|Cat Declawing||Cats As Indoor Pets||Solving Litterbox Problems|
|Two Cats Are Easier Than One!||From Hissing to Kissing|
What is declawing?
- Declawing is AMPUTATION to the first digit.
- Declawing requires multiple amputations comparable to the removal of human fingertips at the first knuckle. See http://declaw.lisaviolet.com/declawpics.html for dramatic images of the surgery. Sensory and motor nerves are cut, damaged, and destroyed. Recovery from the surgery is a slow and painful process. This procedure can hamper the sensations and enjoyment involved in walking, running, springing, climbing, and stretching.
Declawing can cause TWO MAJOR SIDE EFFECTS
- Aggression. The cat has lost its main self-defense and may turn aggressive to compensate. Your sweet cat’s personality may be changed forever.
- Litterbox aversion. After declawing, some cats cannot dig in litter, or find it uncomfortable to do so. These cats may start urinating inappropriately around the house.
What do vets say about declawing?
- “Declawing is an inhumane, unnecessary procedure that has many alternatives. It is never in the cat’s best interest. With declawing, we are interfering with a species’ nature because of our own whims, misconceptions, misinformation, and sometimes, laziness.” Neil Wolff, D.V.M.
- “Declawing fits the dictionary definition of mutilation to a tee. Words such as deform, disfigure, disjoint and dismember all apply to this surgery in veterinary medicine; the clinical procedure serves as a model of severe pain for the testing of analgesic drugs.” Dr. Nicholas Dodman, author of The Cat Who Cried for Help, and director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Legal Perspective on Declawing
- While declawing is a popular and lucrative practice in the United States, it is not practiced in European countries. It is, in fact, against the law, in many countries including England, Germany, and Switzerland.
Declawing doesn’t solve problems.
- Cat owners who elect to have their cats’ paws declawed generally do so with the belief that they will never have to deal with fabric damage due to destructive scratching problems. However, paw sensitivity resulting from the declaw operation may result in litterbox avoidance and urine-soaked furnishings or carpeting.
- Without its #1 defense system, many declawed cats resort to nipping or biting with very little warning. They often use oral means to express their insecurity and this may also result in destructive chewing problems.
- Cats, like people, react differently to physical handicaps. Some appear to be unaffected and others become nervous and defensive. When a dramatic temperament or behavior change occurs, the cat owner often decides to take the cat to a pound or shelter or have it euthanized by a veterinarian.
Let your cat live with his claws!
- Destructive scratching problems are 100% correctable. Providing the cat with suitable scratching targets to satisfy this instinctive behavior and encouraging appropriate behavior is generally all that is required!
- Train your cat with “Sticky Paws” products on furniture.
- Provide scratching posts.
- A favorite scratching post is the Cosmic Catnip Alpine Scratcher, an inclined cardboard scratching post that is inexpensive and loved by most cats.
- Try “Soft Paws” products on your cat’s nails.
- Routinely trim your cat’s nails. If you are not sure how to do this, ask your vet or a vet technician to show you. It’s easy!
Cats As Indoor Pets: Please Keep Cats Inside
Cats are domestic animals and have been so for over 6,000 years.
Although often described as “independent,” cats depend on humans to protect and provide for them. Cats cannot fend for themselves any better than small children can. You would not let a child wander free, so please don’t let your cats outside either.
What are common threats to outdoor cats?
- Traffic: Most cats allowed to go outside will eventually die from being hit by cars. It is a myth that cats are “streetwise” about cars. Cats are intelligent and alert, but they stand very little chance against fast-moving vehicles.
- Your Local Animal Control: Most municipalities have animal control departments that routinely set traps to catch free roaming cats, whether stray, owned or feral. They are not doing this to be intentionally cruel, but because it is their job as prescribed by the local government. However, These cats are then brought to the local animal shelters or pounds. Many of these cats are free-roaming pets, not just strays or ferals. Only a fraction of these pet cats trapped by animal control will ever be reclaimed by their owners. The vast majority of these pet cats will die in pounds and shelters.
- Outdoor Disease: The worst feline diseases can be prevented by keeping your cat indoors only!
- Rabies and other zoonotic (animal to people transmission) diseases. Rabies is fatal.
- Feline Leukemia, (cat to cat transmission): the vaccine is not 100% effective, and can be carcinogenic to some cats as well. An indoor-only cat does not have to be vaccinated for FeLV. FeLV is fatal.
- FIV, (cat to cat transmission): The feline immunodeficiency virus caught from other outside cats. Similar to human AIDS. FIV is fatal.
- FIP, (cat to cat transmission): feline infectious peritonitis– no reliable vaccine is available. FIP is fatal.
