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Tag Search: Feline Facial Towelling

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Feisty Felines

Posted: Friday, April 13, 2012 at 10:04:12 AM EST by Cam Day

Living with the nightmare of brawling cats

intercat_aggression-home200Why are cats aggressive to each other? Often its because you have brought a new kitten into the household and the status quo has been unsettled. Sometimes it occurs when a young cat matures and feels the need to declare its territory inside the house.

A behaviour known as transferred aggression often occurs too. A house cat can be angered by sensing another invading cat travelling through its garden. The resident cat becomes over-aroused and will take out its anger on its house mate - or even its owners!

Kittens can also cause problems for themselves. Some are too active for their own good. It is common for a super-active playful kitten to push a serene, established house-cat too far. The peaceful, older puss-cat may not want to play all day long and most of the night too. The kitten's playful prowling and challenging may greatly offend the resident cat and can make it very nervous and anxious.

Aggression between cats can sometimes start instantaneously. However, having been 'released', can then take a long time to resolve. Sometimes it doesn't resolve at all.

Three levels of assimilation with cats.

Level 1 Assimilation

In level 1, the feuding felines shake paws and become bosom buddies again, playing and sleeping together in puss-cat harmony for life.

Level 2 Assimilation

The second is that the pair agree to disagree and share the house without sharing affection. They sleep in separate areas and lead separate but parallel lifestyles. There may be an occasional hiss and spit, but mostly things are tolerable. Indeed, one cat couldn't give a hoot if the other fell of the face of the earth! This is the most common level of assimilation with cats.

Level 3 Assimilation

The third scenario is puss-cat purgatory. The cats hate each other and cannot be in the same room or house or even the garden together. They will aggressively fight and brawl and injuries are common. The best way to manage such cats, at least initially, is to keep them separate from each other.

Aggression between cats in a household can be dangerous. Injuries can occur, including cat fight abscesses, claw and bite wounds, and the stress can result in spraying behaviour too.

So what can you do to resolve such a problem?

The first step is to separate the cats for a few days. This will prevent any further aggression and thereby stop what is called self-reinforcement of this unwanted behaviour. It gives the cats a chance to calm down, to become peaceful, and to forget the animosity they have for each other.

When they are re-introduced the aggression may not show again. Sometimes this is enough to solve the problem. Often it's not. Cat looking out window

If aggression is still a problem, then the re-introduction should be done progressively over a few days or even a few weeks. For this you should use a process called successive approximation. The introduction of the cats is broken down into small, manageable parcels. This can be tediously slow so you need to be patient.

Firstly, you should allow the cats to see each other but not to smell or touch each other. This is best done through a window or glass partition.

Observe the progress and if the cats settle down and don't show any fear, anxiety or aggression then you are making progress.

Then second step is to allow the cats to smell each other but not to see each other.

This is easily done using the Feline Facial Towelling Technique. Heat a slightly damp towel, such as a hand towel, in the microwave until it is a comfortable warmth.

Rub this warm towel over the body and especially around the face and cheeks of the least aggressive cat first. Then immediately take the towel to the more aggressive cat and do the same. This should be done in a soothing, gentle and caressing manner.

It is often useful to create a happy mood in the aggressive cat before you do this by feeding it a special 'therapy only' food treat. Select a glorious food treat that the cat will walk over water to receive but that it gets at no other time.

The last step is to take the towel back to the least aggressive cat and finish by giving it a rub once more. In this manner you are sharing the scents of the two cats and especially their personal 'pheromones'. Pheromones are personal chemicals of communication. They have a very powerful effect on the behaviour of many animals. (They are very important in the insect world.)

The Feline Facial Towelling Technique is a gentle method of getting the cats used to each others' smell without them needing to cope with the added complications of seeing each other.

Now for the third step. Try introducing the cats to each other through a mesh security door, a fly screen window or by placing each beastie in a cat cage.

This allows the cats to see, smell and hear each other but, if there are fireworks, no danger is involved.

Cat cages are a useful way of doing this. The cages can gradually be brought closer and closer to each other while the cats' happy moods are maintained.

