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Feline Friday: Ask Amy & Kitten Litterbox Training

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"You want me to do WHAT?" (Copr Maria Magnus)

Did you get a kitten for Christmas? Today’s Feline Friday is the kitty version of Woof Wednesday’s dog house training tips. Most cats come pre-programmed to use the potty but you’ll need help if the baby is very young. Felines are great imitators and simply “copy cat” their mother’s behavior when they watch and follow her to the litter box. Most kittens and cats will already know what a litter box is for and how to use it by the time you adopt them.

But if you hand-raise an orphan or adopt a kitten younger than 8 to 10 weeks, you’ll need to do the job of the mother cat. Transitioning outdoor cats to an indoor lifestyle also may mean re-training bathroom etiquette from “going” among the flowers to aiming for the litter box. Check out the Ask Amy video below, and you’ll find more of the basics here.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

Felines are naturally clean creatures and dislike eliminating where they sleep or eat. They also appreciate privacy when (ahem) doing their duty. Build allegiance to the litter box by positioning it correctly, in a low-traffic area away from the cat’s bed and food bowls. Also remember that kittens may not have the physical capacity to “hold it” long enough to run clear across the house or down the stairs. Provide a box on each end of the house, or one per floor.

SIZE MATTERS

A regular size box may be too large for new kittens to climb in and out. A disposable cookie sheet works until he’s bigger. Average size adult cats do well with standard commercial litter pans, but jumbo-size cats (Maine Coon kitties come to mind!) may need larger toilets or risk hanging over the sides when they pose. Translucent plastic storage bins with a cat-size hole cut in one side may be ideal.

FILLER ‘ER UP WITH…WHAT?

A variety of cat box fillers are available, from plain clay to pine pellets and recycled wheat or corn crumbles. The ideal material absorbs moisture, contains waste and odor, and most important of all, suits the cat. Fine textures such as the “clumping” clay litters seem to be the feline favorite. Fill the box an inch or so deep with the filler.

If you’re transitioning an outdoor cat to an indoor box, do a bit of research and follow him to find out his preferred substrate. Dusting a bit of plain garden dirt, or a layer of grass or leaves over top of the commercial litter may help give him the idea of what you have in mind.

TRAINING TO THE BOX

Kittens and cats new to your home won’t know where the box is, even if they do know what it’s for. Place the kitty on top of the clean litter, and scratch around with your fingers to prompt imitation. Even if the cat doesn’t need to “go,” a pristine box often tempts them to dig a bit, which may lead to the first deposit.

When he’s creative in the box, reward your cat with verbal praise, a toy, or even a tasty treat reserved only for training. Don’t pick your new kitty up out of the box. Let him make his own way out of the box and the room, so he’ll better remember how to get back there the next time nature calls.

For tiny kittens, leave one recent deposit in the box after he’s been productive. The scent is a reminder of where the box is, and what he’s supposed to do once he’s there. But remember to keep the box clean or the cat will avoid the dirty toilet and find a better spot—such as under your bed.

CREATE A POTTY SCHEDULE

Until you’re sure the kitty consistently uses the box, make a point of scheduling potty times. Kittens need to eliminate more frequently than adults do. Take the baby for a pit stop after each nap, meal, and play period.

Teaching basic bathroom allegiance from the beginning ensures your kitten gets off on the right paw—and saves your carpet. You’ll find even more of kitten “must knows” in the book Complete Kitten Care.  Have you ever had problems training kittens to “go” in the right spot? How did you manage?

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!

Woof Wednesday: Ask Amy & Puppy House Training

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Page with Christmas present 2011

A Christmas puppy named Page has fun with the gifts. (Copr Esagirl/Flickr)

Did you get a puppy for Christmas? SQUEEEEE! What fun! The joy of watching a baby dog play, and learning all about the little guy can be a special time. But the new baby doesn’t come knowing all the rules of your house. House training is a biggie and can spoil and interrupt the bonding experience for you both. After all, the puppy wants to please you but just can’t help natural urges to squat.

Dogs can be potty trained at any age, but puppies learn much more quickly than adults. Puppies are so cute that owners forgive puppy-size accidents, but adult-size deposits aren’t cute and often lose the grown-up pet his home. I’ve offered a couple of the biggies–most important tips–in the Ask Amy video below. You can use these 8 puppy potty training tips to housebreak puppies and ensure he grows up to be the best friend he’s meant to be.

