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Monday, November 28, 2011

My humans, the recession and me


Dear George,
I have just heard I cost about £500 a year to keep and am a bit worried in case they decide to cut my expense account. I don't have a hutch outside which needs to be kept heated in the winter and I don't have an outside run to keep clean and tidy. I try my best not to eat much hay and I only take up a bit of space under the kitchen table.
It's not as though I spread myself over the furniture like cats and dogs leaving hairs about and my cuddle blankets are easily popped into the washing machine. I wouldn't go to the vet at all if they didn't insist so they could easily save money there. I can't think of any way of cutting back on things.
Should I give up my daily slice of banana? Would that help do you think? They won't put me in a rabbit rescue home will they? Do cats cost a lot of money to keep? Oh dear,it's all such a worry.

Harvey
http://www.harvey-diaryofaninspirationalbunny.blogspot.com/

Dear Harvey,
The recession is worrying for us cats, and dogs, and rabbits. The problem is human priorities. Obviously the best kind of human pet buys the pet food first, then their food, and lastly other things like rent, mortgage, petrol and so forth. But, of course, as we all know some pets just aren't properly socialised and may act as if their needs are as important as ours. These under-educated humans badly need further training.
I really don't think you should even contemplate cutting back on your food or your lifestyle. Why should you? I happen to know that your human carers could easily cut back on theirs. The male drives a nice car - he could get a much smaller vehicle. Both would be much healthier if they walked more instead of driving. They (not you) could eat less. I mean, why don't they eat hay and carrots - much cheaper than meat and fish? Why give up your banana? They should give up
their bananas.
However, you obviously love them. So here are some suggestions of things you could do. You could cuddle up closer to them on the sofa to help keep them warm - less heating costs. As you say, you could refuse all visits to the vet. That's a big saving and all of us animals loathe and detest vets.You could act as a hot water bottle by burrowing down the bottom of their bed.
I used to recommend that we cats bring in mice as a source of cheap protein for our humans. But, sadly, over the years I have had to admit defeat. They do not EVER eat them. Goodness knows I have tried. I have left a dead mouse in Celia's handbag. I have set loose a living one on their bed one Sunday morning as a treat. I have even left a dead mouse in the toaster. She came down, put a slice of bread in the other side, pushed down the toaster.... and screamed.
It was then I realised my efforts to help them through the recession were not working at all.
Sadly,
George.
PS. Cats and dogs and house rabbits are suffering when humans lose their house and cannot find rented accomodation which will accept pets. Please make a donation to your local animal shelter this Christmas - especially my original home, www.westoxfordshirecats.org.uk

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How can I deal with a bully?


Dear George,

My brother Marti is a bully and it seems that my human either doesn’t realize it or doesn’t know how to deal with it. If you remember we are the three cats (Marti, Bentley and Princess Penelope) rescued from the same shelter. Marti has this crazy idea that he is somehow special and can bully the rest of us. I personally think he’s having an identity crisis. I think he’s having some self-confidence issues and that’s why he behaves like some “diva”. But, he can get away with pretty much everything!

He managed to stress Penelope to the extend that she won’t use the litter box properly.

He’s constantly stressing me by “pushing” me off the sofa or eating my food.

I’m very calm by nature and don’t like to put up a fight unless absolutely necessary.

I don’t like the idea that Princess P or myself will be taken back to the shelter because “we don’t behave”! I’d like to learn some ways to put Marti in his place. I’d like to be able to communicate to my human my concerns. And, George, between you and me, if it’s someone special in this house….then, it is me (as you can see in the photo) So George, I really hope that you and other cats on this blog can share some wisdom.

Bentley


Dear Bentley,

Being bullied is really awful. We cats deal with it by careful avoidance. Can you find yourself a place where you can retreat from him? Something like a sitting place high up? Or hidey hole where you can sit and guard the entrance - so that he can't get in. A covered cardboard box with an entrance hole cut into it makes a good retreat. You can sit inside with your head inside but looking out and he can't get at you.

Humans are dumb about cats because they are a promiscuously social species - they think we make friends and like company. They can't see that living with a bully is extremely stressful. Usually they only discover this when we get stress-induced cystitis, spray in the house, or have fights. They don't notice our unhappiness.

