Pet Advice

How to Help Your Cats to Get Along

If you have one cat and decide to adopt or bring another cat home, it usually takes a little time for them to get along.   Sometimes, it is love at first meet and other times, it is a bit of an adjustment.  Yet, if your cats don’t get along after a week or so, there might be something else going on besides just jealousy.  Your existing cat might even put up a fight and act like a tough kitty before relenting to your new cat.  There are some things you can do to help strengthen the bond between your two cats and have a harmonious environment.

The first and most important thing to do is to make sure your cats are spayed or natured.

The first step toward helping your cats to get along is to spay and neuter your cats.  Neutering and/or spaying your kittens invariably makes them calm down and it avoids their being in heat (not to mention that it helps with the overpopulation of our cats and so many other benefits).

Your existing cat needs to get used to the new cat’s scent

When you bring a new cat into your home, you kitty will have his own new cat scent that your existing cat won’t like (at first). Some cats are more bothered by the smell than others. Try to mix their smells so they won’t know whose is whose and merge their scent.  Try taking a towel and rub one towel over one cat, then rub the same towel over the second cat to mix their scents. Do this several times a day for a few weeks and then they will knowingly like the mix and adjust to each other.

Orange Cat and Brown Cat

Just give us time to get along

 

Pay extra attention to your existing cat while you make this transformation.

A new cat will almost always get more attention from you than your older kitty as you are trying to make the new cat comfortable. Try to set aside extra one-on-one time with your existing cat(s) to assure your existing cat that the new cat is not getting all of your attention. It’s hard for some cats, especially older ones, to adjust to someone interrupting their life and love from their owners.  The more equal the love, the better the cats will get along.  And older cats are used to getting their way so they are a bit more territorial.

Cats mark their own territory so try to get your new cat to a new spot

Cats are territorial, even if the territory extends no further than the end of your bed or a special place on the sofa. When you bring a new cat into your household, the new cat will need to establish his or her own territory and your existing cats will need to defend his or hers. This can result in fights.  Try to discourage the new cat from taking over one of your existing cat’s spots by providing her with her own special spot. Sprinkle it with catnip, a treat and put a towel with her scent on it.

If your cats just can’t get along, you need to separate and then reintroduce them

Get a large dog crate and place it in a spare room, and put one cat (with a litter box and bed) in the crate, and the other cat outside the crate. Leave them alone in the room together. Do this every day for at least a week, alternating which cat gets left inside the crate.  This way they get to know each other by scent.

When things appear calmer, let them out together in the room (but don't leave them alone together). Play with them, give them treats, and praise good behavior. If one cat starts a fight, put him in the crate. Continue until they can be together in the room without fighting.

Then you can let them have the run of your entire home.  If one cat starts a fight, he or she goes back in the crate. Again, always praise good behavior and reward with treats. Within a few weeks, the two cats should be able to coexist fairly peacefully.

With time, patience and effort, your cats will get along well.  Even if they aren’t the best of friends, they should be able to co-exist harmoniously.

 

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Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Anyone who has owned a dog has invariably taken a dog on a walk and he or she approaches a spot of grass and starts to eat it. As it turns out, many dogs seem to love to eat grass and some even make it part of their daily routine.  Most experts believe that dogs who eat grass are not hurting themselves, for the most part, but as like everything in life, moderation is key.

Dogs eat grass because they can and it’s inherent in their breed

Dogs are not carnivores. However, that doesn't mean they are like your garden-variety omnivores, either. Dogs will usually devour anything that they can and seems edible (within a certain degree).  Due to the evolution of dogs and the fact that we domesticate them, dogs tends to seek out grass as an alternative food source. Since grass is readily available and usually within reach and the most abundant, dogs tends to gravitate toward the grass.  But, often, the grass doesn’t go down that well and there can be repercussions.

Some dogs tend to seek out grass when they have an upset stomach or so it seems?

A dog will seek out a natural remedy for a gassy or upset stomach, and grass, it seems, may do the trick. When the dogs eats the grass, the grass blade tickles the throat and stomach lining; this sensation, in turn, may cause the dog to vomit, especially if the grass is gulped down rather than chewed.

