Hello, Weirdos! This week’s blog topic is about Pet Insurance! We often see posts on our Facebook Group page asking for members’ advice on whether pet health insurance is worth having. There are varying opinions on the matter and a lot of research to do when looking at pet insurance. Just like human medical insurance, different companies offer different types of benefits, at differently monthly costs, and coverage varies across those companies. What we do all know is this- pet health emergencies arise and they can be pricey!! Even just routine vet care could cost the average pet owner hundreds to thousands of dollars a year, especially in a multi-pet household. Routine care is to be expected and most pet owners have this understanding already once they decide to take on a new pet. However, emergencies can come out of nowhere and those are the costs that we aren’t always prepared for- having pet insurance could help alleviate some of that stress when we are hit with an unexpected vet bill.
To dive deeper into the pet insurance world, I’d like to recommend the article “The Best Pet Insurance Companies of 2020,” written by Noel Davila on the website Money.com.
You can click on this link here for the article: https://money.com/best-pet-insurance/
The article does a great job of compiling information about 10 different pet insurance companies and then ranking them based on different criteria, including pricing, coverage, and any additional benefits. It also gives a brief explanation of the key points of each insurance companies coverage and provides a link to each companies’ website so you can get more information if you’re interested! There is also a lot more general information about pet insurance within the article as well.
I highly recommend checking out their article, but if you don’t read it fully, I do want to at least share one part of the article with you here:
(Source: the following excerpt is from the article “The Best Pet Insurance Companies of 2020,” written by Noel Davila on the website Money.com).
Important Facts About Pet Insurance Plans
As you shop for pet insurance, consider these basic facts about pet insurance plans:
I hope that this article and their suggested insurance companies can help you make informed choices about getting pet insurance for your pets! There are more pet insurances companies out there aside from just these 10, so if none of them seem like they fit your household’s needs then keep researching and find what works best for you and your pets!
Many of us wish we had the money and space to rescue more animals. But even if you win the lottery, a large rescue can cost millions of dollars a year in housing, staff to clean up after and feed the animals, medical expenses, and marketing. But there is a way to get involved without spending millions, and that's fostering. If you work with a large rescue, most (if not all) of the food and medical expenses involved are covered by the rescue. Some of us are born with the heart but aren't blessed with the funds to do this on our own. And this is our window to help.
Fostering is such a rewarding experience. When you foster kittens younger than 6 weeks, you care for them while they are too little to even feed themselves. You wake up every 2 hours to give them a bottle. You watch them grow. You follow them around with your camera snapping thousands of pictures. You may even see them overcome illness. But sometimes, sadly, you may have to help them cross the Rainbow Bridge. No matter who you are, you will undoubtedly fall in love with your foster kittens. It's so hard to let go. And every once in a while, you will probably end up keeping one.
But did you know you can also foster special needs adult cats? For a rescue, finding a foster family for a special needs cat is beyond valuable. It saves on expenses of paying staff to take care of their special needs. And it means that cat doesn't have to spend months, or even years, living in a confined space. No one gets into rescue because they want to watch animals live in cages. But the reality is when people come to adopt a cat, they often ask for the "cuddly" cat, or the ones with no medical issues, or in most cases, the kittens. These kitties may spend the rest of their life at the rescue. Having photos and videos of these cats living in a happy foster home is worth more than I can even put into words to a rescue. The information gathered on their habits in your home cannot be gathered in confinement and will help get them adopted. Your heart will probably break when you have to say goodbye, but there are always more special needs kitties that need your love.
No matter what age you decide to foster, your love and commitment to care for them until they find a forever family is going to make a huge difference in the rescue community. Without foster parents, some rescues could not even continue running.
So what are you waiting for? Schedule an appointment with your local shelter today!
Written by Shawna Marie Markov
welcome new mod, shawna!
My name is Shawna, and I haven't always been a cat lady. In 2010 my dog passed away, and I was devastated to say the least. After a couple of months I decided to get another dog. So off to the rescue we went! Little did I know my life was about to change forever. I was in a wheelchair at the time, and most of the animals were pretty terrified of the chair. While looking at some puppies, this little brown tabby jumped right in my lap. I said, "Well hi there!" and then she started licking my hand. I was instantly hooked. It turned out that she was 8 months old, and had been abandoned outside in the snow as a tiny kitten. She was literally frozen to the ground when they found her. She lost part of her ears, but definitely not any personality!
