When Your Cat Plays Favorites

When a cat forms a strong attachment to one fellow cat in the household while actively avoiding another, we chalk it up to personality preferences. As long as no one is injured, we do not complain. It is a cat of a different color, however, that fancies one human while consistently avoiding another family member. Why should this happen? When a couple goes to a shelter to adopt a cat, they of course select one that appears friendly and interacts with both of them. Once the cat is brought home, both owners commonly take turns feeding, grooming, playing and snuggling with their new family member. Yet somehow, a cat may take to following only one member of the couple. What is the reason for this biased bonding? Perhaps one person is loud or large in stature. The less-favored person may simply spend less time at home. There might even be a scent that disturbs the new adoptee.

Coping With Inappropriate Urination

One of the most frustrating feline behaviors that cat lovers endure is urination outside the litter box. In some cases, the cat has issues with the box. Cats may select litter materials or locations based on their own convenience, disregarding any resulting inconvenience to the people who share their household. Fortunately, with a bit of detective work and perhaps some flexibility on the part of the family, most litter box issues can be resolved. The cat that uses his litter box regularly - yet deposits additional urine in assorted areas - is a cat of a different color. When such behavior occurs, the first consideration should be that the cat might be ill. A thorough examination with urinalysis is in order. Confirm that the cat has been neutered. Cats adopted late in life might require a blood test for added assurance.

The High-Maintenance Cat

Have you ever thought that your cat was hyperactive? Can a cat really suffer from hyperactivity? It seems that indoor cats are inclined to expend energy based on the schedules of their families. When people sleep, cats sleep. People move about, and cats follow. Well, maybe they follow. On a sunny day, a cat might elect to extend his nap rather than stroll along. Although it is common for house cats to engage willingly when offered an opportunity to play, they are generally ready to return to rest when the computer or television set is turned on. But it is not uncommon to encounter a cat that is just a bit busier. This would be the cat that nearly always joins in the household activity. When the shower is in use, this cat will play with the curtain. As his people wash and shave, the busy cat bats the water. And no open newspaper or computer keyboard is without a pair of paws.

Safely Leash Train Your Cat

Our lives with cats are usually quite personal and private. While many people adopt a dog to have a walking or hiking companion, cats are more often left at home to greet us after our day is done. In fact, some people feel that it would be degrading to ask a cat to wear a leash and harness. True, a cats elegance and grace might be hampered with a restraint device of any type. Yet there are many reasons to consider teaching your cat to tolerate a leash. For example, a leash is very often included as part of a behavior modification tool box. It can be used to facilitate the introduction of new pets as well as new people. Certain desensitization protocols rely on a leash for smooth and safe implementation. Another great benefit is that a leash-trained cat makes a wonderful sunbathing companion. Although I would not recommend falling asleep with a cat attached to your side, the leash will certainly allow the two of you to relax in the safety on your patio.

Labeling a Cat As “Bad”

Everyone wants to feel good about his cat, right? Yet all too often, a client will enter the consultation room, greet me and quickly announce that his cat is "bad." As a stranger to both the cat and his person, I must take a deep breath prior to asking, delicately, just what this cat has done to earn such a label. Oddly enough, the crime is nearly always the same - the cat eliminates outside his litter box. Why the label? Unsympathetic ears abound. Friends and relatives may claim that they have never lived with a cat that voided outside a litter box. They may state that this type of behavior should not be tolerated and that no "good" cat would do such a thing

Cats and Kids: Making Friends

I recently received a letter asking me whether there was any way to improve the relationship between a cat and a child. The question seems particularly relevant as we move beyond the holiday season and begin to plan for summer gatherings. Our cats are important members of our families. We refrain from placing tinsel on our trees, since it is dangerous to our pets. Cats are invited to partake in holiday meals by sampling a bit of the roast in their bowls. We offer catnip as we sip our holiday wine. And yes, sometimes we fit our felines with antlers, halos and other festive garb.

Making Introductions: Slow and Steady

Last months column outlined some pros and cons of adopting a second cat. There was no easy answer to give, of course. Some cats are social and seek the companionship of others. Other cats do not welcome the proximity of fellow felines. And many cats appear eager or at least willing to share, but only with certain individuals. Let us assume that you followed last months tips and found an ideal mate for your resident cat. The newcomer is calm, playful and friendly. He appears relaxed when gently handled, and does not hiss or growl at his neighbor cats. And so, you have enthusiastically brought him home.

Is Your Cat Lonely?

It seems that nearly every week, a concerned cat person asks me that question. It could be that one cat in the household has recently passed away. Sometimes, a person has a bit more love to give, and just wants to share her home with more than one cat. And most often, people who work long hours hope that by adopting another cat, the original cat wont need to spend those hours alone. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that seemingly simple question. For years, we described cats as asocial. They hunt alone, so it was assumed that they lived alone and wanted to keep it that way. Research has revealed that, indeed, some cats are not very social. They are loners and do not choose to spend their time in the company of others.

The Aggressive Kitten

Who doesnt love a kitten? They're so soft when we just need something to touch. They're so funny to watch after a hard day at the office. They're so easy to entertain when we want to relax. Whenever we adopt a kitten, we can expect to be the recipients of small "mistakes." There may be an attention-seeking swat that tears our pantyhose. Or a scratch when the toy moves out of reach faster than our arm does. Maybe even a nip when we attempt to play cat and mouse using our hands as the target.

A Feline Mystery

You walk into a room and see a little wet spot on the floor, far from any sink or faucet. Or perhaps you find a more solid surprise. Who was responsible for this deposit? If you have ever lived with more than one pet at a time, then you have surely been in this position. Your assignment: to solve The Mystery of the Puddle. Was it the dog? Was it the cat? And if you live in a multicat household, which cat did the deed?

Do You Have a Watchcat on Patrol?

Over the years, I have seen a handful of cats that exhibited aggression toward visitors to the home. If you have never witnessed a cat that thinks he is a German shepherd guarding a door, let me assure you: It is a scary sight to behold. I am referring to a cat that, upon hearing the doorbell, marches to the door, stares as guests enter, and proceeds to demonstrate postures that clearly reflect the message: "Go home, stranger."

What Might Changed Behavior Mean?

When a cat is not doing well, for whatever reason, she depends upon her special person to take notice. Usually, some behavioral change will be observed. The behavioral change is the clinical sign that drives a person to consult with his veterinarian. Veterinarians receive complaints ranging from the very specific "My cat is sneezing" to the very elusive "My cat is just not herself." These behavioral changes are the indicators that a cat needs attention.