Colonel Meow was a male Himalayan–Persian crossbreed cat, who holds the 2014 Guinness world record for the longest fur on a cat.This Himalayan-Persian cross-breed has fur that reaches 22.87cm (9in). He became an Internet celebrity when his owners posted pictures of his scowling face to Facebook and Instagram.He died on January 29 2014.
No, this is not about cat training boot camp!
If training your cat to sit, stay and heel is your goal, perhaps you should get a dog. If training your cat to adroitly perch himself over your toilet to do his business is your goal, perhaps this article is not for you either. This article is for all of us who would be happy training our cat to just use the litter box instead of our comforter, closet or shoes. This is for owners who would be happy training their cat to use a scratching post instead of the stereo speakers. If you’re like me, you admire your cat for being a cat and you want him to behave as nothing other than a cat, but a well-behaved one.
Why do cats do the things they do. Fortunately, we’ll never know or even come close to knowing everything. The feline mystique is what often attracts us to our cats and makes them so fun and interesting to live with. But it sure would be nice if we could understand them enough to train our cat to stop urinating in our closet!
Before we start training our cats to do something or to stop doing something, we need to look at how cats learn. They don’t understand English, they can’t read books or attend lectures. They learn by experience. If the experience is good, they will try to repeat it. If the experience is unpleasant, your cat will try to avoid it in the future. Cats enjoy raking the furniture with their claws, so they continue to do it. But it’s quite a shock when they stick their nose in a candle flame, so they won’t do that again.
The key to training a cat and understanding cat behavior is to make sure that whatever you want your cat to do is exceedingly rewarding and pleasurable. Whatever you don’t want your cat to indulge in must never be rewarding or fun, in fact, it must be unpleasant.
Sometimes we unintentionally reward our cat for obnoxious behavior. A common complaint is that the cat pounces on the owner at five in the morning, meowing up a storm and generally being a pest. What do the owners do? They get up and feed the cat, play with him or let him outside. You have trained your cat to wake you up! Your cat has learned that his behavior gets him exactly what he wants.
Many owners become frustrated because they can’t catch the cat in the act of the crime, so instead they show the cat the evidence (usually a wet spot on the carpet or pieces of shredded drapery) and discipline the cat at that time. A common training (mal)practice is grabbing the cat, pointing out the wet spot, then dragging him to the litter box and forcing him to dig in the litter. If you do this, you are training your cat that being reached for by the owner is a bad experience and that the litter box is a torture chamber. It is usually difficult if not impossible to catch the cat in the act because most cats have already learned that being caught is bad news.
Reprimands simply do not work when training your cat. If you catch kitty in the act, he will only misbehave when you are not around. If you punish the cat later, he will not associate the reprimand with the crime (you will also be training your cat to mistrust you). In either case, the misbehavior will continue. Some cats misbehave just to get attention and the attention is enough of a reward to cause kitty to continue his ways. So what do we do?
If you want to prevent cat problems from occurring, or train kitty to stop his bad habits, the answers are the same. Begin with a clean slate and give your cat a fresh start.
Stop all reprimands and punishment. Concentrate on making your relationship fun, rewarding, playful and interesting. Sometimes this change alone will solve your cat training problems. Cats are known to become overly active and destructive when bored. Daily play sessions and relaxing massages help your cat calm down. Cats that feel neglected will often stop using their litter box. If you schedule regular sessions to give your cat undivided attention and to play games with him, even litter box problems can disappear almost overnight.
Set up your cat to succeed in performing those behaviors you want her to learn so she can be rewarded. The most effective method of cat training is through rewards. This will give you the opportunity to reward and praise him for good behavior.
Set up the cat’s environment so that his misbehavior is not a rewarding experience. Let’s take a look at furniture scratching as an example. While making your cat’s scratching post fun, rewarding and exciting, the training process also requires you to make the furniture unattractive as a clawing item. Instead of you telling the cat to avoid the furniture, let the furniture itself tell the cat to stay away. It’s up to you to find something your cat does not like. See the cat scratching training article for full details.
Maybe you are into training your cat to jump through a hoop; maybe you just want him to stop climbing the drapes. Whatever the case, remember that cats learn best through the use of rewards, praise and positive reinforcement. Set kitty up to succeed. Set yourself up to succeed with your cat. It works, and it simplifies training your cat. It’s a lot more fun when training succeeds for both of you.
I hope our cat training articles will help you better understand your cat’s behavior – the whys, dos, don’ts and hows – so that you and your cat can have a fun, rewarding and lasting relationship.
Those stiff hairs on your cat’s face and legs don’t just add to her cuteness — they have real work to do. Whiskers are GPS and radar systems for your cat.
