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Does Your Cat Need a New Home?

Try these solutions to 6 common problems before you make that decision.

6 Reasons Your Cat Doesn’t Need a New Home continued...

To help you get a handle on cat aggression:

•         Talk with your vet first. If one of your cats has recently become aggressive, the cause could be a serious illness. Get your cat examined by the vet before taking any other action.

•         Let cats get acquainted slowly. When introducing established cats to a new cat or kitten, don’t hurry. Let them meet by smell and sound first. After a week, they can be visually introduced, and after that, let them spend time together. And introduce the newbie to each established cat individually.

•         Reduce resource competition. Litter boxes, food bowls, water, kitty perches -- cats will fight over all of these if there aren’t enough to go around. Reduce kitty traffic jams at these hot spots by having several food and water bowls in different locations, multiple perches, and at least two litter boxes -- or one for each cat, if you can manage it.

•         Consult a behavior specialist. If illness and resources aren’t the issue, it’s time to call a veterinary behaviorist or CAAB, who can help you get to the behavioral root of your cat’s aggression.

•         Don’t punish an aggressive cat. Don’t fight aggression with aggression; the result is often more aggression -- and fear. To stop a cat fight, squirt the cats with water, clap your hands or make another loud noise, or throw something soft, like a wadded up sock, at them. Never try to pull fighting cats apart.

Soiling outside the cat litter box. Along with aggression, this is the main reason people relinquish their cats, according to experts. But it’s also a problem that can be resolved. ”The majority of problems are precipitated by bad litter box hygiene, or there aren’t enough boxes, or they’re just not in the right place,” says Case.

To attack litter box issues:

•         Get to the vet. If your cat eliminates outside the box regularly, she may have a medical problem. The vet can check her for medical conditions such as a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, feline interstitial cystitis, or crystals in the urine.

•         Give kitty a litter box of her own. To avoid litter box bottlenecks, be sure you’ve got enough boxes. Then it’s up to you to keep them clean. “One issue I hear about a lot is that people think if they’re using clumping litter, they never have to change it, but they do,” says Case. Let your nose be your guide when deciding when to dump all the old litter and start fresh, or aim for once a month.

Scratching and other behavior issues. Cat’s naturally scratch. And vocalize sometimes. And play a little rough. “People need to view their pets as living, sentient creatures that have their own typical behaviors,” says Moon-Fanelli. “They’re cats, not us.” That doesn’t mean that you need to stand by and let them take these behaviors to extremes.

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