Fast forward to today: I now have 6 kitties (I guess if you get water on them they multiply, I really didn't know). They are all rescues, and two of them are special needs hospice fosters. 5 of the 6 are seniors. Honestly I love all animals, but cats have taken the biggest part of my heart.
I'm happy to be part of the Weirdo family, and hope we can have some smiles together. Thanks for having me.
Being naturals at climbing, cats can often be found stuck up in a tree. For many cat lovers, this is a serious cause for concern and stress. So what do you do when a kitty finds himself meowing for help from way up high?
Many peoples' first instinct is to reach out to the local fire department. Often seen in TV shows, cartoons, and children's books, it's no surprise that someone might think a firefighter can come to the kitty's rescue. Occasionally, they may be able to help depending on where you live, but the unfortunate reality is that most fire departments will not come out to help the cat. It's not for lack of caring; plenty of firefighters would love to help, but they have rules to follow.
Most fire departments do not have a large fleet of trucks, and they have just enough fighters on duty to help for a fire emergency. They cannot reasonably take up resources to rescue a cat when there could very well be humans in need of rescue, and fires needing to be extinguished.
Luckily, if you know what to do or where to look, there are some alternatives to calling the fire department.
Depending on how high the cat is, you may be able to coax them down. Have a trap prepared in case you are unable to grab the cat. (Some shelters will loan traps for a small fee/refundable deposit.) Get a tasty snack - stinky fish, sardines, canned cat food, or even some KFC can lure a cat closer to you. You can try offering the snack & using a calm, soft voice to encourage the kitty to come down. If the cat seems scared of humans, you may need to place the food and hide somewhere nearby.
While you wait, it can be useful to post in local forums/community groups online to see if any avid tree climbers are available to assist. It is not recommended to attempt climbing unless you're well versed in & equipped for such a task - even a pro climber can have issues juggling a cat & carrier while making their descent.
If the cat will not come down, and you are unable to locate someone to climb, consider reaching out to any & all local tree services. Many tree services have lift trucks or employees capable of climbing with the proper safety gear.
Here in Northeast Ohio, we have seen several tree services who have been known to rescue cats! You can find their information below. If you aren't in NE Ohio, we recommend using a search engine to find tree services closest to you - call them all as soon as possible.
With a bit of community collaboration, many cats in trees can get down safely!
Northeast Ohio tree services who may be able to assist:
⦁ Out On A Limb, Avon Lake: 440-933-2880
⦁ Blaha's Landscaping & Tree Service, North Royalton: 440-336-0294, ABLAHA4860@gmail.com
⦁ Tree Contractors Inc.: 440-653-3396, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.facebook.com/TreeContractorsInc
Highlighting rescue- part 1
In June, we discussed what it was like to go through kitten season during these uncertain times due to COVID 19. It was a delayed and then busy kitten season. Now we want to discuss what it is like to do rescue in the time of Covid 19.
Most of us adopted our best fur felines from rescues. Some of us donate to rescues or volunteer for them. The rescue community is a very important part of Weirdos. They have several functions, one of the most visible is adopting out stray and rehomed cats, the trap, neuter and releasing cats, feeding feral colonies, and fundraising to support all those activities including medical expenses for cats who come into rescue injured or sick. It’s a 24 hour job, seven days a week, in normal times.
Cleveland is not the only area of the country who has rescue operations affected by the Pandemic. In an article for CNBC, Covid and Animal Rescues, they take a look at the unique challenges faced by rescues in New York City. Adoption spaces were closed. Cats up for adoptions had to go back to their fosters to hold onto. At the same time, adoptions in the beginning of the pandemic skyrocketed. Help was needed to comb through the applications, conduct interviews over the phone and call references. In New York City, the ASPCA saw a 70% increase in adoptions. However the adoption process stalled when most veterinary offices and hospitals closed down. One rescue organization put it plainly, “I can’t ask my fosters to take in a foster [animal] that isn’t vetted.” Many organizations won’t adopt out cats who aren’t fixed. Some organizations who have medical staff were able to get their cats vaccinated. Some had to wait.
