Expert Advice from Dr. Marci Koski: Cat Behavior Questions Addressed

Q1: Introducing boyfriend’s dog to resident cats Question from Jill Herbert

Jill, it’s wonderful that your cats have a strong bond. Introducing a new pet to the household can be tricky, but it’s all about counter-conditioning and desensitization. Start by identifying what motivates your cats—whether it’s treats, affection, or play. Use these as positive reinforcements during exposure to the new dog. Gradually expose your cats to the dog’s sounds and scents using audio files and familiar objects.

When they’re comfortable, allow them to observe the dog from a safe distance. Provide vertical space for them to feel secure. This gradual process should help your cats adapt and hopefully lead to a new friendship.

Q2: Cat urinates on wall behind the litter box Question from Karen

Karen, it’s important to address this issue. Since your cat has been exhibiting this behavior since kittenhood, it could be related to her urination style. Consider using a high-sided utility tub as an alternative to a traditional litter box. This can help contain any urine streams.

Also, consult a vet to rule out any medical issues like crystals in her urine. Ensure your litterbox setup meets recommended standards and consider placing a litterbox in areas where she’s been urinating. Consulting a certified cat behavior consultant may provide further insight and recommendations.

Q3: How long should new cat be separated from resident cats? Question from Jackie Evans

Jackie, introducing a new cat can take time and patience. It’s not uncommon for this process to extend over weeks or even months. The duration depends on the cats and how their interactions are managed.

Start by allowing them to swap scents through scent-swapping exercises and create a “group scent.” Use baby gates to allow visual contact while providing safety. Gradually progress to supervised interaction sessions, ensuring positive associations with treats or play. Remember, patience is key in this process.

Q4: How to get a formerly abused cat to trust, remove mats Question from Bridget

Bridget, kudos for providing a safe and loving environment for your rescued cat. Removing mats can be a delicate process. For severe cases, consider seeking a professional groomer or consult a vet for guidance. To build trust, focus on counter-conditioning and desensitization. Start by familiarizing your cat with grooming tools using positive reinforcement. Proceed at her pace and keep sessions short and positive.

Q5: How much exercise should a cat have? Question from Sharon

Sharon, cats’ exercise needs vary based on age and health. As a general guideline, aim for two 15-minute play sessions daily using a wand toy. This mimics their natural predatory behavior. Younger cats may require more active play, while older cats benefit from mental stimulation. Provide ample enrichment opportunities to keep them mentally and emotionally engaged.

Q6: New cat is possessive of part of the house Question from Mary Duque

Mary, territorial disputes among cats can be challenging. It sounds like Granny is feeling insecure about her space. Increase litterbox locations and provide plenty of resources to minimize competition. Use scent-soaking items and interactive play to foster positive associations. Gradually reintroduce them, keeping sessions short and ending on a positive note.

Q7: Cat marks spots where other cat has been Question from Rolfe Smith

Rolfe, dealing with marking behaviors can be tough. Ensure a thorough cleanup of marked areas using an enzyme cleaner. Focus on reducing territorial insecurity by providing alternative scent-marking opportunities. Encourage play and engage in interactive sessions to alleviate stress. If issues persist, consider consulting a certified cat behavior consultant for personalized advice.

Remember, patience and persistence are crucial when addressing cat behavior issues.

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