How to Keep Your Kitten from Becoming a Terrorist

April 17, 2019

Author: Melissa Sitzman

You’ve more than likely come across a cat, or two, that seemed innocent and cute, until you tried to pet it! Cats who bite, claw and attack strangers and sometimes even their owners…. are like little terrorists! Only with fur, fangs and claws! No one wants to end up with a cat like that, or a cat that hisses, growls and hides from people.

There are a number of things that can lead a cat to act in such a way. Some of those reasons could, possibly, be related to health. Therefore, if you have a cat who suddenly becomes aggressive, or that starts hiding, please take them to a veterinarian.

What I’m going to focus on, is; how our behavior can influence our cat’s behavior. This is especially important when you’re raising a kitten. What you teach them and the experiences they have, in their youth, will shape how they act, in the future.

First, it’s extremely important to socialize a kitten. Not just with people but, also with other pets. The American Veterinarian website, has an excellent article on the proper way to do so. Of course, you should give the kitten a few days, to adjust to new surroundings, before doing so.

Second, you need to teach your kitten that biting people isn’t ok. The way I taught all four of my cats, was to gently stick my finger in their mouth, just far enough to hit the gag reflex. You only want to do so, for a split second. They quickly learn that biting, isn’t a pleasant experience!

If you would rather, you can try blowing in the kitten’s face, instead. Cats don’t like it and they’ll usually stop, when you do. Whatever technique you choose, you should loudly say, “ouch,” when the kitten bites. This reinforces the message that you don’t want to be bit. If the kitten is really out of control, grabbing it’s scruff (the extra skin at the back of its neck, above it’s shoulders) and saying “no,” works. However, I like to use that as a last resort.

You should, also, avoid using your hands, fingers, feet or your clothes, as toys. For instance, putting your hand under the covers of your bed, and moving it around to provoke the kitten, is teaching the kitten that it’s acceptable to attack your hands! Use a toy with a wand on it, instead. Anytime you play with the kitten, a toy should be involved.

Also, if you have children, it’s important to teach them that they need to be gentle with the kitten. Squeezing, hitting and playing rough with it, can result in a fearful and or aggressive cat.

Another thing that can impact behavior is being left alone, for extended periods of time. Kittens require time and attention. If you’re gone all day, it’s a good idea to have someone that can stop by, check on, and play with, the kitten. Playing with the kitten on a daily basis, will not only help tire it out, it will help you raise a happy, friendly cat, as well. Bonding is another bonus!

Disclaimer:

I am not associated with, or receiving compensation from any of the websites I’ve linked to. I’m only sharing helpful resources, combined with my personal experiences. Please, always consult a veterinarian when caring for pets!

Sources:

Martin K., Martin D. (2017 February 25) The Keys to Kitten Socialization American Veterinarian Journals. Retrieved from https://www.americanveterinarian.com/journals/amvet/2017/february2017/the-keys-to-kitten-socialization

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Gonzo’s Antics – Memories of One Cool Cat | Part IV : Naughty or Nice

Cool Cat, Gonzo, at 15 years old.

Author: Melissa Sitzman

March 11, 2019

Part IV : Naughty or Nice


If you’ve read Part I, Part II and Part III of this series, you may be thinking something along the lines of;

“Gonzo doesn’t sound like a very cool cat, he sounds like a naughty cat!”

And I can understand why you might think that. He could definitely be a trouble maker but, can’t all cats!? Have you ever met a cat that didn’t defy their human(s), in one way or another? I haven’t. In fact, I think that’s part of why we are so drawn to them.

Here’s what made Gonzo such a “cool cat;”

He demanded attention, affection and lots of play time. He craved human interaction, much like a dog and he always greeted people at the front door.

Not only would he greet you, he would follow you around and meow at you! I imagine he was asking questions about where I had been or who visitors were. If you asked him a question, he would answer with a meow. I swear sometimes he could understand people!

