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Cat Behavior & Enrichment


What is your philosophy on cat behavior?

Cats are often difficult to evaluate, especially if they have to be brought in to another location for an issue. It does not gain great knowledge to evaluate them outside of their home, as environmental factors are the first thing that need to be address, aside from serious medical issues. Each pet is individual in nature, and so is each consultation. Various categories will be examined to determine the best course of action, perfectly tailored for each pet.

What is enrichment?

I like to define enrichment as an activity that is stimulating to the mind and body. For cats, this could include providing hiding places, encouraging hunting behavior, etc. These provide entertainment, and an outlet to a cat's natural instincts and desires, therefor eliminating the need to 'act out' or become 'destructive.'

Someone told me I should punish my cat for bad behaviors. Do you use positive reinforcement?

While cats can indeed be trained, they are not like dogs. Punishment is definitely not the answer, but discouraging is highly effective. For example, a cat that scratches the couch may be provided alternative outlets to expend their energy and need to scratch.

Do you use spray bottles or kennels to teach the cat what not to do?

No. Although, alternative behavioral modification techniques are available, such as high frequency alarms, scat-mats, spray bottles, and confinement. But I do believe that if I am providing the correct advice, these should not be needed. Each cat, however, is very different in nature, and some respond better than others to various alternatives.

I already contacted my Veterinarian, and they suggested medication to calm my cat down.

While I definitely think there are other options besides medication for behavioral modification, sometimes it may be needed. My advice is not meant to replace that of a trusted Veterinarian. Pet consultations are simply another tool to have in your toolbox. Veterinarians may not be provided with the entire story of what is going on, because they see a pet for such a short time and cannot evaluate environmental factors directly. I am pleased to say that I will work in conjunction with Veterinarians if needed.

What can I expect?

Not every case is the same, but this is why I send quite a detailed questionnaire before I meet with you. That way, all my categories are covered and we can discuss the areas that stand out to me. Each session will observe and outline any problems you are dealing with. An in-depth evaluation will be taken, and plan will be set forth, perfectly tailored to your family. After each visit you will get an outline of what we went over and what else needs to be done to achieve the best results. Follow-up visits will be scheduled to go over additional materials, troubleshoot other areas of behavior, and monitor any progress or setbacks. Again, behavior modification takes commitment. This is not an overnight fix, and follow through by the owner is very much warranted.

My cat doesn't like to play, how can I engage with him?

All cats are different, and have their favorite areas and activities to participate in. With a one-on-one consult, we can discuss various behaviors, and set up activities that we can get them engaged in.

Is it true that cats are more difficult than dogs to address behaviors?

Shortly put, yes! Dogs can be walked, play fetch, go to doggie daycare, and overall be trained. Cats are more challenging, and perhaps far more difficult to evaluate in most cases, finicky to say the least! That being said, I have seen cats with problematic behaviors, simply not like where their litter box is placed. Once that was changed, the behaviors disappeared. Not all cases are this simple, but again, this is why I send quite a detailed questionnaire before I meet with you.

I am expecting a baby, but I'm worried my cat will have trouble adjusting, what can I do?

Setting up a success plan before baby arrives is definitely ideal! Things like providing a separate space, creating a care plan, and providing emotional and/or calming support with the use of various supplements or herbs can all help. A Pawsitively Safe Family Education consultation may be right for you! I am happy to say that all of these and more will be addressed.

I have more than one cat; can we assess them both at the same time?

Not exactly. But, for some cases, yes. If problems are completely different (one is house soiling, and the other is scratching up furniture) then a separate consult may be needed to address each pet individually. If problems are related, for example; the cats are hostile towards one another, then both are evaluated in one appointment, but separate forms and additional time may be warranted.

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