Tagged with " kitten"

Kittens, in their “formative weeks”

Apr 6, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior

training a kitten

Kittens are born with their eyes closed and just basically sleep and nurse, and sometimes meow loudly. The queen stimulates their elimination, and they are completely dependent upon her for their first few weeks. They will communicate with the queen vocally on day 1; and by 4 days they can clumsily walk to their preferred teat for nursing. Because olfactory sensation is working very well right at birth, it is their main sense along with the tactile stimulation of touch, especially on their face. A feral queen can teach her kittens to be afraid of anything (especially humans) as early as 2 days old. There will be differences in socialization toward humans that extend into adulthood when a kitten spends these first few days with a truly feral mom! Eyes open around 7-10 days; and, between weeks 2 and 3, the ears open (although they do hear with closed ears by day 4) and those senses now contribute in the transition to the next phase, the development of the ultimate predator. Speaking of, those needle baby teeth begin to bud between weeks 2 and 3! Poor mom…

The socialization phase is vitally important; and, it proceeds separately with each species. First and most importantly, cat on cat socialization is being learned. Kittens are responsible for all gait patterns, adult locomotion, and most body postures by weeks 6 to 7. So interacting with others begins immediately! Or it does not, based on the individual’s environment and exposure, and on a species to species basis. But remember that no experience equals a bad experience. So if a kitten is isolated early, their socialization could suffer greatly. Kittens that do not hang out with other cats at this young age will develop very little social skills for the group setting. They also learn by visual inspection, so grooming and even hunting skills (through play) are being learned as early as one month of age! Starting at 4 weeks, mom is getting sick of the nursing; but, sometimes she does not completely quit until they are 7-8 weeks of age. At the age of 2 months, most kittens are eating solid foods or prey items brought by mom. And studies have shown that the earlier they stop nursing, the more effective hunters they become! The budding stars are helping her eat her prey items by week 4, and stop nursing immediately. They will all follow the queen on her hunts by weeks 15- 18, and most kittens are self-sufficient predators by 6 months of age! Cats usually have a “specialty” or preference in what they hunt, and mom’s influence is huge in this decision.

Now it is time to leave the house, especially for the young boys. And unless resources allow for succession planning, the little queens must also leave home! The best chance of any cat having a lifelong social mate is by teaming up with a littermate. These are often same sex pairs, 2 boys or 2-3 girls, in the barn cat setting. And though some genetic tendencies, like a “boldness gene”, do contribute these first few months are vital to shaping the level of socialization in each cat’s life. If they do not meet dogs until they are 6 months, the acceptance of a dog will be limited throughout their life. If you adopt a feral kitten that has had little to no human contact at the age of 6 months, socialization with humans may be greatly limited. So lots of exposure to a variety of animals and to a variety of people results in the most favorably socialized pet cats. And this process should begin as early as possible. Interestingly enough, the little toms become sexually mature as early as 6 months of age in the pet setting, or with the breeder, but as late as 18 months in the wild. I guess they have to put it on hold until they can fight for their right to mate? Or maybe it takes about a year to find a good place? Or maybe it is just like being a freshman in high school; none of the girls pay attention that year!

A general rule of thumb in animals is that the longer time spent with their mother, the more intelligent the species. And although post-college children living at home may challenge that rule, it is generally true. So, as I often tell clients, the cat is more instinctual and predictable and intelligence is just not their game. Although some are smarter than others, the primal nature of their behavior is one of the most beautiful things they offer us as a species. They are simultaneously the perfect predator and a perfect model for meditation and yoga masters. They can be so peaceful as they rest and groom, and so seemingly vicious during a hunt. And we all know that no one consistently acts as cool as a cat. And on a pound for pound basis, they are the most powerful, the fastest and the most aggressive athlete that has ever lived… and number 2 is not even close! I am always amazed that this is all learned in 6 months, and a good chunk of it by 3 months! So enjoy kitten season and keep this information in mind during the formative weeks.

Dr Michael Ray

Dr. Ray is a Marietta Georgia native and graduate of Osborne High School. He received his bachelor of science at Georgia Southern University, and went on to graduate with his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida in 1997. After graduation, Dr. Ray completed an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at Animal Specialty Group in Los Angeles.

Dr. Ray has spent most of his career working in Feline Only hospitals, and is very excited to have the opportunity to own his own cat practice. Dr. Ray has been the Medical Director of The Cat Clinic of Roswell since March 2008.

The Cat Clinic of Roswell
1002 Canton Street
Roswell, GA 30075

Phone: 770-552-PURR (7877)
Fax: 770-552-8855
Email: info@catclinicofroswell.com

Website: http://www.catclinicofroswell.com/
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Are Treats Always Bad?

