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June 26, 2017

Cat Introductions: Pillow and Sudan

The stage was set and it was time to start the cat introductions– introducing Pillow to Sudan, through a combination of clicker training, management and environmental changes. Since Sudan does not like other cats, except the ones he grew up with, the introductions between the two cats needed to be slow and gradual. The good news is that my other cats, Maulee, Olivia and Jinniyha were already playing and interacting with Pillow under the door.

Hello

One month ago we started the first phase of the four-phase cat introduction process. Phase one used scent exchanges combined with clicker training to help develop a friendly or at least a tolerable relationship. Both cats were already clicker-savvy—having a positive association with the sound of the clicker.

Cat introductions & scent exchanges

Cat Introductions: Clicker, towels and treats

Clicker, towels and treats

I focused on the pheromones secreted by sebaceous glands on cat cheeks. These are sometimes referred to as “the friendly pheromones”. They can help promote a remote, but friendly relationship

All of the necessary tools were assembled: soft towels, a clicker and treats. I conducted the scent-exchange exercises twice a day—once in the morning and then again at the end of the day.

 

I began the exchange by gently petting Sudan’s cheek with a towel. Taking the second clean towel, I stroked Pillow on his cheek. The towel with Pillow’s pheromones was placed in the hall where Sudan hangs out and then I placed the towel with Sudan’s scent on it in the sun room.

Cat introductions: petting Sudan's cheek with a towel

Petting Sudan’s Cheek with a Towel

Sudan immediately went over to investigate the towel. Since he did not display any stress or fractiousness towards Pillow’s scent, I clicked and tossed him a treat. I aimed the treat so that it landed about six inches away from the towel. After he ate the treat he checked out the towel again. I waited a couple of seconds while he explored it and then clicked and treated him again. There were no signs of anxiety or aggression. I am always very alert for these signals.

Cat introductions in a stress free fashion

Sudan checking out the towel

After a few cycles I focused on Pillow who had picked up the towel and carried it over to his table-bed. Of course he was reinforced with a click and a treat.

I repeated the scent exchanges twice a day, each time with a fresh towel. Both cats responded positively to the scents on the towels. Sudan became very attached to the newly-Pillow-scented towels, rolling on them immediately after they were placed on the floor.

Usually, after one-two weeks of positive responses the second phase of the introductions can start. Because of Sudan’s reluctance to accept other cats, I extended the pheromone exchanges to one month.

A serious setback

Cat Introductions: Sudan darts through the door

Sudan

The first phase was progressing nicely, but then two weeks ago, a friend of mine accidentally opened the door to the sun room. Sudan, waiting for the opportunity, darted under his legs into Pillow’s room. My friend yelled, startling Sudan. The Maine Coon was sun bathing when Sudan spotted him and ran at him. He first gave Pillow a nose touch and then immediately launched himself at the unsuspecting cat. Although it was an aggressive attack, neither cat was injured.

This is not a good sign. I am not sure if Sudan will ever tolerate another male cat in his territory.

Help for cat behavior problems is available

For help with cat introductions and other behavior challenges, contact Marilyn to discuss scheduling a consultation.

Soon Back in the Racks–Naughty No More!

Naughty No More!

Naughty No More! by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

My book Naughty No More! has not disappeared. My publisher sold about 1/3 of the inventory to Pet Smart last August and then ordered a second reprinting. The book is scheduled to be back in the warehouse around October 20th. I have no idea how that equates in Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble time. Meantime it has been kind of fun as well as somewhat disturbing to see someone trying to sell a used copy of Naughty No More! on Amazon for $900… that’s just weird. The good news is that soon, it will be back on Amazon for a reasonable price. Thankfully, it is available in all flavors of e-book. After my book is back up on Amazon, I wonder if that used, dog-eared copy will still be offered for $900.

Meet the Bobs

Yesterday I had a cat behavior consultation that was special and well worth blogging about, with the consent of my client, of course.

My client, M, and her husband live in the hills, overlooking Cupertino. The house is lovely, with large windows that overlooked the Bay Area. The view immediately out of the window is of a deck, trees and panoramas of untouched land. All of this beauty and the house is only about 5 minutes above the city.

M and her husband initially contacted me about Chloe, their small Abyssinian cat who, for the past few months had been exhibiting aggression without any obvious provocation. Yesterday was no exception. Throughout most of my visit, Chloe was very agitated, growling, jumpy, pupils constricted and eyes fixated on us. The cat had been to the veterinarian, who had ruled out any medical or neurological reasons for the behavior.

The cause of the extreme aggression was a puzzle. In order to come up with good recommendations, it was important that I identify the triggers. M, her husband and I discussed the possibilities. As we chatted, a slight movement outside the window caught my attention. I watched as a self-assured, juvenile male bobcat nonchalantly wandered up to the window, pressed his nose against the glass and fixed a stare on little Chloe that would send shudders through any self-respecting cat. To top it off, the bobcat licked his mouth… you could see him calculating how to make that little Chloe his evening appetizer.

