Posts

Benefits of Cat Trees: Do they really work? Header

Benefits of Cat Trees: Do they really work?

Benefits of Cat Trees: Do they really work? Header

Benefits of Cat Trees: Do they really work?

If you have a cat you probably own a cat tree but you might have asked yourself: what are the benefits of a cat tree? Besides being a piece of furniture you can decorate with, cat trees do provide function for our feline companions and are a worthwhile investment if you have the space. Cat trees come in all sizes, colors, styles, and budgets so you’re sure to find one that you like. I recently purchased this one and as you can see – it’s adorable! Not only will it be great for my cats but it’ll also look great in my office.

They help with scratching

Cat trees provide a place for your cat to scratch that you approve of – instead of your sofa. Cats love to scratch. It’s a natural thing they do. Encouraging your cat to scratch in an appropriate place can help lower both of your stress levels.

Cats like high places

My one cat likes to perch on top of the fridge. Why? Because it’s the highest place he can get to to survey his territory. It makes him feel safe that nothing is going to sneak up on him without him noticing.

Provide a safe space

A cat tree can provide a safe haven for a timid cat or a place to get away from another cat that’s bothering them. It can also help to keep the peace as it provides a point of high ground. If you also have guests over, a cat tree can provide some sanctuary. Just make sure your guests know not to disturb your cat when they are on their cat tree.

Which cat tree is right for me?

That depends! Ask yourself:

  • How much space do I have?
  • Where do I plan on putting the cat tree? In a corner? Next to a window? Middle of the room?
  • Does my cat like to scratch, lay on things, or lay in things?
  • Will my cat even use a cat tree?

If you cat is older, they may not enjoy a cat tree – especially if they have other places to lay that are more comfortable. Such as a heated bed. You should ask yourself if you cat will even use a cat tree before investing in one. Consider getting a smaller cat tree to start before upgrading to a big one if that is something you would like to do.

You’ve decided that YES! A cat tree is right for you and your cat. How do you pick the right one? You need to keep a few things in mind when purchasing a cat tree:

Is it safe for my cats?

You want a cat tree that had a solid base that your cat can’t tip over. Usually the listing will say that it has a weighted base. This is especially important for tall cat trees. As your cat climbs they’ll rock it which can increase the likely hood of a non-weighted cat tree tipping over.

Materials are important.

Cats like to lick things. Making sure that your cat tree doesn’t contain toxic or harmful materials is important. Avoid these products in all pet products:

  • Phthalates – Commonly found in Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) toys
  • Bisphenol A (BPA) – Commonly found in plastic
  • Lead – Found in cheaper painted products
  • Formaldehyde – Rarely, if ever, in cat trees but is still used as a preservative
  • Chromium – More common in cheap, imported toys.
  • Cadmium – More common in cheap, imported toys
  • Bromine – Can be found in foam beds as a flame retardant

While not harmful, carpeted cat trees can lead to your cat getting their claw stuck. Which can be distressing and painful if they cannot get it unstuck themselves.

Durability

Nobody wants to have to purchase a new cat tree every 3 months. Wood and sisal cat trees are generally the most durable cat trees on the market. You can always purchase sisal rope from sites like Amazon and re-sisal your cat trees when the rope starts to fray. (You’ll need more than you think!) Additionally, you can cover patches of material that have been ripped off with sisal to keep your cat tree looking great. You don’t need to spend thousands on a cat tree for it to be durable but you may want to spend that extra $50 or $100 for something that is going to last you a few years.

What does your cat like?

My cats dislike hammocks. They won’t use them and I always end up removing the removable ones. They also aren’t a fan of the cubbies the cat trees provide. When you are looking at cat trees consider what your cat likes. You don’t want to buy a cat tree that has 4 hammocks if your cat doesn’t like them.

What is important to you?

Aesthetic? Ease of assembly? Easy to clean? These are things your cat could care less about but things that may matter to you. You don’t want an cat tree that doesn’t match anything, takes 4 hours to put together, and is ruined as soon as your cat throws up on it. Believe me, that easy to clean thing is important. While some of these things might not be easy to identify from just looking at the product you can check reviews before purchasing to see what other consumers are saying.

Picking the right cat tree infographic

There you have it! You have all the tools needed to pick out the perfect cat tree. But do they work? Also YES! It might take some time for your cat to get used to their new furniture but over time they should adjust to it and start to lay on it and enjoy. If your cat doesn’t have an interest in the cat tree you can try:

Which cat tree(s) do you own? Drop some pictures @WetNosesPetSitting. We’d love to see your kitties chilling on their towers.

