|Posted on May 12, 2012 at 7:40 AM|
Feline Marking and Spraying
If you are finding urine outside the litter box and have ruled out medical problems, and litter or litterbox aversions, your cat could be displaying urine-marking behavior.
Cats do this to inscribe a pheromonal message for later passers-by. It's like posting a sign ... “Tigger was here. Keep out.”
Urine-marking can be performed by a cat from a standing or squatting position, on either vertical or horizontal surfaces.
Spraying is the most common form of urine-marking behavior. When spraying, the cat backs up to a vertical surface, the tip of the tail quivers, and s/he delivers a fine stream of urine onto the surface.
Marking behavior is testosterone-enhanced, so non-neutered males have the greatest motivation to mark. However, both males and females can mark. Females in heat will urine mark, generally from the squatting position. Males will marksexual availability in the upright position. Neutering and spaying will eliminate 90-95 percent of urine-markingbehaviors in cats.
When cats are stressed, they have a much higher tendency to mark. Stress can come from many sources, but some of the more common sources are:
Sometimes cats will urine-mark because they don’t like the location of the litter box, or the size of it. In fact, the place cats mark is often where they would prefer to go - but there is no box there! Of course, you can’t always accommodate such “suggestions,” so kitty will have to be encouraged to a more convenient location.
In cases of spraying/marking, the solution lies in determining what is stressing your kitty and addressing it. Begin by analyzing what might have changed in your cat's world around the time the marking began.
Ways to decrease marking:
Remember to always make changes gradually since cats are creatures of habit. You will only discover what works by changing one thing at a time.
|Posted on May 6, 2012 at 6:45 AM|
The most common behavioral problem for which cat owners seek Veterinary assistance is house-soiling. In fact, house-soiling is also a leading cause of cats’ relinquishment to shelters.
There are reasons for this behavior, and your kitty is limited in the ways he can communicate with you when something is wrong. If you can view his behavior as a form of communication and not an act of defiance, you and kitty will have a better chance for finding a solution to the problem, instead of entering into a battle of wills, which will only make a behavior problem worse.
Today's detective work will focus on the Litterbox itself. By getting the latest scoop onlitter, you will be better prepared to prevent and resolve litter- andlitter-box-related toileting problems. Every cat has unique preferences, and the best way to identify an individual cat’s set of toileting preferences is to experiment with a variety of litter choices and box styles.
5 Factors to Consider:
1. Litter or box fragrance
2. Litter cleansliness (or, "how often do you scoop, and how often do you dump your litter boxes?")
3. Litter texture (are you using clumping, sand, clay, recycled newspaper, corn cob, wheat, pine, or other organic pellet material ?)
4. Litter box location and number (how many boxes per cat are appropriate?).
5. Litter box style (size, height of sides, is there a top? )
Many cats find deodorized or scented litter highly objectionable.The worst culprits are litters such as Tidy Cat's new product "for small spaces." We tried this one time and were choking! It smelled like a bomb of scented candles went off - any cat that used the box smelled like the fragrance for hours afterwards. Needless to say we threw the rest away. We found in the few days it was out that it was the last box of choice for our Siberians...
Also be sure not to use plastic box liners since kitties get their claws stuck in the plastic when digging, leading to urine seeping under the liner and creating an unpleasant scent for you and your cat.
Humans can add to that problem by using strongly scented cleaners when disinfecting and cleaning the litter box. Use plain hot water and low scneted Dawn Dishwashing detergent to clean boxes and scoops. Then spray with white vinegar and leave to dry (this dinsinfects the box and scoops. When fully dry rinse well with hot water to remove as much vinegar scent as possible. Many cleaning products leave a lingering smell, which cats find distasteful.
How often do you scoop? We are horrified when we hear people saying "every few days" or even "once a week - it's a large box." No, no, and no! Boxes should be scooped a minimum of once a day for one cat and twice a day for two or more cats. The more you scoop the happier your cat (and your nose!) is. Using a "Litter Locker" next to the litter box will encourage you to scoop since it is easy to dump the clumps and seal in yuck and smell with a twist of the handle...
How often do you dump? Dump the entire litter box - and clean and disinfect - no less than once a week. Dump prior to that if more than 1/2 the litter granules now look darker than the original litter. This is from broken off peices of the used clumps - even if you can not smell the old litter left behind, you Siberian can!
Litter Texture Aversion
Cats have lived in the desert for thousands of years, using fine sand for their toileting.
Even though commercial cat litter is generally a pretty fair substitute for desert sand, sometimes cats develop a litter aversion—not liking the odor or feel of the litter -- resulting in urinating or defecating in in appropriate places. Cats especially hate any litter that is sharp (crystal litters being one horrible example of this style); or soggy (think reused newspapers); or sticky (think many of the natural litters like corn pellets or pine). Using one of these litters is begging for a litter box problem.
Other times a kitty has learned to associate the litter with something unpleasant, such as lack of privacy, pain, being cornered by another cat, or being caught there in order to administer medications.
