RSS Feed

Category Archives: Ask Amy Videos

Furry Friday: Spay & Neuter

Posted on

It has been quite a week–and I’ve gotten snowed under with a number of challenging issues both professional and personal. So today’s post is a bit late because (confession time!) I took the day off and went for a LONG walk with the Magical-Dawg and then took a nap with Seren-Kitty.

June is Adopt-A-Cat Month and all the kittens “littering” shelters need your love and care. But don’t neglect the adults and older felines–or the dogs, either. Today’s “Ask Amy” offer some basics you already know about spaying and neutering pets and here’s more details for fixing puppies.

Are you in the market for a new furry friend? Will you adopt this month? How did you find your special cat friend? How do you feel about adopting “older” pets?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Second Story Cats & Countertop Cruising

Posted on

Seren With Lamp
Cats become pests with their determination to stay above it all. They cruise kitchen countertops, lounge atop doors and leap to refrigerator tops to ambush treats.

The urge to be the top cat seems a universal kitty vice. By understanding why cats scale the heights, cat owners can provide legal outlets that keep both the kitty happy, and out of the owner’s butter dish.

Why Cats Love Heights

Cats come pre-programmed to seek elevated lounging spots. Think about it–a kitty walking on the wild side wants to see enemies (and potential munch-able critters) but remain invisible. A cat quite literally believes she “owns” the space she can see.

Cats also control each other’s interactions—or even the dog’s movements—with pointed stares. This cats-eye-power packs even more punch from an elevated perch, giving the cat ownership and control over even more territory. The cat that commands the highest perch is the high-cat-on-the-totem pole in that particular room.

What’s The Attraction?

Individual cats may have specific preferences for lounge spots. But in general, there are five reasons cats seek a particular place.

  • Height. The taller the perch, the more important the cat.
  • View. Perches near important pathways like windows or stairways offer high kitty value.
  • Warmth. Cats are furry heat-seeking missiles, so the tops of warm TVs or computer monitors, or snuggled under lamps prove irresistible. My cat loves to sleep in the paper well of my printer.
  • Comfort. Lounging requires a soft, comfy surface like the back of chairs.
  • Food. Kitchen counters and stovetops smell yummy or even have snacks within paw reach that keep the cat burglar returning to the scene of the cat crime.

You won’t keep your cat on the ground. Cats tend to avoid low spots with no view, or that are cold and uncomfortable. So give your cat what she wants with irresistible legal perch options and make forbidden spots unattractive.
1-B-Seren&books 1-21-08

Grounding High Rise Cats

Evaluate your cat’s favorite perches, and make your choice better. My cat Seren loves to lounge on top of the piano (height) beneath a lamp (warmth) next to the window (view). To purr-suade her otherwise, we placed a three-tiered cat tree that’s TALLER than the piano and has a softer surface (comfort), still under the lamp beside the piano, and still in front of the window.

  • For your cat household, have at least one cat tree (or acceptable high-value lounge spot) for each cat. Otherwise, they may argue over who gets first dibs.
  • Make the legal lounge taller than the forbidden object, but nearby so the location remains attractive. An empty bookshelf can work, or even an inexpensive ladder. Put a cat bed stocked with kitty treats on the paint rack.
  • Make off-limits spots unattractive. Booby-trap counters so they’re no longer comfy. Double-sided tape products like Sticky Paws applied to placemats can be scattered on forbidden surfaces, for example.
  • Cats hate weird textures, too. Aluminum foil that covers stovetops can keep some cats at bay.
  • For hard case cats, invest in clear plastic carpet runner to line the countertop, dining table or other illegal location. Just place it nub-side up, and kitty will seek a more comfy spot to lounge.
  • You can also set up the SSScat! Product, an aerosol can with a motion detector that hisses air to shoo critters away even when you’re not there.

Choose which battles to fight, because it’s hard to win them all—and you want your cat to like you. Seren-kitty isn’t allowed on the mantel because she plays gravity experiments with fine breakables. But she won the battle of the dining room table where she lounges in a plush cat bed beneath a stained glass lamp. I’ve also trained her to exit the printer when I need it. In families, sometimes you must compromise.

What is your cat’s favorite second-story territory? Do you butt furry heads over the location? Has Kitty won the battle or do you compromise? Here’s an Ask Amy on the subject with tips as well but I’d love to hear from you. Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: False Pregnancy & Zinc Neutering

Posted on

Everyone knows that pets get pregnant if precautions aren’t taken, but did you know they also can suffer false pregnancy? Today’s Ask Amy address this situation, but I’ve got a BONUS VIDEO for you as well.

ZINC NEUTERING

The girls still require spay surgery and in most cases the boys are surgically neutered. But a new procedure that uses injections can neuter your boy dogs with very little muss or fuss. I’ve wanted to interview these folks for some time and we keep missing each other on schedule so hopefully sometime in the future you’ll hear a radio interview.