When we don't get on, we cannot share resources. So there has to be at least one litter tray for each cat and the trays should be in different locations. Poor Penelope must be able to get to the litter tray safely when she wants to. Sometimes bully cats sit outside litter trays and ambush us when we have to go in.

There should also be more than one food location - at least two in a three-cat house, preferably three. We cats hate having to eat close to each other. It's just not natural for us yet humans make us do it. Water bowls should be in several locations too. And there should be lots of cat beds and hidey holes.

Some people just separate the cats - with one cat living upstairs, one living downstairs. Installing a Petporte or Sureflap microchip operated cat flaps within the house can allow each individual cat to retreat to a room on its own. Or humans can operate a time share wherebye one cat spends 6-8pm in the living room, while the other spents 8-10pm.

Frankly, Bentley, if Marti continues to bully, your humans should think about rehoming him. Some cats cannot live in groups and it is best to find them homes where they can be on their own. If something isn't done, your health will suffer.

George.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Food. If you can't hunt it: steal it.


Dear George,
My name is Scotch (not as in the beverage but as in the butterscotch ice-cream) I'm the youngest (at the right) of the three rescued cats.

You might wonder what we are doing in the window. Well, we are watching some birds and dreaming of a nice supper. We are no fussy eaters and forever grateful for every meal our mommy puts on our plate. The problem is that she always is trying to give us the best quality canned or dry food but I would prefer some raw meat. I think she is afraid to give us raw meat even if she’s fully aware that in our natural habitat cats don’t cook.

We like our prey raw and juicy. There is so much confusion with the pet food industry lately that no one knows anymore what’s good and what’s not or who to trust.

So, George, what do you think; raw, cooked or canned?

Waiting for your answer

Scotch


Dear Scotch,

The ideal food for us includes mice, other small rodents, the occasional bird, baby rabbits, lizards, and a few insects. That's the food evolution designed our stomachs for.I can see from your photo you would like to get out there and start hunting down your food. We have got short digestive tracts which are there to process flesh, bones, cartilage and fur, not vegetables. We are pure carnivores, unlike dogs who are omnivores and will eat anything. (If you lived with a Labrador you would be conscious that "everything" really means everything).

So if your human wanted to give you a natural diet, she could go off and catch mice, birds, and a few insects for you. Or buy defrosted mice from pet stores who stock them for reptiles. There are raw food diets for dogs, but, as dogs have a different digestive system, these would not be necessarily suitable for cats. (Incidentally there is a firm selling dried mice as treats at http://www.petextras.com I haven't tried them, as I live in the UK).

Raw meat would be great as a treat - if you like it. But it's not a natural diet. There is raw meat in a mouse or a rabbit, but there is also bone, cartilage, skin and fur. You need all these as well as the meat. Flesh meat alone leads to skeletal disorders in growing cats. Some cats don't like raw flesh anyway. My friend Tilly doesn't. She was brought up as a slum cat on scraps and prefers to eat chips and old bread.

So I think it is probably safest just to accept the tinned or dried food given to you by your human. Make sure that it is a good petfood manufacturer. Besides, you can supplement it by raiding the kitchen food preparation surfaces. It's not too difficult to learn to pull down the trash can. Make feeding more fun. It's good for your to have to work for your food. If you can't exercise by hunting, then exercise by stealing.

Yours

George.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The power of laughter and play to train a human



Dear George,

My name is Zoe and I came from a shelter as my daddy’s birthday gift. I love my new home – it is a big, beautiful house with many sunny spots where I can take a nap or just relax. I’m allowed to go in any room I want to but I’m not allowed to sleep in the master bed yet! But I am happy! They even share dinner with me! So, you might ask why I’m LOL? Well, when they came to pick me up at the shelter…I overheard mommy saying that SHE is not a cat person. Aha! Look at me (in the photo): in less then a week I had her wrapped around my little paws. Now…..she’s in love with me! Of course I make her believe that I’m all hers J and…. this is my little secret (daddy knows)!

But George, I need to learn more tricks to keep her wrapped around my little paws; I have to take over the master bed too! See, I’m young and cute but I don’t have much experience. I’m sure you can help; any ideas, suggestions?

