Cats + Behavior & Training

  • For most cats, a visit to the veterinarian is an overwhelming experience. Veterinarians recommend the use of a carrier for travel because it is the safest and most secure way to transport pets. You can help your cat get over the fear of a carrier by developing positive associations between the carrier and positive experiences. Safety is the most important consideration when transporting your cat. One of the most effective ways to decrease your cat’s anxiety level is to remain calm and relaxed during the visit.

  • Socialization is the process during which the kitten becomes familiar with people, other animals, and many aspects of their environment. Kittens are primed for socialization when they are between two and seven weeks old. As soon as kittens have settled into their new home, they can begin gentle exposures to a wide range of stimuli that they may encounter as adults.

  • Many pets are sensitive to being restrained for grooming. With slow progress and positive rewards, your pet can learn to accept or even enjoy having their teeth cleaned.

  • When leaving home for vacations, pet owners are confronted with the problem of what to do with their pets. Should they take them along or leave them at home? Reviewing a summary of boarding options and travel guidelines will make the decision easier while safeguarding the well-being of your pet and providing your own peace of mind.

  • Deafness does not affect a cat's learning abilities, but it does impact what kinds of cues they can learn. The keys to success are choosing a set of consistent signs and signals and learning what the cat finds rewarding. Deaf cats need special supervision such as leashing or a catio if allowed outdoors, and may startle more easily than cats that can hear, but otherwise can be trained with all the same methods used for a cat with normal hearing.

  • Weight loss in cats can be caused by many conditions including inadequate intake to meet energy requirements, poor quality nutrition, and many different medical conditions. Testing for weight loss starts with a thorough history and physical exam. If the cause of weight loss is not clear, then screening tests including a CBC, biochemistry, T4 testing, urinalysis, and fecal tests are performed to further investigate. Based on the results of these tests, more specific diagnostic tests such as imaging, bile acids, or ACTH stimulation may be needed to determine the reason for the weight loss.

  • Caterwauling is cat vocalization that sounds like a combination of a yowl, a howl, and a whine. This disturbing noise may result from medical problems, physical needs, hormonal stimulations, or emotional insecurities. The response to caterwauling should focus on addressing the cat's circumstances and filling their needs.

  • It can take a week to a year to introduce or reintroduce cats—you cannot rush the process. The cats must remain separated unless supervised. If there is steady progress but still specific contexts in which aggression continues, you likely need to consult a behavior professional who can recommend other strategies. Alternatively, the cats may need always to be supervised or separated to prevent conflict at high-risk times.  

  • Cats exhibit a wide range of behaviors that are quite normal yet may be considered undesirable by the people with whom they share their homes. Most of these behaviors develop to satisfy an innate need. Rather than trying to stop your cat from engaging in instinctual and naturally rewarding behaviors, it is essential to provide your cat with substitute behaviors and outlets that satisfy your cat’s needs.

  • Treats are a wonderful way to provide positive reinforcement to your cat during a training session. Choose low-calorie foods such as green beans, zucchini squash, and watermelon. Avoid foods that are potentially harmful, such as chocolate, garlic, onions, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, and products that have xylitol. Limit high-calorie treats and keep treats within 10% of your cat's daily calorie intake. Keeping training sessions short and engaging while providing appropriate foods as treats can be a wonderful way to strengthen the human-animal bond.