Want to splurge on your cats even more? Here are 5 cat products every cat needs in their life.

How to Pick a Cat

 

Getting a cat can be an exciting and intimidating experience, but with some guidance and tips the process can be easy and rewarding. There are a few key factors that will help you choose a new pet, such as age, and personality.

  • Age can be a huge factor.

There are benefits to adopting a kitten or an adult cat.

Kittens are a great addition to a family with children or dogs. Younger kitties are more accepting of new circumstances and easier to adapt. However, many kittens at the time of adoption (usually 8-10 weeks old) have not fully grown into their personality. Any feline you adopt from a shelter at this age should already be fixed and have gotten their first few vaccinations. Yet, they will still need their rabies vaccination and other vaccinations. These can added to the upfront medical cost of the kitten.

One benefit to older cats is that their personality is fully developed. Additionally, adult felines are usually already fixed. Plus up to date on all of their vaccinations for the year. Senior cats are a good addition to many families; most seniors are calm and just want to spend their golden years giving you their affection.

  • Choosing the personality is very important.

Just like humans, cats can have many personalities.

What temperament you choose depends on what type of companion you are looking for. Do you want a cat that will play with you? A cat who loves to sit in your lap? Or a cat who is independent? Shelter staff should be able to tell you more about a cat’s personality.

If you are looking for a playful cat, look for cats who come to the front of their cage to greet you and are interested in toys. For a lap companion look for those who seem to enjoy being rubbed. For a calmer, independent cat look for a cat who seems relaxed.

Some felines do not show their true personality in a shelter setting (being in a shelter is pretty stressful), so it is helpful to spend the most amount of time with them as possible. If they were in foster care, you may be able to talk to the foster family about their behavior in home setting. How a cat acts in a shelter is a good preview of how the cat will act at home.

Adopting a new feline family member is a huge decision, but with these tips and the help of shelter staff, you should be able to pick out the perfect best friend.

Clicker Training Tips

 

There are many different positive reinforcement training methods available to both cat and dog owners. One of my favorite methods is clicker training, it is a good way to quickly train your pet with less treats than traditional training.

Clicker training is used by thousands of animal trainers to teach all types of animals. It can be used to teach dogs obedience, leash manners, agility and many other things. It can also be used to teach tricks and other positive behaviors to cats.

What is clicker training?

Clicker training is using a sound (generally a clicker) to positively reinforce your pet for a behavior he or she is doing. In clicker training, a click is used every time a good behavior happens and treats are given later (which means fewer treats).

 

Why should I clicker train my pet? 

Clicker training has a couple of cool benefits. Clicker training allows you to reward positive behavior more quickly than giving your pet a treat. Depending on your reaction time, you could be clicking 10-15 seconds after your pet does the positive behavior. Giving a treat to your pet generally takes a longer time, which may cause your pet to forget the positive behavior he or she did. This helps your pet learn what the behavior you want to see, and learn it more quickly.

Because you click for each behavior rather than give your pet a treat, you feed less treats per training session. This is really helpful if you are working with an overweight pet or do not want your pet to gain weight.

 

How do I get started clicker training? 

Clicker training is all about associating a sound with a reward, so start by picking a sound. Pick a sound that is easy to make and distinct (will not be heard outside of training). For example, it is not recommended you use a clap because your pet will hear clapping outside of the training session and may get confused. This is the reason many people use the clicker. It is a very distinct sound, and it may be quicker to make than any sound you can make on your own. Clickers are easy to find at pet stores and generally cost around $2.

 

Next get started with your first sessions of training. These sessions will be very treat heavy, so pick a treat that your dog likes. Because clicker training is all about associating a sound with a reward (like a treat) you will be clicking and giving your dog a treat per click. Start by getting your dog’s attention, and simply clicking the clicker. After each click, quickly give your dog a treat. Do this for a few 5-10 minute sessions. After a few sessions, start mixing in simple behaviors with clicking. For example, have your dog sit, then click and treat. Do this for a few sessions and slowly wean down to only treating for every 10 clicks. Be sure to give your pet some treats after each session to tell him that he did a good job.

Next move on to the first behavior you want to teach, do so slowly. Because your dog is new to training, still give treats pretty frequently during the sessions. If you are teaching a complicated behavior, like how to walk nicely on a leash, use multiple steps to teach this. For simple behaviors you can use one step. An example I am going to use is teaching a pet how to come. Have someone hold your pet at the other end of the room and use your come signal. Only when your pet comes to you, give a click and give a treat. Repeat this behavior, give a click and treat the second and third times. The next time your pet comes, give only a click. Repeat this for the remainder of your session, mixing in a few treats with clicks. At the end of the session give your pet treats to tell him he did a good job. At each training session, reduce the amount of treats given during the session to only treating at the end. Do this until your pet masters the behavior.

