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Play is Important for — Survival??

We have long advocated play therapy as a way to prevent--and solve--a host of feline behavior problems, as well as a part of indoor enrichment for your cat's mental and physical health. Now there's another reason--longevity! In a fascinating article, ABC News ponders the question: "How could play — defined as “apparently purposeless activity that’s fun to do and pleasurable” — be vital for grim survival in such an often random and dangerous world? – And not just play in childhood, but throughout life. – And throughout life not only ...


Indoor Enrichment for Cats

Cats are smart, and they naturally know everything they need to know about being a cat. However, they do not know about things like cars, dogs, infectious diseases, and other outdoor hazards. Like young children, cats need to be protected from dangers they can't anticipate or handle. That's why Little Big Cat recommends that cats be kept indoors, and not allowed to roam loose outside. (See our article "Indoors or Outdoors" for more information.) Now, many people think that this is cruel. They say that Nature intended for cats to ...


Double the Fun, Double the Territory!

By Jackson Galaxy Michael, Patty, their toddler Pandora, and most of all, their cat Tess, had a big problem*. As Pandora was becoming more and more mobile, Tess was getting increasingly irritated. The problem culminated a few days before they called me, when Tess took a swipe at Pandora and broke the skin near her eye. Michael was in a true panic, since Tess had already been surrendered to the local shelter for her behavior, where she promptly turned absolutely wild. When Michael learned that Tess was to be euthanized, ...


Play Therapy

by Jackson Galaxy As you pass innocently by a doorway, your cat pounces fiercely on your ankle, gnawing and clawing until blood is drawn, and then bolting away under the bed...Two littermates, now six years old, suddenly start fighting and can’t be in the same room together anymore...Perhaps your cat is vocalizing so loudly at 4:00 A.M. that you seriously wish that you had become a tropical fish enthusiast somewhere along the line. Strange as it may seem, these unpleasant activities may have a common cause—and a common solution: regular, ...


Flower Essences for Animals

By Jean Hofve, DVM Flower essences (remedies) are specially prepared extracts of the flowering parts of certain plants. They work through energy fields to heal stress and disease from the inside. Flower essences were first developed by Dr. Edward Bach, an English physician who gave up his busy practice to study and prepare the 38 flower essences which now bear his name. We frequently use essences to help with emotional, physical, and behavioral problems in animals. Since Dr. Bach's time, many other essences have been created around the world, not ...


How to Care for Your New Kitten

Kittens, like all animal babies, need special care. It is important to provide lots of love and, as well as more practical items like toys, a litter box, and an adequate scratching pad or post. Be sure to kitten-proof your house, removing small or delicate items to prevent damage by curious little paws and teeth. Kittens are great climbers, so think vertically!


Indoors or Outdoors?

By Jean Hofve, DVM Are you thinking about allowing your cat to go outside without restriction? To make the right decision, you need to know the facts. The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 15-18 years. For a cat allowed outdoors, the average life is only 2-5 years. There are many dangers that can harm or kill an outdoor cat. (However, there are safe alternatives to simply opening the door; see our article on Outdoor Safety for more info.) If your cat roams outside, or you're considering allowing it, ...


Laser Toys

By Jackson Galaxy Every doting cat guardian, it seems, is always on the lookout for the latest, greatest toy – something that will capture their kitty companion's attention and hone his or her hunting skills. One of the tried and true is the good old laser pointer. Dogs as well as cats generally seem very "turned on" by the spot on the wall that travels quickly across the floor, onto the table, couch, etc. Many pet folks have found that they have to literally show their cat or dog the ...


Let’s Talk About Talk!

By Jackson Galaxy Without fail, the most fascinating information about the cat world comes to us from our clients, subscribers and cat-loving friends, not merely from "book learning." This time, we'd like to have a virtual roundtable with all of our readers about the topic of cat vocalization. We see many questions come to us around this topic. For instance, our friend and subscriber Lea W. from Lafayette, CO writes: "I am wondering if people have done research on how cats communicate among themselves? What I have observed with my ...


Litterbox Secrets

By Jackson Galaxy The most common problem we deal with is inconsistent use of the litterbox. Often, by the time clients call, they are "at the end of their rope," which translates to "show me progress or else..." where the "or else" is not a happy ending for the cat. Much of the frustration experienced by our clients is the result of anthropomorphizing (that is, assigning human emotional values to a cat's behavior) the offending events. The guardian interprets the behavior using their own frame of reference. For instance, she ...


Moving with Your Cat

by Jackson Galaxy To understand how stressful a change in environment can be on a cat, think about how stressful moving can be for us. According to psychologists, the top stressors for humans are bereavement, divorce, and moving. We are territorial and want to protect what is ‘ours,’ including our home routines, Dr. Larry Lachman refers to this concept in his book, Cats on The Counter, as “stable-sameness.” If you factor in the fiercely territorial nature of cats, you may begin to see just how upsetting a complete move (of any ...


Overstimulation (Petting-Related) Aggression

By Jackson Galaxy Wendy and her cat Nala are relaxing on the couch, Wendy absently stroking a half-sleeping Nala while she watches TV. This goes on for ten minutes or so, and suddenly Nala whips around toward Wendy's innocent hand and sinks her teeth into it. Wendy yells, equal parts disbelief and pain, and noisily banishes Nala from her lap, swatting her on the rear as she runs off, her tail and body low to the floor. This is an examples of overstimulation, or petting-related, aggression. It is one of ...


Play Aggression

By Jackson Galaxy Art has a great relationship with his feline companion, Mouse. That is, except around dinnertime every day. Even though Art watches around the corners to see where Mouse might be lurking, he's still almost always surprised as Mouse dashes out and ambushes Art's ankles—sometimes viciously, according to Art. Art takes Mouse's actions to mean that he is becoming suddenly territorial, seeing Art as a competitor for the turf they have shared peacefully for so many years. What Art is actually seeing is a common problem called "play ...


Redirected Aggression: A Case Study

By Jackson Galaxy From The Galaxy Files – "Trouble In Paradise" When I received the phone call for assistance, the voice on the other end was not just frustrated, as I am accustomed to hearing. She was utterly bewildered, and on the verge of tears. Diane had shared her country home with littermates Cherokee (female) and Mallo (male) for their entire seven years. They were beautiful Himalayan mixes, and in the pictures she E-mailed all one could pick out was four eyes, and an entanglement of fur on the couch, ...


Spaying and Neutering

By Jean Hofve, DVM More than a million "excess" dogs and cats will be killed in shelters this year. This is down from some 12 million in 2000, but it's still far too many. By being a responsible caregiver and sterilizing your companion animals, you avoid contributing to the terrible problem of pet overpopulation. Kittens can be sterilized as early as 8 weeks of age; in fact, many shelters do this routinely. Female cats can come into heat as early as 4 months old. Unsterilized (intact) cats will usually find ...

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