If the cats are happy to sniff each other through the mesh without friction, then you are progressing well. Allow them to sniff each other for a few minutes each day and if they appear happy you are ready for the big step - putting them together.

While you can throw them into the same room and run away, there are more sensitive ways of proceeding. The easiest is to place the more subordinate cat in a cat cage and allow the other cat to roam free in the same room. If all goes well, the roles can be reversed with the tough guy in the cage and the other free. Again you may need to test the water like this for a few days.

At some stage you are going to have to allow the cats to be free in the same room together. Do this in a 'neutral' room - one that has no special significance for either cat. Be ready with a large towel or net and a water pistol. If either cat goes to attack the other, spray it briefly with the water pistol.

Foreign Territories

For complicated cases of aggression between cats, it is often useful to get the cats out of the home territory and put them in a foreign location where neither has territorial rights. This is usually done in a cattery or a veterinary surgery. The cats can be placed in separate cages, visible to each other, for a while. The next step is for the cattery manager to place the cats into the same cage. As they are in neutral territory, this is often successful. For safety, one can be placed into a transport cage for a while until their reactions are assessed.

Synthetic Feline Pheromones

Feliway and BoypsThe spray Feliway is sometimes helpful to reduce cat aggression. Feliway is a synthetic equivalent of the pheromones that cats have in their facial glands. They are 'happy pheromones' and often have an effect similar to that attributed to catnip. To help make the cats more accepting of the cages in the cattery or of each other in the home, Feliway can be sprayed onto prominent surfaces in each location.

Feliway is also available now in a plug-in diffuser that is even easier to use. For supplies of this product, please contact my office.

Further information on pheromones is linked through the menu of this site or use the search function.

Medications for Monstrous Moggies

Processes such as the above are often effective, but in some cases, the feuding felines will not accept each other, no matter what us mere humans throw at them. However there is one trick we haven't used - medication.

There are new anti-anxiety medications on the market which are often effective for these types of problems. The goal is to use such medications for a month or more to make the cat more tranquil and relaxed and to allow them to accept each other's presence. When the medication is stopped, the peace and serenity is often maintained. Please contact me for further advice on such medication or for other relevant techniques.


For more information on how to solve inter-cat aggression, have a look at the Aggressive Cat Pet Pick.

Santa Claws is Coming!

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 12:45:38 PM EST by Cam Day

Santa Claws Applause

If you need a Christmas gift for your favourite pet lover, or even for your favourite pet, the choice this Christmas is bigger that it's ever been. Use this list to get your Santa's sack bulging.

Groomed for Success

Woman and catAs pet owners, we love the look and feel of our pets. So, why not give your favourite pet person a real treat and have their pet professionally groomed? See your local grooming parlour for a gift voucher. Picture this! You could go a step further and have the pet's portrait taken and present the framed photo to the owner for Christmas.

Health Enhancers

Without doubt, one of the best things you can do for a pet-lover is to ensure their pet is healthy and happy. The pet's vet is sure to have a gift voucher that would, for instance, cover the cost of having the pet's teeth cleaned or having the pet vaccinated and while you're at it, ask the vet to add a Once-A-Year heartworm injection into the gift.

Hamper the Pet's Health

A Christmas hamper for the pampered pet is a wonderful idea and the local pet shop or veterinary surgery will help you to select the right goodies.

Consider a flea preventative such as Frontline Plus or Advantage and a good quality hypo-allergenic shampoo. For itchy pets, try an oatmeal shampoo. Add some pet toothpaste and a toothbrush, and a new lead and collar with a whiz-bang, engraved name tag and then throw in a bag of liver treats and you will be forever popular - the pet will like you too!

Better to be Better Behaved

When a pet misbehaves, the turmoil caused by that behaviour is a constant worry for any pet owner.

So, solving that behaviour means a better lifestyle for the pet AND the owner.

Now, you can give your relative or friend the gift of a well-behaved pet! (Or be selfish - give yourself the gift - just don't let anyone else know!)

If your mum or dad or your daughter or son has a problem pet, the best thing you can do is to get personal assistance from Dr Cam to have that problem zapped away.