 

Clicker training is a great way to teach pets positive behaviors. Be sure to use treats your pet likes and keep training sessions short for success!

 

How to Get Your Cat to Play

 

Playing with fido or fluffy is one of the best parts of being a pet parent. There are a million different ways to play. Here are some that we have found most helpful for playing with your cat.

Many people find playing with your cat to a bit more difficult than playing with their dogs. Some cats love to play, others need to be coaxed into it. Play is so important to your cat’s health and your relationship with your cat. It is recommended that you play with you adult cat for at least 15 minutes a day.

 

Find a toy your cat likes. There are a million cat toys on the market, so there is one that your cat will like (or you can make on, see our article on cat enrichment). As a pet sitter, a toy I find is commonly liked is the feather/ball on a stick toy. These are available all over or can be made at home by tieing a toy or feather onto a piece of string. Many cats also like toys with catnip in them. These can easily be found at the pet store or can be made at home.

Learn how your cat likes to play. Cats have different play styles. Some like to stalk, some like to bat, others like to chase. Start with a stick toy and wave it in front of him. Start slowly then move the toy around of the floor. Your cat will likely try to bat at it and possibly catch in in his mouth.Ideally your cat will get up and chase the toy. This is the chase play style. If your cat sees the toy and slowly moves toward it before pouncing, this is the stalk play style. Try balls and stick or string toys with chase players. For stalk players use a laser pointer or long string with a toy tied on the end that you move slowly around the room.

 

Why is play important? 

Play has physical and mental benefits for you and your cats. In the United States, it is estimated that 58% of cats are overweight or obese. Playing is a great way to trick your cat into exercising. Using chase toys are a great way to get your cat up and moving. Start with short, slow play sessions then build up to longer and higher intensity play sessions. Play also helps mentally stimulate your cat. Many behavioral problems in cats are associated with your kitty being bored or under- stimulated. Playing helps activate your kitty’s brain. Try a catnip filled toy, thrown or hidden around the house to help activate your cat’s mind.

 

Play is very important for your cat, and one of my favorite parts of being your pet sitter!

 

Your Cat Loves You

Cat behavior is widely known to be quite complex and difficult to understand. One minute, your cat seems happy and content, enjoying some lap time and a nice petting, and the next minute she runs off like her tail is on fire. While many of cat behaviors may leave you scratching your head thinking, “What the heck was that all about?” There are just as many that are clear in their meaning – your cat loves you!

 

If your kitty licks you, she’s showing you her love. Mother cats groom their kittens from the moment they come into the world, so being licked was one of your kitty’s very first feelings of love and caring. Her attempts at grooming you are indeed an honor!

 

Does your kitty rub up against you or head butt you? That’s her way of saying “I love you!” Rubbing up against another creature is how cats show affection; it’s your kitty’s way of putting her scent on you and claiming you as her own. It’s important to your relationship and the bond you share with your cat to allow her to rub against you. Don’t mind the fur on your clothes -after all, no outfit is complete without a little fur!

 

Don’t be offended by your kitty’s nipping; it’s just a little love bite! Cats nip each other affectionately, and their skin is tougher than their human’s, so she doesn’t understand that her love bite isn’t always pleasant to you. If the nips are proving to be too painful for you, and your kitty’s love bite timing may be predictable, try to move your face, finger or other body part out of her way when she goes in for a bite.

 

Male marking isn’t an act of aggression or defiance. Instead, it’s your male cat’s way of claiming his territory. Since much of your kitty’s signs of love include claiming your as his own, don’t be surprised if your male backs up toward you with a quivering tail. It may seem like he’s about to mark you with his urine, but he won’t actually produce any spray. Ever have your male urinate on your bed or other commonly used furniture? Don’t get mad, this is merely another show of his love.

 

Eyes are the windows to the soul. This well-known saying holds true for cats, too. If your kitty stares at you, then blinks, then opens her eyes wide, followed by a slow second blink, this is her eye’s way of telling you she loves you and trusts you. In fact, this eye language is the equivalent of getting a kiss. Try mimicking this behavior to your cat -she’ll likely soon respond in kind!

 

Dead animals are a display of your kitty’s love. When your favorite feline drops a dead mouse, lizard or other small animal at your feet, she’s not showing off her hunting skills. This is her way of saying she feels safe and secure in her home and, yes, she loves you.
While some of the ways your cat shows her love for you may appear anything but loving, in her own way she is showing you just how much she cares. Understanding her quirky displays of affection and returning the same unconditional love is all she asks for.

