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Tag Search: aggression

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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.

Feline Frolics

Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 9:42:00 AM EST by Cam Day

Eleven Magic Methods to Amuse Your Manic Moggie

You all know about curiosity and the cat. While many a cat is a lazy Couch Slouch, others are active, curious party animals. When they are out and about, the Party Animal Puss Cats are looking  for a good time. These rascals are set for a night on the tiles, travelling like roaming Romeos looking for mischief in all the wrong places and sticking their noses into other peoples' business.

Cool Cat SmallestEven within the home, some cats are devils on four furred feet. Owners regularly report that, as they walk through the house,  their cat will ambush them and will spring like a caged leopard to attack their legs. These cats then run off to hide, their black eyes shining with evil intent.

If your cat fits into the 'party animal' category, giving it things to do apart from ripping living human flesh from passing legs will be of immense benefit.

The Feline Frolics techniques described below will allow you to play with your cat without being attacked. It will also give your cat lots of other things to do in a day to enrich its lifestyle and to blast away boredom. Even for normal, friendly cats, playing games with them and providing a variety of toys and stimuli will give additional richness to their lifestyle. And, if you have decided to confine your Party Animal Puss Cat to the house and/or a garden cattery, the techniques below will compensate for the fact that you feline fiend can't get 'out and about'.


The Feline Frolics List:

1.  Fan Fare

If you have an overhead fan in your house, then providing fun for your cat is easy. Attach a length of elastic with a piece of  folded paper, or a cork with feathers glued to it, to the hub of your fan. Turn it on to a slow speed and let your cat chase the 'clattering paper mouse' as it flies around the room. Remove any delicate china first! As the cat learns the game, move the elastic further out along the blade of the fan so that it moves faster. Just be sure to monitor the game for safety.

2.  Patty Pan Party

Hide titbits of tasty food in and around the house so that the cat has to hunt for them. This appeals to their hunting instinct, stimulates exploration and fortifies the notion that the house is a fun area to be in.

Do this by securing half a dozen paper cake patty pans in various high and low locations around your house. Place a blob of blue-tac under each patty pan so that they don't move.

Now place a small quantity of your cat's normal dry food in each and a 'cherry' on the cake by also including a flavoured dry food treat such as a Whiskas Craver or similar. There are lots of taste varieties 

As the cat mooches around for the food, he or she will find a different reward for their exploratory exploits each time it unearths a new patty pan.

3.  Kong Toys               

Kong Toys are wonderful. They are rubber, cone-shaped 'balls' that resemble the Michelin Man without his arms and legs. Due to their shape, they roll around the floor and bounce unpredictably. Cats find that stimulating. The Kong also has a hole in the middle. This can be packed with food rewards such as dried liver treats or dried fish or you can smear Anchovette Paste or Liverwurst in the hole. The cat's job is to work out how to get the food out.

4.  Magic Milk Carton  

A milk carton can mimic a Kong Toy. Cut the bottom off a plastic 2 litre milk carton. Open the cap and smear Liverwurst or Anchovette paste inside the lid.

catfoodreward200

Replace the lid and watch the cat attempt to lick and find the food treat by jumping head first into the milk carton. You can also cut a paw-sized hole or two in the side of a milk carton and place food treats inside. The cat will roll the carton around trying to work out how to get the food out. Try putting a rubber band from the base of the carton through to the cap. Place a paddle pop stick or a feather or two in

the rubber band. The paddle pop stick should be long enough to just catch the edge of the milk carton. Wind it up the rubber band and when Puss puts is paw in the hole to get the food the paddle pop stick will move a few times. Puss will be fascinated.

5.  Frozen Cows

Next time they are on special, buy several lactose-free milk packs from the pet section of your supermarket. Throw them in your freezer. As you leave for work, cut a large slash in the carton and leave it in the cat's food dish. The milk will slowly melt into the dish and provide a delayed release reward for the cat.

6.  The Food Sprinkler

From your pet shop, purchase a Cat Mate automatic pet feeder. There are several similar products, and they all operate on the same principle. They contain a food tray which is sealed with a flap. The flap is controlled by a timer that will open the flap and give access to the food at the time you set. That's interesting for a bored Puss Cat. However there is a deluxe version. Use velcro to fasten the unit upside down under a table or on a beam inside your house. Now place a rubber door mat (the type with big holes in it) under the unit. Why Because when the flap opens some hours after you leave, the food will drop to the mat and sink into the holes. Puss will be delighted with the challenge that you have presented!

