Discipline in General [19-12-17]

imagen en movimiento de gato caminando

Discipline in General

The first and most important thing to remember is that she’s a cat, not a very short, 4-legged person. It also helps to realize that she will likely think of you as a very large cat, admittedly with some peculiar non-cat foibles (such as an appalling lack of talent at mice-catching). Try to look at things from her viewpoint–she really does have a reason for what she’s doing.

Second, never, ever hit your cat. I have found that an attempt to be reasonable, as odd as that may sound, works best. (Example: Stanley was in the habit of taking other cat’s tidbits out from under their nose; he’d been doing it for years. As I was sitting on the kitchen floor one day, giving out handouts, I observed him doing this – I pushed my hand up into his face, pushing him back slightly, and said, “Stanley, we DON’T steal from each other.” He hasn’t done it since; in fact, he looks up at me to ask permission to eat another cat’s leftovers when they walk away.)

Using the same reprimand word works best – though I tend to talk in full sentences to my cats (they are, after all, much more intelligent than anybody else’s cats), most people find that simply saying “NO!” in a firm, no-nonsense voice for all infractions works well. If he won’t listen, keep a squirt bottle of plain water handy (be sure to keep the bottle away from your children, so they don’t use it as a toy against your cat). Or toss your keys toward him – not at him – so the noise will startle him. At least one of my cats can’t tell where a whistle comes from, and she looks over her shoulder somewhat nervously when she hears one – so if she’s being “bad,” I whistle and she almost always stops what she is doing.


A Litter Box of Glass [11-11-17]

A Litter Box of Glass

One major problem you encounter as a cat owner involves your cat’s use (or non-use) of her litter box.

This is probably one of the most frustrating issues that arise in caring for your new cat. You buy a litter box, often an expensive one, fill it with good quality litter, and then find your cat defecating or urinating somewhere else in the house. Even more frustrating is when you discover that your cat “does her business” near the litter box, but not in it.

You have, of course, taken your cat to the vet who has pronounced her “healthy”. So, you’ve ruled out any physical ailment. You’ve changed the litter; you’ve cleaned the box. You’ve made sure no other cat is going in her box.

And yet, she’s still doing it – you still have problems:

- your cat is going somewhere else in the house

- your cat is going next to the litter box

- your cat is going half in and half out

The last possibility can often be solved by getting a larger box: something resembling a tub that your cat can still get into and out of without too much trouble but will confine the scat (not the cat) to the tub.

But the first two difficulties often remain.


What could be the problem? I’d like to pose a possible answer in one word: PLASTIC.

Most litter boxes, no matter how elaborate or expensive, are made of one plastic or another.

Plastics are polymers…huge molecules made by chemically “stringing together” smaller molecular units. Sometimes the units are all identical, sometimes they vary in composition and recur with some regularity. However all plastics are “organic” compounds.

In case you’ve forgotten your high school chemistry, organic compounds are primarily made up of Carbon and Hydrogen, sometimes with other elements such as Nitrogen, Phosphorous or Sulfur thrown in.

The plastics used in constructing most cheap cat litter boxes are relatively flexible – they can be easily bent. When you pick yours up to clean it, you’ll find it bending as you carry it out the door. It’s composed of a flexible plastic.

Flexible plastics are made that way by the addition of what’s termed “plasticizers”. Plasticizers are small organic molecules, usually phthalate esters that are added to the polymer to increase its flexibility.

Other litter boxes, particularly the self cleaning ones, are not so flexible. Since they are self cleaning, they are not designed to be picked up, and are generally constructed of several smaller, harder, plastic parts.

Hard plastics are formed in molds (forms into which the plastic is poured, where it hardens and takes shape). The molds are first coated with a “mold release” agent to enable the removal of the plastic part from the mold – otherwise it would stick to it and stay there.

Both materials – the plasticizer and the mold release agent- remain as a residue on (or in) the plastic. And both materials can “outgas”, that is, be released into the air, immediately after your litter box has been manufactured, and, in the cases of flexible plastics, from then on.


