Welcome to another Service Cat Monday. We wanna take a minute to clear up a few things. We received a few comments on our last post that seem to be a little confused. Mommy in no way endorses feral cats as Service Animals. Service Cat Monday started out with us telling about our specific training. However, we quickly learned that lots of peeps had kitty issues they were living with that could be corrected with a little training. So, we opened Service Cat Monday up fur any and all questions. Because of mommy’s experience with animal training, we wanted to help, and will continue too. We believe all kitties can benefit from some basic training, but, that doesn’t make them Service Cats. We hope that clears things up a bit.
Now, let’s get to today’s posty. And ‘member, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links at the bottom of this post. The followin’ will be written in human English fur translator and reader ease. We’re runnin’ low on questions, so ifin you have any questions you’d like an answer to, purrlease leave ‘em in the comments or send us an email. Our Trainin’ posts aren’t meant to be a step by step Trainin’ manual, but rather Tips, Tricks and Techniques mommy has used/developed throughout her many years of animal trainin’, cats in purrticular. And ‘member, ifin you have a behavioral question, purrlease be as specific as pawssible.
We have a couple of questions today that won’t take a whole post each, so we thought we’d address them together. First up, our sweet Weimareiner friend Phenny asked, “What do you think about all these Designer Breeds/Cats, like the Savannahs, Chausie, etc.?” Well, Da Phenny, we can sum it up by saying, We Hate Human Manipulation in the natural process of Any animal breeding!!! “Designer Breeds” as they’re called, often come with a host of health problems, and aren’t actually suited to life as a pet. You mentioned the Savannah specifically, so we’d like to address that particular breed. The Serval, which is the wild cat that makes up one half of this breed doesn’t actually desire to breed with the Domestic Cat. And the gestation period for the Serval and Domestic Cat differ which means that pairings can result in natural abortions, premature births and even absorption of the pregnancy. The resulting kittens are indeed attractive, but not actually suited to every household. They are extremely smart, large and highly energetic. They are completely driven by their wilder/baser instincts. For a complete look at these instincts, please see our post, There’s No Bully Cat Breed. Just because humans can do something, doesn’t mean they should. Science has proven that Natural bred cats are healthier, live longer, and are more suited to living with humans. We hope that answers your question. You can also see Wikipedia, TICA and the CFA websites for more information on these and all cat breeds.
Our next question comes from our dear Persian friend Valentine. Val asks, “I live with a D-O-G that I’m always sniffing. Am I marking my doggy or checking to make sure it’s still the same D-O-G?” Well Valentine, as we discussed in a previous post, us kitties use smell over eyesight to determine what’s in our world. Almost all of our communication with other animals can be summed up with scents. When you live inside, where most all kitties should live, the scents don’t change that often. Sure, the occasional visitor, or your human’s return from work, shopping or errands, can bring new scents to explore, but most of the time, there’s little to no animal communications. However, when the D-O-G goes outside to take care of their business or exercise, they return with lots of great information from the big outdoors.
The dog may have stepped in or brushed up against a spot where another kitty walked, rubbed, or otherwise marked. Yes, this can even happen if the doggy only goes out in your yard. Stray and feral cats know no boundaries. MOL When the dog returns inside, us kitties must sniff and take in all the information from the great outdoors. This will usually be followed by some form of marking the dog. You know, we’ve got to reclaim our family members as often as possible. A cat in the wild will mark their territory several times a week in order to keep the scent fresh and let others know the territory is taken, by whom, and breeding status. Those of us inside, do the same thing with our humans, other animals, furniture, etc.. The same post as above, There’s No Bully Cat Breed, explains what drives a cat to do the things we do. So, to answer your question Valentine, you are smelling the D-O-G to make sure it’s still your doggy, but also to get information about your extended world; the great outdoors. This behavior would remain the same, even if you were allowed outside. Remember, us kitties use scent above all other senses to make determinations about our world.
Well, that’s gonna do it fur today. No actual Training tips today, but we said we’d take any and all questions. And, we think these were some great questions, so fank ya’ll fur askin’. Ifin you have any questions, purrlease let us know. We actually enjoy these postys and hope you do too. ‘Member, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series you can ketch up by clickin’ the links below.