- Parasites: Outside cats are at risk of contracting fleas, ticks, intestinal protozoa, scabies, ear mites and other parasites.
- Poisoning: Unintentional or Intentional poisoning of cats.
- Other animals: Cats, dogs, and wildlife are potential enemies of cats and often engage in fights that leave a cat injured. Outdoor cats can be killed, or can suffer torn ears, cut eyes, abscesses, and other injuries requiring expensive veterinary treatment.
- Cruel People: There are horror stories about cats that come in tarred and feathered, burned, or tortured in some other way by cruel kids or disturbed adults.
- Traps: The HSUS speculates that over 100,000 cats are caught in traps, such as the steel jaw leghold trap, each year. Those who aren’t killed may suffer for days before being released and often lose limbs from the injuries.
Solving Litterbox Problems In Cats
House soiling is one of the most common behavior problems in cats. It is normal for cats to have surface and location preferences for where and on what they like to eliminate. With careful analysis of the cat’s environment, specific factors can usually be identified which have contributed to the litterbox problem.
What To Do?
- Immediately take the cat to the vet.
- There may be a serious underlying problem such as Feline Urinary Syndrome (FUS), which can be fatal in male cats within 24 hrs if left untreated.
- Low quality cat food can cause urinary tract problems. The high mineral content causes “struvite” crystals to form in the urethra, which results in extremely painful urination. Some litterbox problems mean the cat is trying to “tell” his people that he is hurting. These struvite crystals can completely block the urethra making urination impossible. If this happens, a male cat can die within 24 hours of toxic uremia.
- If you cat is given a clean bill of health by your veterinarian, the next step is to determine whether your cat is spraying or urinating outside the box. Spraying is urine-marking behavior, and is a cat’s way of indicating ownership of her territory. Marking is triggered by the presence of other cats. It can occur because neighborhood cats are “hanging around” outside, or because of conflicts between cats in a multi-cat household. Unfamiliar objects, smells, or people in the house can also cause the behavior.
- Spraying has nothing to do with litterbox habits. When a cats sprays, she stands up, backs up against a vertical surface and deposits urine at “cat height” against curtains, doors, walls, furniture, etc. Her tail may quiver and she may alternatively lift her hind feet while she sprays. Male, female, spayed or neutered cats of any age may spray, although the behavior is more common in intact males.
- Spraying problems can be drastically reduced or even completely resolved by:
- Spaying or neutering any unaltered cats in the household.
- Discouraging the presence of neighborhood cats. Try blocking off windows where your cat can see neighborhood cats. Discourage their presence with offensive odors.
- Resolving conflicts between cats in the household. If family cats are fighting or upset with each other, you’ll need to help them get along better. Make sure good things happen to each of them in the presence of the other. Punishing the cats is likely to make the problem worse. You may need to separate them temporarily while working on the problem. Talking to your veterinarian about possible short-term anti-anxiety drug therapy.
- Make the sprayed areas less attractive using techniques described below.
- Elimination problems: If you are finding puddles or feces on the floor, then your cat is choosing not to eliminate in the litterbox. The most common reasons why cats stop using the litterbox are an aversion to the box, surface preferences, location preferences, or a combination of all three. You’ll need to do some detective work to determine the reason for your cat’s change in behavior.
- Your cat has decided that the litterbox is an unpleasant place to be. The box may not be clean enough for her, she may have experienced painful urination or defecation in the box, she may have been startled by a noise while using the box.
- Solution: May require you to completely replace the litterbox so it no longer reminds your cat of unpleasant experiences. You may need to buy a new box, put it in a new location and use a different type of litter. Remember to keep the box clean – scoop out stools and urine every day, and wash the box and completely change litter anywhere from every three days to once a week.
- Change in your cat’s preferences for where they like to eliminate. These preferences may be established early in life, but they may also change overnight for reasons that we don’t always understand. If your cat often reaches out and scratches the carpet after she uses the box, she may come to prefer to use carpet instead of the litterbox. Many cats seem to develop a preference for either soft surfaces such as piles of clothes or the bed, while others may prefer slick surfaces such as the bathtub or the kitchen sink. Cats with an outdoor history may prefer dirt or grass.
- Solution: The material in the litterbox needs to be made more like the textures your cat prefers for elimination, and the places she’s soiling need to be made less attractive. For example for a soft-surface preference, try the new fine- grained, clumping litters. If your cat has been using the bathtub, give her a slick surface in the litterbox by placing very little, if any, litter in the box. If your indoor-only cat has been an outside stray before adoption, try generic potting soil in the box.
- Change in your cat’s location for elimination: Maybe her preference is for a quiet, protected place such as under a desk, downstairs, or in the closet. She may like to go in a location where the litterbox was previously kept, or maybe where a particular odor is located.
