BY: SANDRA MURPHY
Simple Ways to Get Kitty to Behave
Three million cats end up in shelters every year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Owners cite landlord restrictions or allergies in the family as leading reasons. Often, the animal is blamed for an easily fixed behavior problem; the Wake County Animal Center, in Raleigh, North Carolina, interprets rationales such as, “Kitty has a sensitive stomach [throws up] or pees under the bed [likely a urinary tract infection].”
“I prefer to call such things issues, not problems. They’re often evidence of natural instincts that need to be redirected,” says Anne Moss, owner of TheCatSite.com, from Tel Aviv, Israel. “A vet visit will rule out physical concerns so you can move on to behavioral issues.” Once a cat’s adapted to living with humans, life becomes more pleasant for everyone.
Cats can be trained. Dallas cat owner Bettina Bennett of WhichBoxMedia.com advises, “Start early, attach rewards and be consistent. Our four cats don’t scratch the furniture, come when called and know when it’s bedtime.”
Clicker training works well, adds Becky Morrow, a doctor of veterinarian medicine who teaches at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh. “I have 13 cats living in my home and a sanctuary housing 65 more. They’ve learned to walk on a leash and obey commands.”
Dr. Jeff Werber, a Los Angeles veterinarian, has found that scratching furniture, biting people, nocturnal activity, throwing up and ignoring the litter box are the five most common complaints. Scratching lets Kitty leave her scent, stretch and shed old claws. He suggests, “Get a scratching post, but don’t put it in an-out-of-the-way location. Cats like to be where we are. Start with it in the center of the room and gradually move it to the corner.”
Measure how tall a cat is when standing on her hind legs with front legs fully extended. Get a post that is half again as tall so she can really stretch. Gently rub her paws on the post first, and then dab on a bit of catnip as added enticement. Cats don’t like unfamiliar textures, so avoidance training tools can include laying aluminum foil or backing-side-up carpet runners over furniture arms and cushions plus double-sided sticky tape at the corners to preserve upholstery. READ MORE