Mar 3, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

My answer is no – treats can be a good thing.

When my cats were kittens, I started giving them treats in their carrier, every day, and I continue to do this. My cat Athena just looks at the treat and walks into the carrier – a tremendous accomplishment for anyone who has chased a cat around the house and then had to cancel a veterinary appointment because “I can’t catch my cat!” I know I need to be consistent and do this everyday; Athena has learned that she only gets treats in the carrier. I toss the treat in the far back corner of the carrier, so she has to walk in.

Of course, if your cat is significantly overweight, and if he gets “just a few” treats every time he asks each member of the household, then he’s getting too many. If you have many humans in the household, I recommend measuring out treats in the morning, and when the (sealed) treat container is empty, then no more for that day.

What treats do I feed my cats? They eat primarily canned food, so my cats consider t/d or Royal Canin dental dry food as their favorite treat. I count the number of pieces because these are calorie-dense; I know they are getting the dental benefit as well as something they really like. They also get a CET dental chew daily, and sometimes Ziwi Peak freeze-dried meat or chicken as a treat.

Something else that is good to introduce as a treat are “pill pockets”. These semi-moist treats are helpful in administering pills to cats, but your cat has to eat the pill pocket. If pill pockets have been introduced as a treat, before they are needed and without medicine, this can make your job of medicating your cat much easier should the need arise in the future.

So, “all things in moderation”, but if you enjoy giving treats to your cats and if they like their treats, this can be a good thing for all.

Dr Dale Rubenstein

Dr. Rubenstein opened the doors of A Cat Clinic, the first all-feline veterinary practice in Montgomery County, in 1986. She earned her BA in Biology from Oberlin College, her MS in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Maryland and her DVM from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. She became board certified in feline practice, one of only 80 diplomats in the U.S., through the American Board of Veterinary Practices (ABVP) in 1996 and re-certified in 2006.

Dr. Rubenstein is also a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), Cornell Feline Health Center, Montgomery County Humane Society Feline Focus Committee, Montgomery County Veterinary Medicine Association, as well as a member of the credentialing committee of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP).

A Cat Clinic, Boyds, MD
14200 Clopper Road,
Boyds, MD 20841

Phone: 301-540-7770
Fax: 301-540-2041
Email: messages@acatclinic.us

Website: http://www.acatclinic.us/
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Play Aggression

Feb 17, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

What to do when your busy kitten or young cat is driving you crazy!

We frequently get complaints that a newly adopted kitten or young cat has found a new game that they really enjoy- attacking the feet, legs or hands of the humans in the household. Sometimes they will pester older cats in the household with playful attacks as well.  Guess what- this is really normal behavior! However, it is not very acceptable in most of our households so we need to work out some changes in the routine so every one is happy.  These guidelines are effective in most cases, but talk with your veterinarian if problems persist or are worsening.

Play aggression is usually seen in young cats and kittens. Usually stalking, pouncing, and even hopping sideways are seen. The cat will bite or occasionally scratch moving hands, feet, or the family member moving through the house. It is most common in single cat households where the cat is alone of much of the day. Playing roughly with the kitten or encouraging it to bite or swat at hands and feet also encourages play aggression. Sometimes play aggression is seen in multi-cat households when the other cat is old or debilitated or very passive. Orphan kittens that were hand- raised or weaned early are frequently play aggressive as they did not receive socialization by the queen. They do not learn to sheathe their claws or inhibit their bites.

