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.

Coping With Redirected Aggression

Have you ever been close to a truly frightened cat? You might picture a cat peeking out from under furniture in fear of being groped by a toddler. Veterinarians of course routinely cope with cats plastered to the sides of their carriers, hanging on with all their strength. Some of us have also witnessed a cat as he suddenly puffed up, ears flattened against his head, eyes black and vocalizing in a spine tingling manner.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The age-old admonishment never to bite the hand that feeds us is a good-sense reminder not to alienate those we depend on for comfort and security. But this metaphor is, of course, based in the reality that pets sometimes do bite the hand that feeds them. A bite from a family pet is at the very least viewed as an insult. At its worst, the bite generates anger or even fear. Not to mention the physical pain and possibility of infection.

Water Babies

This month I received two letters describing cats that play with water. One of the cats dips her paws into the water bowl until the bowl is empty. The larger the bowl, the larger the puddle on the floor. Actually, that bowl has now been moved to the bathtub. (Still a mess, I am told.)

Make Use of Behavior Modification

Lets face it: Sometimes we need to do something to one of our cats that the cat is just not going to like. No doubt we have her best interests in mind, but she is not likely to recognize that.

Make Use of Behavior Modification

Let’s face it: Sometimes we need to do something to one of our cats that the cat is just not going to like. No doubt we have her best interests in mind, but she is not likely to recognize that.