Common signs of litter aversion include:
Litter box location and number of boxes out.
Litter boxes should be located in private areas with at least two sides protected by a wall to give you cat the privacy she or he needs to feel safe. This is especially true in multiple pet households or ones with small children or lots of activity.
The rule of thumb for number of litter boxes out at a time is one box per cat plus one. This is two boxes for one cat, three for two cats, four for three cats and so on.
It is well to remember if you have several cats or a large home, to have the boxes in several locations both for ease of access and so that a bully cat can not block a milder cat from using the box.
Litter Box style and size
Siberians are large cats. The box that fit your Siberian kitten so nicely may be much too small for your Siberian adult. At ForestWind Siberians we use the largest sized litter boxes we can find - the ones with the tallest sides and broadest widths and longest lengths. We never use a top. Siberians are large cats and all cats couch (almost sit up) to use a litter box. A cat can not use a litter box in the proper position if the top is on most boxes - there simply is not enough head room... Although some of our kitten families find that the automated litterboxes work well, we worry about how to adequately clean them as well as any sudden movement the mechanics make scaring off the cat. Finally, the new litter robot is fully enclosed and by measurement is not technically large enough for an adult Siberian. Unless you have medical reasons for avoiding litter, manage with the old fashion scoop it yourself box to keep kitty happiest.
Now that you have considered the various reasons your cat may simply not like the litter box you have made available, perhaps you'd like to offer your cat a “litter buffet” for a week or two, complete with separate boxes and litter types to see which products your cat prefers. Some cats even prefer to have one box for urine and one for stool. Above all... Make any changes very gradually - always maintain at least one box in "the old way" to be sure that you are indeed dealing with a dislike issue and not a health or emotional issue in your cat.
So, whenever changing type of litter, or anything about a litter box, first use an additional box with the new litter, and gradually take away the old litter once your cat is happy with the new one. The same strategy applies to changing to a new type of box or a new box location.
Our next post will address marking and spraying issues.
|Posted on May 3, 2012 at 6:35 AM|
Has your kitty been making unwanted deposits outside the litter box? Are you at your wit’s end trying to make sense out of your cat’s house-soiling behaviors? If so, you are not alone.The most important point is to not assume that your cat is being “bad” if he urinates or defecates outside the litter box, instead realize he is trying to communicate something to you.
There are three main causes of house-soiling in cats:
1. Underlying medical problems - such as feline lower urinary tract disease, or feline urologic syndrome (FLUTD/FUS).
2. Urine marking
3. Toileting issues.
Toileting problems can stem from a variety of causes, including factors unrelated to the litter box. So it is always critical to carefully consider the cat, its home, and any recent changes in order to correctly identify the motivation for the problematic behavior. Over the next several posts we will address each of the above issues to help you – and Kitty – get back to thinking Inside the Box.
Today's post will focus on Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Urinary issues top the list of why cats visit vets. Urinating outside the litter box can sometimes be a sign of feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), also known as feline urologic syndrome (FUS) -- a collection of conditions that can affect the bladder and urethra of cats. In addition to urinating in in appropriate places, affected cats exhibit other recognizable signs, such as:
**Cats with a urethral obstruction will also show the above signs, but will pass little to no urine, and will become increasingly distressed. Urethral obstruction is an absolute emergency, requiring immediate veterinary treatment.
FLUTD can be seen in cats of any age, but it is most often seen in middle-aged, overweight cats that get little exercise, have restricted access to the outside, and eat a dry diet. Environmental factors, such as your cat's relationship with you and with other household cats, and changes in routine may increase your cat’s risk forFLUTD/FUS.
A few cats with FLUTD will experience frequent recurrences of bladder symptoms, but most cats have only occasional or rare episodes. Although treatment depends on the exact cause, there are some steps you can take to help reduce the frequency, severity and duration of attacks:
|Posted on April 2, 2012 at 4:25 PM|
You'll never forget the first time you see little wriggling rice grains on your kitten's behind, probably because you'll be so grossed out by the sight. It may be the first time, but it probably won't be the last…unless you use the information below:
Two types of intestinal worms, tapeworms and roundworms, are commonly found in cats.
Tapeworms are the source of the wriggling rice grains, known as proglottids—essentially, body segments full of tapeworm eggs. Cats can also be hosts to hookworms and whipworms, two other types of roundworms. Although it's almost impossible for humans to get tapeworms from cats, roundworms and protozoan parasites such as giardia and toxoplasmosis, can be transmitted to people. If you allow outside (cat run) access, or raw feed, worm for tapeworms monthly with Drontal. Do this two weeks before or after her heartworm preventative treatment. Drontal can be purchased from your Vet.