But in the meantime, check out the awesome video below of the procedure–fellows, I can see you crossing your legs now. Don’t be a weenie, this isn’t an ooky procedure at all and is a great paw-step forward.

At what age did you have your fur-kids neutered? Or have you decided not to sterilize them–could you share why? If it were available, would you elect to go with zinc neutering?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Dog Food Info & How To Stop Gassy Dogs

Posted on

2 pups eating

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks writing about pet food to help pet parents best choose what to put in the bowl. It’s up to owners to do research into what fits your furry wonder’s age and lifestyle. Do you know how many calories dogs need, for instance? The newest article answers questions about calories in dog food.

So I’ve provided a primer on how to read pet food labels. Bet you’ll learn some surprising things about what the label can tell you–and what it doesn’t say.

Do you know how they test the food? Animal testing, you betcha–and Magical-Dawg wants to come back as a food taste tester in their food trials. Read all about the testing here.

Pet food manufacturers can be creative when it comes to following the letter of the law and describing what’s in the food, too. Do you know what constitutes a GOOD food additive? Are there bad ones? Why would they even be in the food? Well, many of them are there not for the dog, but to get those of us with pocket books and thumbs to open the wallet and buy the food. Learn about pet food additives here.

Dogs aren’t the best decision makers, even if they had their own wallets. Heck, there’s a reason that at my house all the toilet lids stay CLOSED, and the waste baskets are set on countertops. Magical-Dawg eats just about anything. That, of course, can lead to (ahem) potent results. In fact, today’s Ask Amy video addresses that very issue.

How do you choose food for your dogs? Have they ever had aromatic emissions of the stinky kind? How did you handle that? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Ask Amy~Why Cats Drool During Petting

Posted on
.

Cats (especially show cats) can learn to tolerate and even appreciate hugs. What does this kitty's body language say? Look at the ears, the whiskers, the eyes...

This week’s Woof Wednesday post on hugging dogs garnered a LOT of attention and started some great discussions both here, at my puppies.about.com site, on Facebook and even in my IAABC email list among the behavior consultants. And it’s true that the “hugging rule” applies to cats, as well. Hugging is not generally considered a cat behavior that expresses affection, even though cats can learn to enjoy this. As others have said, it all depends upon the cat, the owner, and the circumstances (and also, how you define a “hug”).

But that begs the question, what do cats enjoy? And how do you know they like it? What do you do if a cat’s expression of affection or enjoyment doesn’t appeal to you–or even disgusts you?

WHY DOES MY CAT DROOL, EWWW!

How many folks have experienced a drooling, bubble-blowing saliva-spewing kitty? Since they’re much smaller than dogs, the drool factor may not be quite the same level as, say, a St. Bernard. Lovers of drooly dogs invest in drool-resistant attire and regularly hose down walls, furniture, or anything else within drool-flinging range.

I exaggerate, but not by much.

Cats also can turn on the water works. Sometimes that’s a sign of dental issues or sore mouths. While the sight of something tasty can get my Magical-Dog soaking wet with slobber-icity, the same thing rarely seems to happen with cats.  When a cat feels stressed, excessive grooming may be a way he helps calm himself. That could require increased salivation, but I’m not aware of a direct link between drooling and stress.

But some cats salivate when petted. The more they get petted, the greater the drippy flow. I really don’t know why some cats drool and blow bubbles while others don’t. They must simply be wired differently. The mechanism to turn on the water works has to do with the same pleasure triggers that prompt petted cats to knead/tread in satisfaction. Cats’ impulse to knead hearkens back to the sensation they felt when nursing, and eating would trigger salivation. So it’s not a huge jump to attribute salivating and drooling to these same pleasurable sensations. Drooling when petted is one more way cats show us love.

Do your cats drool? What are the circumstances? I’m curious if cats in the same household might “copy cat” behavior and more than one do this or is it primarily an individual issue? What are some other ways your cats show you they LIKE something? What else have I missed in the Ask Amy video below? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Poop-alicious Remedies

Posted on

kitten climbing into litter

When you have pets, shitake happens. (Hey, I figured the word “crappiocca” might have been over-used lately, so…)

One of the most common cat behavior complaints I get has to do with hit-or-miss litter box behavior. And it’s one of the most misunderstood. There are so dang many reasons for Cutey-Cat to snub the litter box and even the felines who are faithful to potty training can get their tails in a twist over “sctuff” and–(ahem)–let their opinion be known.