Have you ever had a potty training challenge? What did you do? What are some other dog bathroom training tips that worked for you? Senior citizen dogs also can have issues with being able to “hold it.” You can find tips for the old doggy incontinence issues in the book Complete Care for Your Aging Dog.

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!

Woof Wednesday: Pet Proof Christmas & Broken Memories

198/365/928 (December 26, 2010) - Peaceable Kingdom at Christmas

Holiday homes become pet playgrounds at this time of year. Cats delight in un-decking the halls and climbing the tree. Dogs eat decorations and baptize the tree. The result is a holiday that’s anything but merry. My latest Paw Nation article addresses some of the most common holiday safety issues for pets with how to pet proof your holiday.

Dogs and especially puppies chew nearly anything, including plants. Cats rarely eat plants, but they do claw them and then lick/groom away the residue. Fireplaces offer extra warmth and atmosphere to holiday gatherings, but can prompt singed whiskers or burned paws.

Gobbling any sort of candy may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. But some food items can actually kill your pet.

Holiday trees pose additional challenges for pet families. Refer to these tips to keep your pets safe and your holiday happy.

If you’re planning to board your dogs over the holidays, I urge you to keep him safe with proper vaccinations for kennel cough. You can learn more here about this highly contagious disease in my latest puppy-licious article here.

The holidays is an awful time of year to run short of funds for pet care. For those wanting to make a big difference in the lives of needy pet owners–and their pets–perhaps you’d like to donate to a Good Samaritan fund for vet care help. Or maybe you need a little extra help this year. Here’s a list of several organizations that will help you with vet bills.

MENDED TEARS

Holidays mean memories and damage to “things” may matter more at this time of year than others. My grandmother always displayed a gorgeous white porcelain nativity each year. That nativity symbolized for me all-good-things about Grandma’s house and Christmas–good food, happy reunions, presents, and love shared by our close-nit family. So when Grandma died, I was blessed to keep her Nativity and continue to display it in my own home.

When Seren-kitty arrived, I was nervous about her rambunctious behavior around the Holy Family. But it wasn’t until a decade later that the worst happened while my husband played his nightly fetch game with the dog–it could have been me, so there’s no blame here. The Magical-Dawg’s ball ricocheted off of the delicate nativity and managed to behead Joseph and lop off Mary’s hand.Sounds funny, right?

I had a melt down. You probably could hear my scream for miles and the sobs lasted days. It wasn’t just china, a THING damaged. It was my personal Christmas, my Grandma, childhood happy times–shattered.

Eventually I stopped crying. There was no question of replacing the pieces–they’re hard to find and besides, it was THAT nativity that meant everything to me. We did find a restoration expert able to give Mary back her hand and replace Joseph’s head right in time for the next Christmas. So this weekend, Grandma’s Nativity once again will add to our personal traditions and holiday happiness.

And the Magical-Dawg’s games of fetch are suspended until after New Year’s, at least inside the house! Hey, it wasn’t the dog’s fault. But it’s up to us humans to protect what’s important to us–not just our pets but our memories.

What do you do to keep your Christmas memories safe from doggy damage? Does the baby-gate-of-despair keep the tree and poochie free from harm? Have you ever “lost your head” over holiday damage?

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!

Feline Friday: 12 Weird Cat Behaviors Explained

Seren's Valentine Rose
Yes, this is a repeat of a previous blog post but I’ve many more followers since it first appeared. And frankly, I’m at deadline on a number of projects so–DO-OVER TIME! Enjoy!

We love them but cat behavior can puzzle and frustrate owners, making us think we have a weird cat. Does your cat eat weird things? Seren-kitty (above) can’t get enough of roses. Some cats act like battering rams, and pummel their special humans with head butts and body rubs. It’s called bunting behavior, and is one way cats communicate with each other, and their humans.

Why do cats pose in a quirky front-end bow with their nether regions raised? I call it elevator butt, although there’s a more polite technical name for the display. And what’s up with presenting his tail to your face? Actually, your cat’s action is a backhanded compliment and kitty-correct.

Cat with bowl
Do your cats cover their–ahem–creative efforts? Not all cats do this, and some try to cover their food bowl. How weird is that? Especially when they seem to prefer eating plastic.
Myster E. Watching TV 016
Does your cat want to phone home? Is kitty jealous of your time with the telephone?  or maybe they want attention when you’re on the computer? This quirky behavior also has a logical explanation. Learn about 12 weird cat behaviors, why cats do them, and how you can learn to live with them – or even enjoy your quirky kitty’s antics.