5 Tips to Stop Cat Scratching

 

Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, such as scent marking, excitement, boredom or simply stretching. However, this natural behavior can turn destructive if another outlet for scratching behavior is not provided. The following are 5 tips for help stop cat scratching at your house.

1. Buy a scratching post

There are many types of scratching posts on the market. Some are upright and others are on the ground. There are also a variety of materials, such cardboard and twine. Try different options to see what your cat likes to try and stop cat scratching on your furniture.

2. Make your scratching post interesting

Cats have scent glands in their claws, which is why scratching is used to mark territory. Often times cats will be attracted to scratch something that smells like their pheromones. Catnip mimics the pheromone cats release, so it attracts your cat to the scratching post. Rubbing some into the part your cat scratches can help get your cat started. There are also some artificial pheromone sprays that work very well, such as Feliway. With the spays follow the same procedure as the cat nip.

3. Provide entertainment

Scratching can be related to boredom or anxiety, so providing other outlets can minimize scratching. Provide a cat window (see our article on cat enrichment), or give interactive toys.

4. Discourage scratching

Scratching can be discouraged on certain things (like your $1000 dollar couch), but it still needs to be redirected. There are some common and simple methods for discouraging scratching. One of the more popular methods is putting tin foil on the surface being scratched. If your cat likes to scratch the couch arms, tape tin foil on the couch arm to stop cat scratching. The cats generally don’t like the feel and sound scratching the foil makes, so they will find something better to scratch. Double sided tape can also be used to discourage scratching.These methods are good at discouraging scratching but be sure to provide a scratching post to redirect your cat to.

5. Give your cat a paw-decure

Cats often turn to scratching to shorten their nails, like using a nail file. Often this can be solved by simply trimming your cat’s nails. Chat with your vet about the proper length for your cat’s nails and how to trim them. If you do not want to do frequent nail trims check out soft claws. These are plastic tips you place on your cat’s nails.With the tips on your cat cannot destructively scratch. These tips are glued on, and last about 3-6 weeks. Many people have their vet put the soft claws on, but they are fairly easy to apply at home.

 

If scratching has become a problem you can’t solve, talk to your vet. There may be a medical condition underlying this behavior. Declawing is never a good option to deal with scratching. Declawing is an invasive and painful procedure for your cat, and causes medical issues later in life.

While scratching can become a problem behavior, with these tips you should be able to solve most destructive scratching behaviors.

Beginner’s Guide to Cat Behavior

 

If you grew up with dogs, cats can be an alien species. Dogs are (generally) really easy to read. They wag their tail, lick you and jump when they are happy. Cats? They purr. Sometimes.

So here is a beginner’s guide for how to speak cat, for dog people.

Ignore

My best tip for getting along with cats is to ignore them until they come to you. Trying to pet a cat when he isn’t ready is a great way to get hissed at. When the cat is ready he will come out and say hi.

How do cats say hello?

Most cats will not come bounding up to you when you walk into the home. Generally they will observe the situation then come and check you out (if they want). Let the cat rub his head or body on you before you try to pet him.

What it mean when a cat rubs his head or body on me?

This behavior is called allorubbing. It is when a cat rubs himself on another cat or person. Cats have scent glands all over their body. There are glands by the ears, on the edges of the mouth, and by the temples. So when a cat rubs his head or body on you, he is scent marking you. This is not the dog equivalent of peeing to mark their scent. Cat scent rubbing means hey you are pretty cool. A cat rubbing on you is a compliment and means you are probably good to pet him.

What does a crouched body position mean?

Similar to dogs, this means I am really uncomfortable. Leave this cat alone,and let him chill out. Do not try to pet this cat.

What does licking mean?

Licking can mean two things. It can be a grooming behavior. It is cat for hey friend I am going to groom you, because you are so cool. It could also be because you taste good. If you have had a sweaty day, the cat may lick the sweat off of you.

What does swatting mean?

Swatting (unless at a toy during playtime) is a scared behavior. Cats will do this if they are cornered and feel threatened. This is the cat equivalent to a dog growling. It is usually a bite warning. Be aware that if a cat is declawed they may go straight to biting.

Purring 

Purring almost always means I am really content. You will hear purrs when you are doing a good job petting the cat, or when they are really happy (like about food or treats). There are some (very few) cats who will purr when they are upset. Purring is usually a good thing.

 

So while cats can be harder to read than dogs, with this guide you will be able to better understand cats. And I will remind you again, ignoring a cat is the best way to say hello to him.