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.
Welcome. Fank you fur celebratin’ our 3rd Blogoversary with us. Every year we learn a little more ‘bout this wonderful world of bloggin’. Which brings us to the topic fur today…Service Cat Monday. Raena’s trainin’ is movin’ right along, and we’re purrleased to have your purrticipation through questions and comments. As with all our educational postys the followin’ will be in human English fur translation and reader ease. Our Service Cat and Training posts aren’t meant to be a step by step trainin’ manual, but rather tips, tricks, and entertainment. ‘Member, trainin’ is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards. Ifin you’ve missed any posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links below. Well, the business is done, let’s get to the fun.
We got a great question from awnty Vanessa. She wants to know, “How can I get my cats to stop begging for human food?” We’re guessing there may be quite a few of you out there with this problem. And we know some of our doggy pals are for sure making meal time a real challenge for their peeps. Now we replied to awnty Vanessa by saying that she “oopsied” by giving kitty a bite from the plate. She didn’t respond, but mommy says that in her experience, cats aren’t typically beggars, especially of human food. That is, until they’ve been offered their first tasty bite. As most of you know, sis Lexi was a pizza fanatic, and then me joined the fan club. It’s not because we kitties think pizza smells so delicious we’ve just got to have a bite, it’s because mommy introduced it to us. We don’t have pizza very often, but when we do, we get the pizza first and mommy gets any leftovers. She created pizza monsters. MOL Another human food we’re totally crazy about is turkey. But again, only because mommy gave us our first bite. We’ve not had many turkeys, but we’ve never once tried to jump on the counters to scavenge the bird. But you’re not here to hear about our human food likings.
As with all training, it’s easier to train kitty/doggy “NO” by never allowing them to have that first bite. But you did, so now you want to know how to stop them from begging. Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t give kitty/doggy a few bites of their favorite good/okay for them human food. But, it does mean, they don’t get it from your plate while you’re trying to eat. This is one of those training tips that’s good for all anipals to have. The last thing you want is kitty/doggy jumping on the table and swiping food when you have guests. Because this is about food, no treats are allowed as rewards. Love is the only reward allowed.
Raena’s not actually begging here, but alerting. However, this
is often what begging looks like.
Remember, training is repetitious and must be implemented by every one in the household. That cutesy kitten/puppy behavior isn’t so cute when they grow into large adults or you have company. So, you’ve prepared your meal with kitty free counters (see our Discipline: Stop Countersurfing Kitty post), and are ready to eat. We should add that you might want to feed kitty/doggy their meal while you’re preparing yours, or about 30 minutes before your meal. Or, you might want to feed them their food while you eat. Other than a raw food diet, their meal shouldn’t have any of those delicious human foods from your plate.
Yep, me’s beggin’ fur some of sis Lexi’s “butter spoon” (medicine).
Let’s take a look at where you eat first. Do you eat at a dining room table, or are you sitting in your favorite chair/sofa in front of the teevee? If you’re at the dining room table, don’t allow kitty to jump on the table. This isn’t often a problem with dogs, but if you have a dog that can/does jump on the table, stop allowing that behavior. The above “Discipline” post applies to you as well. If kitty jumps on the table, remove them while saying “No” in a gentle but firm voice. You may have to get up, because you want to put kitty in an appropriate area and reward them with a little love…”NO TABLE SCRAPS!!!” Mommy says not even if it’s the tastiest whole chicken ever.
Yep, only the kitties eat on the dining room table here.
And remember, Don’t Yell, Hit, Spray with Water/Air, Push, or any other negative reaction you might think of. Positive reinforcement is far more successful than Negative reinforcement. Sitting at your feet staring at you is not an appropriate spot; so remove kitty/doggy from the room altogether. The only exception to this rule would be Service Animals. They should be trained to lay beside your chair or under the table beside your feet (Please remember they are there and don’t kick them). Kitty/Doggy should be trained the simple commands of Lay/Down and Stay. (See the Proper Training Methods pt. 1 and 2 posts below). Remember, kitty/doggy should never be given a bite of human food from your plate. We’ll get to that in a minute. As long as you and everybody in the house follow the rules, kitty/doggy will be totally disinterested in your meal time in no time.
Raena and me eat in the living room so we can keep an eye on mommy.
So, you don’t eat at the table. You prefer to watch teevee while you eat. There’s a couple of different scenarios here. Some of you may have trays, desks or some other small table or you may just use your lap. Treat those trays, desks or small tables just like you would a dinner table. No kitty/doggy allowed especially during your meal time. If you’re using your lap, treat your body and the immediate area around you like the table; no kitty/doggy allowed on the chair or sofa beside you or behind you while you eat. Again, sitting and staring at you is not an appropriate spot. If you have a gate/room divider where you can separate kitty/doggy from you but where they can still see you, you might want to use it at meal times. Mommy does not like moving the anipals to a separate room and closing them behind a door. This doesn’t teach them not to beg. What it does teach them, is that while their family gathers for “fun”, they’re not wanted.