What are your cats’ foibles? Every cat is different, of course. My Seren-kitty, for instance, adores Philly cream cheese and has learned how to get the Magical-Dawg in trouble. She just “meow-meow-meows” so he comes running, and then her head spins around and she throws a hissy fit and chases the 90-pound lug across the room. How do your cats express their “inner creative kitty?”

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!

Feline Friday: Copy Cat & Socializing Kittens

kitten with blue window

Squeeeeee, kittens!

It’s Black Friday–and the cats don’t care, unless you’re in the market for another feline. Some time ago one of my feline followers ask about kitty copy cat behavior (asked and answered in today’s ASK AMY video, below). And with the holidays off to a purring start, and some folks likely to add to their cat quotient, today’s blog addresses feline socialization.

Persian kittens on chair

Copy cat behavior begins with watching--cats pay exquisite attention to the world around them.

Dog people seem better at this. If you’ve adopted a new puppy, this article offers 10 ways to socialize puppies. But with kittens, the prime socialization period comes much, much earlier–age TWO TO SEVEN WEEKS!

WHAT IS SOCIALIZATION?

To be good pets, all kittens require early-age socialization. That’s a fancy way of describing how they learn to interact with the world around them.

Basket kitten
You can use natural kitten curiosity to teach confidence–a confident kitten is more emotionally healthy than a shrinking-violet-cat.
Nose to Nose cats

"Watch me, Junior, and I'll show you where they hide the tuna."

Cats can be trained (yes, they can!) at any age, and continue to learn throughout their lives. But kittens are furry sponges that absorb lessons, both good and bad, at an incredible pace. This prime kitten socialization period is a narrow window during babyhood when learning the “wrong” lessons can emotionally cripple the cat. For example, kittens not exposed to positive experiences with humans during this period will be wild (feral) critters and never accept people.

Proper socialization teaches a cat how to be a cat, proper feline manners, how to communicate with other felines, and who the cat’s friends and enemies are. Read more about 8 reasons to socialize kittens here. Of course, if you have a new kitten or plan to adopt soon, I’d strongly urge you to prepare by reading my COMPLETE KITTEN CARE book–the pictures in today’s blog are just a few from that book, available in print and/or all Ebook formats.

What about older cats? Can they be socialized? Do kitties copy the behaviors of adult cats? Do yours? What many folks may not realize is that the copied behavior can be either a good one (learning “clicker training” by watching your other pets), or a bad one (figuring out how to swipe turkey from the frig). What are some things YOUR cats have learned from other pets? C’mon, you know you want to share! Do tell!

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!

Woof Wednesday: National Dog Show & Ask Amy Grooming

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and everyone knows what that means–NATIONAL DOG SHOW! The Kennel Club of Philadelphia for the past several years have held this show the weekend before Thanksgiving, and then NBC televised the production after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s become an annual favorite of dog people. And because I’m at the Cat Writers Association Annual Conference during the actual event, I’m pleased to see the show up-close-and-personal courtesy of Purina sponsorship.

My colleague David Frei is a longtime breeder, exhibitor and dog expert/author who co-hosts the show with dog lover, author and actor John O’Hurley. Interestingly, the inspiration for televising the show can from a tongue-in-furry-cheek movie fave of dog people everywhere titled ‘Best In Show.’ The two-hour special offers over 160-plus breeds and crowns a Best in Show champion before football takes over the day.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has sanctioned six new breeds for 2011 and they will be introduced to America in their national television debuts on Thanksgiving Day during the show. Thanks to the National Dog Show, you’ll get a sneak peak, below.

And don’t miss the ASK AMY video at the bottom of the blog with some comments about dog show grooming.

American English Coonhound

AMERICAN ENGLISH COONHOUND

The American English Coonhound evolved from Virginia Hounds, descendants of English Foxhounds. Originally these hounds were used to hunt fox by day and raccoons by night and were named the English Fox and Coonhound. Today’s American English Coonhound is a wide-ranging hunter that possesses tremendous speed and endurance, and excellent voice. A strong and graceful athlete, he needs regular exercise to stay in peak shape. The breed’s hard, protective coat is of medium length and can be red and white ticked, blue and white ticked, tri-colored with ticking, red and white, and white and black. The breed is pleasant, alert, confident and sociable with both humans and dogs.