Leading the Way

If your pet-person has a pooch that is impossible to walk on the lead because the pooch pulls too much, then ask Santa to give the pooch's owner a certificate for an obedience course. A little training goes a long way!

When its being walked, perhaps your friend's dog resembles a cross between as runaway freight train and a turbo-charged yo-yo after a caffeine hit. Well, lead them to success by giving a Gentle Leader as a present. These devices are like a head-halter used on horses. Attach a lead to the Gentle Leader and it operates on the principle that where the head goes, the body must follow. No more freight-train Fido foibles!

We all know dogs are not allowed to exercise off lead in public but an extendable lead is a good alternative. Extendable leads are similar to a builder's tape measure. The lead is housed in a canister from which it extends when applicable or springs back if the dog needs to be short-leashed when passing pedestrians or other dogs.

Tons of Toys

Honey sitting with the Wobbler

There is no end to the range of toys you can buy for pets. For puss cats, there are motorised toys a plenty that will keep a cat

 

 

amused, including the Cat and Mouse. This is a motorised plush mouse that scampers inside a circular maze.

There are many versions of cat teasers that resemble fishing rods with feathers or plush toys attached to the end of a string, or you can make your own from a bamboo garden stake, piece of cotton and a cork with two feathers attached.

If you haven't yet caught up with the rang of self-feeding dog toys such as the Kong Toy, the Giggle Ball or the Buster Cube then you are really behind the times. Most dogs delight in the puzzle that such toys provide and they are great brain fodder for bored dogs that are left alone during the day.

If you prefer to make your own dog and cat toys, then search for information on my No Bored Dogs and Cats routine on www.pethealth.com.au.

Lightening Lightning Fear

If your favourite pet person has a dog with noise fears, I have just the present. My Frightful Noises Audio CD and its sister the Frightful Noises E-book. These resources will make light work of thunder, lightning and fireworks fears.

The audio CD contains more than one hour of sound advice on solving noise fears with dogs. The Brain-E-book has over 50 pages of advice and also includes the Fear Factor Calculator that helps to assess how serious a dog's noise fears are. It also links to a variety of useful video clips on my web site.

Give a Dog A Bone

The simplest things are often the best. So, this Christmas, why not "give your dog a bone"?

A raw meaty bone, such as a piece of ox tail to suit the size of your dog, a marrow bone (cut in half width-ways not lengthways, so the fatty marrow is not available), a chicken wing or neck or a lamb shank, makes an ideal treat. A bone will alleviate boredom and will also help to keep your dog's teeth clean. Chicken wings and necks and the smaller ox tails are ideal for cats too.

A bone doesn't have to be messy. Rawhide chews and pigs' ears are suitable for those pets that bring their bones into the house.

Boredom Blasters

Honey sniffing WobblerBoredom is the modern scourge of dogs and cats. The Christmas boredom-blaster that tops my list is the Kong Toy. Kongs are cone-shaped, rubber toys that resemble the Michelin man. They also have a hole through the middle into which you can hide a variety of healthy food treats. Give this to your pooch when you leave for work and it will have something to entertain it for the day.

A Roller Ball or Treat Ball is a similar idea. These balls are hollow and have a submarine-like hatch that allows you to place dry food inside the ball. As your pooch pushes the ball around, the dry food falls out and provides an instant reward for your dog's efforts. My hairy hound loves her Treat Ball. Similar versions are also available for cats.

Other boredom-blasters that are new this Christmas include a range of chewable toys which incorporate movement-activated, computerised noises. Some make the sound of a fire engine, others make the sound of a telephone and there are many other stimulating noises to bowl Rover over.

Bored puss-cats have not been forgotten. There are many motor-driven toys that will drive your cat crazy. Some have a plush mouse that circles around inside a chamber. Paw holes allow your cat to attempt to catch the mouse as it circles.

Also examine the range of carpeted climbing frames and scratching poles that are available. With hiding holes and bouncing attachments, these are a cat's dream.