So, if you’ve tried everything to induce your cat to “go” in her litter box and nothing has worked, could it be that your cat is sensitive to the plasticizers or the mold release agents used in the manufacture of her litter box? Even though you can’t smell anything, maybe your cat can.

Plastic is basically an unnatural material. It wasn’t found in nature before Man arrived and started making disposable food containers and litter boxes, and it wasn’t a factor in the evolution of cats.

Maybe your cat is sensitive to it, and is making you aware of that fact by defecating somewhere else, far from this source of annoyance. Or maybe the plastic is triggering some unnatural behavior in your cat, causing her to defecate half in and half out.


Try changing the material of the litter box. Try a glass litter box.

But, you say, there aren’t any glass litter boxes for sale! Where can I get one?

I went to glass some time ago by converting a shallow baking dish into a litter box. My wife used it for baking scalloped potatoes, and I unwittingly grabbed it for a different use, much to her…uh…displeasure.

Granted, a baking dish is shallow and the litter is easily thrown out by a digging cat, but I place newspaper under it (not a plastic mat), to catch the thrown litter. I’ve owned two cats in succession now, and neither has had a problem “doing their deed” somewhere else.

So try it. Of course it goes without saying that once you convert the baking dish into a litter box, it’s the end of using it to cook scalloped potatoes for your guests when they come over for dinner.

Or, at least, it’s a good idea that, after they’ve eaten, to keep that fact to yourself.


Moving with Your Cat

Moving with Your Cat

Moving with Your Cat

Your cat should be the last thing you “pack up,” and if you’re moving only across town, you should have the furniture in place at the new house before he arrives. If you’re moving farther, his carrier should be roomy, certainly tall enough that he can stand up and turn around; it will help him very much if you put something in with him that has a familiar smell – the towel from his basket, for example. If he’ll be in the car for several hours, a litterbox, food and water are essential – and yes, if he isn’t allowed in your hotel room, the litterbox should be in the car where he can use it in privacy; there’s no way you are going to get him on a leash and to do his “business” on command on a grassy parkway.

When he arrives at the new house, if you’re still arranging furniture, or if the movers are coming and going, put him in a quiet, safe room out of traffic and keep the door closed. Do check on him periodically (talking to and petting him each time), and make sure he has the necessities (litterbox, food, water, and a comfy place to sleep).

Ensure that there is no way he can get outside, even if for some reason you have allowed him to be an outside cat – he may very well try to “go home” if a door is open to him. Even after you’ve settled in, make sure he is perfectly comfortable and happy with the house, which may take several days at least, before you open the door for him.

Some cats are perfectly comfortable with exploring a whole new house all at once; others are going to head for the room where you are or a hiding place like a closet, and will venture out very slowly. (The first night at this house, my cats at the time stayed within inches of me and didn’t leave the bedroom till I got up the next morning; when Stanley and Galahad arrived here, they boldly left the bedroom within 15 minutes after their arrival; Buster spent 2 days hiding in the mattress and might still be there if I hadn’t shut myself in with him and talked to him for 2 hours.)

Generally speaking, once the furniture is in place so the smells are familiar, he’ll adjust quite quickly; but this is a stressful time for him (as it is for you), so you’ll want to be sure to pet him and talk to him frequently, to reinforce that this is a “good thing” and not some frightening punishment. You might even want to “tour” the house with him in your arms, so you can explain to him what’s happening.

Note that if your cat is easily stressed, your veterinarian can provide you with a mild tranquilizer to help him cope with the move.


What Are The Two Most Common Problems With Cats?

What Are The Two Most Common Problems With Cats?

What Are The Two Most Common Problems With Cats?
  • The two most common problems with cats are aggression, and refusing to use the litter box. Both of these problems are usually caused by social conflict among cats. To have the fewest problems, have only one cat at a time. The more cats you introduce into a house, the more likely you are to have difficulties with the cats.