Gonzo, also, had the natural ability to “work” a room full of people. My ex husband and I, often had a group of friends over on Friday and Saturday nights. Gonzo loved it! By the end of the night, every single person would have played with him and his favorite toy. Even people who had declared not liking cats, couldn’t resist his charm! Everyone who met him, loved him.

He was full of energy and fearless. He never (in about 16 years of having him) acted depressed. He had a “happy go lucky” attitude and remained playful, up until the very end of his life. He wasn’t afraid of dogs. He didn’t care about moving and thought of it as an adventure. I could even walk him on a leash!

At the end of the day, the most important thing…. he made me laugh. Even when I was at my absolute worst and didn’t care to get out of bed. Gonzo wouldn’t allow for that to happen! He would head bump, cry, climb, jump and even gently paw at my eyelids, until I got up! He had an attitude towards life, that I wish I had. He loved, just about, every day of his, and that’s admirable. Cat or not.

I feel like I owe him for keeping me going. That’s why I’m writing this series. To share some of the funny things he did, throughout his life. So that, just maybe, he can still make people laugh.

He shouldn’t be forgotten.

R.I.P. Gonzo (12/1/1998 – 10/07/2015)

Gonzo’s Antics – Memories of One Cool Cat | Part II

February 25, 2019

Author: Melissa Sitzman

Gonzo – Wasn’t He A Gorgeous Cat!?

Part II


It was a hot summer day and work had been hell! I couldn’t wait to get home to relax and unwind. I usually took a shower after work because, being a veterinary assistant, is a dirty job. I was too tired, though. I just wanted to lay back on my bed and cool off.

I had a California king size waterbed, at that time. If you’ve never had a waterbed in the summer, you haven’t lived! You turn the heater for it off and it’s like laying in an ice box.

I was finally home! I put my purse down where I always kept it, next to the bed, and kicked my shoes off. I turned with my back towards the bed and plopped down on it with my entire body. SPLASH!! I screamed because the water was so cold and I was drenched!

Luckily the waterbed liner held up, keeping the water from flooding my condo or the condominium downstairs. I immediately suspected a cat popped the mattress but, couldn’t be sure. Being on the top floor made draining the water that remained in the mattress, a great time. I had hoses running out the window and down the side of the building to a grassy area.

Once all the water was cleaned up and I was left with a ton of wet towels, it was time to investigate. I started inspecting the mattress to see where the hole was. I couldn’t find it, at first. Then I saw it! At the very corner were three very distinct rips. It was a cat!!

My ex and I had adopted a second cat, a female that we named Princess. It was time to see which cat was guilty. I took each cat and gently pushed their paws so their nails came out and tried lining the nails up with the three tears. Princess was still too little. It didn’t match up.

As soon as I picked Gonzo up and walked over to the mattress, I knew he was guilty. He started wiggling and trying to get away from me! I managed to get him to calm down enough for me to try to see if his nails matched up to the rips.. BINGO! His nails lined up with those tears, perfectly!

I couldn’t be mad at him though, I should’ve known that waterbeds and cats, just don’t mix. Gonzo 1 – Humans 0

How to Successfully Introduce New Cats or Kittens to Older Cats

February 20, 2019

Author: Melissa Sitzman

Things You’ll Need:

  • A room where you can put the new cat, separate from the existing cats. Such as; a guest bedroom, an extra bathroom, etc.. (Just make sure there are child safety locks on any cupboards and any harmful substances are stored to where kitty can’t get to them. If it’s a bathroom, keep the toilet seat down.)
  • New Litter Box and Fresh Litter
  • Dishes for Food and Water (separate from any existing cats dishes)
  • Cat Food and Water
  • A Few New Cat Toys
  • A Cat Bed (you can make one out of some old towels and a box)
  • 3 Baby Gates
  • A Spray Bottle Full of Water
  • Patience!!