Search on Facebook:  American English Coonhound Association

Cesky Terrier

CESKY TERRIER

The Cesky Terrier was developed to be a well-muscled, short legged and well-pigmented hunting terrier that could be worked in packs. The Cesky Terrier has natural drop ears and a natural tail. The Cesky is longer than it is tall and has a topline that rises slightly higher over the loin and rump. It sports a soft, long, silky coat in shades of gray from Charcoal to Platinum. The correct coat is clipped to emphasize a slim impression. The hallmarks of the breed should be unique unto itself with a lean body and graceful movement. They are reserved towards strangers, loyal to their owners, but ever keen and alert during the hunt.

Entlebucher Mountain Dog

ENTLEBUCHER MOUNTAIN DOG 

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a native of Switzerland, and the smallest of the four Swiss breeds.  A medium-sized drover, he has a short, tri-colored coat with symmetrical markings. Purpose and heritage have resulted in an unusually intense bonding between the Entlebucher and his master.  Prized for his work ethic and ease of training, he can transform from a high-spirited playmate to a serious, self-assured dog of commanding presence. The Entlebucher should not be considered a breed for the casual owner. The guardian traits of this breed require thorough socialization, and he will remain an active, energetic dog for his entire lifetime.

Finnish Lapphund

FINNISH LAPPHUND

The Finnish Lapphund is a reindeer herding dog from the northern parts of Scandinavia.  The breed is thought to have existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, as the helper dog of the native tribes.  In modern day, Lapphunds are popular as family pets in their native Finland.  They are devoted to their family, friendly with all people, highly intelligent and eager to learn.  The dogs have a thick, dense coat that comes in a variety of colors and beautiful, soft, expressive faces.  They are strong but very agile.

Norwegian Lundehund

NORWEGIAN LUNDEHUND

The Norwegian Lundehund – or Puffin Dog — spent centuries on the rocky cliffs and high fields of arctic Norway hunting and retrieving puffin birds, an important meat and feather crop to local farmers. Uniquely equipped for their task, this little Spitz-type dog has at least six toes on each foot for stability in the near vertical environs where puffins nest. A flexible skeletal structure enables the dog to squirm out of tight spots or spread-eagle to prevent slips and falls. Lundehunds have a protective double coat, reddish-brown, often with white collar and feet and a white tip on the tail. Today puffin birds are protected and the puffin dog has taken up its new role as an alert, cheerful and somewhat mischievous companion.

Xoloitzcuintli

XOLOITZCUINTLI (show-low-itz-quint-lee)

The Xoloitzcuintli – “show-low” as it is commonly called – is the national dog of Mexico.  Previously known as the Mexican Hairless, it comes in three sizes as well as a coated version – seen in the show ring only in the US and Canada.  These dogs descend from hairless dogs prized by the Aztecs and revered as guardians of the dead.  Over 400 years later, these dogs were still to be found in the Mexican jungles.  Shaped by the environment rather than by man, their keen intelligence, trainability and natural cleanliness have made them a unique and valued pet today.

BIG HAIRY DEAL & MOVING TOPIARY?

So what’s up with all the special grooming that show dogs endure–or do they like it? What do YOU think? Do you share your life with a show dog, or maybe a hunting companion? How do you handle their coat care? Does your Cock-a-dach-a-poo get a Poodle cut? Or does the Lab prefer a regular hosing off?

Do you have a show dog? Have you ever attended a dog show–you gotta do it! The best dog of all, of course, paws down–whether they have ribbons or not–is the canine companion who shares your heart.

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!

Feline Friday: Cat Baths–Are you INSANE?!

.

Persian show cats get bathed a LOT!

Tomorrow I get to attend the Westchester Annual Cat Show and schmooze with AMAZING pedigree kitties plus rescue felines needing homes. SQUEEE! The intro of kittens playing in the Ask Amy (below) comes from video taken at last year’s event. And the question for today’s Ask Amy seems quite relevant–cat baths–since show cats get dunked on a routine basis.

Why Bathe Cats?

Lick-and-a-promise Mom-cats who allow themselves to get dingy offer a poor role model and their kittens also will be less fastidious. Illness, poor grooming habits, parasite infestation, or simply getting themselves dingy may require more help than a brush can handle–as with the poor rescue kitty in the video. A bath stimulates the skin and removes excess oil, dander, and shed hair. But bathing too often can dry the skin. As a good rule of “paw” bathe shorthaired cats no oftener than every six weeks; two to three times a year during shedding season should suffice unless Kitty gets really grubby, or is a show cat. Longhaired cats benefit from more frequent baths, and felines appearing in shows learn as kittens to accept baths.