You can find some of the basics for solving litter box problems in my cats.About.com article on the subject.  And the updated and expanded book ComPETability: Solving Behavior Problems In Your Cat-Dog Household has explanations and step-by-step how-to-solve advice, as well (kewl new cover, too, eh? :))  This week’s Woof Wednesday advice about dogs snacking from litter boxes is covered in the book, with more details of course.

Thanks to one of my fav SweetTweet & bloggicity friends for sending me the Ask Amy question, below. It can be a challenge to offer advice in 3 minutes or less, so I hope the info helps.

So what other advice would y’all offer? Do you have kitties that baptize walls? Dig-dig-dig forever and then “get productive” behind the piano? How do you manage? I’ll be adding two NEW books to the ComPETability series (for cat-to-cat and dog-to-dog behavior problems) so who knows? Your specific comments might make it into the book. Please share!

Gotta run, I have someone calling to interview me about–(wait for it) litter box problems! Like I said, it’s been a week filled with crappiocca.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Big Hairy Deal & Stop Litter Box Snacking

Posted on

On Monday Mentions you saw my Hairball Celebrity Creature, and a number of folks had terrific guesses. Today you can find out just WHO that was supposed to be–featured on PeoplePets.com, a gallery of 9 of the hairy hopefuls are profiled.

To see the whole gallery plus the five finalists, and vote for your choice of winner, click on the logo, above.

In the spirit of Woof Wednesday, but with a nod to the cats, today’s Ask Amy has a cross-species problem to address. Does your dog (urk!) snack from the litter box? Learn why dogs eat dung in this article. How do you keep Poochie away from the poo?

I’m in the process of completely revising my ComPETability book to be even more prescriptive, and some of the tips from the book are presented in the video, below. What are some other ways you handle the problem? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: All Stressed Up–We Can Fix That!

Posted on

.
My cat Seren(dipity) hates visiting the veterinarian. Nothing against the vet, he’s marvelous and is the first practitioner who has managed to give her any semblance of a thorough exam in years! No, my little 6-pound dynamo simply prefers to stay home and in fact many cats are home-bodies that love the status quo and turn into kitty-maniacs at the first sniff of change.

But of course, all cats need veterinary check ups on a routine basis. And since Seren is now 14+ years YOUNG, it’s even more important that she receive regular health checks.

THUNDERSHIRT

A few weeks ago, I learned that Thundershirt (originally designed for thunder/noise-phobic dogs) was available for cats. In fact, the kind folks at the company offered to send me a sample to review. They asked me about my pets, and imagine my surprise when they sent not one sample but FOUR! Yes, they provided me with a small, medium and large Cat Thundershirt, and a GINORMOUS-SIZE Dog Thundershirt for the Magical-Dog (stay tuned for a review of the doggy version).

Now, Seren could care less about thunder, fireworks or other loud noises. She simply runs to the window, hurls cat curses and demands cooperation from the weather. But she DID have her next veterinary visit due and I figured that would be the purr-fect test to see if the claims for stress reduction actually held merit. I knew that similar products like TTouch wraps used gentle pressure that offered a calming influence, and in fact I’ve been using a harness for several years to mimic this effect. The harness also gives the owner something to grab when the kitty wiggles or otherwise tries to escape.

10 YEARS AGO

A little background–about 10 years ago Seren had a dentistry at the vet’s (a different clinic than the current one). She didn’t really have bad teeth but I wanted a thorough check and some baseline blood work. The tests indicated a problem so the doctor also ran a urinalysis that showed she had diabetes.

Huh? Really? This surprised (and scared me!) because the tests indicated full-blown disease and Seren had none of the signs of increased thirst or urination or weight loss. So I contacted a veterinary internist/specialist Dr. Dottie LaFlamme (awesome vet who answered me immediately!) and ended up running a home urine test that said she was normal. It was the STRESS of the vet visit that created a false positive for diabetes.

SEREN’S VET VISIT

Fast forward a decade, and my petite kitty still stresses during vet visits despite the halter. Also, for the past few months I noticed an increase in water intake and urine output. At first, I attributed it to her awesome new CatIt water fountain that she LOVES, and so she drinks more. But…she’s the right age for all sorts of metabolic or other issues to rear ugly-icity such as hyperthyroid disease, kidney failure and (gulp) diabetes. All can be treated and managed, but they just ain’t conducive to a happy situation.

I scheduled an exam, and a week out began introducing Seren to the Thundershirt (small size). All fasteners are with multiple strips of Velcro so are easy to fit the somewhat stretchy material. She already walks readily with either an H-harness or figure-8 harness so I didn’t expect too much of a learning curve. It’s not unusual for cats first fitted with a halter (or Thundershirt) to fall over and act PARALYZED-I CAIN’T MOVE! from the odd feeling.