Instructions:

It’s a good idea to have a room set up before bringing a new cat home but, I know that’s not always possible. Whatever room you pick, make sure that there aren’t any hazards to the new cat or kitten. Kittens, especially, can fit into surprisingly small spaces! Any spaces under or behind furniture, should be blocked off. (Trust me, my cat Princess ended up stuck under my dresser, when I first got her!) Set up a new litter box, food and water dishes, some toys and some sort of cat bed, in the room you’ve selected.

When you bring the new cat inside, take it directly to the designated room it will be staying in. Make sure all existing cats are not in that room and shut the door. Only then should you let the new cat out of it’s carrier. The door to the room with the new cat inside, should remain closed, at least for the first day. If the new cat hasn’t been dewormed and vaccinated, the door should stay shut, until a few days after it has been to a veterinarian. Don’t leave the new cat alone that whole time! Frequently go in the room to check on him or her, check food and water, clean up the litter box and of course, spend some time playing with them. My husband and I always decide which one of us will spend the first night with the new cat. That way it feels safe and gives an opportunity to bond with it.

The other reason you want to keep the door shut, at first, is to allow your existing cats to smell and hear the new cat but, not see it. This gets them used to the new scent and let’s them know a new cat has arrived, without giving them a chance to fight. You also want to make sure you’re giving your existing cats extra affection and attention during this entire process. They may be agitated, curious, upset, scared and might hiss or even try to attack the door to the room where the new cat is. That’s normal behavior and it’s important to remember that cats are territorial.

After the first day, or after the new cat has had a few days after being dewormed and vaccinated, you can open the door. Before doing so, stack three baby gates, one on top of the other, in the doorway. This serves as a barrier between the existing cats and the new cat, while also allowing them to see each other. Make sure the baby gates are correctly installed and are secure, as one or more cats may try attacking the gates! The door should only be left open when someone is there to supervise what’s going on. If things get too heated and one of the cats is repeatedly trying to attack, shut the door and try again the next day. The time you’ll have to do this, depends on the cats. I’ve had a cat that was just curious and ready for a new playmate and I’ve also had a cat that hated other cats! Understand that it may take some time to get to where you trust the cats together.

When you have the door open, you should start feeding all cats near the baby gates, on their respective sides of it. You should not allow old and new cats to be together, without them, until they can calmly eat an entire meal, close to each other, without any incident. This could take a few days, it could take a year! Be prepared for that. Patience is an absolute must, if you want to make this work.

Once all cats can eat, without incident, you’re ready to let the new cat out of its room! Yay! Remove the two top baby gates and leave the lowest one. This allows the new cat to come out when they feel comfortable, it also allows existing cats to go in the room if they want but, leaves a small barrier they have to jump over, to do so. This should only be done under supervision.

This is when you may need a spray bottle of water. I know its controversial but, I would much rather spray cats that are getting into a fight, in order to get them to stop, then end up with injured cats! Cats don’t like water so, if they do get into a confrontation, a quick squirt of water should get them to stop. Doing so also sends the message that you won’t tolerate any fighting amongst them. You may want to give them a chance to stop before spraying them, by loudly saying, “no,” and clapping your hands but, if that doesn’t work, be prepared to squirt them with water.

All major bickering has to stop before you can take the final gate down and this should also be supervised, the first few times. Don’t leave the cats alone together until you’re confident that they won’t fight while you’re gone. Until you reach this point, put the new cat, back in it’s room and shut the door, anytime you leave. (Please, do not leave the new cat shut in its room for extended amounts of time.)

It’s worth noting that, not all cats will end up being buddies. With lots of patience and love, you should be able to get them to where they at least tolerate one another. Good luck!

I should mention, there are diffusers sold in major pet supply stores, that help calm cats. One brand is Feliway, and I’ve found that they do help.

Disclaimer:

I am not a veterinarian and am only sharing what has worked in my home. It’s always best to consult a veterinarian.

I’m not affiliated with or receiving compensation from any brands or products that I mentioned.