Welcome to another Service Cat Monday. We’re still tacklin’ that really tuff topic, “Aggression”. So pull up a chair, get you a cup of coffee, tea or whatever your drink of choice is and get ready to explore the world from the feline point of view. As always, the followin’ will be written in human English fur translator and reader ease. Our Trainin’ posts aren’t meant to be a step by step manual, as Trainin’ is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards. Trainin’ can be kind’a borin’, but it’s necessary. Every furry can benefit from trainin’. The Tips, Tricks and Techniques we offur have been used/developed by mommy throughout her many years of trainin’ animals, cats in purrticular. As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and comments. Ifin you ask a behavioral question, purrlease be as specific as pawssible. We do want to help, but we can’t read minds. Ifin you’ve missed any posts in this series, you can click on the links below. Befur addressin’ the topic of Aggression, we introduced you to the origins and natural instincts of the housecat here. And, ifin you missed the initial steps to take when dealing with an aggressive cat, you can ketch up by readin’ part 1 here. Today we’re going to look at the “Alpha cat” and the importance of “Scent” in having a happy peaceful house.
We want to reiterate, THERE IS NO BAD CAT!!! An “Aggressive” cat is trying to tell you something. Aggression can occur in a single cat household or multiple cat household; and can occur suddenly without warning, or evolve over time. It is important to try to find and understand the source of your cat’s Aggression. You will need to “become a cat”. When humans prepare for a baby/toddler, they have to look at their home through the eyes of a child to find the dangers and make them safe. (ie: outlet covers, stove knob locks, cupboard locks, etc.). The same is true for figuring out why your cat is acting out/hiding/acting aggressively, etc.. All the “pheremone” sprays, drops, collars and plug ins are essentially a band aid. They treat the symptoms, but not the core problem. However, if you find they help, Use them. Mommy suggests using the drops, collars, sprays and spot ons on all cats in the house. The reason will become clear in this post. However, you still need to treat and train the core issue. Last week we talked about how cats like routine and despise change. Any change in a cat’s health, surroundings, both inside and out, can affect your cats personality.
Cat people know no bounds. Mommy says, most dog peeps favor a particular look, size or breed, but cat peeps, they love them all. And, as a result, would have a houseful if they could. While that may be awesome for the human, and wonderful for the lives saved, a crowded house could also breed problems and ultimately Aggression in multi cat households. All cats in a house must be confident and feel like they own a space. Ideally, every cat in the household should own the whole house. In multi-cat households, there is always a “head cat in charge”, or the “Alpha” cat. It doesn’t matter if you have 2 cats or 20, one cat is “The Cat in Charge”. It’s important to watch your cats and figure out which one that is, and “cater” to it. Mommy wants me to remind you, that no matter how “in charge” your Alpha cat is, it’s also important to remember, that You, are the ultimate Alpha. This is even more so in a single cat house. After sis Lexi died, mommy had planned for me to be the Alpha cat; but me doesn’t have the “Alpha” traits. Me liked being the little sisfur and mommy’s baby girl.
Yep, sis Lexi was the Alpha. She was a gentle Alpha, but she
always held the top spot.
The “Alpha cat” will be the one, who all others look to and take their cues from. The “Alpha cat” will also spread their scent around to everybody, regularly. It can be so subtle, you might not recognize it at first, but it’s happening. The occasional hiss or swat, is perfectly normal. Your cats’ are communicating with/teaching each other. But, Do Not ever let it become a full blown fight. Cats live in a world of smells. They have scent glands located on their chin, lips, cheeks, either side of the forehead, paw pads, tail and of course there’s also the anal glands and urine. The scent glands in the head area are all friendly communicators. That’s why mommy loves the “Scent Me Up” game so much. A cat recognizes you and it’s home by Smell and Not Sight.
Me’s tellin’ Raena, she’s bein’ a little too much.
