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Recommendations to Prevent Scratching
By Dr. Karen Burgess
Since cats use their scratching posts for marking and stretching, posts should be set up in prominent areas, with at least one close to the cat’s sleeping quarters. The post should be tall enough for the cat to scratch while standing on hind legs with the forelegs extended and sturdy enough so that it does not topple when scratched. Some cats prefer a scratching post with a corner so that two sides can be scratched at once while other cats may prefer a horizontal scratching post. Commercial posts are often covered with tightly woven material for durability, but many cats prefer a loosely woven material where the claws can hook and tear during scratching. Remember that scratching is also a marking behavior and cats want to leave a visual mark. Carpet may be an acceptable covering but it should be combed first to make certain that there are no tight loops. Some cats prefer sisal, a piece of material from an old chair, or even bare wood for scratching. Be certain to use a material that appeals to your cat.
Every time the pet approaches the post, toss a very small treat to it. When it touches the post, toss a bigger treat, and when it scratches give it several treats. The pet should be within eyesight of a family member at all times. Whenever it starts to scratch furniture, the behavior can be interrupted with a water gun or toss a bean bag tossed near it. The family member shouldn’t say anything or look at the pet when this is done. Anything that is exceptionally startling for the pet or elicits a fear response should be avoided. Whenever the cat can’t be watched (out of the home, busy or sleeping), it should be confined to a room without objects that it will likely scratch except its scratching post. Once it is frequently scratching the post on its own, freedom without supervision can gradually be allowed.
Building a Sisal Wrapped Scratching Post
This scratching post has been cat tested and approved by various felines. If you would rather buy this scratching post already made, SmartCat makes a sisal post called the Ultimate Scratching Post. The reasoning behind this cat post is simple. A post should be as high as your cat is tall when he is fully stretched out plus a few inches. The post should also be wide enough that your cat can sit on top and survey his surroundings. The base should be sturdy enough that the post will not tip over. Once a post tips over on a cat it is very hard to convince a cat to use the post again. The post should be wrapped with sisal rope because cats like something to dig their nails into. (Picture below)
Before beginning, make sure the post is dry so that there will not be any shrinking of the post after the sisal is wrapped on. Wear a pair of work gloves when you wrap the sisal around the post. Nail the beginning of your rope all the way around the top of the post. Then wind the rope around and around and around the post very tightly so that there is no air space between the pieces of rope. When at the bottom, once again nail the end of the rope all the way around the bottom of the post. Next nail the base on to the post, use at least four nails and pound them through the bottom of the plywood base and into the bottom of the post.
Litter Box Information
By Dr. Karen Burgess
Inappropriate elimination, or urinating/defecating outside of the litter box, is one of the primary reasons cats are relinquished to shelters. While a common issue when a cats are faced with stress, anxiety, or pain, inappropriate urination has many causes and thus many potential solutions.
As a human, we flush the toilet after every use. A cat’s sense of smell is more sensitive than ours, so having to walk through a soiled litter box is a less than appealing prospect for naturally clean loving cats. In the wild, felines find a new area to eliminate avoiding this issue. In the home it is then understandable how a small box may become far less appealing than the “open land” found in a living room, closet, or under the bed.
When first faced with a litter box issue, contact your veterinarian to discuss possible medical causes. Cats do not like associating pain with their elimination location so bladder infections, arthritis, or constipation can all contribute to a litter box aversion. Also remember that punishment is never recommended for soiling issues. It does not address the problem and may increase stress making the problem worse.
Top reasons that cats stop using the litter box:
Dirty Litter Box
Litter Box Style/Size
Litter Box Numbers
Litter Box Location
Storage Container Litter Box DIY
By Dr. Karen Burgess
The keys to successful housetraining are consistency and frequency. The goal is training a pet not to eliminate in improper places (inside the house) and to hold their urine and feces until in a proper area (outside). The use of a crate or small confined area can expedite the process as most dogs will not chose to eliminate in the same spot that they sleep. An appropriately sized crate is big enough to allow a dog to stand up, turn around, and lay back down comfortably. Following are some general guidelines for successful “potty training”.
Example potty training schedule:
Crate overnight, carried outside on short leash in morning to designated elimination spot, after 5 minutes if no elimination take back to crate for 15 minutes. If proper elimination occurs, verbal praise and treat, then back inside to start day. Feed, supervised play. After hour or two (may need to go out again after eating) then back outside and then into crate for two to three hour “rest time”. This allows the bladder to be trained to hold urine and the puppy to understand that it is ok to be crated even if people are around. After rest time, take puppy outside and repeat cycle. It is often easiest to have a designated “rest time” in the morning, afternoon, and dinnertime. Always remember to sandwich time in the crate with trips outside (outside, crate, outside).
The first question to answer when a pet is having issues with inappropriate elimination is whether the pet was ever fully housetrained in the first place. Also consider whether they has been a change in schedule, elimination location (more difficult to access), or feeding schedules. In these situations going back to housetraining basics is often enough to get things back on track.
If a pet is having accidents along with other changes in behavior, an underlying medical or behavioral problem may be present. Increased thirst, change of urination or defecation frequency, and change in character of stool or urine (ex. loose stool, blood tinged) may all be signs of an underlying disease. Location of accidents can also be telling as some pets may actually be experiencing incontinence while sleeping whereas urination on vertical surfaces may be marking behavior. Any signs of discomfort associated with urination or defecation are of note and also require examination by a veterinarian.
Elimination associated with specific environmental situations may be indicative of a behavioral issue are not typically purposeful or under the pet’s immediate control. Submissive or excitement urination often occurs when a pet meets new people, is stood or reached over, or is overly excited in a situation. Dogs that have issues with separation anxiety or noise phobia may soil during stressful times. Specific techniques are used to address elimination issues associated with behavioral problems and should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Regardless of cause, a pet that has soiled an area repeatedly should be denied access to this area unless 100% supervised. Ensuring that the area has been completely sanitized and even changing the substrate (ex. removing carpet, placing a mat over area) are also often helpful.
By Dr. Karen Burgess
Before discussing how to clean your pet’s ears, it is first important to understand the basics
Understanding the ear
○ Place cotton balls lightly into the visible vertical canal. They will not get lost!
○ Hold the ear flap (also called the pinna) closed like a resealable bag. Massage the base of the ear for 1 minute.
○ Allow pet to shake head, this will cause the cotton balls, some cleaner, and typically abnormal ear debris to come flying out. The act of shaking and the centripetal force involved are far more effective at cleaning out the ears than any wiping could ever be.
○ Dry outer ear lightly.
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