June 16, 2010

How to Make Sure Your Dog and Cat are Friends

Filed under: cat stress,dog stress,Dogs and Cats — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:15 pm

feline stress Whether you’re introducing a new dog to a home with a cat or vice versa, it is important to take special precautions to ensure that your dog and cat get along.  First of all, it is important to understand that certain breeds of dogs do not get along well with cats.  We all know the image of dogs chasing cats in cartoons, and while this is generally a misleading image, there are some breeds of dog that do not make good cat companions.  Hounds, malamutes, beagles, border collies, greyhounds, terriers, and whippets are just a few examples.  Before you decide to get a cat or dog, be sure to do some research about which breeds do not make good friends.

Otherwise, dogs and cats can be best buddies.  Most dog owners will learn that a well trained dog is easier to work with when introducing cats and dogs.  Puppies can be a little too energetic and may frighten your cat.   On the other hand, established house dogs often accept kittens more easily than the reverse situation.  Still, you need to monitor new pets more closely during the first few weeks to ensure that all your pets are getting along well.

Moreover, cats need private areas where they can escape and feel secure.  Give your cat a separate room, especially if she seems to be struggling to bond with the dog.  Also, a scratching post is a great accessory because it not only gives your cat an appropriate place to scratch, if it is tall enough, your cat can hide on top of the post.

Before introducing a new pet, give it time to adjust to the new surroundings.  Whatever you can do to alleviate stress levels before introducing your cat and dog will make the early stages of their relationship less anxiety-inducing.  Most importantly, have patience and your dog and cat should be friends in no time!

May 31, 2010

Preventing Behavior Problems in Cats

Filed under: cat aggressive behaviour,Cat behavior,cat stress — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:01 pm

feline stress Do cats feel stress? This is a valid question, one that many people believe they know the answer to. How could a cat feel stress when they have no responsibilities in life? The fact is, stress is a normal coping behavior for all animals, human or not, and as such your cat does indeed feel stress from time to time. One particular instance that can cause a great amount of stress for your cat is when you leave her home alone. Moreover, when you have multiple cats, leaving them alone in a confined space (your home) can also be extremely stressful. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to prevent stress and the subsequent behavioral problems that cats may demonstrate.

The easiest way to help your cat with stress is through playtime. Even just five minutes of play every day is enough mental stimulation and exercise to prevent stress in your cat. And, if you have multiple cats, you may want to play with them separately. When cats sleep and groom together they are demonstrating that they have a good relationship and it’s ok to do group play. However, when cats are distant from each other, they may view other cats as a threat and you’ll want to separate play time.cat behavior problems

By engaging your cat, you prevent many potential behavioral problems like aggression and you even contribute to their overall health. Daily play provides exercise so that your cat is less likely to become overweight or obese. Plus, play time is a great way to demonstrate appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. Make sure your cat knows that scratching and biting are unacceptable behaviors and remember that it’s easy for cats to misinterpret your behaviors as play so be patient.

May 18, 2010

Can Cats Groom Too Much?

Filed under: Anxiety and Over-grooming,cat hair,cat stress — Dr. Amber Reed @ 6:20 pm

feline healthy coat The simple answer to this question is yes.  Over-grooming is an anxiety disorder in cats that can be compared to obsessive compulsive behavior in humans.  Many cats find grooming themselves to be quite relaxing and in stressful situations will turn to grooming to calm down.  Over-grooming, however, is a sign that your cat may be suffering from a more serious anxiety problem and that they have difficulty relieving stress.  In many instances, over-grooming in cats begins when there is some kind of environmental change; for example, a move, the introduction of a new pet or family member, or even illness may lead to over-grooming.

Recognizing that your cat is over-grooming may be difficult.  Still, excessive licking or pulling at fur are two of the earliest signs of over-grooming.  Eventually, cats that groom too much may develop bald patches especially around the inside of the thighs, near the abdomen and groin, or on the forelegs.  Because over-grooming in cats may be caused by a medical condition, it is always best to visit your veterinarian if you notice these symptoms.  Hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, allergies, bacterial infection, and viral infection are all examples of medical conditions that may cause cats to over-groom.

In most cases, over-grooming is treated by dealing with the underlying medical condition.  However, if your cat over-grooms because of an anxiety disorder, the treatment is aimed at removing the stressful situation or helping your cat to cope with stress.  Anxious over-grooming in cats is usually caused by some environmental stressors.  Find and eliminate the stress causing factors and your cat may recover.  In addition, try to maintain a regular routine that includes a healthy diet, exercise, and play with your cat.  Finally, ensure that your cat has a stimulating environment so that she can entertain herself when you are away.  In very extreme cases, vets may recommend anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.