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The Barking Blog

The Barking Blog

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Saving Your Sofa: How to Keep Your Cat Happy and Your Furniture Intact

 

Aside from litter box issues, the most frequently asked questions we get about cats are related to how to get them to stop scratching the furniture.
 
The first thing you will need to understand as a cat owner is that cats have to scratch. Even a declawed cat will continue to paw areas. It is part of their normal and natural behavior. It is how they communicate information, relieve stress, stretch their muscles, and shed dea
d claw sheaths. It's not a behavior you are going to eradicate. It is both innate and necessary.

The key to saving your furniture is to teach your cat the proper and improper places to show off their scratching skills.

Cats are territorial creatures. When they scratch an area, they are leaving their scent on that item and claiming it as their own. In order for cats to live in a balanced state of mind, they must be able to mark space, however that doesn't mean that your furniture and the whole house are fair game.

Modifying your cats scratching behavior is a two-part process. You have to provide your cat with acceptable alternatives while simultaneously making their current scratching targets less appealing.

 

Acceptable Scratch Areas

You first have to know your cat. Pay attention to what types of objects your kitty is currently utilizing as a scratching post.

When purchasing an appropriate scratching alternative, try to match what your kitty is currently enjoying. Some cats prefer vertical scratchers (cats who scratch legs of furniture) while others prefer horizontal varieties (cats who scratch carpet or the backs of sofas). Some cats
want both! Know your cat before you buy an alternative.

Try a variety of materials as well. Some cats love cardboard scratchers while others love sisal. Some prefer carpeted cat trees while others love wooden posts. If you have multiple cats, you may need multiple scratching options depending on their preferences.

Placement of the new scratchers can be important as well. First, place the alternative option near the objects you are wanting your kitty to avoid. You'll know pretty quickly if you selected the right alternative for your specific cat. Placing scratchers near windows where your cat can see birds and squirrels are sure to help the transition. Be mindful of placement ~ your cat won't want to use a scratcher if it's placed in a dark corner away from everything or if it ends up in a place your cat never frequents.

Don't forget to add some catnip or catnip spray to help entice your feline to check out the new alternative.

Unacceptable Scratch Areas

While providing acceptable alternatives for your cat to scratch, you must also make their current scratching areas less appealing. This aspect of the behavior modification process cannot be overlooked if you want to be successful.

Never scold or yell at your cat for scratching inappropriate areas. Your kitty won't understand that you are upset with the act of scratching since this behavior is something innate to her being. Instead, she's just going to think you're upset with HER and your energy is most likely only going to scare her.

Instead, use double sided tape made for furniture on all areas your cat likes to scratch that are inappropriate. They can be removed once your cat has accepted her new scratch areas.

For carpet scratchers, you can purchase plastic carpet runners available at hardware stores. Place them prong UP instead of prong down. These runners can also be cut and placed along the backs of couches if necessary.

Remember, these are only temporary eye-sores until your kitty learns the ropes.

If these options fail, try nail caps. These tiny caps come in a variety of colors and can be quite stylish!

If you see your cat heading to unacceptable areas and reaching for a scratch, simply pick them up and take them to the acceptable area. Do not force them to scratch the new area by placing their paws on the post, etc. Simply place them near the new, acceptable target and walk away.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Should I Leave Music or a TV On For My Pet?

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Sound and Music can have a very powerful effect on health. It's ability to heal has been utilized for thousands of years.

It is known that certain music increases peripheral circulation while other music effects mental, emotional, cognitive and social experiences. Music can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, alleviate pain, help with learning disabilities, improve movement and balance and promote endurance and strength, while sound can even alter skin temperature and reduce muscle tension.

While the above listing has proven results in humans, we are finding the same results in plants and animals. Did you know that some music will increase plant growth?  Did you know that plants will often lean toward certain music which other music has been known to kill? It has been documented that stabled animals remain calmer and heal more quickly with classical music being played throughout their environment. Cows have even been known to be more receptive to milking when calming music is played and can even produce more or less milk depending upon the music selection.

Is it then such a far stretch to think that our pets also react with differing behavior depending upon the sounds in their environment?