  1. Often the easiest solution is to add a second cat or kitten of similar age and playful temperament. They will play with each other and aggressive play will be inhibited because the new companion will bite back or become defensive when play becomes too aggressive.
  2. Never use physical punishment (hitting or swatting) to stop the play aggression. This can cause the aggression to escalate and transform into fear aggression.
  3. Treatment is fairly straightforward. Increased play activity involving moving toys at least 15 minutes one to two times a day is critical.
    1. Fishing pole toys / string toys with toys at the end of a cord. These encourage pouncing and stalking. Never leave toys with strings out where the cat can reach it when not supervised to avoid string eating and possible surgery.
    2. Laser pointers: play laser tag. Do not shine directly in the cat’s eyes. You can be watching TV and playing with the cat at the same time!
    3. Hand-made toys such as old socks stuffed with crinkly paper or tissues.
    4. Mouse-in-the-house mechanical toys. These move around the house. Use Google for websites that offer these toys.
    5. Kong-type toys stuffed with kibble that the kitty bats around and is rewarded with the food being released.
  4. Play aggression may occur in certain areas of the house such as the hallway from the bedroom to the bathroom (a favorite location). Keep Ping Pong balls available to throw down the hall in front of you to redirect your cat’s attention on to an appropriate object.
  5. Keep an air canister (used to clean computer keyboards) next to the chair or sofa where attacks on a seated individual occur. A water squirt gun may also be used. When the cat is observed to be starting the aggression, spray the kitty with the water or compressed air. The point is to startle the kitten so it stops the behavior as it starts.
  6. Do not play directly with your hands or feet and your cat. Always have a toy or other object in between your hands and feet and their teeth and claws. Otherwise you are sending mixed messages to your cat and will confuse them.
  7. Do not push your cat always when it bites at you. This escalates the play to your cat and it will come right back and bite harder.
  8. Put a belled safety collar on your cat. This will help you (or the other cats in the household) detect the presence of the aggressor more easily and help you redirect its play behavior.
  9. Reward the behavior you want to have continue. Do not pet or try to cuddle or give attention to the kitty after it bites or scratches – give it a 15 minute time-out. Reward your cat with food treats and petting when it is acting calm.
  10. Playing with your cat is a reward – these kitties need active play and attention as they are usually high energy. Fifteen minutes twice a day of active play is a minimum needed and some cats need more.
  11. Medication is usually not needed to address play aggression. If another cat is the target of the play aggression, sometimes the target cat becomes anxious enough to require anti-anxiety medications.
  12. There are other types of aggression that cats can display, and sometimes more than one type is seen at the same time. Treatment may differ for these types of behavior. Please call us if problems persist. Most play aggression is resolved if sufficient moving-toy or active  play is received.
  13. Finally, the goal is to help you change the behavior of your cat to stop play aggressive behavior. Any pet can bite or scratch under certain circumstances, especially when they become fearful or are in pain. There is no treatment plan or medication that guarantees that the pet will never bite or scratch again. Use common sense and avoid trying to hold or touch an upset cat. Seek medical attention if a bite or severe scratch occurs.
  14. Please call your veterinarian as needed with updates regarding your cat’s behavior- the sooner your cat “plays nicely”, the happier everyone will be!

Dr Tammy Sadek

Dr Tammy Sadek is board certified in Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr Sadek graduated at the top of her veterinary class at the University Of Minnesota College Of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced feline medicine and surgery for over 25 years. Dr Sadek is the owner and founder of two cat hospitals in the Grand Rapids, MI area, the Kentwood Cat Clinic and the Cat Clinic North.

In addition to her cat hospitals, Dr Sadek hosts a website www.litterboxguru.com dedicated to helping cat owners prevent and correct litter box issues along with other behavioral issues with their pets.

Dr Sadek is the author of several chapters in the book Feline Internal Medicine Secrets. Her professional interests include senior cat care, internal medicine, feline behavior, and dermatology.

Dr Sadek is currently owned by 5 cats. In addition to caring for all her feline friends, Dr Sadek enjoys traveling, jewelry making, reading fantasy and science fiction, and gardening. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two soon to fledge children.

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Should I Go? Or, Should I stay?

Jan 25, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Winter is in full swing. It is the time to think about escape. Or for those cat lovers who live in warmer climes, a change of scenery to refresh and reenergize, often beckons.  As travel plans are being made, one important question often is: would our feline friend be better with their veterinarian, at home, in a boarding kennel, or traveling with us?

Just as no two cats are alike, no option is the right one for every cat.  Some general considerations are: how long will you  be gone, how old is your cat, and is yours a single or multiple cat household?  Then there are individual traits to consider.  How does your cat handle visitors?  Is there a secretive or elusive eater in the family?  If left at home would anyone be able to monitor this cat’s food intake?  How well does your cat travel?

The most common situation is where the cat must stay at home with a cat sitter, in a boarding facility or at a veterinary hospital.  For some of our felines, the question is easy.  Cats with medical needs, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or frail health, should stay with your veterinarian so they will be monitored by skilled professionals.  After a cat has had a day or two to adapt to the environment, boarding time offers a good opportunity to have planned lab tests performed, such as a blood glucose or blood pressure measurement.  It is  frequently the easiest time to get a urine sample, if your doctor has requested one.

When young cats ( under 7-9 mos of age) are home alone, they can  get into trouble due to pent up energy with no one  home to entertain them.  Cords and knickknacks become toys with their attendant problems.  These cats are  best left in someone else’s care, such as a boarding facility.