Should you decide to take the plunge–pun intended–your cat should be thoroughly brushed and/or combed ahead of time. All mats must be removed before bathing, because water will just cement mats in place. Be sure to clip claws as well or risk having your clothes and skin shredded as Sheba tries to escape. In fact, to keep your reluctant kitty from figuring out the score and disappearing, perform the brushing routine and claw clipping the day before.

The bath area should be warm and draft free. The bathtub will do, but your knees will thank you for using a waist-high sink. Move all breakables out of reach, and push drapes or shower curtains out of the way or they may spook your cat and end up shredded. For routine cleaning, you only need a simple grooming shampoo labeled specifically for cats. Human baby shampoo or dog products can be too harsh and dry the skin or in some cases prove toxic.

Assemble your shampoo, several towels, and washcloth near the sink or tub, and run warm water (about 102 degrees, or cat body temperature) before you bring in the cat. Some cats like the Turkish Van actually enjoy water, but no cat wants to be forced to do something. Don’t torture Sheba and make her watch your preparations. Instead, save bath time as a (hopefully) pleasant surprise.

Dunking is less stressful than the sprayer.

Cats hate the insecure footing of the slippery surfaces so place a towel or rubber mat in the bottom of your tub or sink. That does wonders for cat confidence and often reduces yowls and struggles by half. Or, try standing the cat on a plastic milk crate, which gives him something to clutch with his paws, while allowing you to rinse him on top and underneath without turning him upside down.

Wear old clothes. Expect to get wet. Seren clutches my shirt, pressing her face to me as I wet and soap the rest of her. She makes sure I get as wet as she does. Also, close the door to the bathing area, or you risk having a soapy cat escape and leave suds and a wet cat print trail throughout your spanking-clean house.

For small cats or kittens, the bucket method of bathing often works best. Use the double sink in the kitchen, two or more large roasting pans, or a couple of buckets or wastebaskets set in the bathtub. Fill each with warm water, then gently lower your cat (one hand supporting her bottom, the other beneath the chest) into the first container to get her wet.

Cruel and unusual punishment?

Don’t dunk Sheba’s face or splash water on her; that’s what gets cats upset. Let your kitty stand on her hind legs and clutch the edge of the container as you thoroughly wet the fur. Then lift her out onto one of your towels, and apply the shampoo, using the washcloth to clean her face. After lathering, dip the cat back into the first container to rinse. Get as much soap off as possible before removing and sluice off excess water before rinsing in subsequent containers of clean water.

Adult cats may object to being dunked, and running water can be scary. Instead, you can use a ladle to dip water. If you have a spray nozzle from the sink, use a low force, with the nozzle close to the fur so kitty doesn’t see the spray. Use the washrag to wet, soap and rinse the face area. Keep one hand on the cat at all times to prevent escapes. Rinse beginning at the neck and down Sheba’s back; don’t neglect beneath the tail or tummy. When the water finally runs clear and you know she’s clean, rinse once more just to be sure. Don’t forget to remove the cotton from the cat’s ears.

Don't let the cat catch a chill!

Wrap the squeaky-clean cat in a dry towel. Shorthaired cats dry quickly, but longhaired felines may need two or more towels to blot away most of the water. If your cat tolerates or enjoys the blow dryer, use only the lowest setting to avoid burning the cat. Combing long fur as you blow dry will give “oomph” to the longhaired coat.

Do you bathe your cats? What does he think of it? What are some tips for keeping the blood-letting to a minimum (yours, not the cats!).

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!

Feline Friday: Screen Scratching Maniac

Cats claw. They’re just wired that way. And they’ll find all kinds of unique targets if they don’t feel satisfied with the usual fare.

Today’s blog has two Ask Amy videos, both with advice and information about your kitty claw-maniacs. How have you managed your cat “nailing” your valuables? I’m fortunate that Seren-kitty hasn’t done too much damage, although in her younger days she used my pant legs as moveable scratch objects. Of course, she’s now a senior citizen kitty.

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!

Woof Wednesday: What Is Old & Fetching Fools

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Old dogs, old friends--extra care is WORTH it!

What is considered “old?” There are individual differences between pets, just as there are for people. While one person may act, look and feel “old” at fifty-five, another fifty-five-year-old remains active with a youthful attitude and appearance.

Aging is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and health care over a lifetime. The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived for twenty-nine years and five months.

A good definition of old age for an animal is the last 25 percent of her life. However, we can’t accurately predict what an individual pet’s life span will be, so pinpointing when old age begins is tough. Ask the breeder about the life span of your pet’s parents and grandparents. That’s a good predictor of how long you could expect your cat or dog to live. Mixed-ancestry pets are more difficult to predict, but you can make a few generalities.

affenpinscher

Little guys age more gracefully than giant breeds.

