MeOW Welcome to Service Cats and Everything Feline on Furidays. We’ve got a great topic today so stay tuned. And ‘member you can leave your questions or topic suggestions in the comments below or send us a purrivate email via our Contact page. And as always, you can get caught up on any post you may have missed by clickin’ the links on our Training Tips and Everything Feline page from our menu. Remember, we’re no longer listing names per reader request. There is no dumb question. Mommy says no one purrson knows everything about everything. We all have to start somewhere. By the way, you’ll notice a little different structure today. Let us know ifin ya’ like it.
The followin’ post will be written in human English fur reader and translator ease. Our Service Cat posts aren’t intended to be an all inclusive Trainin’ Manual but rather Tips, Tricks and Techniques used/developed by mommy A thru her many years of animal trainin’, cats in purrticular. And to offur insight into your questions about Everything Feline. Always remember, Training is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards.
One of the questions we get asked most is about taking kitty out in public and making sure kitty’s comfortable and calm. Whether it be to the VET or on an adventure, people want to know that kitty isn’t stressed out. We discussed preparations for taking kitty to the VET last week. If you missed it, you can read it here. Today, we’re going to follow up a bit on that topic. The question is, “Kitty appears/is calm during the initial VET visit and suddenly ‘goes nuts’ and bites when the VET/tech with metal mesh gloves takes his/her temperature. What caused this and can we stop it from happening in the future? ” Another question that goes along with this is: “How can I keep kitty calm during the exam itself? The VET and techs are concerned about bites and scratches and want to sedate kitty or wear gloves or other protective gear when handling kitty.”
Feeding off the Energy:
Let’s take a look at the first question. You’ve done everything right and kitty is nice and calm. Even the waiting room didn’t stress kitty out. So why then is kitty suddenly going “nuts” and biting? Remember, we always stress that kitty will feed off the emotions of those around him/her, so it’s really important that you remain calm and thinking positive thoughts. But, it’s also important for the VET’s staff to not only be professional but calm. If a kitty has never shown any signs of biting, then no one should be wearing metal mesh gloves during any part of the exam. Quite frankly we were appalled when we read the question. Mommy wouldn’t let anyone near us wearing such armor gloves. We suspect this kitty reacted to the tentative touch of the tech who most likely was also feeling a bit apprehensive. There was no initial signs that the gloves would be needed and should never have been worn. VET appointments are rarely fun, but mommy likes to keep them as stress free as possible, so that we remain calm each time we have to be in the office. All it takes is one bad experience to cause kitty to react poorly and stress at all future appointments. And YES, it is possible to change the behavior of a kitty who does have a history of biting, scratching or fighting with a VET/tech. It just takes a little time and patience and the cooperation of your VET and their staff.
You can see the purple calming collar in the foto.
We don’t have Feline only VETs in our parts, but, you might look into them in your area. Obviously, an office that caters to cats should be better equipped in knowing how to deal with them. Another option, is an office that has separate waiting rooms to help keep kitty calm. A lot of people have great success with calming sprays and plug ins. It might help every kitty/doggy if your VET had them in the rooms and waiting area. You might suggest them to your VET or gift them to your favorite VET’s office. Don’t forget, you can also spray kitty’s carrier and the towel or clothing inside kitty’s carrier as well. You might also want to look into a calming collar. They’re fairly inexpensive and can be used only when needed. While in the waiting room, you should speak calmly to kitty and remember to praise them and let them know how proud you are of their great attitude and calm demeanor. And yes, do this even if kitty is hissing or cowering in their carrier. Remember, the idea is to calm or keep kitty calm so the appointment goes off without any problems. And don’t leave kitty unattended at any time. We even go to the bathroom with mommy when all the time necessary.