Now, this doesn't mean your dog should be grazing on grass like a cow. Sure, they may nibble on the grass, chew on the grass for a while and may not even throw up (an unwell dog will tend to gulp the grass down in big bites and then throw up). If this is the case, your dog may find the texture of the grass palatable, or maybe because your dog needs to add a little roughage to their diet.

But, then again, some experts say that fewer than 10% of dogs seem to be sick before eating grass, according to their owners. And grass-eating doesn’t usually lead to throwing up less than 25% of dogs that eat grass vomit regularly after grazing.  So, sometimes yes, sometimes no?  Only you can tell when your dog gravitates toward the grass and the timing, pattern and the reason.

Dog Eating Grass

Dogs might eat grass simply because they are bored

Another reason for dogs eat grass is simply as a means to gain attention or out of boredom. In cases where owners are simply not providing their dog with enough interaction and exercise, the dog may try to gain interaction with their owner through engaging in forbidden behaviors. As with younger children, attention is attention and it is possible that a dog that eats grass is trying to tell its owner that it needs more attention from them much as the naughty toddler who draws on the walls would do.

If you suspect your dog is eating grass because he’s bored, it might be beneficial to make sure he’s getting enough exercise. Engage him in some fun activities. Try tossing a Frisbee or playing another interactive game with him, or buy him a sturdy chew toy to keep him occupied.

Dogs that eat grass might be susceptible to toxins on the grass

Although most experts agree that grazing itself isn’t harmful, one thing to keep in mind is that certain herbicides and pesticides used on lawns can be quite toxic, especially if ingested. Additionally, a number of common house and garden plants are toxic, which could lead to problems if your dog munches on them along with the lawn.

How to stop your dog from eating grass

If you think the grass eating is simply the result of a dog’s natural instinct to eat grass or because your dog likes the taste of grass, you should try to train your dog to stop this behavior. While in most cases dogs generally do not experience negative effects from grass eating, this behavior can prove to be dangerous for pet owners living in areas frequently treated with pesticides. Dogs that are food oriented can quite easily be trained to stop their behavior with treat rewards. Taking the dog out to use the bathroom or for a walk with treats in hand is the best way to tackle training these types of dogs, any time the dog is tempted towards grass use a treat to distract them towards the walking path instead.  Or you can use whatever training method you think is most effective for your pup.

As with everything, moderation is key.  If your dog eats a little grass here and there, you don’t need to worry.  If this turns to a compulsive habit, make sure to see your veterinarian to see if there is an underlying medical issue.

 

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Tips to Make Sure Your Cat Has a Proper Diet

 

Some of our cats are inherently good eaters and will eat whatever you give them, while others are extremely fussy.  The most important outcome of what you feed your cat is how your cat thrives on his or her current diet.  And, of course, that your cat likes to eat and has just the right amount of food each day (and water).   

However, if you are unsure if you are feeding your cats properly, below are some over tips to help.

1.  Make sure to feed your kitty a diet that contains mostly poultry or chicken-liver variety.  Avoid beef (some cats have trouble digesting beef), lamb, corn, soy or milk products.  A small amount of dry food provides the “crunch” that cats crave.  Make sure to read the labels.  A diet that is called “Chicken Entree” may only contain a small amount of poultry.  Ingredients are listed on labels with those in the largest amount listed first.

2.  Avoid marketing hype and realize that those funny colors are put in foods for humans—our kitties could care less. It’s better to have quality ingredients that look closer to real food.  Mixed colors are a bad idea in a dry food!

3.   Think critically about ingredients.  Especially with dry diets, ingredients like herbs, mushrooms, etc. are unlikely to survive the heating process and might not be a benefit to your cat and could cause digestive issues.

4.   Within reason, it’s okay to treat your cats periodically to some cooked poultry.  Other cats enjoy cantaloupe, tomatoes, etc.  Remember that treats are exactly that—treats—and not the basis of a complete diet.   Always start with little pieces to see what your cat can tolerate. 

Cat Feeding with Proper Diet  

5. Pay attention to your cat’s appetite on a daily basis.  A healthy cat eats well every day and really looks forward to mealtime.  If your cat or kitten misses a day or two of eating, call your veterinarian.  Often times, if your cat loses his or her appetite, it is one of the first signs of serious disease in cats.  You don’t need to be alarmed unless this occurs for more than one day.