I didn’t have to look any further for what was triggering Chloe’s aggressive behavior.

According to M, the juvenile bobcat had made an appearance a few weeks ago accompanied by a kitten and a female. I wonder if the little family is denning under the deck. They have everything they need to survive. It’s warm, due to radiant heat from the house and it’s protected from the rain and wind. Also, unknowingly, M has been providing the Bobs free meals since she feeds the birds on the deck. The bird feed, falling out of the feeder attracts cute little chipmunks and other rodents, easy meals for a bobcat.

I am puzzled about why bobcats are coming so close to homes. My experience, until recently, has been that they go out of their way to avoid people and stay far away from our homes. This was my second bobcat sighting within the month. A few weeks ago, at another client, a female bobcat paid a visit, basking in the sun by the pool.

 

Segue to Rescue

Even though the intent of my blog is to focus on the wonderment of cat behavior, I am going to segue into another part of my life. Some of you know that I’m the coordinator for California Bengal Cat Rescue. I hate asking for help for a rescue situation, it just doesn’t seem right for me to use my blog for this. But I am…

Today’s blog is a plea for help, it’s a rescue blog.

I’m in the process of coordinating a major rescue. 35 Bengals are being surrendered to me. They come from a breeder who has been hit with severe economic hardship. She is surrendering all of her babies to us. It’s really hard for her to do this because she adores each and every one of her little cats, but she knows it’s the best thing for them.

Each of these lovely cats need to be spayed/neutered before they go either to foster homes or their forever homes. I have located a low cost clinic, run by Best Friends Sanctuary who can speuter them at a reasonable rate: $35 for the boys $45 for the girls.  We need financial help desperately! We have some funds, but not enough to cover all 35 of them.

We also need either hard plastic carriers donated to us, or money for 15 carriers. The carriers will be for transporting the cats in three groups to the clinic for their speutering.

We will also need help with transporting the cats to and from the clinic. The cats are in Lancaster, north east of Los Angeles. The clinic is in the Los Angeles area. I’m not sure but I think it’s about a one hour drive.

We also need foster homes and great adopters.

I have included pictures of 4 of the cats. As you can see, they are beautiful. One of the cats, Sandy, is a Supreme Grand Champion. Each cat has his and her own story, each cat is special and needs and deserves a great and loving home. If you can help us with this rescue, please send donations through PayPal to: donate@bengalrescuenetwork.org and write in the memo or subject head that it’s for California. We are a 5013C organization, so whatever you donate can be written off.

Thank you so much for helping.

I promise, my next blog will be about cat behavior.

A Magic Cat

I don’t usually talk about my clients. I might share cases and talk about interesting cases, but naming the client is something I normally don’t do.

I’m breaking my rule… with permission from Lorraine, the new mom of a lovely F1 Bengal. I’ve posted a picture of this lovely boy at the end of this post. Additionally, you can see more and hear more about him in The Fabulous Lorraine blog.

Bengal cats were originally developed by pairing an Asian Leopard Cat with a domestic cat. The offspring of this match are early generation (EG) Bengals. The first generation is called “F1”. Grandchildren from the original pairing are “F2”. They are considered domestic cats by TICA, the entity that registers and shows them when they are “F4” and further out. They are wonderful cats to have as companions.

Lorraine has just opened her heart to a male F1 Bengal. Originally she was going to foster and socialize him for adoption. We do not want this little guy to go to a sanctuary. The poor little guy had been in 3 different homes before Lorraine took him in. He unfortunately had suffered abuse in one of these homes. The story was that he has litter box issues and does not do well with other cats.  

It took about 5 minutes for Lorraine to fall in love and decide that the little one will stay with her forever. Lorraine is providing him a wonderful home. She has the right attitude about him, believing that he is perfect just as he is, even if he never truly trusts a human again.

I am helping Lorraine socialize him and help him feel secure in his new home. The goal is to help him feel safe and to bond with Lorraine.  Right now he is terrified and only wants to hide.  If he does have litter box issues, I will help Lorraine through behavior modification and some management.

Currenty, he is eating and he is using the litter boxes. For the next week, Lorraine will simply go into his room, put his food down and sit in a chair and read or sing to him. We want him to see Lorraine as the provider of everything good… translation… yummy food… and to become familiarized with the sound of her voice.

She is making progress. The little guy is now starting to feel comfortable enough to put his play mice into the water dish at night. When Lorraine inadvertently steps over his comfort boundary, he’s letting her know with a hiss or a growl. With a little time and patience that will stop.

From time-to-time I will post little snippets about this new little one and how he’s progressing. Lorraine will also be posting on her blog about him.

And… maybe soon, he’ll have a name. … we are leaning towards “Magic”

 

Lorraine's new friend

Lorraine's new friend