When you’re scent swapping, it’s important to rub your towel or whatever scent soaker you’re using on the cat’s head and not their paws or backside. The scent glands on the paws, make a statement. Think of your cat using it’s scratcher. An enthusiastic scratcher, is aggressively saying, “I own this scratcher, you can use it, but it’s All mine”. And, the scent glands on the tail and backside, communicate aggression and fear, as well as sexual readiness in unaltered cats. In a multi-cat household, ALL the cats smell like the “Alpha”. Obviously, humans can’t smell this, but we cats can. Keep this in mind if you have a cat that is separated from the others in the house. A separated cat Does Not smell like the others and probably not even you. So they won’t be recognized by or recognize any other kitty in the home. And, remember, cats see with their noses and not their eyes. Think about that last Vet visit where only one cat went and the return home.
Cardboard cat scratchers are great scent soakers. Be sure to
scent them with scents from the facial scent glands if presenting
them to an already Aggresive cat.
Here’s where it can get a little tricky. Remember, it’s important to “cater” to your “Alpha cat”, but ultimately, all cats should see you as the glue that keeps the family together. This is really important for the cat that is separated. We told you last week to leave a worn piece of your clothing as a scent soaker, but we didn’t get to the importance of the attitude you had while wearing that item. Cats smell fear, worry, upset, joy, and every other emotion you have. Cats will also respond to your emotions. Mommy calls it “feeding off your emotions”. When she’s angry, we’re on edge and there’s a lot more hissing going on. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen often. MOL To have a cohesive smell in our house, mommy lightly sprays the sheets (we sleep in the bed with her) with perfume. The same perfume she wears. She also lightly sprays our harnesses, sitting chair, cat trees and cat beds with her perfume. Mommy has always been a perfume girl. It’s her one guilty pleasure. Anyways, our furs pick up that scent. It’s very light, but we smell like mommy and therefore, we smell like each other. So, when we sniff each other, we know we belong together.
You don’t have to spray your sheets with perfume, but you do need to keep in mind, how your scent changes and try to present the most cohesive scent possible when approaching your Aggressive cat. Ideally, before entering the room to spend time with your separated Aggressive cat, you should hold and “scent up” with all the cats in your house; save the Alpha cat for last. That will be the strongest scent. And, remember, try to get those scents from the face area so you’re presenting as relaxed and friendly.
Scent is so important to a cat. It is, after all, how we communicate our intentions with others. It’s how we know our housemates and humans. Remember, a cat sees the world thru smells. That’s why a blind cat can still function and live a happy life. Just thought me would throw that in there in case you’re thinking about adopting a special needs kitty.
We’re gonna wrap it up fur today. We’ve given you a lot to think about and smell. MOL Me would like to repurrt, that uncle Pete’s been workin’ on buildin’ the confidence with the other kitties in their home thru play, and the ‘Aggression” issue they were having has gotten much better. Confidence and Scent go a long way towards a happy and peaceful home. ‘Member to click on the links below to ketch up on any topic you may have missed. And leave your questions, suggestions and comments below.
Meowllo and welcome to Service Cat Monday. On Monday’s we answer your training questions and tackle topics associated with Service Cats and their training. As with all our educational postys da followin’ will be in human English. And ifin you’ve missed any of da posts in this series purrlease click on da linkys at da bottom of this post. Ifin you have any questions purrlease leave them in da comments or email us via our contact page. Our post today is all ‘bout gettin’ emergency help to our disabled handler/mommy. Awnty Katie and Katie Kat of Katies Furry Mews asked, “How do you train a kitty to dial 911?” So let’s get right into it.
Mommy says, Purrlease remember, our training posts are not intended to be a complete blueprint for your training. These posts are merely tips and tricks mommy has developed over many years of animal training. Mommy adopts a positive method of training closest to the animals true nature. You must always be realistic in your expectations, and never ask more of any animal than said animal is capable of performing. Training is Consistency and Repetitive.