Many clients leave a TV or radio on for their babies when they can't be home with them. If you decide this is best for you and your loved ones, feel free to update your contract and we'll be happy to abide by your new instructions.We recommend the Soundscapes music channel through most cable providers.

Want further information? Check out the Resources below:

Animals in Translation – Temple Grandin
Music Medicine – Ralph Spintge

Music & Miracles – Don Campbell
                                                                                                                  -info from NAPPS

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Dogwell & Catswell Jerky Treat Recall

The following Dogswell and Catswell brand chicken and duck jerky products, with a “Best Before” date of January 28th, 2015 have been recalled:

Breathies

Happy Heart

Happy Hips

Mellow Mutt

Shape Up

Veggie Life

Vitality

VitaKitty

If you have a package of any product involved in the recall, discontinue feeding immediately and call Dogswell at 1-888-559-8833 for a full refund.

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How to Find a Great Pet Sitter or Dog Walker In Or Out of Cape May County!

Last month, I was asked by one of our Summer clients to help find him a pet sitter in the town he resides in during the rest of the year. This is a request we often get and its a responsibility we take seriously. We know the dangers of hiring a fly-by-night pet sitter and never want our clients to experience what can happen when their pets and home fall under the care of an inexperienced or potentially dangerous sitter.

Since we have such a large clientele who are mainly Summer residents, it got me thinking that I should share these tips with everyone who may be searching for another sitter in their hometown. They can really mean the difference between being delighted in your new pet care professional or taking on risk you may not even know you're assuming.

First, I always go to the Pet Sitters International Website at www.petsit.com and check out the Pet Sitter Locator feature. Here you can simply enter in your zip code and get a list of all sitters who cover your area who are at least members of PSI. A sitter who has at least taken the steps to become a member of PSI has access to wonderful educational opportunities and will be much more professional than the fly-by-night variety.

Next, I check to see if any of the sitters listed are Certified Professional Pet Sitters. There will be an icon next to the names of those who are. I always recommend clients select a certified sitter if at all possible. These folks have taken their pet sitting careers to the next level and are truly skilled in taking care of other people's pets. They aren't just animal lovers, they are pet care professionals.

From there, I narrow the list by seeing who has a website. If a sitter is serious about their business, they'll have a professional website that clearly lists their rates and services. You may be surprised at how many websites listed are actually dead links.

After checking out the websites, I contact those I feel good about and ask them if they are insured and bonded. I also ask them to supply me with proof. Every sitter should be able to give you proof of their insurance and bonding. If a sitter is hesitant about this request, I don't recommend hiring them. There is no reason why a sitter cannot offer these documents to you quickly.

Once you receive a sitter's documentation, don't take them at face value. Look at the insurance levels that are being carried. Are they ample enough to cover an incident in your home? Some sitters carry very minimum levels of insurance in order to claim they are insured and keep their rates extremely low. What's important is that the sitter you hire carries adequate levels of insurance for your particular home.

Additionally, many sitters carry only general liability insurance. What's unfortunate is that most client's don't realize this type of insurance does not cover their pet. General liability insurance covers your home only, literally the walls, ceiling and floor. It's also does not cover the contents in your home. I recommend clients always ask if the sitter's policy carries Care, Custody and Control and what those limits are. This additional insurance covers your home's contents as well as your pet. Again, consider your pet when deciding if the limits carried by a potential sitter are enough to cover an injury while in their care.  Bonding limits should also be considered depending on the value of the contents in your home since bonding insurance covers theft.

I recommend that clients take an additional step and actually call the sitter's insurance company to verify that the policy is still in effect. I have actually had the experience where sitters provided us with documentation only to call and find out the polices were cancelled. Crazy, I know..

Once you've found a sitter or sitters you want to meet with, set up a client meeting and go with your gut. Remember that while you and your pet have to be a good fit for the pet sitter, they also have to be a good fit for you and your pet!

Do your due diligence before letting someone into your home and allowing them to care for your furry babies. Unfortunately, our industry is unregulated and anyone can create an online profile or print up business cards and call themselves a pet sitter. Do what you can to ensure the person you hire is a great match for you and your pets. If you need help from us, feel free to reach out!

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