7.  Carton maze

Make a maze from some old shoe boxes or other cardboard boxes. Have some 'poke and peep' holes in each box. Poke pencils through the holes or pull a piece of string with a paper  mouse on the end through the maze. Your  cat is likely to chase the mice, attack pencils placed through the holes and generally have fun exploring. Put some food titbits in the maze to stimulate exploration.

8.  Paper Bag Park

Scatter a selection of paper bags around the house. Have holes in them for 'peeping and poking'.

9.  Laser Light Leaping

If you have access to a laser pointer, flash this around the walls to get your cat to chase it. Commercial versions of this are now available for cats. Just be sure not to shine the laser into the cat's eyes.

10.  Weasel Whumping

If you can find one, purchase a wiggly Weasel Ball. These act like a 'virtual-mouse' for your cats. The weasel is attached, by its nose,  to a ball containing a battery, and when turned on, the ball rotates and rolls around the house with the weasel attached, looking like it is being chased. They are made by Dah Yang Toy Industrial Co., Ltd  and are identified with the code number 8038H.

11. Paper Mouse Mauling

This is the old, but effective, standard cat game. Attach a paper 'mouse' to a piece of string and drag it through the house. Some creative folk attach these to a radio-controlled car and drive the mouse around the house. Feathers on corks are also much loved.

If that doesn't satisfy your Puss Cat, visit your local pet shop. You will find a range of cat toys designed to satisfy the most fastidious and fanatic of fractious felines - but meanwhile, don't forget to hug your pet.


Click here to go to the Aggressive Cat Pet Pick

Barking and Biting

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012 at 10:16:09 AM EST by Cam Day

What dog breeds bark and bite the most?

A multimedia presentation by Dr Cam Day

Yeah, we know - you're cat owners. You own those independent little furballs who would much rather curl up on the wooden floorboards than your warm and comfortable lap. But we thought that you still may find this interesting - it's all about barking and biting dogs, and which breeds do that the most.

Over the last four years we have been looking at the ‘bad breeds’ – those dogs that do ‘bad things’ in the community – because we are referred the ‘worst case behaviours’ of south east Queensland we have always being interested in which dog breeds are the worst for behaviours us humans think are bad.barkandbitepresentation

Of course – our dogs are likely to think what they are doing is quite acceptable!

Barking and biting are bad by our definition, but it's interesting to see which breeds actually bark the most and which bite the most.

That’s not an easy question to answer.

To answer that truthfully we needed to know two things:-

  • How to handle cross bred dogs – because there’s nothing wrong with a cross bred.
  • And we needed to know what are the most popular breeds in the community. It’s senseless to say the imaginary Australian Cute Hound barks the most if the Australian Cute Hound is also the most popular. The results would not be accurate if we disregarded popularity.

While the details of how we did that are very complex (the details have been published in journals) and too nerdy to describe, we have created an interesting multimedia presentation about just that subject.

This presentation will tell you which dog breeds are most commonly owned and which bark the most and bite the most.

You can view this presentation here and be sure to leave your comments below of your own observations.

Cat Attacks

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 10:46:32 AM EST by Cam Day

Cat Attacks - Play or Prey Behaviour?

The behaviour of cats is sometimes a wonder. Why would a peaceful, purring puss suddenly turn on its owner, biting, clawing and raking the very hand that pats it?
Aggro_Cat_Grey_200-smlContented one moment - demented the next is a good description of such behaviours. Jekyll and Hydecats is another descriptive term given to the cats that employ this deviant 'good guy-bad guy' routine. If your cat attacks you in this manner, solving the behaviour calls for a bit of cunning.


Take a close look at your cat the next time this happens. While patting him or her, watch the eyes and ears and the tail. Usually a dilation of the pupils or a 'black eyed' look heralds the change in mood when aggression is on the way.

The ears will sometimes flatten onto the back of its head, although not always, and the telltale tail will usually start swishing. You may not see all of these signs. Chances are they will happen so quickly that you're more intent on removing the embedded claws and teeth from your flesh than worrying about a detailed analysis of the cat's stereotypic communication cues!

However, if you do see these behaviours, move away from your cat or tip it off your lap if you can.


When a cat attacks when you are cuddling it, it will often wrap its front feet around your forearm, and then embed its claws and its teeth into your flesh. It may then rKIttens Playing_200Smlake your skin with its back claws, thus causing quite an injury.

While this attack may appear vicious and may be damaging, I am not convinced that this behaviour is always an aggressive behaviour. I believe that it is often an aberrant form of play behaviour as it closely resembles the way in which kittens play with each other. You will often see this 'wrap and rake' technique when kittens play, but it is not so common when adult cats attack each other.