Litter Perfect

Now down to man's business. Guys, if you're the sensitive, new age type, for a really romantic present for your cat-fanatic lady, why not give her a Litter Maid reallycutetabbycat200- an automatic, self-cleaning cat litter tray. So considerate!

While you mind the fur-ball for a short period (when the footy's on), your dearly-beloved will find it is so much easier to clean the litter tray. This intelligent litter tray uses a motion detector (!) knows when the cat has visited and automatically activates a cleaning comb ten minutes later. The comb moves through the clumping cat litter and scoops the soiled bits out and deposits them in a disposable waste container.

Yup - now that you've mastered the toilet seat bit, you can even help with the cat's toilet manners.

Speaking of entertaining a puss-cat, look for a new device called a Kitten Mitten. Being a caring cat owner, I have bought my Hair Ball one and he thinks it is so much better than the old "Mouse-on-a-Rope". A Kitten Mitten is a glove with extended fingers tipped with cat nip bobbles. It resembles a mutant cross between Edward Scissor Hands and a Joker's Hat. Place the mitten on, wiggle your fingers and your cat will become a fascinated flipped-out feline.

Fish and Tips

For those who are considering an aquarium, I am really taken by the Eclipse systems. These aquariums are much better-looking than the normal square glass tanks. They are made from attractive curved glass, and come complete with a coloured hood, flourescent light, and a bio-wheel power filter and the total package costs around $180.00.

Bird-brained Presents

buzzLet's not forget our feathered friends. If you are feeding your birds a standard seed mix, your fussy feather-face may pig out on its favourite seeds, thus selecting a diet that is not balanced.

The answer is to feed your bird prepared food pellets, much as we do nowadays for dogs and cats. There are many varieties, but the product, Nutriberries, is one variation. This clever product provides an excellent source of nutrition for birds. It combines essential seeds and vitamins, thus providing a balanced diet with each mouthful. The feathered folk think it is wonderful.

Twinkling Teeth for Christmas?

If you have a friend whose pet has 'death breath', give them a big hint by presenting their pet with a toothbrush and toothpaste for Christmas. Your vet and pet store have a pet tooth brush that fits over the end of a finger and a tube of toothpaste that goes with it. The toothpaste comes in unusual flavours like malt and poultry! Essence of postman is the next flavour on the list, especially for Rottweilers and Dobermans!

For cats and dogs, there are a variety of dental chew treats, including Greenies. Rawhide chews are available for dogs and fish base chews for cats.

For pooches and puss cats that are young or for those that are lonely at night why not try a Snuggle Pet? These plush, furry pets come equipped with a vibrating heart that gives off a comforting and rhythmical beating sound that mimics the heartbeat of a companion.

Happy shopping!

 

Cat question solved!

Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 1:13:39 PM EST by Cam Day

Q  Hello Dr Cam,

I haveFree to roam moved from a leafy large residence where my cat was able to spend her days investigating the creek that ran behind my house to a busy suburban residence that has a lot of foot and road traffic.

So now, she is really restricted to the areas that she can go to ‘investigate’. She has since become very ‘cuddly’ and will follow me around and talk to me continually while I am at home.

I try to play with her and provide her with toys around the house but she isn’t interested in the toys and as I work so much I don’t go and play with her outside during the week.

Can you suggest any solutions?

Kelly, NSW.


 

A  Hi Kelly,

With cats, it’s hard to compete with the wonders of the outside world.  Cats that are allowed to roam benefit from the broad tapestry of challenges life gives them – a rich lifestyle maybe - but usually very short and risk-laden.

Cats kept indoors are much safer and live longer and suffer less disease – but the downside if that is, yes, boredom can be a problem.

So, there's a sensible balance that's needed.

Indoors funThe answer is to give the cat the largest territory possible but the safest and the environmentally richest one you can manage.

Cagey Cats

There are various cat enclosure systems that will allow your cat outside access with safety.

Catmax and Cat Nip are two well-established brands but there are others.  Many cat owners will make their own by, for instance, enclosing a deck, veranda or pagoda.

If an enclosure is not possible then you need to work hard to provide a rich lifestyle for your cat where things change on a regular basis.

