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Keeping Cats Entertained

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 12:56:44 PM EST by Cam Day

No Bored Cats

Do cats become bored?   If your cat is a Couch Slouch then boredom may not be a problem but some cats are better described as Party Animal Puss-Cats. Such cats know how to boogie and if they don't get enough brain input, their behaviour can be catastrophic.

FINAL COOL CATSome bored cats show hyperactive behaviours. The most common is that the cat will race through the house like a fur-covered lightening bolt especially at night.

Bored cats also delight in a bit of rough and tumble and if nothing else is available, will happily use your fingers and toes as a chew toys. Commonly, a bored cat will hide under furniture with its eyes as big as dinner plates. As you walk innocently past it will scoot out and latch onto your leg imbedding its claws and teeth in your calf. Just as quickly it will detach and will race down the hallway to hide once more readying itself for another encounter of the furred kind.

Boredom is most common in confined cats and this is a problem because confining cats to the home is becoming much more commonplace - and for many good reasons.

However, inside the house is a sterile environment compared to the joys of wandering freely through the suburbs. The more a cat roams, the more it becomes stimulated by the refreshing newness of its territory and each new joy that the cat discovers is its own reward, stimulating more exploration.

So, how do you cater for the needs of a bored cat?

Contents of the next page (membership required)

The Following Magic Methods Include :

1. Outside play areas

2. Exploration

3. Inside games

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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.

Spray it again, Sam

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:50:06 PM EST by Cam Day

Mrs. Humphries arrived home and knew immediately what Spikey had been up too. It was the smell that told the story. Cat urine - somewhere in the house - but where?

Spikey was a perplexed puss cat. He was upset, anxious and agitated and as a result he was spraying urine around the house regularly during the day.

The smell was atrocious and Mrs. Humphries was getting to the end of her tether. How could she invite visitors to her home when the whole house smelt like a freshly-endorsed cat litter tray?

She needed help and so did Spikey - he was not only agitated but quite unwell too.

Why Was Spikey Spraying?

male-cat-behavior268Spikey was spraying because he was offended and affronted by  the neighbourhood cats that were roaming through his backyard. A big  non-desexed Tom Cat was a regular visitor. This brazen Tom considered Spikey's backyard was part of his territory. The Tom was spraying as he prowled through the backyard. So were the other visiting cats, and some had even come in through Spikey's cat door and had sprayed inside Spikey's home.

Spikey was not happy at this insult and, of course, Spikey's owner was not that content either.

But there was another matter. Spikey also had a lower urinary tract disease. He was forming crystals in his bladder and also had a few nasty bacteria that were causing a bladder infection. This was another engine that was driving him to spray more that he would do otherwise.

Spraying is one of the commonest behavioural problems about which cat owners will complain to their veterinarian. I treat spraying cats regularly in my behaviour clinics and would see at least one a week.

I am surprised to find that the more I look at this problem, the more I see the link between marauding neighborhood moggies causing a resident cat to spray, and a bladder infection in the same, spraying cat. I estimate that about 60% of the spraying cases I deal with have the bladder condition commonly called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).

Spraying is a normal marking behaviour of entire (non-desexed) male cats and also of female cats when they are in season.

 It is a form of communication. Desexing a male or female cat is likely to improve the behaviour but spraying is often seen in desexed cats, males and females, too.  This often occurs when the cat is anxious, upset or 'territorially stressed'. I have seen spraying behaviour in cats never let out of their house but where, through a window,  they can see other cats prowling through the garden or around the house. Many house-confined cats will station themselves on an elevated platform where they can peer through a window to the ground below and observe roaming cats.  I have Cat soilingseveral cases where the resident cat lived in a unit three to four stories above the ground. Although it never came in contact with local marauding cats, it still sprayed because of the perceived threat.

Sometimes these roaming cats are devilish. I have seen cases where they will spray through a fly screened door to upset the resident cat within. I know of a case where a roaming cat entered through a cat door, chased the resident cat of its sleeping owner's bed and then sprayed on the owner's face as she was waking up to the melee!

Other cats will spray on new items that have been brought into the house because of the new smell and some will spray because they are constantly bickering with cats that they live with.

What are the Remedies? Is There a Medical Cause?

Firstly, look for a medical cause. A urine test is essential to look for the disease known as FLUTD. If your feline felon has this disease, it can be treated.

Generally treatment involves a course of antibiotics and often a long course too. Diet change will be needed and your vet is likely to advise a specialised diet to control your cat's urinary pH levels and to ensure bladder health in other ways.

Contents of Next Page (membership required)

The following Magic Methods Include :

1. Remedies for spraying cats

2. Is there a medical cause?

3. Cleaning up the mess the right way

4. Pheromones and medications

... and more!

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