/ Monthly Care Tips

How to Stop Your Cat from Peeing in the House

Published September 1, 2011 in Monthly Care Tips, What's New |
| Leave a comment

Because cats are fastidious about their own cleanliness, they also want their litter boxes to be kept clean. Some cat owners do not empty the litter boxes often enough to suit their pets that do not want to do their business in the equivalent of an unflushed toilet. Can you blame them? Regularly changing the box to provide fresh litter at least once a day, more frequently if necessary and thoroughly washing the litter box weekly will ensure that your cat always has a clean place to go. Always have at least one more litter box than the number of cats. Even a single cat should have two boxes; that way if you are delayed getting home from work or are too tired to change the litter, the cat will still have a clean place to go.

Feline urine has an extremely pungent and unpleasant odour due to feline protein metabolism, a combination of uric acid, phosphates, calcium oxalates and aerates. If the cat has an inflammation or infection in his or her urinary tract, the protein concentration will be greater and will smell even worse. When dried, the urine forms crystals that create hard-to-remove stains.

Some specially formulated cleaning products are designed to target cat urine with enzymes that break down the crystals and remove the smell and the stains. Because cat urine is ammonia-based, using regular household cleaners — many of which contain ammonia — will not remove the stain or odour, and will in fact just encourage kitty to urinate in that same spot again. To the cat, the ammonia scent is reminiscent of his own urine! Thoroughly cleaning the affected area with the right products will get the stain and smell out, and the cat will not automatically return to that place to relieve himself or herself.

If the litter boxes are clean, but your cat still eliminates outside the box, he is showing his stress or displeasure. Your impulse may be to yell at him, but that would not accomplish anything except scaring and confusing him. If you catch him in the act of peeing on your carpet, instead of shouting at him, gently pick him up and confine him to a closed room with a clean litter box. He is eliminating on the carpet because something has scared him physically or emotionally, and once you have calmed down, you can start to figure out the reason.

Why Is Your Cat Not Using the Litter Box?

A cat suffering from a urinary tract infection finds urination painful, and may associate his litter box with this. Or he may need to urinate more often and starts peeing throughout the house. Kidney, liver and thyroid conditions leave cats thirsty, leading to more fluid intake and more frequent, urgent urination. Older cats with arthritis, muscular diseases or other age-related issues also may be unable to get to the litter box on time.

Declawed cats often develop an aversion to using a litter box because after surgery, their newly tender paws found scratching painful and they continue to link the litter box with that discomfort. Kitty litter manufactured from recycled newspapers offers declawed cats a more comfortable place to go, as does premium clumping (not clay) litter.

Changes in your household routine may affect your cat’s litter box behaviour. Moving to a new home or even schedule changes is a major change for your cat. A new baby or another animal companion, a kid leaving for college, even the your leaving the household for a holiday can all impact a cat, and he may react by urinating outside his box.

Further, a cat always notices if you have switched the type or brand of litter he has been accustomed to using. The scent of a different litter or its feel on his paws may not be to his liking, and he will stop using the box. Other cats dislike covered litter boxes or litter liners. If you have decided to incorporate these, be sure the cat has access to his old-style box as well. A new location for a litter box can initially stress your cat, so if the box is in a new spot, keep another in the previous location until the cat adapts.

Adapted from an article by Kathy Blumenstock on Animal Planet

How to Introduce Dogs to Babies

Published August 26, 2011 in Monthly Care Tips, What's New |
| Leave a comment

Whether you are an expectant parent or grandparent, a new baby can bring joy into your life. But what does a newborn mean for the animals you have lived with for years?

Dogs used to adults may not recognize babies as the same species. Newborns and toddlers sound scary, smell funny, and seem to evict companions from your lap because they divert a favourite human’s attention. Here are tips to help you persuade your dogs to welcome babies as part of their family.

Before the Baby Comes Home

- Prepare in advance. Expectant parents have nine months to get the companions ready for the new arrival. Dogs do not appreciate sudden change so figure out how the baby will affect routine and start with gradual adjustments. For instance, the baby’s sleep and feeding schedule probably will impact the dog’s playtime, potty and walk schedule.

- Perhaps the nursery room will become off limits. Make changes gradually. Allow companions to investigate and explore rooms and changes so they become the new “normal” and he does not feel left out.

- Dogs may swipe baby toys. It is a good idea to use a baby gate to control your companion’s access to the baby’s room when you cannot supervise. Keep toys out of doggy mouth range.

- Baby cries can sound like prey distress sounds and entice your dog’s hunting instincts. Get your pet used to baby sounds ahead of time. Play pre-recorded infant cries so the dogs know what to expect. When companions investigate the sound, reward calm behaviour with praise and treats or petting. If the noise gets your companion upset, try playing a favourite game before you switch on the noise so he associates the sound with something good.

- Make yourself smell like the baby. Pets identify safe family members by smell, so if you wear baby powder or lotion weeks in advance, the baby will already smell like you when it arrives. That way, your dog associates these smells with someone he already knows and loves.

When the Baby Arrives

- When the baby arrives, bring a blanket scented with the infant home from the hospital in advance, if possible. That way the companion gets an advance introduction to the new kid’s smell.

- Once the newborn comes home, you can make your baby smell like the companion to help smooth introductions. Pet your dog with the baby’s socks and then have the infant wear them (fur-side out, of course!). That way the baby already smells like the companion.

- Dogs usually are fine with babies, especially when you treat the introduction as a normal event and not a huge deal – even though it is a fantastic event for you! Ideally the companion should understand a new baby is a normal part of his life. Do not force the introduction. But when companions act interested, allow a careful sniff of the baby’s foot, with that scented sock. When the dog gets to see, smell and gently touch that weird, wonderful creature – HIS NEW BABY! – he will learn there is nothing to fear.

- Praise your companion for acting confident and calm around the baby. Create a special companion-baby time when the dog gets neat attention or treats but only when the baby is within sight. Try tossing a doggy treat while you feed the baby. This helps the companion associate fantastic things with the baby’s presence.

- As the infant becomes a toddler reaching out to grab fur and tail, teach the baby to respect the companion, too. Providing proper introductions will prepare you, the child, and the companions for a peaceful and even joyful time together. And that is a relationship that will last a lifetime for them all.

Adapted from an article by Amy D. Shojai