First up you’re gonna need some old fashioned supplies. Our training is ever evolving, but mommy still hasn’t figured out a way to train a cat to dial using a cell phone. If a cell phone is all you have and you’re not worried about being incapacitated, then you can train kitty to bring you the phone, but at this point and time, there’s no conceivable way to train a kitty to use a cell phone. For all of you who just said, “My cat plays games, or My cat can take a selfie, or I’ve seen lots of videos of cats playing with cell phones;” we would say, those phone are already unlocked and the app opened for them. So, you’re going to need a landline with at least basic local and 911 service. We have magic jack and pay one low rate each year for unlimited calling anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. The phone can be corded or cordless but should have a speaker phone feature. This is a typical feature on most phones these days. If you’re using a cordless phone, make sure to attach the belt clip to the phone so kitty will have something to pick the phone up with.
So you have your phone and are ready to train kitty. Make sure you have implemented the bonding exercise discussed in our Training Foundation post. You must make the phone fun for kitty. Use the speakerphone option when talking on it. Let kitty sniff and paw at the phone. Do Not let kitty chew on the cords. If there’s an answering machine, let it answer calls. All these things will cause kittys’ interest to be peaked. Once kitty is comfortable with the phone, you can begin training. First you’ll want kitty to turn on the speakerphone. Put kittys’ paw on the speakerphone button and gently press down while saying, “Call for help, or Emergency”. Repeat this step while gradually calling for kitty to come and press the speakerphone button even when kitty’s nowhere near the phone.
As me said, our training is always evolving; so mommy now uses a preset emergency button instead of the old dialing of 911. All phones allow numbers to be programmed in for the speed dial option. Mommy recommends using the number 1 spot for 911 programing. Typically all one needs to do to complete a speed dial call is to press the assigned number and the speakerphone button. So this step cuts down kitty having to learn 4 pushes to only 2. It’s easier for large pawed animals. It also lessens the chance of accidental number pushes by large paws. When you are ready to train kitty to dial 911, DISCONNECT the phone from the jack. It’s a crime to call 911 without having an actual emergency. And it takes away valuable time and resources from those who have an emergency. So let’s get on with it.
Gently push kittys’ paw on the number 1 and then speakerphone while saying, “Call help”. Repeat this step daily for 10 to 15 minutes in the morning and night. That means kitty will get two training sessions a day. Once kitty can successfully push the buttons by themselves, reprogram the number with a friend or family member who can assist you with the next step. Ask kitty to call for help. When your friend or family member answers the phone, they should say, “911 what’s your emergency.” This will get kitty used to having someone answer their call and let them know what they’ll be hearing. Since you are pre-programming the number, you can choose who your emergency contact is. You might prefer a family member over 911. Whoever your choice, just make sure the number is programmed in so that it’s easy for kitty to remember. Always reward kitty with lots of praise and extra love during training sessions.
When kitty proves to be consistent with their calling for help, check with your local dispatchers for a less busy and stressful time to actually call them so kitty can get the full experience. Check with your local phone company and/or emergency dispatchers to see if they can add instructions to your number for emergency dispatch. When our number comes up on 911 calls, it says to send an ambulance if there’s no response or just meows. Remember training is all about consistency and repetitiveness. Calling for help isn’t something kitty will have to do often, so you must maintain kittys knowledge and ability with continued training. And remember to always reward kitty with lots of praise and extra love during training. You’ve got to keep it fun and rewarding for kitty.
Well that’s it in a nut shell. How long it takes depends on your kitty and whether or not you are committed and consistent. And how successfully you implement mommys Training Foundations. We’re runnin’ outta questions to answer, so ask what you will and we’ll give it our bestest answer. Next week we’ll be dealin’ with our shower duties, so stay tuned. In da meantime, have a pawsum day.
Is there something specific you would like to train your kitty or doggy to do?
Would you want your kitty or doggy to answer the phone?
Meowllo and welcome to Service Cats Monday. We’ve kinda been teasin’ you ‘bout todays posty all last week. Truth is today’s posty isn’t a fun one, but unfurtunately sometimes necessary. As with all our educational posts the following will be in human English. Ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series you can ketch up by clickin’ on the links at the end of this post. As always, we welcome your questions and thoughts, suggestions and ideas, so purrlease leave them in the comments or send us an email. We try to answer all questions, especially training questions as quickly as pawssible. We do like to answer trainin’ questions in our posts so that everypawdy can benefit from it. As with all our trainin’ postys, the tips, tricks and methods have been developed by mommy thru her many years of rescue, animal ownership and bein’ owned by kitties. And most purrtant, training is all about Repetition and Consistency. Well let’s get on with the trainin’.
