Usually this amount is high. Shelters and rescue groups will charge between $100-$250 dollars. Greeders will charge $200 or more. We've seen puppies as high as $800 on Craigslist. That is NOT an adoption fee.

These greeders only care about one thing - money. This means their puppies often haven't been dewormed or given their shots. You show up to find sick puppies living in horrible conditions. Once you are there and see these poor little babies, you aren't going to be leave without 'rescuing' at least one. And the greeders know this.

By taking that one puppy, you have now condemned another litter to the same fate. That $200 you just forked over to "save" the puppy, just gave her an incentive to breed her dogs again (and not deworm them or give them shots, as she did with this litter). You didn't rescue that puppy, you purchased it. Then, you'll have to fork over thousands to get it healthy again (plus the spay/neuter fee once it's well enough to be fixed).

This is an education issue. Most people are trusting individuals. When a dog is a lifetime commitment, you're looking at getting one every 10-15 years so it's easy to be duped by these horrible breeders. We're here to help so that it doesn't happen!

Friday, June 3, 2011

FUN Friday

Let's kick off Friday with some FUN!

You’re watching CuteWinFail Pets: Scaredy Cat. See the Web's top videos on AOL Video

The beaver was not harmed in this video. It's okay to laugh at this.

I get a lot of questions about shock collars. We don't agree with using them and we don't think they are effective. I do love this old Doritos commercial.

Have a great weekend, everyone!