6.  Never force your cat to eat a new food.  Although it seems like a dog will eat almost anything that is wrapped up in cheese or peanut butter, our cats are more discriminating.  Make food changes slowly and patiently.  Cats can and will starve themselves if confronted with a new food not to their liking.  If you need to change food, introduce the new food slowly by mixing with the old food until your cat is ready for the full changeover.

7. Always provide a source of fresh, clean water daily to your cats.  Some cats will drink out of a wide, shallow bowl, but others prefer their water from a circulating water fountain or even a glass.  And try to make sure that your cat does drink water to balance his or her die.

8.  Evaluate your cat’s diet by how your cat or kitten looks and feels.  Cats that are eating an excellent diet are lean, have a shiny coat, don’t have dandruff and aren’t constipated or plagued with vomiting and diarrhea.  If you can easily feel your cat’s ribs (but not see them) and if your kitty has a tuck after the ribcage (when you look down upon him or her), most likely the weight is just right.  Sick cats lose the normal fat pad over the spine.  You should never be able to easily feel the bones of your cat’s spine.

9. Always speak with your veterinarian about nutritional concerns.    As always, your veterinarian is your cat’s most knowledgeable resource for nutrition and advice and can recommend the best type of food for your specific cat.

Each cat is different and will take to and react differently to his or her food.  Therefore, buy in small amounts at first until you find what is best for your kitty.

 

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How to Stop Your Dog from Begging for Food at Dinner

 

Our dogs are social creatures and love to eat.  So, when your family gathers for dinner, there’s nothing more that combines a dog’s dual love of being social and eating your food!  However, even though your dog want to join you in the festivities, there's nothing fun or amusing about a dinner dominated by whining and pawing from under the table.  And if this bother you, it is better to get the ‘table begging’ under control sooner rather than later.

Table begging can be harmful to your dogs

Table begging is more than just an annoyance.  It can be potentially harmful to your dog. Dogs who are frequently fed at the table can suffer any of the following problems:

Obesity, choking on bones, hyperactivity and anxiety and even seizures: A possible result if chocolate, which contains theobromine, is consumed, and bad behavior.

Table begging needs to end before it begins

Dogs beg at the table because we let them and it only takes one time for the habit to begin. Unfortunately, attention-getting behaviors like begging don't have to be indulged often to become a bad habit. The most effective way to get a dog to stop begging at the table is to completely ignore him, a task that's often easier said than done. This means not talking to the animal or even making eye contact. By scolding your dog, it scares them and engages them. They might not understand the difference.

Seriously

Seriously?!

Teach your dog to go to specific spot when you eat dinner

Try teaching your dog to go to a designated spot, usually a bed or a mat, and stay there. This skill can be useful in a variety of other situations, too. If you’re watching a movie with friends and you’d like your dog to occupy herself for a while, you can ask her to go to her spot and chew a bone. If your dog jumps up on people when they come to the door, you can ask her to go to her spot whenever the doorbell rings and wait there to greet visitors. If you take your dog somewhere with you, you can bring her bed or mat and have her settle on it when you need her to be calm and quiet.  Leave a chew bone or toy there to keep your dog occupied and distracted.

Your dog’s table begging will get worse before it get better

Expect your dog's begging to get worse before it gets better. If whining at a low volume doesn't result in food, he'll think he isn't trying hard enough and turn it up and start howling. As unpleasant as this may be for a few days, stand firm. Eventually, your dog will realize that his efforts no longer work.

However, if you train your dog consistently, you should see positive results within several weeks. Consistency is the key. Even one tiny snack from the table here and there can erase everything you've worked so hard to achieve. Even the smallest morsel can turn a trained dog back to a begging dog!  And make sure all family members and dinner guests understand what you're doing and why you're doing it, so no one sneaks your dog a treat when they think you're not looking.

Here are a few more tips to stop your dog from begging:

Feed your dog at the same time you eat. If your dog is enjoying his own food, he can't beg for yours.

Give him something else to do. Try sticking some healthy treats stuffed in a few Kong toys so he'll have something to play with while you eat.

