Kitten Checklist Helps New Owners Pick the Perfect Cat

 

An organization of cat care professionals in the UK called The Cat Group has created a very helpful “Kitten Checklist” for anyone thinking about adding a new kitten to their family!

This user-friendly checklist was designed to help owners choose a happy and healthy kitten, whether it comes from a shelter, rescue organization, friend, or breeder.

Besides checking for signs of poor health, the creators of the checklist also note the importance of assessing temperament.  “Many people don’t understand that in order to become a good pet cat, kittens need positive interactions with people and need to get used to the human environment and lifestyle before they are about 8 weeks old,” they report.

The checklist guides potential owners through a series of questions.  These include things to consider before visiting a shelter or breeder to see kittens and what to observe when you are visiting and interacting with a kitten.

The health section includes an easy way to evaluate the different parts of a kitten’s body:  eyes, ears, nose, coat, etc.

You can download or print out the Kitten Checklist pdf by clicking HERE.

 

 

New Study Proves Cats are Strongly Attached to their Human Caregivers

A new research study published in the journal Current Biology has come to a conclusion that cat owners have known all along—cats form strong emotional bonds with their humans!

The authors point out that although studies on canine behavior and cognition far outnumber those on feline behavior and cognition, the research that does exist shows that cats form social bonds with humans and other animals–and the bonds they form with their human caregivers are especially strong.

The researchers in this study observed how kittens in the 3-8 month age range behaved with their owners, then during a brief separation, and finally when they were reunited with their owners.

The kittens were first evaluated and divided into two attachment styles:  securely attached and insecurely attached.  Then a portion were enrolled in socialization training with their owners.  The researchers found that their attachment styles were already strongly developed and did not change much after training.

During the separation/reunion component of the study, the kittens showed roughly the same rates of attachment to their people as both dogs and children.  Around 66% were securely attached and 34% were insecurely attached.  (Dogs are 58%–42% and children are 65%–35%)

How do cats show secure vs. insecure attachment? All the cats showed distress during the separation phase of the experiment (lots of meowing!) but the securely attached cats showed reduced stress when the caregivers returned.  The insecurely attached cats remained at higher levels of stress when their humans returned.

Click HERE to watch a video of some of the cats and owners observed by the researchers.  You can see how the cats’ reunion behaviors differ based on their attachment styles.

 

How Our Personalities Affect Our Cats’ Care and Well-Being

A new research study on personality type and cat ownership provides some interesting insights into how our personalities can impact our cats’ lives.

Researchers surveyed over 3,000 UK cat owners on their personality types based on the “Big Five Inventory”

  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness

They also asked the owners several questions about how they cared for their cats.  The findings show that our personality types play a big role in how we relate to our cats.

For example, owners identified as having high neuroticism were more likely to keep their cats indoors.  They were also more likely to report behavior problems such as anxiety and obesity in their cats.

In contrast, the researchers found that extroverted owners were more likely to let their cats have access to the outdoors.

Owners identified as agreeable reported greater overall satisfaction with their cats and were also more likely to identify their cats as being at a normal weight.

Conscientious owners tended to view their cats as more outgoing and less anxious, fearful, or aloof than other owner types.

The researchers note that these findings are similar to other studies on parental personality type and child rearing practices.  Not surprisingly, parents identified as “neurotic” are more likely to have overprotective caregiving styles that can cause stress in their children.

For more information on pet parenting styles, check out this article from Science Daily.

 

How to Encourage Good Scratching Habits in Cats

As more and more cat owners are realizing the risks and hazards of declawing and letting their cats roam outdoors, they are faced with the issue of unwanted cat scratching behavior in the house.

Why do cats scratch and how can you encourage appropriate scratching?  Here’s some great information from the American Association of Feline Practitioners!

Why do cats scratch?

Cats have claws to help them hunt, defend themselves, and mark their territory.  Scratching is a natural feline behavior that serves a variety of purposes:  keeping their nails healthy, marking objects in their territory, and good old-fashioned stretching!

Some cats may also scratch when they are anxious and stressed.

How to help your cat with scratching issues

The AAFP advises cat owners to trim their cats’ claws regularly.  You can also provide multiple appropriate scratching surfaces and interactive play toys for each cat in the home.

Cats that exhibit stress related scratching (often in multi-cat households) can especially benefit from their own space and scratching materials.

What’s the best scratching product?

Most cats like to stretch upwards and scratch on a vertical surface.  Make sure you get a post that is tall enough for your cat to stretch on.  Horizontal scratchers are also available if your cat uses the carpet.

Cats prefer rough surfaces to scratch on, like tree bark in the wild.  This is why your cat may be drawn to textured furniture upholstery and carpet.

Choose a scratching post made of a rough material like sisal, corrugated cardboard, or wood.

How to encourage your cat to scratch appropriately

Place scratching posts near your cat’s favorite sleeping areas, and also near furniture that your cat likes to scratch.

Encourage your cat to use scratching posts by gently placing her near the post when she scratches furniture or carpet.  Reward good scratching behavior with your cat’s favorite things (treats, play, brushing, etc.)

 

House Soiling an Indicator of Urinary Health Problems in Cats

A recent study of cats with a history of urinating outside of the litter box (called “periuria”) has shed some new light on the connection between feline health and litter box issues.

A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery examined cats from multi-cat households that exhibited two types of periuria—spraying their urine and urinating outside of the box (called “latrining”).  These cats were compared to cats from the same households that did not exhibit periuria.

The results?  Both the spraying cats and the latrining cats were found to have more urinary (and other) health issues than the normal cats.

Common health problems identified included kidney disease, diabetes, bladder stones, and cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).

Of course, not all litter box problems in multi-cat households are due to medical conditions.  Behavioral problems and environmental stressors such as territoriality and dominance among cats can also be a factor.

The bottom line?  Cats with litter box issues should always be evaluated by a veterinarian to diagnose or rule out health problems.

If no health problems are found, there are lots of resources on litter box behavior that can help cat parents who are struggling with litter box issues in their house.  Check out this comprehensive article from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Feline Health Center.