Felines Fighting? Peace is Possible
Feline Friends - How to Help your Cats get Along
Can a food help your dog calm down? Yes!
Fear of Fireworks
Feline Friends - How to Help your Cats get Along
As I give talks, and write articles about pet health and
behavior, I am learning more about what really concerns loving pet owners. One problem that is kind of hidden from the
veterinarian, is how well the housemate
cats are getting along. Cats rarely fight
so bad that they need to come in for stitching up or other care due to the
fight. In dogs that is a different
story. But cats do a lot of hissing,
yowling, chasing and running with loads of threats but fortunately few actual
nasty attacks. So, until we ask or the
client asks us what to do, cat fights and "grouchiness" is a hidden
problem for your veterinarian.
So, why do cats dislike each other? Really they do like each other. The problem is that the needs they have for
space, food, water, and play are very different that dogs or humans. When these needs are not met in the way the
cat needs them to be met, trouble flares.
It is not difficult to change the home around to help your cats, but it
does need to happen. You will likely
have to move a few collectables off the top shelf of a cabinet, or get a nice
cat tree near the window for the cats. If you do not follow the suggestions - the fur will keep on flying and
it may go into an all out brawl.
Cats are normally solo creatures out in the wild. Only lions really live in social groups and
depend on each other for hunting and such. So our pet cats want to have their own beds, perching places, food
dishes, and litter boxes. Every time you
add a cat, you need to add each of these things. All of these extra items (resources) need to
be placed a distance apart or not in view of the cats when in use. So all of these items need to be about 6 feet
apart from each other to have the cats feel like it is separate.
Using the space along the walls will greatly expand the
space for the cats. Put shelves
staggered along the walls going up so the cats can hop up and perch at
different levels. This is like
increasing the space by 2 or 3 times for the cats. A cat tree should have at least 3 shelves and
one box or cubbie area for the cats. Some cats like to be hidden and
low, others like to be out and up high.
Watch and see where you cat is going - top of the fridge? Get a cat
tower that is that high. Under the end
table? Get a box or tube for the cat to
hide and see out. This fills the need
for a cat to have places to investigate, to rest solo and climb.
Cats want to play, but with something that is moving and
looks like a bird or mouse to kill. Cats
don't really "play" with each other much. They do some, but usually not until they have
had time to swat, jump and try to kill a moving toy - usually one that a human
is tossing or moving. So get a feather
toy or real fur toy on a wand and tease your cat to try to catch and kill
it. You are now filling this cat's need
to kill something. Once that need is
filled, they are often more calm and want to interact with another cat.
Separate feeding areas are also important. Cats rarely outwardly fight over food. If they are swatting or hissing, then they
are really stressed over the sharing. Get a bowl per cat and position them so no one is looking at each
other. It is best to feed the cats about
1/8 cup of food twice daily. Don't leave
the food out. This can lead to fighting
over the food, or over eating. Cat
obesity is the leading reason for diabetes in the cat and other health
If you have a new cat that has recently entered the home -
within the past 4 months - you may need to re introduce the cats. I have an article on my website to help you. Write or call
me if you want me to go over the right way to introduce a new cat to your
Some cats have pain in the back or other places and use
aggression to keep other cats away from them. Other cats bumping up to them, grooming them or rubbing up to them may
hurt so the painful cat uses aggression to keep the others away. This is why it is so important if your cats
that used to get along, are grouchy now to have a very complete and detailed
exam for pain. Cats hide pain, and x-rays
and other tests may be needed to check for common problems especially in our
Can a Food Help your Dog Calm Down? Yes!
Royal Canin diets recently released a new dry food for dogs and cats
called CALM. We had a presentation about it at our office about 3 weeks
ago. It certainly looked promising so I thought I would try it on my
dog Bella since she still goes crazy barking at times. I have posted
about Bella in the past, and she has made a lot of progress over her 3
years, but I thought I would see if this food could help her focus
better and be a bit less reactive at times.