For these Jekyll and Hyde behaviours, I usually advise my clients to use a program of  'progressive patting'. Your aim when using this therapy is to reinforce the cats friendly behaviour and to not allow the aggressive behaviour to develop.

Before we go any further, consider that aggression is damaging and dangerous. If you are unsure of your cat's behaviour then take no risks and seek professional advice first.

READ MORE HERE

The Season of Sensuality

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012 at 11:24:23 AM EST by Cam Day

Making Scents

Spring is nearly upon us and summer is just a sniff away. The days are getting longer and the animal kingdom is waking to a new 'season of sensuality'. I find that the start of the Ekka in Brisbane marks the start of this season of sensuality. It's not only the flowers that blossom and send out their wonderful perfumes at this time of year but many species of animals also send out their own seasonal scents in spring. The most important of these scents are pheromones.

Pheromones Cats sniffing each other are extremely widespread in the animal kingdom. They are like hormones in some aspects. However, while hormones stay within the body of the animal that produces them and thus affect only that animal's behaviour, pheromones are released from one animal and, when detected by another animal of the same species, have a significant effect on the behaviour of that receiving animal.

Pheromones come in many forms. Some relate to sexual identification, some help animals to mark territory, some serve as warnings to other animals and some relate to familiarisation and attachment.

They are released from various glands of an animal's body, including those around the face and on the footpads, from sweat glands (especially on the abdomen) and from the animal's anal sacs. In cats, three main types of pheromones have been studied - those relating to territorial marking, alarm warnings and to familiarisation with others of the same species.

In dogs, the dog appeasing pheromone is one that has been studied extensively. This pheromone is normally produced in bitches three to five days after they have whelped. It is secreted by the skin around the bitch's mammary glands and serves to create attachment of the newborn puppies to the dam.  A similar pheromone is also released by adult dogs from the skin around their ears. When released by pack leaders, this pheromone has a similar role, but on a wider basis, to the pheromone produced by a dam - it creates attachment of young animals to the leaders and makes the pack cohesive.

While that may sound complicated, the good news is that cat, and more recently, dog pheromones are now produced synthetically and placed in bottles to help pet owners better manage their pet's behaviour. This is a very new and exciting form of science. With dogs the dog appeasing pheromone (DAP or Adaptil) is used to aid the treatment of anxiety disorders and fears. For cats, the pheromone Feliway is readily available and is used to stop cats spraying, as well as in assisting cats to become comfortable when moving into a new residence.

Using Pheromones to Improve a Dog's Behaviour 

The dog appeasing pheromone aids in the treatment of fears and anxieties in dogs and can be part of the therapy for:

Complete range of Adaptil products
  • settling a new puppy into a home

  • separation anxieties or similar disorders

  • noise fears and phobias

  • treating fears from various origins.

For instance, to determine the effects of the dog appeasing pheromone, a study was conducted on 26 dogs where 20 were destructive, 18 were vocalising excessively and 12 were house-soiling. After 28 days of pheromone use, the behaviour of approximately 75% of the dogs had either improved or resolved.

The commercial version of the dog appeasing pheromone has just been released and while that's good news, it's the method of delivery that really makes this product shine. It is simply delivered via a diffuser that is plugged into a power point in a manner similar to air fresheners.

Used for a month or longer, this pheromone can be very important in helping a dog resolve its anxieties.

Using Pheromones to Improve a Cat's Behaviour

The feline pheromones that are associated with familiarisation help to convey a message of well being and a feeling of security to cats.

The Feliway Pheromone range.The synthetically manufactured version of this pheromone (Feliway) helps when moving house with cats, or when new cats are introduced to a cat household. The pheromone also helps to reduce spraying behaviour and to calm aggressive cats when many cats are present in the same household.

The pheromones used to achieve such changes in behaviour are synthetic versions of a cat's facial pheromones. These are the same scents that a cat rubs on its owner when 'bunting' in greeting.

For cats that spray urine inside their owner's homes, cleaning the soiled area and then marking the area with the synthetic pheromone helps to solve the urine spraying behaviour. The calming function of the facial pheromones has a preventative effect on urine marking,

In addition, these facial pheromones help to settle cats into new homes, promoting exploration and calmness and establishment of normal feeding behaviour more rapidly than when the cat is placed in a new home with no pheromones.

Just like Adaptil's dog appeasing pheromone, Feliway's cat facial pheromone is now also available in a plug-in diffuser that makes it very easy to use.

These products are now available but for more information click here.

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