If your dog has been crate-trained, place him in his crate to prevent him from begging at the table. But, the goal is to have your dog nearby and not begging, so this would only be on a trial basis.

Take your dog for a long walk just before dinner. If the dog is worn out, the intensity of the begging behavior will decrease.  Tired dogs are better behaved dogs.

You can still feed your dog human food at the correct time

Some people worry that feeding their dogs’ human food (anything except dog food and treats made for dogs) will encourage begging at the table. But when teaching a dog new skills or treating certain behavior problems, using treats like small pieces of chicken, cheese or beef can accelerate the training process. Luckily, dogs can learn very specific rules. It’s okay to give your dog foods you eat, too. Just avoid feeding your dog from the table so your pup learns that she never gets human food in that context.

 

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Tips for an Overly Excitable (Destructive) Kitten

When you bring a new kitten home from your local shelter, your kitten will have loads of extra energy.  Your kitty will jump around, explore your new home and make herself known in all sorts of ways from scratching couches or ‘marking’ her territory or just exploring everywhere.  However, sometimes the excitement is so great, that your kitty becomes destructive or overly excited at all times.   It is important to try to curb this behavior during kittenhood, so your kitty can grow up to be a better behaved cat.

Spay or Neuter your kitten

First and foremost, make sure to have your kitten spayed or neutered to see if this helps with the devilish behavior.   There are so many reasons to spay or neuter your kitty from overpopulation of unwanted cats to the fact that it helps with your kitten’s health. And it is common knowledge that spaying or neutering your kitten helps to calm her or him down.

And even with the neutering, your kitten is probably testing your limits, climbing on forbidden surfaces like the counter or using your body as a cat tree.  While it’s cute at first, you need to direct your kitten’s energy away from the destructive antics.

Naughty Kitten Picture

Who me, excitable?!

You need to define the behavior you find unacceptable

Your first step is to define what behavior is unacceptable.  When your kitten jumps on a couch or table, clap your hands loudly, say "no" and if he or she doesn’t get off the table, lift him or her gently off the table. When your kitty scratches the couch or your mattress, you should do the same.  In fact, when he or she does anything you do not approve of, you need to tell him or her that this behavior is unacceptable.

But do NOT spank a wayward kitten. Cats don't understand this kind of treatment and it will only cause resentment in your kitten and destroy the bond you've created.

 

How to stop your kitty from biting or clawing you

If your kitten's naughty behavior includes biting, clawing, or climbing, try saying “ouch!” in a high-pitched voice and gently place her on the floor. After you do this, don't pay attention to her for a few minutes even if she gets back in your lap.

When kittens play, they squeak if the play has gone too far and hurts them. By using a high-pitched voice to express your dismay, you're telling your kitten, in her language, that she has gone too far.  Your “ouch” shows her in a gentle and non-abusive way that what she did was painful and that she's not going to get attention if she does things that hurt you.

Try to distract your kitten when she is being naughty

Watch your kitten for signs that he or she is starting to get overexcited. Usually these signs include a swishing tail and getting ready to pounce. She may start eying an object she wishes to climb. When you see these signs, take out a “thing on a string” toy and get her attention. A few minutes of play will redirect her energy away from climbing your curtains or exploring your counter.  In fact, any kind of interactive toy will be good to minimize her hyperactivity.

Make sure to include a play session before you go to bed

If your kitten gets hyper when you're sleeping or preparing for bed, give her an energetic play session about half an hour before you plan to go to bed. After the play session, give her a small helping of food. Playing will help her lose her excess energy and the food will help her sleep. If you decide to feed your kitten before bed, do not give her more food than she's currently eating. Give her the same amount of food but divide it into smaller portions throughout the day.

Kittens need to be on a diet of a healthy, well balanced food

Make sure that your kitten is on a healthy, well-balanced food.  Sometimes the over- the- counter variety can cause hyperactivity in cats.  You can also talk to your vet about herbal remedies.  Sometimes they will recommend an herb that you can put in your kitten’s bed to relax him or her.

While kittens can be a handful at times, with some training, effort and love, they will become manageable during these formative and sometimes trying years.  Then you will have a well behaved happy cat and pet parent.

 

 

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