During the appointment mommy makes sure to remain in our line of sight at all times. She stays calm and blows us kisses and slow blinks. When she has to hold us down for tests, injections, etc., she makes sure to calmly and quietly praise us for our good behavior. Yes, it’s usually the techs’ job to hold kitty, but mommy knows that we stay calmer when she does it. We know mommy’s touch and can feel the love radiating down thru her hands instead of apprehension from someone who doesn’t really know what to expect from us or how we’ll behave/react to certain touches, pokes and prods. At no time does mommy let us out of her sight. The office policy may be, no owners in the back, but if you’re a calming effect on kitty, exceptions will be made. If not, you may want to look for another VET. Mommy’s policy is: If they can’t do “it” in front of her, then they probably shouldn’t be doing it all. She’s seen perfectly calm kitties suddenly get written up in their file as ferocious/biter after a trip to the back for a blood draw or weigh in. And, she’s seen some pretty incompetent techs trying to find veins or restrain kitty. So she completely understands how a kitty can become stressed and lash out. That being said, if you can’t remain calm, you need to work on it and pray for a great office.
Mommy says more often than not, kitty will react the way people are expecting. Tech wears bite glove, kitty bites. Guess they got what they were expecting. So, if the VET/tech comes in the room clad in armor, kitty’s probably going to act out. Kitty is feeling everyone’s stress and reacting in kind. Our VET and his staff have a lot of shortcoming’s, but, they usually enter the room calmly and completely ignore kitty. We either start sniffing him or mommy presents us to him/her and then the exam begins. Unfortunately you can’t change a VETs personality or actions, but you can suggest ways they can deal with your kitty that will make kitty more comfortable. After all, you know your kitty better than anyone else. Remember, this is a relationship. Kitty can’t speak, so the VET is looking to you for cues on what is and is not normal with kitty. A good VET is going to want to make the visit as stress free as possible. Nobody wants to get bit or scratched.
Well, we’re gonna wrap it up fur today. We’ve covered a lot of infurmation, and we do hope it helps. Sometimes Training is as much about Training the human on how to behave as it is kitty. Always remember, calm is good and Training is best achieved with Repetition and Rewards. Teaching kitty to remain calm at the VET is just as important as Training kitty to use a litter box or where to scratch. Don’t furget to leave your questions or topic suggestions in the comments or send us an email via our Contact page. And, you can ketch up on any post in this series by clickin’ the links on our Training Tips and Everything Feline page. Join us here each Furiday to learn more about the mysterious feline in your life and what makes us tic. MOL We’re also joinin’ Comedy Plus fur Feline Furiday.
Don’t furget to let us know ifin ya’ like the new outline with sections??.
Welcome to another Service Cat Monday. We’re runnin’ way late today, but we’re here. We’ll be honest and tell ya’ we’ve been lookin’ furward to tacklin’ today’s topic, with a little excitement and a lot of trepidation. Trepidation, you ask? Cats get such a bad rap in society, that we hate to focus on any feline negative. BUT, ifin those negative issues aren’t dealt with, then peeps won’t know how wonderful and special all us kitties can be. So, let’s get the business outta the way and get on with today’s posty. The followin’ will be written in human English fur translator and reader ease. Our Service Cat Monday posts aren’t meant to be a step by step Trainin’ manual, as Trainin’ is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards. We believe in a Pawsitive Reinfurcement Trainin’ Method. The tips, tricks and techniques we talk ‘bout are/have been used/developed by mommy thru her many years of trainin’ animals, cats in purrticular. Ifin ya’ have any questions, suggestions, or comments, purrlease leave them in the comment section or send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the form on our Contact Us page. It’s completely purrivate; nopawdy sees it but us. And, purrlease try to be as specific as pawssible ifin you’re askin’ a question ‘bout behavior. Ifin you’ve missed any of the posty’s in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links below.