- Solution: Move the box to the preferred location, leaving it there until your cat uses it consistently for several weeks, and then VERY GRADUALLY (one or two inches per day) moving it back to where you want it to be. If your cat does not use the box when you move it, then it is not a location preference problem.
- Clean soiled areas
- Feline Odor Neutralizer (F.O.N. is sold only through veterinarians).
- Nature’s Miracle and Simple Solutions (available at most good pet supply stores) also work well.
- Make the soiled surfaces less attractive by covering them with double-sided sticky tape, plastic, or a vinyl carpet runner with the point side up.
- Give the areas an unpleasant smell by placing cotton balls saturated with muscle rubs or strong perfumes.
- Give your cat something else to do in these areas (rather than eliminate) by placing toys or food dishes there.
Two Cats Are Easier Than One!
Most people who adopt one cat eventually adopt a second cat to keep the cat company! That’s because two cats are definitely easier than one. Read on to find out why…
- Cats who have a playmate tend to be more socially well-adjusted and avoid behavior problems like shyness, biting, hissing, being frightened and hiding in the company of people they don’t know.
- They are less likely to ruin furniture out of boredom.
- If you must work long hours or travel for a couple of days, two or more cats keep each other company and are more tranquil during your absence.
- It’s more likely that people bring back an adopted cat due to behavior problems when only one has been adopted rather than two.
- By having two or more cats, you are able to enjoy the true social nature of cats and their relationship with each other.
- Your cat will remain more playful and youthful into his/her later years with a companion.
- Cats are much less likely to gain weight due to lack of movement, and to suffer related illnesses.
- The workload to care for two cats remains relatively the same.
- You don’t need more space for a second cat!
FROM HISSING TO KISSING: Introducing a new cat to your household
Have you ever considered adopting a second cat, but were afraid your old cat wouldn’t accept him? Perhaps you are concerned about them hissing and fighting.
Having fostered cats for a long time, I’ve learned to speak fluent “Cat.” If you don’t speak fluent Cat, you may not understand what is happening when you bring a new kitty into your household. People become overly alarmed and scared by the “verbal” exchange between old and new kitties. Usually the people are more upset than the cats!
Don’t give up. And absolutely don’t return the cat.
Here’s a quick lesson in what all the fuss is about:
Hissing is normal. This is cat language for “Who are you?”, “I’m the boss”, “Don’t pick on me” and “This is my territory—what are you doing here?”
Usually most of the hissing starts from the old kitty. The new kitty often seems to be ignoring it at first. The old kitty then may resort to “growling.” People get scared by this sound, because perhaps they have never heard a cat growl before. Don’t be dismayed by this. It’s just old kitty trying to get new kitty to “Take me seriously!”
Hissing will not keep your cats from becoming friends. I’ve seen the worst caterwauling “enemies” turn into inseparable buddies who sleep and groom each other after two weeks.
To make the transition easier for everyone (people, old kitty and new kitty), there are a few easy steps to follow.
First of all, put yourself in new kitty’s place: an unfamiliar house with people and kitties he’s never met before. He doesn’t know what’s happening. Imagine how scared he must be! It’s up to you to reassure him that he’s safe.
Start by putting new kitty in his own room apart from the rest of the household for a couple of days. It can be a bedroom, bathroom, or any room where he can feel safe. Set him up with water, food, a comfy bed and litter box.
Let new and old kitty sniff each other through the door. Scent is ultra important in getting the two acclimated to each other. When you feel things are calm enough, crack the door to let them get a peek at each other.
Do this a few times. If things are going pretty well, you can let them out together in a supervised area. They will probably hiss and spit at each other. Fake fighting (pawing the air) is normal too. Don’t be alarmed by any of this. This is just what cats do!
However, if you see any signs of true bodily harm, separate them again right away. Even if things go peaceably, put the new kitty back in his space after a little while. Repeat the whole process a few times, and it will get better and better until you can leave them out together unsupervised.
Meanwhile, provide a lot of love and snuggle time for each kitty. Let each know he is safe and secure. Old kitty just wants reassurance that he is still a loved part of the household. New kitty needs to know he is wanted.
Once they are used to each other, they will like having another cat around. It makes life a lot more interesting, as cats are curious and get bored if they are alone. It also makes things so much better for their humans: you don’t have to feel guilty when you go on vacation or when you’re at work all day because your kitty won’t be lonely.
Please consider adding a second kitty to your household. There are so many benefits: you are saving a life, adding a loving family member to your home, and introducing your current cat to a new friend. It’s all good!
~ Audie Schechter, 2002