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Baker Pet Talks: Tips from Cornell Experts
Questions from Viewers

Due to time restrictions, we weren't able to address all of our viewers' questions during the live event, however, our feline behavior specialist, Dr. Pam Perry provides responses to those questions below.

Click on the button below to watch a recording of the event!

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Question topics:

Question:
I have two male cats, one older and one younger, both neutered. However, the older cat has urinated in all places of the house, even though he has already disposed of another box. What would be appropriate to do?

Response:
First of all, you need to determine whether the cat is house soiling (urinating outside the litter box to empty his bladder) or spraying (urine marking his territory).  In either case, a complete medical workup is essential to rule out any underlying medical issues.  Any conflict between the cats also should be addressed because it may be contributing to the problem.  In the meantime, you should provide 3 separate litter boxes (in separate areas of the house) located where they are easily accessed, but not in an area with a lot of traffic or noise.  Most cats prefer fine-textured, unscented, clumping litter, and a box that is large, but with low sides.  In addition, most cats prefer uncovered litter boxes, and dislike plastic liners.

Question:
How do you introduce a dog to a kitten, a Ragdoll kitten?

Response:
Keep the dog restrained and sitting quietly next to you.  Then allow the kitten to approach on her own.  If she is too fearful to approach, then try again later. Do not force them to interact because it will only frighten the kitten.  You can try tempting the kitten with treats or toys, gradually moving them closer and closer towards the dog.  In the meantime, the dog should be getting treats and praise for sitting politely and not chasing the kitten.

Question:
I have a rescue 8-year-old cat who has been very well behaved until recently. She suddenly has been jumping up on the tables and kitchen counter, something that she hasn’t done in years. Could this be caused by the stress of her recent anal gland abscess? Now that the condition has been cleared up by her vet, she has stopped the jumping.

Response:
If she starts jumping on the counters again, have her veterinarian check her anal glands to see if the infection recurred.  If not, then look for anything that might entice your kitty to jump on the counters.  For example, is she hungry?  If her appetite and/or activity seem to be increasing, then her veterinarian may wish to do a blood test to check her thyroid hormone levels.

Question:
Is there any method, medication, procedure to stop a male cat from spraying in the house? I’ve used calming pheromones, odor sprays, to no avail.

Response:
First of all, you need to address why the cat is spraying.  If he is intact, then have him neutered.  If he is already neutered, then he may be spraying in response to the presence of other cats (in the home or outdoors).  If you have neighborhood cats that frequent, then block his view of them through the windows or deter them from approaching the house.  In addition, address any social stress occurring within the home.  Because urine marking is often a response to anxiety, your regular veterinarian may wish to prescribe anti-anxiety medication for him.  In the meantime, you can purchase kitty diapers (e.g. Piddle Pants™) to contain the urine when you are not able to supervise him.

Question:
How can I stop the little friendly nibs that I get on my arm, or legs, that more than often draw blood?

Response:
If the bites are an attempt to get your attention, then you should withdraw all attention whenever he bites you so that you do not inadvertently reward the behavior.  If he persists, then leave the room and close the door.  After a few minutes, try interacting with him again, but only if he behaves appropriately.  If he bites again, ignore him and leave the room for a few more minutes before trying again.  He must learn that biting withdraws your attention completely.  You also can try teaching him to perform a behavior incompatible with biting, such as sitting on a mat and/or giving you a “high-five”.  Then, give him attention only when he is sitting on his mat and/or giving “high-fives”.

Question:
I have nine cats I know, too many. One cat lived outside until it became dangerous, then lived in our kitty house outside. When the weather became hot this summer, she now lives in a bedroom. She is a solitary happy cat. I have tried the collars and Feliway, but believe she will never be able to be with my other cats. Are there any other things to consider?

Response:
Cats are not obligate social animals, so they do not need feline companionship to be content.  In other words, if she is happy being solitary, then let her be the only cat in your bedroom.  With 8 other kitties, it would be extremely difficult to introduce her to all of them.  It is better to accept that she is happiest by herself and allow her to live separately from your other kitties.

Question:
What can I do to stop my cat from crying to go outside? I have a rich environment indoors and several bird feeders at window range, so she doesn’t get bored.

Response:
Some cats are very persistent in their efforts to go outdoors.  Enriching their indoor environment often helps, but be sure to utilize vertical space within your home.  To keep her engaged in something appropriate, feed her part of her meals from food-dispensing balls.  You also can try bringing a bit of the outdoors inside by growing some cat grass.  Another, more expensive option is to create a catio, or an enclosed outdoor area where she can explore, but from which she cannot escape.