The topic today is all about Feline Aggression. Our dear sweet awnty Ellen of 15 and Meowing asked, Is there any hope of Re-integrating sweet Jinx into the family? When out with the other kitties, he automatically goes for the kill; straight for the other kitty’s throats and the fur flies. And, our dear friend Timmy and his dad, our pawsum uncle Pete asked how to deal with the sudden onset of aggression without provocation. And lastly, our sweet friend Valentine asked about littermates who have never gotten along and try to avoid each other as much as possible. And we’re sure there are many more of you out there facing some sort of aggression issue in your house. First, we’d like to remind you to read our Prep post There’s No Bully Cat Breed. This post helps explain the origins of the house cat and what motivates your furry purrer.
These three questions, altho dealing with aggression, are completely different. However, anytime there are behavioral issues/abnormalities with your kitty, the first thing you need to do is, Take Kitty to the VET. You want to rule out any possible medical reasons for kitty’s behavior. Cats DO NOT act out of spite or just plain meanness. There is always a reason as to why kitty does what they do. Now some of you may be wondering how mommy can speak to aggression, since we’re Service Kitties who get along, as did sis Lexi and me. Well, let’s just say, things weren’t always rosy in mommy’s house. We rarely talk about it, because it was a moment in time, and something mommy dealt with as soon as it reared it’s ugly head. But we feel we need to give you a little background with a look into the past.
We have quite a few friends that have joined us this past year and never met mommy’s first black tabby cat love, me’s sweet sis Lexi. Mommy was a foster mommy for newborns without a cat mommy when sis Lexi came into her life. At all of ten minutes old, sis Lexi started working her feline magic to make mommy fall in love with her. Mommy already had two kitties at the time and had no plans to add a third, so altho’ she loved Lexi, she had no intentions of making her part of the family. Me knows it’s hard to believe, but sis Lexi was a tiny kitty girl. This was no surprise as she was an Egyptian Mau that should weigh about 6 pounds full grown. Sis Lexi was special and grew into a large, not overweight, 30 pounds, due to her early cow milk diet that strengthened and caused her bones to grow much bigger. Anyways, since she was a foster, mommy would take her regularly to be shown at adoption events where she was caged and unfortunately poked and prodded by onlookers/possible adopters/children. She was also a little bullied by her more outgoing bigger brofur and littermate, who was the alpha of the litter.
Lexi as a little girl. Here she is at about 7 months old.
Lexi grew to hate those events. She had already decided she wanted to stay with mommy. So, what’s a kitty girl to do when the human isn’t paying attention to all the signs? On adoption days, Lexi would hide and hiss and growl her displeasure at being crated up and carried off to be caged for the day. Mommy ignored all the early signs, until one day, Lexi took her frustrations out on the resident kitties. Yep, teeny little Lexi attacked mommy’s resident kitties and drew blood. She made a stand. She was saying, “I’s don’t like those cages or the people poking at me.” She had been saying it, mommy just hadn’t been listening. But, with the site of blood, mommy finally got the message. Yep, mommy adopted sis Lexi herself and changed her name from Lana to Lexi. Mommy explained to her that she’d never be caged and prodded again, and that she would live with mommy and the boys (Devon and Lucky) forever and ever.
Devon yawning, Lexi with arms and legs around Lucky in sink.
As you can see, the boys are much larger than Lexi.
The boys were three times the size of Lexi and very laid back. At first, the boys’ gave Lexi a wide berth, while mommy was spending time reassuring her, that she had a forever home and helping to build her confidence through love and play. After a couple of weeks, Lexi and the boys not only co-existed, but as you can see by the above photo, they learned to love each other. Mommy continued to foster other kitties. Until that is, shortly after sis Lexi’s spay surgery. Lexi once again, found herself in a cage being prodded by strangers. Obviously, she didn’t understand the whole thing, but cages brought back bad memories. While mommy was gone to a rescue meeting, sis Lexi broke into a large crate with one of the foster kitties mommy had, and she killed it. Mommy was devastated. But, she loved Lexi and understood that she had acted out of fear. Through love, patience and a lot of confidence building, sis Lexi was once again, the loving kitty mommy always knew she could be.