I’s offen lay right here at mommy’s feet while she eats in her
chair and watches teevee.
So how do you keep kitty/doggy out of your plate and off the furniture while you eat? The same simple steps of putting them down while gently but firmly saying “NO”. You may also implement the Lay/Down and Stay commands. Do Not throw any toys to redirect their attention. Dogs especially will see this as a game of fetch. Trust me, you’re not eating in peace if you have to keep throwing the slobbery toy. If you have one of those cool electric toys, you might want to start it up before you sit down with your plate. For the kitties, a Yeowww nip toy might be a welcome distraction before you sit. Just remember, don’t let your pet tempt you into an interactive play session while you try to eat.
Always remove kitty/doggy from your surroundings while you eat. Even if they appear to lie down peacefully on the other end of the sofa. If you allow it, before you know it, they’ll be right back to begging and sticking their paws in your plate. Provide kitty/doggy their own sitting/sleeping spots, such as a Cat Tree, Perch, Bed, etc., so they will have somewhere to go other than next to you. Service Animals should be trained to lay quietly at your feet. DO NOT Yell, Hit, Push or Spray with Water/Air. Always use positive reinforcement in the form of love. A pet on the head along with a little praise is sufficient reward. You do want to get back to your meal before it gets cold, right?. MOL
You can see in the background, me has food and a nip nanna.
Purrlenty to keep me busy while mommy eats.
Training is all about Repetition and everyone has to be on board. Finally, you’re eating in peace with kitty/doggy totally ignoring your plate of delicious goodness. Feels great doesn’t it? Only after 5 consecutive days of eating undisturbed can you reward kitty/doggy with a few bites of that human food they so wanted. Do Notlet them eat from your plate!!! Do Notlet them lick your plate or utensils!!! Do Notfeed them at the table or sofa. After you have finished eating, get up and put those bites into a “special dish” and give to kitty/doggy in their normal dining area. You can also implement a “Special Place” for those “Special Bites”. As soon as they finish, pick up the “special plate” and put it away for the next time. Mommy likes to put our special plates on the counter while she eats. We see her placing them there and know that when she gets finished, we’re getting something special. We’re happy to leave her alone so she can finish faster and we can get our bites.
I’s have a Yeowww toy to keep me busy too.
So to sum up this training post, Don’t start kitty/doggy on human food treats while you eat in the first place. If you did, STOP. Alwaysremove them from the area and reward them with love; No Treats, No Food. Once training has been successful, you may reward them with a few tasty bites on their own plate at their own space. Positive reinforcement and Repetition will always be successful, it just takes time.
We love ya’ll.
We hope this posty has helped ya’. Purrlease ‘member to leave any questions or comments in the comment section below. You may also email us any questions you might have. We try to answer all training questions in a post, cuz mommy says ifin one purrson’s askin’ there are 10 more with the same issue. Purrlease click the links below to check out other training tips and stories. And most of all, have a great week.
Do you (your anipal) beg for human food?
Do you humans feed your anipals human food from your plate while you’re eating?
Is there a particular human food you (your anipal) goes crazy/begs for?
Hey, are ya’ll there? It’s me, RaenaBelle. I’s getting to write mines furst Service Cat Monday posty. Don’t worry, it’ll be in human English, like all our educational postys. And ifin you’ve missed any, you can check them out by clicking the links at the bottom of this post. Today is a continuation of Furidays’ post when I’s accompanied mommy to Ardmore to the dentist. And we also received a question from awnty Jeanne, Purrseidons’ mommy. The answer to her question will actually occur naturally in todays’ posty. So you’ll know, her question was, “What does mommy do when we alert her to the fact that she’s gonna pass out?” Basically, what are we expectin’ mommy to do?. So, let’s get to it.
We left off with mommy sitting at the business office desk getting told the cost of what needed to be done. You know the dentist had already told her what needed to be done, so now we were finding out how much all that was gonna cost. We’d been in the office for over an hour at this point and mommy was a little on the warm side. ‘Course she’s been running a fever now for a couple of weeks, so it could have been that, or that the temp outside was actually 72° and they had the heat on. Whatever it was, mommy says she almost passed out when the lady gave her the paper with the breakdown of the costs. I’s told mommy I didn’t sense that at all. She said it was okay, cuz it was a different kind of passing out that sometimes humans do when given really bad news. Mommy says similar actions could be a falling out of the chair, or pulling your hair out. Anyways, payment is due at the time of services, so mommy gathered those ugly photos of her and the estimate papers and we left.
