You know how some people say that cats can’t be trained? Well, I've gotta tell you - those people have got it all wrong. In fact, cats have got the whole training concept down - they are masters in the art of training! Think about it – they’ve already got YOU trained to respond to their every whim – they meow, you give them food. They jump on your lap, they get pets. They know just how to get what they want from you, because they know that you are motivated by their reward: a little bit of their precious attention! You have been trained to respond to your cat’s demands. You have been positively reinforced by your cats to do good things for them because they reward you with their affection, so you do those things again, and again, and again. But guess what? They've taught us a valuable lesson. We can turn the tables on them, and you can learn how to use positive reinforcement for good cat behavior. We've caught on to your game, felines, and now it's our turn!
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I just read an interesting article by Kristin Buller called "3 Ways Owners are Impacted by Pets with Behavior Problems". Kristin is a licensed clinical social worker and provides veterinary social services to people who care for pets with behavior problems. In a research project she's conducting, preliminary results indicate that there are three areas of impact for people who are dealing with their pet's behavior problems.
No matter what type of cat you have or what her personality is like, mutual trust in each other must be learned so that you can both enjoy a happy, healthy, relationship. Whether your cat is shy or fearful, bold or aggressive, there are things you should do to foster her confidence and faith in you. It's much easier to build your cat's trust from the get-go then to try to re-build it after you've broken it; however, cats are often forgiving creatures and they don't hold grudges (and they never act out of revenge or spite - cat's just don't think that way). With time, you can improve (or repair) the relationship with your cat to one of comfort, ease, and predictability. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to build your cat's trust.
Your cat is doing something – anything, really – that you would like to change. Whether it’s not using the litterbox, being aggressive with another cat in the home, or simply jumping up on the counters where you prepare food, you wish that this behavior would stop! The good news is that you can change your cat’s behavior. But because cats respond to their environment and those within it, they are not going to change their behavior on their own. The fact is, the only way to change your cat’s behavior is to change YOUR behavior.
Sometimes when you pet your cat she seems to enjoy the affection – she purrs, she stretches, maybe even gives a contented little meow. But in an instant, it's as if a flip gets switched and the predator within her pounces out! All of a sudden she latches on to your hand and chomps down on you with her teeth…hard. She may even wrap her paws around your hand and “bunny kick” your arm with her back feet, raking her hind claws against your skin. Ouch! How can a cat be so sweet one minute and such a ferocious ball of fury the next? You’ve fallen victim to what’s known as petting aggression, my friend.
There are several reasons cats hide, and and most cats include hiding as a normal, healthy activity in their repertoire of behaviors. First, cats are both predators and prey in the wild - they are instinctually driven to hide and conceal themselves when they are sneaking up on a prospective prey item, and avoiding being prey for other predators (i.e., any carnivore that is larger than they are). Second, hiding in the home can be a stress-reducing, relaxing thing to do. Third, cats may hide when they are ill or not feeling well. If your cat all of a sudden decides to start hiding for long periods of time or changes her hiding behavior, you will want to make a trip to the veterinarian to make sure everything is ok.
Are you the type of person who enjoys bringing new technology into your home for fun, ease, or information? Is your cat the type of feline that enjoys techy-cat gear? If the answer is YES to both questions, AND you need to purchase something for your cat for the holidays or her birthday, then you will want to read this article before you start browsing websites with your smart-phone or voice-enabled shopping device!
Whether you're traveling for the winter holidays or any other time of the year, it's always smart to plan ahead when it comes to figuring out your cat care options while you're away. Pet-sitters get booked up very quickly weeks (and sometimes months) before holidays, so your options will become more limited the longer you wait to decide what your kitty will be doing while you're away from home. There are a number of options to consider depending on several factors: how long will you be gone, what is your budget, and perhaps most importantly, what will be best for your cat? Is your cat friendly, outgoing, and likes the attention of new people; or is she shy and skittish, and most comfortable in familiar surroundings? You'll want to answer all of these questions when deciding what to do, but here are some choices to guide you when you're figuring out what to do.
There's A LOT of writing about cats out there, presumably because cats are such amazing, wonderful, and beloved creatures. And thanks to the Internet and blogging, nearly anyone can write just about anything about whatever they want, including cats. That means that there are a lot of cat blogs out there...in fact, I just googled "cat blog" and in 0.55 seconds, google came up with about 116,000,000 hits. WOW! That's a lot of cat blogs! So which ones do you read? Well, I can give you a couple of places to start when it comes to the best cat blogs around.
Indoor cats, even though they're safer and generally live longer lives than outdoor cats, don't get to be, well, cats. We love cats for what they are, and that's a result of thousands of years of evolution and development of behaviors that have allowed cats to adapt to their environment and niche as both predators and prey. What it comes down to is this: indoor cats have the potential to miss out on a lot of things that cats evolved to experience. And when indoor cats aren't given the opportunity to act like cats, they get bored, stressed, and behavior issues can start to crop up.
Is your cat bored? Does she sleep ALL day, or does she beg for your attention? Is she mischievous, getting into things that she shouldn't? If so, you may need to give your kitty something on which to focus her attention and energy. Even if you have toys around the house, she may be bored with them, or she might not like playing with those particular toys. Mental stimulation is essential for kitties because without it they can become bored, stressed, or even depressed...all of which can lead to behavior problems. Enrichment, which is defined as "any artificial or natural item that stimulates a pet physically, mentally, or socially", is a necessary part of your cat's day and is important to keep mind and body healthy. But what can you do besides give your fuzzy mice toys and a cat tree? Enter: food puzzles for cats!
Think that behavior training can only be done with dogs and birds? Think again! You'll want to include cats in the list of "trainable critters" after reading this article, and with just a little inspiration, I'm hoping that you will use what I'm going to share with you to start on a cat-training adventure. Whaaaat??? Yes, you can train your cat! And it's a lot easier than you might think - you just need to find out what motivates your cat and use that to reward desired behavior.
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