Me on the bathroom vanity luvvin (massagin’) on sis Lexi in the sink.
The point of all this, is that Lexi wasn’t born mean. She certainly wasn’t raised to be mean. But early circumstances and experiences had caused her to fear cages and strangers. Now let me tell you, the rescue organization that mommy fostered with, had wanted to kill Lexi when she drew first blood. But mommy understood that Lexi had been giving her warning signs before she took those actions and knew that with stability, patience and love, she could overcome it. In Lexi’s case, her behavior wasn’t motivated by any medical causes but rather, Fear.
Sis Lexi and me in our old window purrch. We luvved
each other very much.
So, the first thing one needs to try to establish with an aggressive kitty, is the motivation behind it. If you’ve ruled out medical causes, thenMotivation is the next step. Unfortunately, when adopting a kitty from a rescue or shelter, you don’t always know their history. However, ALL kitties send up warning signs before they start taking action; humans just need to be aware of what to look for. When adopting a kitty, try to find out as much as possible about their past. Were they a stray? Owner Surrender and why? Formerly Feral? Abused or Abandoned? These things can often help you to see into the kitty’s mind. By the time a kitten is 6 months old, their experiences will determine how they see the world; humans, other cats and animals. But don’t be discouraged if you adopt an older kitty. Although you can’t change the Natural instincts of a cat, you can change most of their Learnedbehaviors.
Cats like stability. Old folks and cats hate change. Did you know something as simple as rearranging the furniture can cause your cat to be stressed and act out? A cat that’s been bullied by others, may become aggressive when placed in a new environment with other kitties or animals? It’s the old, “the abused becomes the abuser” story. We suspect that might be the case for our sweet friend Jinx, but we don’t have enough information to truly make a diagnosis. The big key in having a happy and peaceful household with multiple cats is that all kitties be confident and own their territory.
Cats learn confidence from things like play, interaction and ownership of their surroundings. Having their scent present in their home, the furnishings, toys, and cat furniture is very important to establishing ownership for a cat. Co-mingling scents in multi cat households is a must. When introducing cats slowly, site swapping and scent swapping are also a must. The human scent is just as important as all the other kitties in a household; so a piece of worn clothing can be left in the area with the “aggressive” cat as well as a towel, blanket, or other highly scentable cloth with all other animals’ scent. And be sure to spend quality time with the “aggressive” cat, playing the “Scent Me Up” game and with toys.
A confident kitty can walk or stand their ground in the middle
of the floor while their housemate passes.
We’re gonna wrap this up fur today. We knew this was gonna be a really long post ifin we addressed it purr-opurrly, so we’ve decided to break it up into several installments. Aggression doesn’t happen overnight, so fixin’ it, isn’t gonna be a snap either. But, keep the hope alive in your heart, your kitty can be helped and everypawdy/kitty can live happily. To recap, see the VET to rule out any pawssible medical reasons fur kitty’s behavior. Excluding medical causes, look fur kitty’s Motivation. This may require you to look into the past, but take the time to try to figger out why kitty may be acting out. Are there any triggers? Does kitty give warnings and what causes them? Again, you might have to look into the past, but kitty didn’t start attacking without giving a warning furst. Make a list of your findings, so you can refer back to it during training and just in case you need it in the future. And lastly, help all the kitties be more confident thru play, ownership, scent swappin’ and the “Scent Me UP” game. Spend quality time with each kitty. We think this is a lot of work, but by next week, ya’ might have a better handle on what causes your kitty to be “aggressive”, and fur sure, you and kitty will have fun implementin’ these techniques. Remember, THERE’S NO BAD CAT!!!
Ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, ketch up by clickin’ the links below. And be sure to leave your questions, suggestions and comments below. We hope you all have a pawsum week and join us next Monday fur the second installment in dealing with Cat Aggression.