Feline Frolics

Playing with your cat is important when you are home and a bamboo garden stake with a bootlace attached makes a good ‘fly-fishing rod’  where you can flick the boot lace back and forth to stimulate your cat's predatory instincts.

When you are not at home, look at various ways in which you can provide change during a cat’s boring day.

Timer activated food bowls are readily available. Some cat owners use our DIY Sneaky Leaky Milk Carton Timer to deliver toys, food items and, yes, Kong toys, to their cats.

We often advise cat owners to use a process called Fan Fare Fun. Place a pedestal fan on a timer plug so it turns on and off during the day. Place the fan at table height and make it ‘blow’ interesting items such as ping pong balls and feathers off the table during your absence. Crazy!

The Phun of Pheromones

To make your cat more content in its new home, also consider the use of Feliway Pheromones

More information on boredom relief for cats can be found on this link

Thanks Kelly!


Cam

Eliminating Easter Escaping

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 1:30:50 PM EST by Cam Day

Banish Backyard Boredom this Easter

We ask much of our 21st century canines. We confine and constrict them to a minuscule morsel of mother earth in our back yards, thinking little of their yearning for the freedom of the open spaces that were once the provinces of their ancestors eons before.

We leave daily for work, always at the same time and always in the same manner, with Fido watching every repetitious move. The poor old pooch is left alone, day after day, in the same old back yard, in the same old way, at the same old time.

You probably take Fido for walks along the street, even on a daily basis. Fido will enjoy that for sure, but on your return, you discard Fido in the boring old back yard again. The street is interesting, stimulating and changing, associated with adventure, fun and excitement. The backyard is ..... dull, boring, routine and uniform, associated with the hum drum 'normalness' of life.  Nothing changes, nothing happens, no excitement occurs.

And some dogs even hate their back yard because of the traumas they have experienced.

Escaping from Back Yard Boredom Blues

Considering so many of us work 50 - 60 hour weeks, it is far from surprising that backyard boredom is an increasingly common ill with dogs. It is also not surprising that the wanderlust often strikes and Fido flees for the freedom of the fiords, to explore, have fun and to enrich his own lifestyle!

However, if you allow Fido such freedom, problems are bound to arise. Dogs which are allowed to roam usually Beagle_Pup_escaping-SMLhave a short life span and are never popular. They are often seriously maimed or killed by cars. They are commonly baited or shot because of the nuisance they cause and they often roam so far that they become lost or stolen, never to be seen again.

Good Fences Prevent Escaping

You have several solutions that you can utilise to prevent your dog from roaming the street.  The easiest and most obvious solution is to construct a fence that is secure enough to keep your dog in your own property and out of your neighbour's. However, you should also think about the boring nature of the backyard and do all you can to solve that problem and whether having the pet neutered will help.

A good fence will solve most problems and the rule the 'bigger the better' is a reasonable one.

'What not to use' is the first consideration. Chicken wire is not suitable for a dog enclosure as it is too weak and barbed wire should never be considered. Mesh with wide gaps is also a danger as a dog that has a need to escape can often stretch the mesh sufficiently to get its head and neck caught. The results are often very dangerous.

A chain mesh and pipe fence is the standard type of dog fence, and is probably the cheapest. It should have a tension wire at ground level to which you should securely attach the mesh, and another at the top. Ideally, you should install a horizontal pipe at the top of the fence as this will give additional strength.

A picket fence makes a good dog enclosure, especially as it partially obscures visual access to the street outside, thus reducing barking. However, there is a significant danger with picket fences. Dogs which try to jump fences often get their paws lodged between the pickets at the top of the fence. I have known dogs that have died from being caught in such fences when their owners were away. You can easily prevent this danger. All you need to do is to cover the gap between each picket at the top with a horizontal paling, running the entire length of the fence.

Special Fences for Ballistic Barkers

For dogs that are chronic barkers, a solid fence, usually a wooden one, is well worth consideration. The common 'good neighbour' fence is ideal.