Here is a little back ground about the food. This diet was developed
by Royal Canin for dogs and cats that show signs of anxiety. The diet
is formulated for dogs under 44 lbs and cats of normal weight. The food
supplements vitamin b3, tryptophane and a milk protein calming
complex. I was curious to see if the food could make a difference in a
dog larger than 44 lbs ( Bella weighs 49 lbs). The levels of the
supplements are appropriate for dogs up to 44 lbs, but as dogs get
larger the volume they do not eat that much more food so the supplement
level is not likely to be enough to help. So Bella is 5 lbs over the
top limit, but I thought it would still be worth a try.
I started Bella at 50% CALM and 50% of her Science Diet k9 adult food
for 5 days, then onto CALM 100%. She has been on the CALM for 2 weeks.
The company says it may take up to 2 weeks to see a benefit. I have
been keeping a chart of how upset she gets - barking, lunging, and can
not come when called when she sees other dogs, squirrels, and other
Within the first few days, Bella would only bark 3-4 times at noises
outside and was not as ballistic over the neighborhood cat that hangs
around. She would come when called much more readily too. One week at
100% calm I am seeing more improvement. She was able to walk past a
home with a barking little dog in the yard and did not bark or pull at
the leash wanting to get after that dog. This morning my neighbor was
walking down the alley as Bella played in the yard. She stared barking
but after just 2 or 3 barks she came to me when called which normally
would have been very difficult. In the mornings, she settles in her bed
after eating and going out much more easily.
At times, Bella is still naughty or is still reactive. She got a hold
of the empty bag that was left on a counter and shredded it up. Can I
blame her? It must have smelled good and of course the shredding of the
bag was fun. She also got off her harness when she got tangled up in the
bushes the other day. At least her romp through the neighborhood was
much shorter and she came to me when I called her much more readily than
she has in the past.
I will have to see how she continues to do on the CALM diet. It is a
bit pricey - suggested retail is about $50 for a 9 lb bag. The cost of
some supplements with the cost of dog food is about equal to the cost of
this food. Feeding a diet that can help your dog be less stressed and
learn how to be less anxious in situations is far more convenient than
medications. As Bella learns she may not need to stay on this diet. I
will definitely keep you posted on her progress!
Fear of Fireworks
Many dogs are afraid of fireworks. Maybe a dog was left alone during a fireworks and did not know where to go or what to do. It may be genetic, or it may be something that has been increasing over the years. Whatever the cause, firework phobia is very common and can range from mild to severe. There is help for your dog. Help
is in the form of a plan to teach them to be calm with the help of
anti-anxiety medication as determined by your veterinarian.
your pet is young do train them to be rewarded for calm, non anxious
behavior during fireworks, and other loud noises. Teach them to go to a
"safe" spot in the house. Their safe spot may be their bed, your bed
room or a bathroom. Command them to the area before the fireworks start
and reward them. Give them a bed, crate or in the bath tub to lie on and
reward them for going there fast and lying calmly. You can give them a rawhide or kong filled with treats to chew and lick at while the fireworks explode overhead. Heavy beat rock music or Egyptian/Indian music is very helpful also. Print out Butterscotch's play list from our website for suggested songs that have helped many dogs. DAP collars are also helpful to reduce fear.
the dogs that are pacing, panting, drooling, circling, howling, pawing
at their owners, climbing on to furniture, hiding under the bed, in the
closet, digging out of doors or windows there is help for them. There
are different levels of fear, and each level causes some physical pain. The dog may not be completely fearless during fireworks, but they can be more calm, which is much better for them.
anti anxiety medication (not just tranquilizers) during fireworks are
very effective. These medications are not sedatives, although sedatives
may be part of combination treatment in severe cases. Your dog will not
be constantly drugged out. A check up and blood check are needed before
plan to help your pet have a better 4th of July season is possible with
the help of a veterinarian and staff offering behavioral help. Okaw
Veterinary Clinic offers exams and consults to prepare a plan for your
dog. Helping your dog will also help you. Contact Okaw Vet Clinic at 217-253-3221, look at the services we offer or read Dr. Foote's blog for more help.