5 Tips for Teaching Your Kids How to Properly Handle a Cat

SOURCE: CATSTER

Using gentle handling and respect, children can learn to be the best of friends with cats.

Like humans, each cat has a unique personality. Some crave lots of affection and love to be held and cuddled, while others are more independent and don’t enjoy much handling. Kids love pets and, of course, are usually eager to shower them with love and cuddles. It’s essential that we educate children of all ages on proper cat-handling techniques. This will help the bonding process, as well as ensure safety for both the cat and child.My son was an energetic toddler, but he eventually learned how to properly handle our cats. Now they love to spend time with him.

My kids grew up with cats so they had to learn how to properly interact with them at an early age. There were some ups and downs during this process, but eventually they learned that gentle behavior meant the cats wanted to spend more time with them.

Here are six tips to help teach children proper cat-handling.

1. Set the mood

Cats are excellent mood readers and pick up a lot about us by our voices, actions and general vibes. When we are stressed, they sense it. If a child wishes to connect with a cat, it’s important that she approach him in a relaxed manner, using a calm voice tone. Younger kids can be energetic and loud, which scares cats. On that same note, teach children they should never chase kitty. This “game” only teaches the cat to fear the child. My daughter was very calm as a young child and my son was a little more rambunctious, but in time, the cats wound up feeling comfortable with both of them.

Calm, gentle behavior is the way to a cat’s heart.

2. Take time to become acquainted

Cats feel more comfortable when we greet them on their level. Encourage the child to lie on the
on the floor and slowly offer the cat her hand so he can smell her. Kitty may positively respond by rubbing his face on her hand or pressing his head against her hand, encouraging her to pet him. This is a good sign! If he acts apprehensively, be patient. Forcing affection on a act who doesn’t want it will only push the bonding process in the wrong direction.

Cats will likely want to be around kids who treat them respectfully. 

3. Gently pet kitty’s back, shoulder to tail

If the cat is responsive to the child’s touch, it’s usually safe to pet him gently from the shoulder to the tail. This is not the time to try and rub the cat’s belly. Some cats enjoy tummy rubs, but many do not, and it’s definitely not a great way to make initial contact with a cat. Over time, if you discover the cat enjoys pets to the belly, go for it. One of our cats loves it, while the other two will bunny kick your face off if your hand lands anywhere near the gut. Again, honor the cat’s individual personality and preference.

Calm interactions are best.

4. Use caution with picking up kitty

If the cat has shows signs of warming up to the child — and you know kitty likes to be held — you may choose to take cat-handling to the next level. Also remember that, along with respecting the cat’s personality, make choices based on the child’s personality, age and demeanor. You know what you can probably expect from your child, and if you believe the cat may not be safe in your child’s arms, don’t place him there.

Cats like to feel safe and secure.

Older children or ones who’ve demonstrated they can responsibly hold a cat may next learn how to properly pick up kitty. Cats like to feel stable and secure, so it’s imperative to pick them up correctly. Make sure kitty is relaxed — picking up an agitated cat could mean scratches and tears. Always use both hands: Press one hand flat against kitty’s chest and use the other to support the hindquarters. Hold the cat securely — but not too tightly — against your chest so he feels safe and comfortable.

Do not cradle a cat like a human baby. A few cats enjoy being held that way (one of mine loves it), but most do not. The cat feels unstable and his paws and face are perfectly positioned for scratches and bites. Don’t try this position until the child and cat feel completely comfortable together and you are absolutely certain kitty enjoys this position.

Kids and cats can become best friends if they start out on the right foot.

5. Sit or stand

Especially at first, children should sit or stand while holding a cat. Motion may spook a cat who is just becoming accustomed to this up close and personal relationship with a small human. Younger children also may have the tendency to take off running, which will definitely make kitty feel scared and unsafe.

Five Ferocious Cat Behaviors and How to Fix Them

SOURCE: CATCHANNEL.COM

Cats are the most lovable creature on Earth when they want something (food perhaps?) and sharpening their claws on your couch the next. We asked top feline behaviorists for tips on how to solve 5 of the most common bad cat behaviors seen by the Humane Society of the United States when cats are relinquished to shelters.

1. Cats Going Outside the Litterbox
Cat LItterbox
According to Mieshelle Nagelschneider, Cat Behavior Advisor to Pet360.com and Cat Behavorist at The Cat Behavior Clinic, this bad kitty behavior is the No. 1 reason cats are relinquished to shelters. Never fear, she has some simple tricks to keep your feline going in the appropriate place.

Scoop your litterbox at least one to two times a day. Make sure you have multiple boxes in multiple locations for multi-cat homes. The rule of thumb is one box for each cat plus one more (though there are exception where more or less may be needed). “I have worked with thousands of cat owners since 1999 and placing all your boxes in the basement spells trouble,” Nagelschneider explains. “This can increase territorial thinking which leads to hostility between cats (and, of course, out of the box behavior).  Increasing box number and location can help your cats get along.” Use Night Lights. “Cats cannot see in absolute darkness. This is a misconception about cats! They need a bit of light to see well. Please add night lights on the way to and in the litterbox areas,” she suggests. Finally, uncover those boxes. “Where in nature do cats urinate in a hollowed out log? They don’t,” Nagelschenider responds, “Covered boxes create a Porta Potty effect, trap smell, and make the box very unattractive.”

2. Male Cats Spraying Urine

Some say cats spraying is worse than not using the litterbox. Intact male spray has a pungent odor that really repulses. Unlike any of kitty’s other bad habits, your cat will spray repeatedly after you clean up.

For most cats, a simple and effective solution exists. Dr. Carlo Siracusa DVM, MS, PhD, Dip. ACVB, Dip. ECAWBM, Director of Animal Behavior Service at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital School of Veterinary Medicine for the University of Pennsylvania, says, “Neutering reduces marking in about 90% of intact male cats.” For the rest, he goes on to explain that “the use of medication can also be discussed with the veterinarian.”