Dedicated 'Pavarotti Pooches' also benefit by being secured away from the boundary fence  facing the main cause of  barking. This is usually, but not always, the street. Such fences commonly extend from the side of the house, leaving a dog-free front garden and a doggy back yard. Having achieved this, enriching the back yard environment is very important. This is discussed later. When distanced from the continual stimuli of the street, many previously noisy dogs become surprisingly quiet and peaceful.

Fences for Escaping Experts

Some dogs are so intent on escaping that they will do all they can to find a weak portion of a fence. If they can't find one, they will create it.

Sad_dog_at_fence-SMLThe problem with such dogs is that the more they escape, the more they are reinforcing their own behaviour. For such dogs, the escaping routine can be very difficult to solve.

For such dogs, a secure fence is vital. A concrete footing at the bottom of the fence is easy to construct and will prevent the dog from digging under the fence to escape. It is ideal if you bury the bottom of the fence in the cement, or for pipe and mesh fences, if you can place a horizontal footing pipe just above the concrete footing.

The best dog fence by far is a solid wooden fence, where the horizontal supporting beams are on the opposite sides of the fence to where the dog is housed. Many dogs are able to use the horizontal beams as a ladder to help them get over the fence.

For those escape artists that jump or climb the fence, sometimes making the fence higher is not the answer as they still manage to jump or climb. The best solution is to construct a 'lean-too' section on top of the fence. This is an attachment, angled at forty-five degrees and facing inwards. You can construct this easily by attaching angled steel to each post and placing chain netting between each angled section.

The effect is that the dog cannot climb the fence due to the angled section, and cannot jump the fence because of the appearance of width the fence now has.

For human safety, ensure that the angled sections are above head height.

More information

Does Neutering Have any Effect on Escaping Behaviour?

 Neutering male dogs is an important consideration. One study has shown that, in 90 percent of entire male dogs, roaming is solved after castration. This is because roaming is often induced, at least initially, by the attractive scent of female dogs on heat in the neighbourhood. The territorial perception male dogs develop by urine marking trees and posts while roaming is also important. The more they roam, the more they mark and thus the more they perceive the neighbourhood as their owned territory.

Relieving Backyard Boredom

The routine nature of a suburban dog's life, as discussed earlier, is a modern day ill. For barking and escaping dogs, providing an enriched lifestyle in the backyard is vital.

Honey sitting with the WobblerOn a daily basis, you should play with your dog in your backyard by giving it daily aerobic exercise, 'brain work' or mental stimulation and also giving welcome cuddles and companionship. This is a formal program I call the ABC's Technique and is available here.

Briefly, throwing Frisbees and balls in the backyard is good and just running and jumping with your dog is good exercise for both of you.

I often advise my clients to use a special dog toy called a Kong Ball. The ball bounces unpredictably and resists a dog's chewing too. It has a hole in the middle in which small amounts of food can be placed to create even more interest. 

But what's better than the normal Kong is the KONG Wobbler. This one is hugely popular, and is weighted on the bottom so that when your dog knocks the toy over to get a treat, the Wobbler bounces straight back up into the standing position popping out food treats at the same time.

Free express post delivery on Kong Wobblers for  short time.

Brain work involves a fun training routine in which you teach your dog to do different things for no reason other than for fun. Teach it to walk along balance beams, to climb over garden furniture and other obstacles, to roll over, crawl and to 'play dead'. Also encourage your dog to play 'hide and seek'. For this game you place your dog in a 'down and stay' position and encourage it to 'seek' you, other members of your family or even tidbits of food hidden around the back yard.

Have you seen our No Bored Dogs Routine yet?  We have developed many cheap cheats to help with boredom relief. More information on that here.

Some Escaping is Abnormal

Some escaping has nothing to do with boredom.  In our world as behaviourist, we see dogs escaping because they are suffering from mood disorders. The commonest of those are separation anxieties, separation panic disorders and noise phobias.  Some escaping behaviour is best described as cause by back yard ghosts.

If your dog is distressed while he or she is trying to escaping that's something you should never ignore. Contact us for advice on that or jump the queue and book a behaviour consultation online here.

Remember, escaping behaviour can be a fatal condition.

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