Heartworms are found mostly in dogs, but cats can be infected. Vets think one reason cats don't get heartworms as often as dogs is because their immune systems fight off the microfilaria (baby worms). But because cats' hearts are so small, even one or two worms can cause very serious problems, and treatment is complex and potentially very dangerous to the cat. To avoid this death sentence, be sure to keep your Siberian on the product Revolution year round. You can get this at the Vet's.
The best way to control worms is to keep your kitten inside and prevent fleas. Fleas, lice, cockroaches, beetles, and waterbugs are intermediate hosts of tapeworms and roundworms, so you must keep your home free from pests. Mosquitoes are the primary vector for heartworms. If you keep your cat indoors, she is much less likely to come in contact with the pests that are the sources of intestinal parasites. The product Revolution kills fleas and flea eggs.
If you let your kitten outdoors in an enclosure, make sure it has a waterproof floor, hose it down daily, and let it dry in the sun. Remove stools from the enclosure every day. Clean up areas of stagnant water that can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and for the protozoa that causes giardia. Keep your lawn short and water it only when necessary; shaded and moist earth is an ideal breeding ground for worm eggs and larvae.
Clean your kitten's litter box every day, removing the stools and wet spots. The box should be kept clean and dry, and if your cat should bring home worms or other internal parasites such as giardia, dump the box daily and sterlize while treating for giardia under your Vet's supervision. Always be sure to wash the litter box weekly or more frequently with boiling water and bleach. Let the bleach stand wet on the cleaned litter box for at least 10 minutes to disinfect. Rinse box and let air dry. Cleaning the litter box at least once a day will eliminate risk of contracting toxoplasmosis if your cat is a carrier (many cats are not), because cat feces don't begin shedding the toxoplasma parasite until one day after the stool as been deposited.
If your kitten does get worms, ask your Vet for a dewormer. Some over-the-counter wormers are effective, but worms have developed a resistance to some of them. The way to be really sure your dewormer will work is to get it from your vet and to give it to your kitten as directed. Again, ForestWind Siberians urges you to use the products Revolution and Drontal.
|Posted on March 12, 2012 at 6:30 AM|
Did you know that more people surrender their cats to animal shelters because of litter box issues than for just about any other reason?
ForestWind Siberian kittens come to you fully litterbox trained. By following a few simple guidelines the chance of ever needing to address "a litterbox problem" is greatly reduced.
Real estate agents are all about “location, location, location.” So is your Siberian. His litter boxes should be easily accessible and should offer a combination of privacy and escape.
Keep Litterboxes at least 6 feet from food / water: Do not keep a litter box near your Siberian's food and water. Not only is that unsanitary but many cats will not toilet near their food. Since they can't move their food, they'll move where they toilet...
Choose Private Locations: If you have a dog, your Siberian's litter box should be in a place where the dog cannot get to it.
Pick Quiet Locations: Litter pans should not be located near noisy places like the laundry room or the basement. If the washing machine or the furnace goes on while your kitten is doing her business, it might scare her away from the litter box.
Size counts. Your kitten's litter box should be large enough for her to turn around in and have several places to dig, so that she can use the box more than once without stepping on her previously deposited waste. Purchase extra large and tall sided litter boxes. They need to be large enough for the full grown Siberian to be able to move comfortably in. They also need to be able to toilet in a clean spot in the box before you get to scooping it that day. An extra large box fits these requirements.
What's under her feet? Cats' litter preferences are usually formed in kittenhood, and most cats seem to prefer a sandy texture with clumping litter. For your convenience in removing liquid waste and keeping odor to a minimum, I recommend a clumping litter. You can get clumping litter in the traditional clay, or you can opt for more environmentally friendly versions made of corn, wheat, or other grains. Do not use scented litter; the smell is overpowering to a cat's sensitive nose and can cause litter box avoidance. Cats particularly dislike "poky" litters like the ones made of "crystals."
Keep It Tidy. The most important thing you can do to ensure that your kitten does her business where she should is to keep the litter box clean. This means scooping out solid and liquid waste at least twice a day and washing the entire box with soap and water once a week. (You may get away with less frequent washing if you use clumping litter, but whatever type of litter you use, you must wash the litter box it at least once a month.) Use dish soap—preferably the unscented kind—and warm water for your weekly cleanings and rinse the box very well afterwards. If you're dealing with disease or a worm infestation, rinse with a weak bleach mixture after you wash with soap and water.
Keep It Open: We recommend against covered litter boxes because:
>>They are easy to forget: it's easy to forget to do the routine scooping if you can't see the mess.
>>They stink: Covered boxes trap urine and fecal odors, so when your kitten goes inside, she's entering a miniature gas chamber. Would you want to use a bathroom where you had to step in sewage to get to the toilet and you were gagging from the reek in the air?
>> They are too small: Siberians are large cats and cats use the litter box crouching upright, this makes them taller than they are when walking around. If a cat is uncomfortable in a litter box, he may very well choose to create a new spot in your home for his personal latrine.
If you keep your Siberian's litter box clean, accessible, and the right size for your kitten, you shouldn't have any trouble with litter box issues.