Now you all know we live in a really small town that doesn’t have anything. Sis Dezi says they posted a video of our town a while back. So anytime mommy goes into Ardmore, she tries to make a day of it and stop off at Wally World and maybe the new Ulta store. Mommy loves beauty products. She used to be a licensed Cosmetologist. That means she did hair and makeup. She doesn’t wear makeup most days cuz she says she can’t afford it; but she’s got some for special occasions. The dentist wasn’t one of those occasions. Anyways, part of my training is learning to focus and be invisible when in public surrounded by the crazies. That means I can’t be singing the song of my peeps or clawing at the stroller trying to get out, or doing anything in general to draw attention to myself. Mommy says I was the perfect Service Cat while we were at the dentist. I laid quietly in the stroller and watched over mommy. Now came the real test.
The last time I had been with mommy in Walmart was after my spay day, and I was still a little groggy from having surgery. This time I was wide awake and alert as a hawk over a kill. We finally found a parking space and mommy got me unloaded and locked up the car. We headed for the doors and I could hear peeps saying, “Is that a…that’s a cat!!!” The wind was really whoopin’ around so I stood up and looked through the top opening at mommy. She said everything was okay, and I’s laid back down. Once inside, I could smell all kinds of things. And let me tell ya’, it was loud. There was a lot of peeps inside the store, and it seems all of them were talking at the same time. Mommy grabbed her a ride and bungeed me to her and off we went.
It seemed like we went down every aisle. Mommy says it was to expose me to every thing and every possible situation she could. There were some situations that’s for sure. We encountered a few older ladies that wanted to ooh and ahh over me and chat with mommy about what I’s do for her. We also ran into a mean man that purposely bumped into my stroller and mumbled on about how mommy shouldn’t be bringing a kitty to the store. I stood up and wanted to give him the hiss of disapproval, but mommy said calmly and quietly, “It’s okay Raena, lay back down.” I settled down just in time to be met with sticky little humans running up and down the aisles and squealing at the top of their lungs. And then it happened…they saw me. One of those sticky humans came over and put their hands on my stroller and another went running off hollering for its’ mommy.
Apparently this was a test. A test mommy says I passed with flying colors. I didn’t see any colors fly, but I did remain quiet and laying in my stroller; even when the sticky little human started slapping my stroller all I did was look up through the top of the stroller at mommy. Mommy quietly but sternly told that sticky little human to stop and go find his mother. And mommy drove us out of the toy department. I think it was more stressful for her than me. MOL We wandered around the store a bit longer, and then went to the front of the store to stand in a line with other humans. Everybody in front of us turned to look at me and started cooing and talking about how well behaved I was. Seeing that we only had a loaf of bread and some treats, one of the nice ladies let us “cut in line”. And then we were off again, heading for the car.
Hmmmmmm What’s that smell? Ooooooh mommy’s gonna pass out, I thought to myself. So I stood up and started meowing and patting at the stroller. “Mommy, you need to sit down, you’re gonna pass out,” I mewed. Mommys’ hobble sped up and we reached the car. Once there, mommy opened the door and sat down and put her head between her legs and started taking deep breaths. Well, as deep as she can. She’s been having some extra breathing problems since her teeth got infected. Anyways, we sat there for what seemed like forever, but mommy was able to push (breath through) the episode away and get me loaded into the car again. Mommy says she had wanted to go by Ulta, but decided it was best if we headed home. She didn’t actually have a reason to go to Ulta, she just likes to see what’s new. But we got all buckled in and headed down the highway to home. Mommy told me how proud of me she was and I chortled my joy.
Once we got home I’s couldn’t wait to tell sis Dezi about all my adventures. And tell her how lucky she was to have missed the ordeal with the mean man and sticky little humans. Mommys’ appointment had been early, so she went to do up the breakfast dishes so we’d have clean plates at dinner time. While sissy and me were meowing about my day, we both smelled that familiar scent and headed for the kitchen to alert mommy. We both danced around meowing till mommy sat down. This time mommy said she didn’t really care and in short order she passed out. Sis Dezi and me both jumped in her lap and purred till she came back around. Once she got reoriented she loved on me and Dezi and told us how proud of us she was and how much she loved us. The perfect ending to a perfect day.
So in answer to the question asked by awnty Jeanne, when we alert, we want mommy to sit down and be aware that there’s a problem. She can often keep from passing out by putting her head between her legs and breathing through it; but not always. And sometimes, she doesn’t worry about it and just lets it happen.
Well, that wraps up my mommy and me day out. Mommy says I performed purrfectly; she couldn’t have asked for more. ‘Member. ifin you’ve missed any of our posts, you can check them out by clicking the links below. And you can donate towards mommys dental by either giving to our paypal at: email@example.com or the fundraiser here.