Our sweet furiend Herman Tattlecat asked, “How do you teach kitty to stay off the counters, etc.?” We of course can expand this question to include all the negatives, and restate the question as, “How do you un-train bad behavior?” Mommy will tell you that it’s easier to train good behavior than to break bad behavior. Mommy’s never had a kitty that counter surfed the kitchen counters or sat on top of the fridge. She doesn’t allow it. Before we go on, we want to reiterate the importance of love and positive reinforcement. Hitting kitty IS NOTan effective training method!!! Drenching kitty with the water bottle or water gun Is Not an effective training method!!! To train, means to know your subject and understand their motivations. We are mommys children…but, we aren’t human and our brains don’t work like a humans’ brain. So mommy says you have to think like a cat and act like a cat to train a cat.
So let’s start off by saying, Before you adopt a kitty, decide what kind of rules you want to implement. Do you want to allow kitty anywhere and everywhere? Or are there places you don’t want kitty to go? Stick to your decisions, and make sure everybody in the house is in on the plan. Remember, you have to be consistent for kitty to learn. Just because you don’t want kitty walking around on your kitchen counters doesn’t mean you’re abusing kitty or making him/her sad. You’re not depriving them of anything either, so long as you provide places they can get up on. And it doesn’t have to be the biggest and fanciest cat tree made. As most of you know we have a great cat tree; actually we have 2 great cat trees and a small perch. But, mommy could have never afforded them herself, and all the kitties before me never had a cat tree to climb on. We are so thankful for those who gave us our trees, but the point is, that they’re not necessary to make kitty happy.
It’s all well and good to tell you to never allow kitty to get on the counters in the first place, but not everybody is starting with a brand new kitten. You now have an adult cat that is jumping up and lounging on your kitchen counter, or sleeping on the refrigerator. Or maybe even walking all over the stove top, or even hanging from your curtains. Aaaaaaaaw Isn’t kitty cute unrolling the toilet paper roll? It was soooooooo cute when they were kittens; you couldn’t get the camera/fone fast enough. Isn’t everything kittens do adorable? NO!!!
None of those behaviors are cute especially not when kitty weighs 10 – 20 pounds and is supposed to be an adult. Not when you want to prepare food, or need to avail yourself of the bathroom facilities. Not when kittys’ paws are tracking litter onto the table. And certainly not when the burner on the stove top has been turned on. So how and what do you do to train kitty not to do those things in the first place? Just say, “No!!!” Be firm and remove kitty if they get up there. Offer them an alternative. Remove the toilet paper from the roller. This step is only temporary, so don’t worry, you will be able to put it back as soon as kitty learns a firm No. Altho’ this applies to all stages of training, this paragraph is still a little more focused on the younger cat.
So, let’s suppose your kitty has been doing it so long you don’t remember when it started. What do you do now? Can kitty be trained to stay off these surfaces. Yes, absolutely. Altho’ mommy’s not had these issues, she has trained others kitties who did. So let’s look at mommys’ training kit and see what we have. First, training is repetitive and constant/ongoing. Second, don’t worry about what others think of you. You may need to look and be a little silly. You are after all only human. You are training a superior being, the cat. So let’s get to know and understand your subject. Cat mommy teaches and disciplines her kittens with hisses and bites. Littermates train each other with hisses and bites. Disputes between cats are often solved with intimidation, hisses and growls. So humans must become as cat like as possible for training purposes.
