feline behavior

Is Your Cat A Tree Dweller or A Bush Dweller?

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If you’ve watched Jackson Galaxy work his magic with challenging cats on Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, you know that one of the concepts he frequently explains to cat guardians is the difference between cats who are “tree dwellers” and cats who are “bush dwellers.”

Tree dwellers need vertical space. These are the cats that like to jump up on counters, sit on top of the refrigerator, climb curtains or bookshelves. Bush dwellers, on the other hand, prefer to stay low to the ground. They tend to seek out spots that are hidden, such as under an end table, or even under the sofa or bed.

In multi-cat households, it is critical that you understand your cats’ preferences, and provide options to accommodate both behavior styles.Continue Reading

Non-Recognition Aggression in Cats: A Case of Forgotten Identity

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Your two cats are best friends. They play together, groom each other, and sleep curled up with each other. Then one day, you take one to the vet’s for a check up. When you return from the clinic, instead of receiving a warm welcome, the cat who stayed home hisses and attacks the other cat. Your two former best friends have turned into sworn enemies, and your formerly peaceful home has turned into a battle zone.

Aggression between cats is always a distressing problem for the cats and the humans involved. Whether it’s play aggression, petting aggression, or redirected aggression, dealing with feline aggression is stressful and requires commitment, staying power, and the help of experts such as your veterinarian and/or a feline behaviorist.

The cause of on-recognition aggression is not entirely clear, and the bad news is that it’s not easily fixed.Continue Reading

What Is It About Cats and Bathrooms?

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Cats seem to have an endless fascination with bathrooms. Whether it’s sinks, bathtubs or shower stalls, I have yet to meet a cat who isn’t intrigued by at least one of those. And when was the last time you’ve been able to go to the bathroom without a feline escort?

I recently received an email from a reader telling me that the only time her cat will come up on her lap is when she’s in the bathroom. Why was she doing this, and how could she get her to come up on her lap at other times? My answer to the first question was “because your cat has a captive audience!” But the question also got me thinking about the topic of cats and bathrooms in general.

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Allegra and Ruby both love being in the bathroomContinue Reading

Review: Through A Cat’s Ear: Music for Calming

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I was very excited when I first heard about Through a Cat’s Ear, which combines music and sound therapy techniques, specifically designed for feline anxiety. This is not just simple relaxation music.

Why Through a Cat’s Ear is different from other relaxation music

Composer, music producer and sound researcher Joshua Leeds has been studying psychoacoustics—the effect of music and sound on human beings—since 1986. In 2003, concert pianist Lisa Spector inquired about adapting human sound therapy for dogs. Leeds began research into canine acoustic environments, which led to the release of the acclaimed audio series Through a Dog’s Ear. Through tonal and tempo selections, and simplification of solo piano music, Lisa and Joshua discovered effective solutions for many canine anxiety issues.

Since the 2008 release of Through a Dog’s Ear music, requests for music specially designed for catsContinue Reading

Review: Outsmarting Cats by Wendy Christensen

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When it comes to understanding felines, few people know these lovable, but sometimes frustrating, creatures as well as Wendy Christensen. Wendy spent her entire life with cats, and has gained a deep appreciation of the many sides of feline behavior. She shares her wealth of knowledge in Outsmarting Cats: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to Do What You Want.

This book was first published in 2004. This second, revised edition was published in March of this year, and contains updated information as well as a comprehensive resource listing for everything from cat safe cleaners to cat furniture. Just like the original, this book addresses behavioral challenges ranging from aggression to litter box problems to scratching. The new, expanded edition also includes the latest scientific information on cats, high-tech solutions to feline behavior problems, a new section on TNR (trap, neuter, release) and fostering cats, and lots of new photos and illustrations.

Wendy’s focus is on nurturing the best possible relationshipContinue Reading

Review: The Cat Whisperer by Mieshelle Nagelschneider

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It is heartening to me that we’re seeing more and more books on feline behavior that provide solid, actionable information for cat guardians. Far too many cats are surrendered to shelters, or worse, released into the wild to fend for themselves, because of behavior problems that often aren’t all that hard to fix. In The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do – and How to Get Them To Do What You Want, Mieshelle Nagelschneider explains cat behavior and provides easy-to-follow solutions to common behavior problems.Continue Reading

Guidelines for Responsible Cat Care

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The American Veterinary Medical Association recently issued a set of Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership, stating that “owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the benefits of pet ownership come with obligations.” I think the AVMA is a bit behind the times with still using the term “owner” when it comes to pets. Most of us consider our cats part of the family, which is why I prefer the term “guardian” or even “pet parent.” But they do raise some interesting points in their guidelines. I won’t list all of them – you can read them for yourself if you’re interested – but I thought I’d highlight the ones I consider most important, especially for cats.

Commit to the relationship for the life of the cat

This one should be obvious, but sadly, it’s not. Cats are creatures of routine, and any change is traumatic for them. If circumstances don’t allow you to commit for the life of the pet, you may want to consider fostering instead.Continue Reading

My Cat’s Story Video Contest

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Three top feline behaviorists have teamed up together for a video contest that is designed to showcase cat guardians’ stories about their relationships with their cats. Pam Johnson-Bennett of Cat Behavior Associates, Marilyn Krieger (The Cat Coach) and Steve Dale want to hear your cat’s story.

They want to know how your cat came into your life, what behavior challenges he/she faced and how you changed the behavior using positive, force-free, humane methods. Did these behavior changes enrich the life of your cat and yourself? If so, they want to hear from you.

Here are some of the things they’re interested in:Continue Reading

Cats take on their humans’ habits

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We all consider our cats members of the family, and according to a new study from the University of Messina’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, this blending into our lives extends to our cats taking on human habits – both good and bad ones.

The researchers studied two groups of cats. Discovery News reports on the study:

Each group received excellent care, in terms of food, medical attention and grooming. The owners of all the cats worked during the day and returned home in the evenings.

The first group of cats, however, lived in smaller homes and stayed closer to their owners. The second groupContinue Reading

Solving behavior problems in your multi-cat household

I frequently get questions about behavior problems with cats who live in multi-cat households. Whether it’s cat to cat introductions, litter box problems, or aggression, these types of issues can be extremely challenging for cat guardians, and sadly, they often result in cats being relinquished to shelters.

Amy Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant and award winning author of more than twp dozen pet care books, put together a comprehensive guide for cat guardians facing these challenges. ComPetability: Solving Behavior Problems In Your Multi-Cat Household helps cat parents understand why cats do the things they do, and how to create a peaceful multi-cat household.

This comprehensive guide covers how to

• Recognize and diffuse cat-to-cat aggression
• Settle disputes over territory, potty problems and mealtime woesContinue Reading

How to Keep Your Cat from Waking You Up

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Do your cats wake you at the crack of dawn? Are they keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep? As much as we love our feline family members, most of us would prefer to not have that love expressed by a pounce on our chest at 4am.

The first step in changing this behavior is understanding why cats do it. Cats are, by nature, nocturnal animals. They hunt and eat primarily at night. Even though studies have shown that domestic cats adapt their activity cycles to their environment and to human activity, in many cats, this natural instinct still dominates. Add to that that most of our cats are left alone for much of the day and probably spend the bulk of that time sleeping, and it’s no wonder that they become active at night.Continue Reading