Sunday, March 4, 2012
My Cat From...
Image courtesty of animalphotos.net
Most cats surrendered to animal shelters arrive for the same reason...bad behavior. Perhaps they won't use the litter box, tatter furniture, or even scratch and bite their people. Not the kind of scenes that evoke warm and fuzzy feelings. And sadly, at most shelters, Kitty Convicts reside in abundance.
Finally, someone has come along to help undo the damage. Jackson Galaxy, a tattooed mountain of a man, looks more like a motorcycle gang member than a cat whisperer. Yet he works the same magic on felines that Cesar Millan does with troubled canines. Galaxy appears on the Animal Planet show, "My Cat From Hell." I've watched a number of episodes now, and seen hissing and snarling wild things become contented lap cats. What are his feline training secrets? Whip and chair? Haz-mat suit and tranquilizers?
No. It's really quite simple. With a strong knowledge of cat behavior, Galaxy teaches people.
Here are a few of his tactics:
1. Cats feel more powerful and less stressed when they can travel up to observe their world from a perch high above. Give them a way to climb to the top and back down again in a natural flow.
"Ahhh, I am now ruler of my world!"
2. Cats are natural hunters. Get play toys that give them the chance to do what they're meant to do, and use them. A tired kitty is a happy kitty.
3. Provide plenty of litter boxes kept scrupulously scooped. If kitty has an accident, make sure the area is thoroughly cleaned and deodorized. No covered litterboxes, please. In addition, if you've set the environment up well (see number 1), kitty won't feel the need to mark his territory.
4. Cats must scratch something. Provide plenty of attractive scratching posts, both vertical and horizontal. Focus on putting them beside areas kitty has proven he/she likes to scratch. A little catnip incentive doesn't hurt, either. Voila! It's kitty happy hour!
5. Be sure your cat is spayed/neutered. Raging hormones create as many behavior problems in cats as they do in teenagers.
These are only a few of Galaxy's suggestions. Every time I see the show I learn something new, as he assigns his prescription "homework", then returns to check on progress. It's fascinating to watch.
I hope anyone who is experiencing troubles with their feline will tune in and see what they can do to improve the pet/guardian bond. Don't worry. Even if your cat is angelic, you'll still unearth a nugget or two of wisdom.
We bring animals into our homes and usually expect them to behave like people. Much as we may think otherwise, critters aren't human beings. They have a different genetic makeup and different instincts. Yet it only requires a few adaptations for everyone to have a happy and fulfilling co-existence.
And that, my friends, is the key to having fewer animals languish in shelters or euthanized as unadoptable.