Extended Lifespan

In the past fifty years, the average life span of small dogs has tripled. They used to live to be only six or seven years old, but today it’s not unusual for your Chihuahua to live into late teens or early twenties. With an average potential life span of fifteen to seventeen years, onset of old age—when a little dog becomes “senior”—would be about age eleven to thirteen.

Even large-breed dogs, which age more quickly, commonly reach ten to thirteen years of age—double the life span of the past few decades. They would therefore be considered old starting at about seven years.

Giant breed dogs (those weighing over eight pounds or so) tend to age earlier than smaller pets. Great Danes, for example, are considered “senior” at age five, and typically live only seven to nine years. There are exceptions, of course, with some very large dogs living healthy, happy lives well into their teens.

Viszla

Sniffing ability is maintained longer than eyesight or hearing--use it!

Youthful Doggedness?

So you have an old fogey doggy–how do you keep him youthful? What happens when that go-go-go puppy attitude turns into a yen for snoozing the day away? Dogs can become frustrated when their youthful abilities fade away and they’re no longer able to leap tall buildings–or onto sofas–with a single bound, or chase the Frisbee and catch it without effort.

I have one word for you: ACCOMMODATION.

Enrich the dog’s environment and make accommodations for his new skill set. Agility dogs can still perform all those tricks of fetch and vault, just lower the bar a bit. For blind dogs, put a bell inside the ball or scent with liverwurst so his nose knows where to find it.

Today’s Ask Amy strikes close to home because my Magical-Dawg is a fetching fool. Currently he’s in his prime and has no problem chasing and leaping until  his tongue drags the ground. But since this is Magic’s all-time-favorite-of-them-all (excluding car rides!), I know that FETCH will be a game that helps keep him young even when he’s an old fogey.

Do you have a fetching fool? What about your old dogs–what games do they love? Have you made accommodations for their aging abilities? Please share!

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!

Feline Friday: Ask Amy & Old Loudmouth Kitties

Cappy

Cappy enjoys a sunbath. (Copr. Sanskrtlady/Flickr)

My Seren-kitty has never been a touchy-feely lap snuggler. She’d rather find a puddle of sunlight (like Cappy-Kitty in the picture) for her heat treatment. It wasn’t until she became a senior citizen cat that Seren deigned to snooze on a human, and with the cooler weather that arrived overnight, she’s demanding more lap time these days. I don’t mind, it’s nice to have a furry hot water bottle to keep me warm.

As promised for National Adopt A Senior Pet Month, today’s topic focuses on some old-cat issues. A biggie is litter box issues. I’m fortunate that Seren has never had a problem maintaining her potty duty–despite the harrowing scary noise a week or so ago during the lightening storm that zapped our alarm system.

7-11 seren big litterbox

Seren has a very large but shallow box to do her duty.

Older cats also may lose some litter box allegiance after a lifetime of being faithful. “Going” outside the litter box is the top cat-behavior complaint of cat owners. Litter-box problems lose cats their homes and lives. But cats use urine and feces to “talk” to owners, even if humans misunderstand the stinky message. Cats have logical reasons for inappropriate behavior. Understanding the reasons they snub the box often reveals easy fixes that will keep your cat’s aim on target. It can happen with any age cat so for those with felines younger than “fogey-icity” here are five common reasons cats miss the box, and how to improve their aim.  And when you’ve got an old fogey cat, here are 7 tips for solving old-cat litter box problems.

Actually, potty duty is a way for cats to communicate. They don’t rely on yowls alone. (Hey how was THAT for a segue?!) Seren always wants to have the last word. She’s always been a vocal feline. After all, she IS a Siamese wannabe. But I’ve noticed just in the past several weeks she’s become even more of a loud-mouth. Hmnnn. She’ll be 15 years young in February.

Are your cats chatter-boxes or the strong, silent types? But the older your cat becomes, chances are he’ll also become more vocal. That can be a result of hearing loss–say WHAT?!  The yowls have other causes, too–especially for our golden oldie cats. The Ask Amy video mentions a couple of these issues.

What do you do about your adult cat-erwauling? Did a vet visit take care of the problem? Or are you still losing sleep? Hint: Ear plugs are your friend! What else can you add to the Ask Amy video advice? And yes, I’ve run this Ask Amy video before…need to create some more so feel free to suggest topics in the comments.

SPECIAL THANKS

This post marks my 250th blog post since moving over to WordPress! Wow. And this month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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!