Seren didn’t object to being fitted with the Thundershirt. She didn’t fall over, and actually stood still during the fitting, but loudly complained (normal for her!). The strap goes around the neck/chest, and the cape-like “shirt” drapes over the back and is wrapped snug around the tummy. But even the small size was a weeeee bit long in the body for my tiny cat, and she did a lot of plantigrade stance (back feet heel-to-floor) unless I scritched her tail area to create that elevator-butt effect. That seemed to convince her that she COULD move while wearing the thing.

Some cats would take longer to acclimate. Seren wore hers for five and then 10-minute stretches a couple of times a day for three or four days. She continued plantigrade stance up until the last day before her vet visit. And while at the vet this past Monday and wearing the Thundershirt, she was far less vocal and hissy than in the past. She even allowed the vet to look in her mouth and ears, and had the check up only required vaccinations and suchlike, it would have been a wonderful success right there.

SEREN’S TEST RESULTS

It’s amazing the noise level a 6.1-pound cat can produced when picked up and carried into the back room by the vet. Wow–wonder if they make a Thundershirt stress reliever in “owner size” category?! In any event, for the third time in her life (once for spay at 4 months of age, once 10 years ago for dental), Seren went to “kitty jail” at the vet for a full blood panel, urinalysis and thyroid function test.

The doctor told me Seren was actually quite good (huh…degrees of good-icity?) once away from “mom.” She was sedated for the blood draw. With her history of stress-induced sugar-spill I was amazed that the urinalysis came back absolutely normal! To me, that indicated some major stress reduction. Was it the Thundershirt? It’s difficult to point to a direct cause-and-effect but certainly, Seren was more willing to be handled during her time at the vet.

Her CBC and other blood panel values came back normal, too, although kidney function was “borderline” indicating she’s close to falling into very early kidney disease. I had to wait for the thyroid tests to come back from Texas A & M. I got the call this afternoon–NORMAL! Wow, my stress levels dropped accordingly.

The take away message, I think, is to pay attention to your pet’s normal behaviors and get a check on anything that seems outside the norm. As it turns out, maybe I could have waited on Seren. Kidneys are amazing organs, though, and compensate so well that by the time you see obvious signs (more drinking, more urination) up to 70% of kidney function is gone. Learn more about cat kidney disease, feline diabetes, and cat hyperthyroidism (and how to treat) in COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT.

Seren will get a new diet, one that takes a bit of the strain off her kidneys to give this 14-years-YOUNG cat as many more happy, healthy years as possible. Because 14 years are not enough. And if stress reduction helps her keep kitty-calm during vet visits, the Thundershirt is an easy and practical, non-invasive option.

I am a fan. And–check out Seren-the-Model in the video, below. FYI, she always talks (from both ends…tail never stops!).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: How To Talk To Dogs

Posted on
Puppy

"Say, what? I don't get it..." Image copr. Lewis Gardner

Once you understand the language of dogs and what your puppy “says” with his barks, wagging tail talk and other body language, you’ll know how to talk to a dog with effective puppy communication. Remember that your puppy is not a mind reader and what’s “normal” behavior for people may be a totally foreign language and offensive to dogs. Instead, you can use “dog talk” to get your message across. Here’s an article with some detailed “do’s and don’ts” about how to talk to your dog.

Are there certain words, phrases or silent signals (hand gesture commands?) that you’ve taught your dog? Did you teach them, or did the dog simply pick them up? Magic understands “car ride” and “Frisbee” and learned on his own, but I taught him hand signals for sit, down and wait. Here’s the first in what I hope will be a series of Ask Amy videos on how to talk to your dog. What else would you like to see?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Ask Amy-Why Cats Suck?

Posted on
Kisulóra

Some baby-cats want a pacifier even after the milk-bar closes. Image copr. MariaMagnus

Now you negative-thinking folks out there, just STOP IT! I’m not talking about anything negative about cats, just that some like to–well–use fuzzies as pacifiers. Dogs do it, too, and I’ve addressed that before in previous Ask Amy videos.

Do your cats suck on toys or other objects? Kittens taken too early from their mom sometimes develop these behaviors and will suck on their own tails or a litter mate’s toes, for example. Others target fabric which may develop into a behavior described as “wool sucking” that seems most common in Oriental-heritage cats (Siamese, Burmese, etc) as a part of pica behavior–eating inedible objects.

The sucking behavior seems to be accompanied by kneading, which makes sense. Kittens knead against the mom-cat’s breasts to stimulate the milk to be released. So in adult cats, the kneading behavior hearkens back to this feeling of safety and well-being, and some cats simply take it a paw-step further and suckle on something at the same time.

Do your cats suck? How do you handle the behavior? Is it a problem for you, or an endearing foible? Does the suck-isity turn you into a better housekeeper to keep woolies out of your cat’s paw-reach?

And for the doggy version:

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!