Let’s look at Intimidation. A cat who wants to intimidate another will puff themselves up in an attempt to look bigger and scarier. Obviously humans can’t puff up, so what can you do? Mommy has a move she calls her Space Danger move. She waves her hands in the air and repeats loudly, “Danger!!! Danger!!!” She says anyone old enough to remember Lost in Space will recognize this, for the rest of you, do a youtube search and check out the robot. Anyways, this will startle kitty and generally cause them to back away, get down, and/or remove themselves from the situation. Yes, you may look a little funny, but nobody/kitty gets hurt and it works. Initially your kitty may freeze. If this happens, remove kitty from the area. Once kitty has removed themselves/been removed or stopped the inappropriate behavior, remember to praise and love on them. If you have to remove kitty yourself, do it quickly and gently but Do Not hug or love on kitty until they have been put down in a more appropraite area. You don’t want to confuse kitty or reinforce bad behavior, so praise should only happen when kitty is where you want them to be, standing on their own.
Mommy had to go way back in da files to find us puffed up.
Now let’s look at Hissing. Let me tell you, no kitty has anything on our mommy when it comes to hissing. If you’ve ever listened to hissing kitties, there are variations of the hiss. From a nonchalant don’t touch me to a you’re dead. We kitties are very smart, and once we’ve been told No, we know when we’re doing wrong. That being said, if kitty jumps back on the counter and you’re in another room? No doubt kitty’s going to jump down and disappear before you can get to them and start your Space Danger move or remove kitty yourself. So what can you do to be consistent in training kitty to stay off the counters, etc.? Hiss. Yep, you read that right, hiss and say No, or Get down in a firm voice. You may have to hiss more than once, but you will eventually find the appropriate hiss for the occasion. And of course you need to head towards kitty to make sure they do get down or stop the behavior. And remember to praise and love kitty for their good behavior.
Me’s givin’ a hissin’ example and Raena be puffin’ up.
We discussed biting in a previous post, so we won’t cover it again here. We will say that biting isn’t an appropriate method of training for these particular issues. Okay, we’ve covered what to do when you’re home with kitty, but what do you do when you’re not at home to keep an eye on kitty? We’re going to list some tips here that can work so long as they are used in conjunction with the hands on training listed above. Put “noise makers” on the edges of counters, shelves, fridge tops, etc.. Examples of such noise makers are:
Coin Filled aluminum cans
Coin filled plastic bottles
Crumpled Aluminum Foil
Large sqeaky toys
Parchment or Wax paper
For the coin filled items, we don’t mean full cans or bottles, just enough coins to rattle when shaken or dropped. They must be light enough for kitty to knock them over. Altho’ you can’t control what kitty does when no one’s home, DO NOT let kitty play with these training items. And by edge, we mean they should be balanced along the edges so that if kitty tried to jump up, the can or foil will immediately fall. Whoopee cushions and squeaky toys should be at the edge so that if kitty jumps up on them they will be startled by the noise and immediately jump back down. In recent years we have seen the development of air cans that spray kitty with air when they get close to it. This Is Not a method mommy likes or promotes.
Remember to provide kitty with appropriate toys and areas to jump on and/or play with. Always end discipline with love and praise. When removing kitty from a counter or other area, do it swiftly, but gently. Do Not hug on kitty until he/she is in an appropriate area and only after kitty has been set down. Mommy doesn’t like or promote cat trees, perches, or any other climbing apparatus near the kitchen or counters. This is too much temptation for kitty to step off of their tree and onto the counter, table, shelf, etc. Don’t set kitty up to fail. Before humans welcome a child into their home, they prepare the home and try to make it as safe as possible for the baby. The same should be done for the pets brought into your home.
We have shelves and small tables around the house. As long as they are filled with books or knick knacks, they’re off limits to us. But if a shelf is empty, mommy allows us to lay/sit on it. We’re allowed on the bathroom counters any time we want and have a small table in the living room for us along with the cat trees, perch and chair. We’re also allowed on the bed, shower chairs and cat steps. As long as kitty is provided with sufficient perches keeping them off counters should be an easy train. Remember to be consistent. Kitty wants rules and structure and lots of love.
Well, guess we’ll wrap it up fur today. We hope this has helped ya’ll out. If you have any questions about today’s post or any other training post, purrlease let us know in the comments below as well as any other questions you might have. And yes, mommy has hissed in public. It works on children of the 2 legged variety as well. Don’t furget to click on the links below ifin you’ve missed any of our Service Cats Training posts, and have a pawsum day.