Cat Whisperer Offers Tips To Cure Behavior Problems

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First there were horse whisperers, then dog whisperers and now, if you can believe it, there are cat whisperers.

Whisperers are people who intuitively understand where animals are coming from. They have worked with animals long enough to start figuring out why they behave the way they do and how to manipulate behavior so that it is more acceptable to those who keep animals. Whisperers have been given this unique gift to share with others who need help when problem behavior threatens to render a domesticated animal homeless.

Last summer, cat behavior consultant Jackson Galaxy held a seminar for humane society staff and volunteers in Boulder, Colo. Galaxy has always loved cats and worked as a cat technician at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley before branching off into a very successful cat behavior consulting business. His presentation was outstanding, informative and filled with humor. Here are some tips on cat behavior.

Competition for territory among cats is a common stress factor and may cause problems for cat owners. Usually, any more than five cats in one household may create grounds for cat spats.

It is possible to double the volume of territory for a multiple cat household with a little imagination. In socially significant areas like the living room, vertical space can be created with ramps and shelving. Holes can be built into walls between rooms for "secret passages," or nooks can be built into walls for sleeping spaces. If your windowsills are narrow, install a 6-inch wide board the length of the sill so cats can get sunshine and a good view of the outdoors. Floor-to-ceiling cat condos also provide ample vertical space.

Competition around the litter box is another major source of territorial stress. Cats need to feel secure in the litter box. Imagine someone barging into the bathroom while you're communing with nature. Very unnerving! Cats need their privacy, too. Even dogs can ambush a cat on the litter box.

One way to protect the litter box from dogs, especially those who like kitty poop for snacks, is to use a baby gate on the door. With multiple cats, you can spread out the territory by placing boxes in different rooms, such as the mud room, the laundry room, the utility closet or the basement. The rule of thumb is at least one litter box per cat. Keep those boxes fastidiously clean by scooping twice a day and changing the litter when it gets wet and smelly.

Territorial scent marking is common among cats that have not been neutered. Cats may mark a sliding glass door with odiferous spray when another cat, or even a skunk or coyote, goes by. If free-roaming cats are bothering your inside cat, there is a garden hose attachment called a scarecrow that activates like a motion detector when something walks by and sprays water at the trespasser. It works especially well on cats since they have an aversion to water. It doesn't hurt them, but it does deter them from coming around.

If you only have one cat, your cat may be suffering from lonely cat syndrome. At Payson Humane Society we have people tell us how their cat that used to just sleep all the time perked up and became playful and alert once they adopted a playmate for him or her. Here are some possibilities for a cure to the dreaded lonely cat syndrome:

ARROW

Arrow is a handsome 7-year-old neutered male gray and white shorthaired cat. He weighs in at 12 pounds and has beautiful markings on his face and body. Arrow is used to living in an adult home with other cats and dogs. He has been very well behaved and loving at our shelter, blending in with the other cats in his kennel with no problems. Arrow would love to pierce your heart with his abundant, unconditional love!

KAHLUA

Kahlua is a luscious 4-month-old spayed female longhaired tabby kitten. She has very unusual colors in her coat that range from brown to pale orange to buff. Her most endearing feature is her ears that have long wisps of white fur coming out of them. Petting Kahlua is a doubly sublime treat because her fur is heavenly soft to touch and she purrs so loud you can feel it vibrating through her fluffy coat. She is a spunky girl who, at her young age, can already hold her own with the other kitties. Kahlua is a total heartthrob!

PUFF

Puff is a darling 1-year-old fluffy gray neutered male kitty. He and another kitten were found abandoned in the woods near Mud Springs by some kind mountain bikers who brought them to our shelter. Puff is a confident little fellow who loves to explore and be involved in whatever is going on. He enjoys playing with the other kittens and with toys, shoelaces, paper, pencils or anything he can push around. He is going to make a fun companion, except for those times when he needs his beauty sleep.

HONEY

Honey is an incredible 1-1/2-year-old spayed female golden tabby. Her name fits her perfectly because her coat and eyes are honey colored. Honey's adult family gave her up because they travel a lot. They have nothing but positive things to say about her. She is a very loving cat and will sit on your lap on the couch or on your desk as "office help." She's a smart kitty who has learned some cute tricks. Put her treats in a shaker and rattle them and she will shake hands with her right paw. When you go to the fridge, she goes, too, and may get in! Her owners trained her to take pieces of turkey or ham from their mouths. Honey likes to play peekaboo and "I'm gonna get you" games. She has been declawed and needs to be an indoor cat. Honey is just as sweet as her name!

EDISON

Edison is a magnificent 2-year old neutered male golden tabby. He's a big guy and he has a big heart full of love to share with you. Edison is so sweet and friendly. He's very calm and well behaved, too. If you happen to be in the market for two great cats, Edison and Honey are very similar in size and color and are living together in the same kennel at our shelter. We think Edison will definitely light up your life and bring you years of pleasure.

Learn more about these and other adoptable pets at the Payson Humane Society animal shelter at 812 S. McLane Road, call 474-5590 or online visit paysonhumanesociety.com.

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