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Feline Friday: Second Story Cats & Countertop Cruising

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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: Dog Food Info & How To Stop Gassy Dogs

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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

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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

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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

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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!

Woof Wednesday: How To Talk To Dogs

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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 Is My Dog A Licking Maniac?

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Sebastion and Mabel

Sometimes licking goes a wee bit overboard! This is Sebastion and Mabel (thanks to Copr. Esagirl for sharing!)

Dogs lick for all kinds of reasons. We like to think of those slurpy tongue-swipes as canine kisses, and certainly they can be a way for your pet to show affection. In puppies, licking can be a way to show deference to an older dog and even adult dogs may use licks to show respect to their people. It may even be a way for dogs to show their love.

Dogs also use lip licking as an appeasement gesture. These are signals that other dogs  interpret, “I mean no threat.”You may catch your dog lip-licking when he feels stressed in a strange environment at the vet, for example.

Licking also is used to self-groom, but that can get out of hand when a dog lick-lick-licks a sore such as a hot spot. Other times, dogs just lick out of boredom when it becomes a habit or they’re rewarded in some way for the behavior.

Magical-Dawg loves to lick my hands after I’ve used lotion. Or when I’ve eaten (by hand) KFC or something similar. I’ve also heard reports of dogs who lick-lick-licked a particular spot on the owner that–once examined by a human doc–turned out to be cancer! While licking has many potential reasons, from serious to innocuous, it shouldn’t be shrugged off, either.

Today’s Ask Amy describes yet another licking issue. Yes, dogs can have OCD problems. Have you ever had a dog who displayed obsessive-compulsive behaviors? Magical-Dawg is pretty obsessive about his Frisbee (he has a 6-Frisbee-A-Day habit). That’s the way I keep Magic happy–how do you know your dog is happy? How would you deal with a dog that licks everything all the time?

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-Why Cats Hate Cars

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"Nice bed...as long as it doesn't move, Mom..."

I’ve blogged about traveling with pets before. Chances are, you won’t have to worry about cat plane travel with your kitty-kids, but every pet must at least visit the veterinarian for well pet exams.  My Seren-kitty is due a vet visit this month, too, and she’ll be wearing her brand-new cat-designed Thundershirt to see if that helps calm her down (stay tuned for a review!).

P1010012

A halter and leash gives you something to grasp, other than slinky-kitty.

Kitty crate training goes a long way toward helping cats feel more comfortable about the car ride. But to date, I’ve found a number of things help keep my cat calm for the ride. I sit in the back seat with her while my husband drives to the clinic. Should we have a fender bender, the airbag from the front could crush a pet, so the fur-kids always ALWAYS stay in the back.

Meanwhile, Seren wears a halter and leash. The snug fit of the halter uses the same principle as the TTouch body wraps, which I suspect are what prompted products like Anxiety Wrap for dogs and the Thundershirt. I like having her secured with a halter, though, for something to grasp if she gets wiggly, even though she stays in her carrier.

By scheduling appointments so dogs (spit!) aren’t around when we enter the clinic, and so she’s seen immediately, Seren has less time to angst. I’ll also admit that part of choosing this clinic was they’re less than a 10 minute drive away–again, less time for the kitty to get wound up on the ride. It’s awesome, though, that our veterinarian not only takes great care of the Magical-Dawg but also has managed to get a hands-on full exam of my 7-pound devil-kitty without blood-letting.

Do your cats tolerate, love or hate the car? How do you manage the trip? Please share your tips! The Ask Amy video answers the question, but what else would you add? For those of you with kittens, now is a GREAT time to teach car-etiquette to prepare for the adult feline life (kittens tend to be clueless about such things!). You’ll find crate training tips in Complete Kitten Care.

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–Why Do Dogs Love Underwear?

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You asked, and I delivered– finally I’ve recorded more Ask Amy videos, and this new one is a doozy. For all the cat folks out there, I’ve previously written about why cats (and dogs) follow us to the bathroom so the answer has something to do with the same issues.

My Magical-Dawg loves socks. Not clean ones, he wants those my husband has worn all day, and hordes and stockpiles them so I must go on a sock-hunt each laundry day. The underwear love affair (hey that rhymes! could be a future lyric, hmnnnn) has to do with smells as well.

In keeping with the theme of underwear day, y’all might want to check out Kristen Lamb’s Pants Of Shame, or take a look at Jenny Hansen’s Undie Chronicles. WARNING! do not read while sipping beverage. Now consider how your dogs feel about those sorts of (ahem) undie indulgences.

So do your dogs love underwear? How do you manage to defend from furry marauders? What is your answer to the dilemma, below? Do tell…I mean really, please, DO TELL!

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!