3. Cats’ Destructive Scratching
No one wants shredded drapes and a clawed couch. Amy Shojai (http://amyshojai.com blog), CABC IAABC Certified Behavior Consultant and author of 26 award-winning pet care books, explains that scratching for cats is a way of marking territory with visual and scented signs.

Keep kitty from destroying your territory by paying attention to what your cat scratches (fabric, wood, carpet), Shojai suggest, and providing “legal” opportunities to scratch in the material your cat is attracted to.

“Since clawing marks territory, location is key,” she explains, “Situate claw objects in the same spot as the illegal target. Then reward your cat with praise and treats for clawing correctly. Make the illegal targets unattractive. Sticky Paws double sided tape product can keep cat claws at bay when applied to these items.”

4. Play Aggression with Cats
Cats provide entertainment and bonding. This quickly can become a dreaded chore if your cat’s claws come out. Dr. Carlo Siracusa has a couple of easy tips to save your hands and your kitty friendship.Kitten BIting

“Do not play using your hands and other parts of your body,” Siracusa warns. Instead, “provide environmental enrichment and play using toys that increase the distance from you (e.g. a stick with feathers). Redirect using treats or food-toys when you finish a play session, do not just walk away since this will leave your cat too aroused and likely to play with your hands/legs.” Dr. Siracusa also warns against trying you punish your cat, which can trigger fear-related aggression.

5. Cats Jumping on Counters, Etc.
We all know cats like to “perch,” usually on the highest point in the room. However, some places are just not for kitty – like the counter where there is food (and who can blame you? After all, your cat has had its paws in its toilet and you can bet he didn’t remember to wash his hands).

Amy Shojai suggests making the high surface, such as the counter, unattractive by putting away food, using a product like Sticky Paws or the Ssscat products. “give the cat a better place to lounge,” she says, “Provide a cat tree or other high perch that’s taller than the countertop, more comfy (has a bed, perhaps), and includes fun stuff (a catnip mouse, treats) that will create kitty allegiance toward the new spot.”

7 Household Hazards for Cats

 SOURCE: veterinary.answers.com

Keeping your cat indoors is one of the best ways to keep him or her safe, but closing the door doesn’t eliminate all the risks to your favorite feline. Read on to learn about some of the most common household hazards for cats, and what you can do to minimize their risk.

1. Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications

While many people are aware of the dangers human medications pose to dogs, cats are also at risk for toxicity due to human medications ingested accidentally or administered by an owner who didn’t check with his or her veterinarian. Cats have systems quite unlike a human’s and do not process medications the same way.

Cold medications, antidepressants, and pain relievers are some of the most common causes of pet poisoning. Even one dose of Tylenol can be fatal to cats, who cannot metabolize the drug the same way people do. Never give your cat a human medication without talking to your veterinarian first.

2. Household plants

Poinsettias usually top owner lists of plants to avoid, but these holiday plants are generally benign, causing no more than a transient gastrointestinal upset. Lilies are much more dangerous to cats. These very common flowers cause kidney failure in cats when ingested in even small amounts. Even worse, all the parts of the plant, leaves included, are toxic.

In 2013, antifreeze manufacturers in the United States agreed to add bitter-tasting material to their product to discourage pets and children from ingesting it. While the antifreeze itself will be no less toxic, pets will be less likely to help themselves to a fatal mouthful.

3. String

Most of us have seen greeting cards with a playful kitten tumbling around with a ball of yarn, but the feline love of string has led to many emergency surgeries. When cats swallow the end of the string, one end can lodge near the base of the tongue while the rest works its way down the intestine, bunching it up as it moves along. This can lead to a sawing action that requires emergency surgery to fix.

Any string-like substance can cause this problem: thread, ribbon, yarn, even holiday tinsel.

4. Flea medications

While there are many safe and effective flea medications on the market specifically designated for cats, certain products made for dogs can be toxic to our feline friends. Permethrin, a synthetic form of the pyrethrins derived from the chrysanthemum plant, can cause vomiting, excessive salivation, seizures, and even death.

Most of these products are clearly labelled “not for use on cats”, but whether or not the warning is present, don’t share your dog’s flea medications with Fluffy. Stick to products specifically labelled for cats.

5. Antifreeze

Antifreeze toxicity is common in colder areas of the world. The sweet taste of the liquid makes it very tempting for felines. When ingested, antifreeze containing ethylene glycol causes calcium oxalate crystals to form in the kidneys, resulting in rapid and usually irreversible kidney damage. Antifreeze containing the agent propylene glycol is considerably less toxic, though you should still be cautious.

6. Rat bait

Rodenticides, commonly used in households to eliminate a mouse or rat problem, contain a variety of toxic agents that cause symtoms ranging from bleeding to seizures and death. While most dogs who suffer from rodenticide poison do so through ingesting the poison directly, many cats are affected by eating a rodent that has been killed with the bait.

Because the type of bait used dictates the treatment needed, make sure to keep your packaging and let your veterinarian know immediately if you suspect your cat has ingested rat bait. Better yet, consult a professional pest service for pet-safe control methods.

7. Liquid potpourri

Many cat owners turn to liquid potpourri as an air freshener instead of candles, correctly concerned about the possibility of a pet knocking over a lit candle. However, liquid potpourri can be very toxic to cats. They may ingest it due to its sweet smell, and suffer painful ulcerations as the caustic liquid travels down the throat into the stomach.

This list covers some of the more common dangers to cats in the house. If you suspect your cat has ingested a toxic substance, make sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for guidance. Many pets’ lives are saved through quick intervention in these cases when time may be of the essence.