Okaw Veterinary Clinic

140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953

(217)253-3221

www.okawvetclinic.com

The Greatest Gift our Pets Give

 

Contents:

IntroducingTwo Cats
Everyone Have a Happy Holiday (Pets Too)!
The Greatest Gift our Pets Give 

 

Introducing Two Cats

Adding an additional cat to your home can be easy or difficult depending on the cats involved, the size of your home, and how you go about it. If your cats are fighting, or one of the cats is aggressive, have  a checkup for them and keep them separate. Chronic pain and anxiety are common reason for cats to fight even when all their environmental needs are met. A veterinarian with expertise in feline health can screen and discuss treatment for these problems.

First introductions or re introduction (for cats that are not getting along). Set the new cat up  in one room with all food dishes, litter, and a perch.  Keep the door closed. If you don't have a door use 2 baby gates stacked. The established cat gets the rest of the house without changing where their food, litter, etc are. After a day  take a kitchen towel to rub the established cat's head especially above the eyes. This picks up the scent to now rub onto the head of the new cat in the room. Take a different towel to rub the new cat the same way, and then onto the established cat. This transferring of scent is how cats say "hello" to each other. You are helping them say "hello" by the towel rubbing. Do this daily. You can also rub the new cat's towel onto the doorways to help spread that cat's scent into the home as well.

Put each cat's food in dishes near the doorway. Your goal is to have the cats eating near each other with the barrier of the door providing the privacy they like. This also rewards the cats for being  near each other. If they are avoiding the food, use Feliway Spray (available through veterinarians and pet stores) spraying the door area, around the home and the room the new cat is in. Spray daily. This product helps the cats to feel like the home is already marked by their scent and calms them both down.

Move the food bowls closer to the door daily until both cats are directly opposite through the door. At this point open the door a few inches so the cats can see each other but have the barrier if they are overwhelmed. If all okay, keep the door open and allow them to investigate.

All cats must have their own food dishes, beds, perches at various heights, and litter boxes to get along well. Some cats can share, but having individual resources reduces fighting. A rule of thumb I have is 3 perches/cubbies per cat in the home. Many cats do not get enough predatory play outlet. This means ways for the cat to pounce on an object and act as if they are killing it. So they pounce on the other cat and fights may break out. Humans - you have to take the feather on a stick, a stuffed toy, or light to get your cat to chase, grab, and kick that toy to pieces daily for 10 minutes. For each cat. Be sure to play like this with your cats as much as they can and that will help them be happier too.

If these tips do not help your cats get along, please contact us for a consult. There are various reasons why cats fight or one is an aggressor. Many cats over 10 years have arthritis in the back making them protective about their body. Other cats are anxious and need calming supplements or diet to help them relax enough to learn how to play or use their perches. There is also medication that can help two seemingly incompatible cats.

 

 

Everyone Have a Happy Holiday (Pets Too)!

Holiday gatherings are a big part of the celebrations of the season. In some way or another pets are involved in this. We buy presents for our pets, include them in family pictures and videos for the holidays, and they often are part of the party whether they like it or not. There are lots of guides and information on websites for present picking and even good picture taking. What is very important is providing enjoyable holiday gatherings for humans and animals.

First truly consider the age, health and temperament of your pet when guests are expected. If your pet is older, has arthritis, is blind or hard of hearing it is difficult for your pet to move around and get out of the way of people walking around the house for a party. They may be laying comfortably in their own bed, but they are usually on the lookout for what is going to happen next. This may have them a little tense and apprehensive about the whole gathering, which may result in more pain the next day from just holding their body tense, or having to move around more with more people present. Young pets may be very excited and jump, bark, meow excessively or knock little ones down.

Toddlers are especially at risk of possibly being bitten by even the most friendly dog when you think of how children are constantly on the go with an animal that is already a bit anxious. Toddlers are right up in the face of a dog, they do not follow verbal instructions from adults very well, and it seems the more adults there are fewer eyes are on the children (which adult is responsible for watching the kids?). If the owners have not made a quiet place for the dog or cat to go , there is a big risk of a bite.

So, to keep your pet and everyone happy plan ahead. Dogs and cats do not have to know everyone. If your relatives just come over once a year, then make a comfy place for your dog or cat to spend the day. If someone wants to visit your pet, you decide if it is okay. Younger well socialized pets may do fine with many people over but after a few hours they have usually had enough and are seeking a quiet area. Make that area away from the party scene and go ahead and put your pet there if you notice your pet avoiding people (avoidance is a subtle sign of anxiety). If the humans won?t listen to you, perhaps board your pet for the day or make that comfy place in another room well away from others, and make it really hard for guests to ?let the pet out?. Most of the pet problems at parties are really humans not listening to each other or the animal.

If your pet is stressed out by visitors, we can help. Give us a call to set up an appointment for a behavior consult. You can also take a look at the behavioral services we offer.

 

 

To Listen without Judgment - The Greatest Gift

Over the course of Veterans day I listened to radio programs, read facebook posts and articles on the benefits of dogs for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We posted a touching story of David Sharpe (veteran) and Cheyanne his rescue dog on our Facebook page to support our veterans. I have contacts with a local assistance dog/veterans group "This Able Veteran" based in Carbondale Illinois. One of the members related to me the benefits of these dogs to the veterans, yet somehow listening to David Sharpe's story brought it all home for me.

As David tells his story, he relates how during an episode where he was punching walls Cheyanne sat and watched with a somewhat curious look. He was stopped the punching and in calming down for her sake, told her all about what happened to him - all the  horrible memories. She just listened without judgment and as he put is "It was like a 10,000 pound weight was lifted off my chest." Another in the video veteran Bradley Fasnacht also speaks of how his dog Zapper lets him get his thoughts off his chest and listens without judging. As he puts it - he holds back on telling others the details because he wonders how they will judge him, and even telling the doctors can be difficult because he figures they have heard it all before. Hearing this directly from the veterans helped me to realize how these dogs are helping veterans in ways unique to being an animal.

Dogs are not the only animal that people bond with by telling them their troubles. Cats, horses, and many other animals all listen without judgment - they don't criticize, offer unsolicited advice, or interrupt. They keep it all confidential so one can tell them everything and know that it will not be shared. For some people talking to an animal can be the first step to sharing with family and friends.

Sharing our experiences is important for humans to grow emotionally but is not often easy. An animal may be one of the best therapy agents for a child or adult who has had difficulties. There are psychologists who may have fish tanks, birds, or even their own dog or cat to ease talking sessions.

While all animals have this ability to listen without judgment, not all are able to handle emotional outbursts and be a good therapy animal. For the animal, being around some of the emotional outbursts without threat to them, or an ability to get away is important. A young animal in the socialization period can be conditioned to not being afraid of the PTSD event. Proper selection and training of a therapy animal is important. This would also be true for any cat, horse, or bird who is being considered for PTSD work. How we feel and act has an effect on our animals. From the veteran's interviews I could sense they appreciated this and saw how talking to the animal helped with the PTSD and then improved life for them in many ways.

Many of my clients have shared with me how helpful their pet was to listen to them without judgment. I think this is one of the greatest gift of pet ownership. Having a friend, a living being to greet you at the door is great, but the listening skills of animals are far better than many people. So I thank all of these animals and look to them as an example of what I should do when I listen. Maybe someday I will be as good as my dog and cat. I will certainly try.