“They are a powerful and important part of how a cat senses the world,” says W. Mark Cousins, DVM, the founder of a veterinary clinic in New Orleans.
Slideshow: Is My Cat Normal?
How They Work
Each thick whisker is filled with tiny, supersensitive nerves that help your cat judge distance and space. It’s how she makes decisions like: Is this box too small to get inside? How far do I need to jump to reach that counter?
It’s also how she detects what’s around her. “Cats that are blind can navigate rooms very well by just walking around and letting their whiskers get a sense of where they are spatially,” Cousins says.
The follicles — the sacs that hold the hairs — are deep, with lots of nerve endings that send messages to the cat’s brain.
There’s also a sensory organ at the tip of each whisker. It picks up vibrations in the environment that help the cat sense where she is and what other creatures are around her.
Most whiskers are rooted in the thick pads on the upper lip, but smaller sets are in the eyebrow area, along the chin, and near the feet.
The ones on the sides of the nose are the same width as your cat’s body; they help her figure out whether a space is wide enough to squeeze through.
Whiskers on the back of the legs help your cat climb trees.
What’s Your Cat’s Mood? Watch Her Whiskers
A complex set of muscles on the face moves whiskers back and forth.
The way a cat arranges them will tell another animal — or us humans — how she’s feeling. When a cat is relaxed, her whiskers will remain still, sticking straight out from the side of her head. If she is curious or is on the hunt, she’ll press them slightly forward. Cats that are nervous or upset will pin the whiskers back toward the face.
Whiskers Don’t Need Trimming!
Like other hairs on a cat’s body, whiskers shed. That’s normal. But you should never trim them.
A cat with cut whiskers will become disoriented and scared.
“If you cut them, that’s like blindfolding someone, taking away one of their ways of identifying what’s in their environment,” says veterinarian Jane Brunt.
No one likes the smell of a dirty litter box. But can you imagine if you were the one that had to use that box? No wonder at least 10% of cats stop using their litter boxes reliably at some point. Of course there can be medical or behavioral reasons for the problems. But not using the litter box often is traced to nothing more than a dirty litter box.
Here’s how to avoid litter box odor and keep your house smelling fresh, which should make you and kitty happier.
Keep It Clean
The No. 1 rule, and the only thing that will keep litter box odor at bay, is constant cleaning. That means scooping the box out at least twice a day, removing the solids and liquid clumps if you use clumping litter.
For those who don’t use clumping litter, use a large, solid metal spoon (such as a large kitchen spoon) to lift out the most urine-soaked areas each time you clean. Add litter as needed to replace what is removed.
Also wash the box weekly, or every other week if you are using clumping litter. Use a mild, unscented dish detergent or a mild bleach spray (20 parts water to one part bleach) and rinse well. Clean your scooper also.
When dry, add 2 to 3 inches of litter. Cats don’t like a deep tray of litter and this allows you to add litter as you scoop.
Does the Type of Litter Matter?
Some litters have perfumes or other additives that claim to help cover litter smell. But to a cat these can smell overwhelming and make the box unwelcoming. Most veterinarians advise against using these products.
Many believe that clumping litters, which allow for the easy removal of solids and liquids, keep boxes smelling fresher. But cats can be very particular about which litters they will use. So experiment to find the litter your cat likes best, then stick with it.
Almost any easily cleaned plastic container can be used as a litter box, but buy the largest box your home can accommodate. A rule of thumb is to get a box that is at least twice as long as your adult cat and as wide as the cat is long.
Cats are fastidious, and don’t want to step or dig in already soiled areas. Many people cut down one side of a large, plastic storage tub to get a larger box.
And avoid covered boxes. Most cats don’t like them, and they can trap odors inside, making it unpleasant for your pet to enter.
Many cats also don’t like plastic liners, which can snare cat’s claws when they dig. This also allows urine to seep under the liner, where it won’t be absorbed by the litter and can cause odors.
As for self-cleaning litter boxes, it depends. Some cats, especially skittish and large cats, may dislike them. But if your cat doesn’t mind, it’s an option for people who are gone for long periods.
Location, Location, Location, and Numbers
The rule is one litter box per cat, plus one. So if you have one cat, you need two boxes. If you have four cats, you need five boxes.
Keep the boxes in different locations in your home. If a cat is on the third floor, and the box is in the basement, he may decide not to make the long trek.
Also, choose the right spots for your litter boxes. Don’t put a box in a small, enclosed area, like a tiny bathroom or closet, which will concentrate litter box odors. A larger, well-ventilated area is best. But it needs to be in a quiet, low-traffic area, away from your cat’s food, other pets, and anything that can startle or scare your cat while he’s using the box.
Yes, it takes a daily effort on your part to keep litter box odors at bay. But the result will be a happier cat and a better-smelling home.