Hugs

Zoe


Dear Zoe,

Congratulations on adopting two new humans from rescue. It was particularly kind of you to choose the female, even though you heard her say she wasn't a "cat person." Sometimes that kind of human gets overlooked by cats thinking of adoption and a new home. These humans haven't been socialised to cats. But, as you are discovering, it is surprisingly easy to rehabilitate them and change their basic attitudes towards cats. All it takes is a little basic training and behaviour modification.

You have started well. The very first essential in any behaviour modification programme (or bmp as we human behaviourists call it for short) is to create and strengthen the bond. The human must look to you to get its needs met. What are these needs? In my opinion humans are starved of appropriate touch, vocalisations and play. We cats supply their cravings for stroking, rubbing, purring, laughter and play. That is how we reward them with our very presence.

Now that you have got her craving the rewards that only you can give her, you can start the secondary training. You need to get her used to the idea that you will visit the bedroom. Little by little. Don't start at night, as she is obviously still anxious about sharing a bed with you. Visit the bedroom during the day, have a little sleep on the bed, or, better still, if she is in the room jump on the bed, lie on your back and give a very enticing wriggle. Few humans can resist either laughing at you or tickling you when you do what is known as the "social roll." Many humans also enjoy it if you play kitten games while they are trying to change the sheets.

The idea is slowly to get her used to the idea that you get on the bed. We academic cats call it "habituation" and "counter conditioning." Instead of worrying about fur on the sheets, she begins to associate you and the bed with laughter and play. Finally, once she is fully at ease with that thought, wait for the moment when you can sneak on. It might be when she takes a nap one afternoon. Or perhaps one Sunday morning when she is drowsing later than usual in the morning.

Jump up quietly. Lie down in a convenient area and purr very very loudly. It usually works and a few weeks later you will be installed as the third person on the bed. Let me know how you get on.

Love George



Saturday, November 05, 2011

Vets and cats. We all hate vets. They are bad, bad, bad, bad humans.


Dear George,

I’m MAD, mad, mad at my humans who took me to a vet clinic for a visit! What kind of visit is that where instead of tea and cookies one is given a vaccine? I know they called it a “medical visit” but I want a fun visit not a medical one! I don’t want any vet touching my teats, ears, checking my teeth or other places I won’t even mention. By the way; what’s the purpose of having the temperature checked? And why is the procedure different for us then for humans? Why do they “use” one end to check ours and the other end for humans? At least the vet wasn’t successful with me! I simply “flew” right on a shelf and hid behind bags of food as you can see in the photo.

But here is my main concern George; why are we being vaccinated every year? Couldn’t this possibly be over vaccination? Shouldn’t a vaccine give you immunity for few good years? Can we become sick from being over vaccinated?

Worried about us & pissed at humans

CAT Victoria


Dear Cat Victoria,

Join the worldwide fellowship of Cats That Hate Vets. We hate their clinics. We hate the smell of it. We hate their white coats. We hate the receptionists, the vet nurses and the waiting clients. All of it. We hate the way there are dogs barking in the waiting room. We loathe every single moment of visiting them because they stab us with needles, pull out mouths open to look inside, and (worst of all) stick thermometers up our bottoms. Horrible horrible vets.

The needles, they tell us, are good for us. Vaccines protect us from illness. This well and good if we are outdoor cats, or if we are cats that are going to catteries. Good catteries have to insist on basic vaccination just to make sure illnesses are not spread among their feline clients.

But, do we need vaccinating each year? Many people believe not. For the British take on this topic look at The Cat Group's policy statement. For the American view, consult the guidelines of the American Association of Feline practitioners. Both these bodies say that not all cats need all vaccines. It depends on the age of the cat, the laws of the country and how much the cat is exposed to infectous diseases. It's important to vaccinate but it is also important not to over-vaccinate. If you have a bad effect from a particular vaccine, make your human report it and insist that he/she makes the vet use a different type or brand next time.

As for taking temperatures..... uggghhhhhh. How disgusting is it for us to have that tube up our bottoms! Horrible. Undignified. You did the right thing,Victoria. Just make a run for it. If you can't do that, then bite the vet. My friend William used to hate the procedure so much that it took three people to hold him down - his human, the vet and the vet nurse. Afterwards he turned smartly round and bit the vet. I admired him for it.

So the message to all Cats That Hate Vets, is don't let them get away with it. Have claws and teeth at the ready. Fight back and fight back hard.

Love George.

Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, www.celiahaddon.com This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online VetTechprogramms.org