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Ask the Cat Behaviorist: Cats Bringing Toys into Bedroom, Cat Wants to Play at 4 AM, New Cats Not Warming Up to Humans, and More

Ask-the-Cat-Behaviorist-Marci-Koski

Dr. Marci Koski is a certified Feline Behavior and Training Professional who received specialized and advanced certificates in Feline Training and Behavior from the Animal Behavior Institute. While Marci has been passionate about all animals and their welfare, cats have always had a special place in her heart. In fact, Marci can’t remember a time when she’s been without at least one cat in her life. She currently relies on her five-member support staff  to maintain the feline duties of her household.Continue Reading

Mews and Nips: Your Cat’s Tongue is a Pink Engineering Marvel

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The cat’s tongue is one of nature’s perfect designs: it allows cats to groom and to consume their prey. In a new study, researchers sought to untangle the mysteries of cat tongues. A previous study reported that domestic cat tongues are covered in cone-shaped bumps that were used as brush bristles, whereas this study’s team found that the protrusions are actually claw-shaped hooks with hollow U-shaped tips. For more about the fascinating findings of this study, and how they might be applied to create a better brush, visit the Smithsonian Magazine website.

If you missed any of the stories featured on the Conscious Cat this week, here’s a recap: Continue Reading

Mews and Nips: Shelter Cat Gives Everyone Hugs

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When Zorro was first brought to the Pennsylvania SPCA shelter, he could barely tolerate being touched. It turned out he had bladder stones. During recovery from his surgery to remove the stones, he started cuddling with the veterinary nurses caring for him. “When they would clean his cage, he would give them a hug and stay there, soon he would start nudging their heads and purring, sometimes he even kissed their faces,” said Gillian Kocher, Director of Public Relations of the PSPCA. For more about this beautiful boy, and wonderful photos, please visit LoveMeow.com.

If you missed any of the stories featured on the Conscious Cat this week, here’s a recap:Continue Reading

Ask the Cat Behaviorist with Mikel Delgado: Why Does My Cat Chew on His Bowl, Why Does My Cat Slap the Other Cats, and More

ask-the-cat-behaviorist

I’m sad to announce that this will be Mikel’s last column. Mikel’s consulting practice and her work as researcher at the Veterinary School at UC Davis are taking up more and more of her time, which, even though it’s a loss for us, is not only a good thing for Mikel, but also for all the cats who will be helped as a result of her work. But don’t worry, the “Ask the Cat Behaviorist” column will continue, and will be taken over by Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions starting in November.  Look for an introduction of Marci later and information on where to leave your questions for Marci later this month. Continue Reading

AquaPurr Drinking Fountain Winner – No Cleaning, No Refilling, No Electricity

AquaPurr

Congratulations, Marci DeLisle! You’re the winner of an Aqua Purr Drinking Fountain.

Look for an email from Ingrid.*

AquaPurr

For more information about AquaPurr and to purchase, please visit the Aquapurr.net.

*Winners are selected by random drawing. Winners need to provide a physical address to which the prize will be mailed within 72 hours of receipt of notification e-mail or announcement of winner’s name(s) on The Conscious Cat. If this information is not received within the timeframe stated, an alternate winner will be chosen.

My Top 10 Cat Books of 2014

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I don’t keep track of the number of books I read each year, but my best guess is somewhere between 150 and 200, and at least half of them have something to do with cats. I reviewed more than 30 books here on The Conscious Cat this year.

I made a commitment to myself long ago that I would never post a bad book review. I feel that every author pours his or her heart and soul into a book, and just because I don’t like a book doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a good book. As a result, if you see a book reviewed here on the site, it means that I really liked it. This makes it challenging each year to pick only ten favorites, especially since the books cover such a wide variety of genres.Continue Reading

Review: I Knead My Mommy And Other Poems by Kittens

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Francesco Marciuliano has a unique ability to capture cats’ personalities. He proved this in his New York Times Bestseller I Could Pee on This And Other Poems by Cats, and I know I wasn’t the only cat lover who was eagerly awaiting publication of his new book, I Knead My Mommy And Other Poems by Kittens. While I had reservations about the first book based on the title (reservations that turned out to be completely wrong,) the title of this book, which the author called “sort of a sequel – or a prequel, depending on how you look at it,” combined with the ridiculously adorable cover, generated an “awww” response for me that is probably hardwired into most cat lovers.Continue Reading

Review: I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats, Plus an Interview with the Author

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I’ll be honest: I had my reservations about this book. I appreciate a good humor book as much as the next cat lover. But I balked at the title. To me, there’s just nothing funny about a cat peeing on things. I get far too many emails from desperate cat guardians who are dealing with this problem. That’s why I hadn’t even picked up I Could Pee on This when it first became a bestseller.