For adult healthy cats ( 9 mos to 15 years), with proper planning, staying at home may be the best solution.  There are several strategies for making a cat’s time at  home alone successful.  Someone should visit your cat at least daily, and preferably twice daily to feed and clean  if your trip is more than two or three days.  Additional litter boxes should be provided –  at least one more than the normal number.  Caretakers may not be as fastidious as you are.  Their cycle of visits may not match your cat’s litter box usage pattern.  An extra litter box, or even two, will decrease the likelihood of accidents occurring.  Leave clear feeding instructions describing amounts to be fed with exact measurements, as opposed to rough guidelines ( e.g. one half cup not the more inexact handful).  Leave unwashed articles of your clothing for the cat to sleep on.  Put them in the cat’s usual sleeping places.  Being able to smell you will be reassuring to your cat.  If you are planning an extended time away, make arrangements for a sitter to spend an hour or so daily in your home to interact with your cat – especially if your cat is a social cat who likes company and play time.  A  tape recording of your voice played periodically may be comforting if your cat is particularly attached to you, or is shy around strangers.  If you are hiring a cat sitter, please check their references and schedule a visit to introduce the sitter to your cat to make sure you approve of the observed interaction.  If these arrangements are difficult or impossible, then your cat would most likely be best served by staying at at boarding facility.  Use  logic for choosing a boarding facility similar to that which you would have used to choose a cat sitter.  Ask your friends or your veterinarian for recommendations.  Be sure to visit and observe the facility ahead of time.

Sometimes  the best choice is for your cat to travel with you.  No matter how you are traveling, make sure your cat has some form of permanent identification to greatly increase the likelihood of you and your cat being reunited if your cat should escape.  Microchipping is the ideal method of identification.  Speak to your veterinarian about the quick and easy procedure.  As was mentioned above, an unwashed article of your clothing placed in the carrier will offer comfort.  A towel or blanket sprayed with Feliway, a calming pheromone, placed in the carrier one hour before use with your kitty placed  in the carrier 20 minutes before leaving helps to decrease travel anxiety.  Minimize motion sickness by not feeding your cat the day of the trip.  This will also decrease the probability of your cat urinating or defecating in the carrier while traveling. When you arrive at your destination, take your cat in the carrier into the room you’ll be staying in.  Get food, water, and a litter box ready, then let him out.  Place the carrier on the floor with the door open.  Your carrier can act be a place of security during your visit.  Generally speaking it is best to keep your cat in your room for the duration of your stay.  While it may seem like a small space, remember it is much larger than a boarding cage and your cat can easily familiarize himself with the new surroundings.

If you are traveling by air, first contact the individual airline to see what it requires to allow your cat to fly.   Ideally your cat will fly in the cabin with you.   Call the airline early to make the reservation.  Most airlines limit the number of pets that can fly in the cabin.  Your cat should wear a harness attached to a leash in the carrier. Unless the rule has been changed, cats are required to be out of their carrier during screening and a frightened cat can be difficult to restrain in your arms.  Many airlines will require a health certificate within a specific number of days prior to departure.  Most airlines require proof of  a current rabies vaccination.

If you are traveling by car, your cat should travel in a carrier and be secured in that carrier any time you exit or enter the vehicle.  If your trip is more than four hours, stop and offer water periodically and have a disposable litter box available.

There is no exact answer to the question: what is best for your cat when you travel? You know best the physical and emotional requirements of your feline family member.  Your veterinarian will be happy to consult with you about any specific questions

or concerns you might have.  Choose the option that will allow you to enjoy your vacation knowing that you have done your best to make sure your cat is healthy, happy, and safe.

Dr Kathleen Keefe Ternes

Dr. Kathleen Keefe Ternes grew up in western Massachusetts. She received an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1974; a BS degree in 1978 and a DVM in 1979 from Michigan State University. Dr. Keefe Ternes returned home to New England in April 1980. In 1984, she achieved one of her professional goals by opening The Feline Hospital in Salem, MA. . Dr. Keefe Ternes, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), initially certified as a companion animal specialist in 1990. She became certified as a feline specialist in 2000 and recertified in 2010. Dr. Keefe Ternes is a member of AAFP, the AVMA, the MVMA, and her local organization, the Veterinary Association of the North Shore (VANS). Her involvement in organized medicine includes having been a past president of VANS and current member of the board of directors. She is also a case reviewer for the ABVP and recently joined the Feline Welfare Committee of the AAFP.

Dr. Keefe Ternes lives in Salem with her husband and two college age daughters. Her two senior cats Toby and Petunia keep her on her toes medically.

The Feline Hospital
81 Webb St
Salem, MA 01970

Phone: 978-744-8020
Email: thefelinehospital@gmail.com

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