I do, however, enjoy author Francesco Marciuliano’s internationally syndicated comic strip Sally Forth, so when his publicist asked me whether I’d be interested in interviewing him, I agreed to take a look at the book. And I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised.Continue Reading

Declawing Cats: Inhumane and Unneccesary

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Declawing is a topic that can elicit strong emotions, with most people coming down on the side of opposing it. Declawing is considered either illegal or inhumane in 25 countries around the world, including England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Finland and Brazil. The United States lacks sadly behind in establishing legislation to make declawing illegal, but thankfully, more and more cat lovers, cat welfare organizations and veterinarians are speaking out against declawing, calling it inhumane and unnecessary.

Declawing is extremely painful

Declawing is not just nail trimming. The declaw surgery involves amputating the last bone of the cats’ toes. Continue Reading

New Cat Introductions: Breaking All the Rules

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When I brought Ruby home last Sunday, I had no way of knowing how introducing a new kitten to Allegra was going to go. Allegra had been an only cat for the past eleven months. Even though she had been in a foster home with other cats before I adopted her at seven months of age, I had no way of knowing how she was going to react to another cat. Ruby shared her foster home with two big adult male cats, so at least I knew that she was used to being around cats.

Slow and gradual introductions

Feline behavior experts advise introducing a new kitten to your home and your resident cat slowly, and in stages. For even the friendliest kittens, coming into a new home can be a big, scary venture. Experts recommend setting up a safe room for the new arrival, complete with litter box, access to food and water, toys, scratching posts and a comfortable place to sleep.

Scent is important for cats. You can let the new kitten and the resident cat smell each other indirectly by rubbing a towel on one cat, and rubbing the other cat with it, and vice versa. This “scent exchange” can help them accept the new smell as something that is part of them. After a day or two, let the two cats sniff each other through a baby-gate or a barely opened door.

When you think they’re ready, let them mingle under your supervision. There will be hissing and growling – try to ignore it, but be ready to intervene if a physical battle breaks out. It’s important to take this step slowly. If they do seem to tolerate each other, praise both cats effusively.

Gradually increase the time they spend together. Make initial joint activities fun so they will learn to associate being together with something pleasurable. Play with both cats, pet them both, and share treats. Always praise them when things go well. If things don’t go well, separate the cats, and start again at the point where you previously left off.  Introducing a new cat can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks or even months.

Breaking the rules

I knew all of these things. And yet, I made a conscious decision to forego the traditional protocol – not in defiance of what every feline behaviorist and every feline rescue group recommends, but rather, based on my gut instinct, which told me that with these two cats and their respective personalities, it was going to work. Had I seen any signs along the way that things were going south, I would have reverted to traditional protocol.

Even trusting my intuition, I was amazed at how well things went. The first couple of hours were a bit rough. There was lots of hissing and growling, and Allegra was clearly very upset with me. She growled more at me than at our new arrival. I knew all of this was to be expected and normal, but it’s still not fun to go through. Ruby, on the other hand, just went about the business of exploring her new home. Having Allegra “yell” at her was only a minor distraction for her. Nothing seemed to bother her. She was having fun!

After about five hours, the two cats were hanging out together in my living room. By the second day, they shared space on my loveseat. The hissing and growling became less frequent. By the third day, the two of them exchanged nosetaps for the first time.

Since I lead a somewhat “public” life when it comes to my cats, and people come to me for advice on all things cat, I was concerned that my unorthodox approach to introducing Ruby would be construed as expert advice on how to do it.

I want to be clear that I don’t recommend this method for everyone. It certainly flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But sometimes, rules are there to be broken. For some cats, traditional introductions may work best. For others, it may be more stressful for both the resident and the new cat to keep the two separated. It becomes an individual decision that needs to take into account how well you know the cats involved, and how comfortable you are with new cat introductions.

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As of this writing, only ten days later, the girls have become good friends. They play together, chase each other through the house, and hang out together. They even sleep in the bed with me, one cat on each side. I couldn’t be happier, and I think Allegra and Ruby are pretty happy, too.

Editor’s note: Due to the high volume of questions left in the comments in this post, I am no longer able to answer questions about individual situations. You may find a lot of good advice by reading through the comments. If you need additional assistance with your introductions, you may want to consider consider working with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado  and Dr. Marci Koski.  Both offer remote consultations.