In Cleveland, Viva Los Gatos Joanne Catolioti, stated, “We've just had to adjust because of the long wait for spay/neuter. We did a few foster to adopts. We made specific contracts so we can keep ownership of kitten until they're fixed then we sign over to adopter officially.
Another issue is that most rescues depend on donations with a large part of their donations coming in the form of fundraisers. Some organizations' fundraisers were cancelled, delayed, or put online. Other fundraisers could easily transfer to online. Some venues had to be cancelled due to large gathering restrictions. Asking for money is never easy but challenging in uncertain times. Brittany Kuntz, Executive Director of Furever Companions Animal Rescue states, “Our big fundraiser this summer was canceled so our funds are super low and we get all of our pet's fully vetted.”
COVID also challenged rescuers to innovate ways around the challenges. At Gatos, Joanne came up with one idea that might stick after the pandemic, “We're also doing online home inspections and are definitely going to keep that going... We knocked out 2 last night that would've taken much effort scheduling and at least a week to get done.”
So How can you help???
Funding and Fostering:
As always, the biggest need of rescues besides funding is fosters who are willing to take on cats and kittens to socialize and take care of before the cats can be adopted. Especially now, as most organizations in the area are foster based. If you can open your home and your heart, it would be most appreciated. Please go to our resources page to check out local rescues near you.
Let’s hear your rescue COVID stories. Have you had any challenges? Have you changed any procedures or discovered things that work for you?
For more information on how you can help support rescues and shelters through the pandemic, stay tuned for Part 2 of this article next week!
-Written by Weirdo Admin and Board Member Meredith Janik
What is it?
“Compassion Fatigue is emotional exhaustion, caused by the stress of caring for traumatized or suffering animals or people”
— Charles Figely, Ph.D., Director, Florida State University Traumatology Institute.
Research is starting to document that Animal Care Professionals are being traumatized in many of the same ways that other rescuers/first responders (firefighters, police, paramedics, corpsmen, service people in combat, Red Cross volunteers) are traumatized by what they witness. Some studies are beginning to suggest that animal care professionals may be number one in vulnerability to Compassion Fatigue and Burnout.
How to Know if you are in Trouble – Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue:
When you are constantly exposed to harsh, painful realities (trauma) and you are not able to debrief (to talk about what happened and how you feel about it), all that you stuff inside builds up into a reservoir, until you are exhausted, or angry, or feel like you’ll explode, or feel that you hate all people, or you’ve lost your enthusiasm, joy, and hope.
You can feel depressed and want to quit your job. You can feel stuck in depression.
You may have sudden outbursts of anger.
You may feel sad, with your tears always just below the surface. Many long-time workers are experiencing long-term grief
You may feel cynical, or numb, or hardened, like nothing phases you.
You may have nightmares or flashbacks (where you repeatedly see images of suffering animals from the past).
You may switch back and forth, one minute feeling angry, the next minute numb, the next minute sad, the next minute depressed.
A combination of these symptoms can lead to burnout and is often responsible for the loss of many talented, valuable professionals. (Doug Fakkema). Does any of this sound familiar? Remember, these symptoms of emotional exhaustion are all normal reactions to abnormal/traumatic events. You are not crazy. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you need to take action, get support, institute a self-care program as described below. If any of these symptoms last more than two to three weeks, and you have instituted a self-care program, you might consider a few sessions of counseling.
What to do About Compassion Fatigue – What Helps
Dr. James Fogarty, an expert in critical incident stress management and trauma debriefing, states you must do 4 things:
Other ways to express your feelings in safe and appropriate ways: crying, giving sounds to your feelings, any physical release, drawing, journaling, music, a silent scream (One shelter wants to install a soundproof room and a punching bag.)
Brainstorm options and find solutions–take action
You already do this in ingenious ways. Try doing steps one and two first. Animal Care Professionals must be able to offer suggestions and help formulate policy.
Take care of yourselves
Do you take as careful care of yourself as you do of the animals? You have to be as committed to your own resiliency as you are to the care of the animals. You need to care for yourselves in order to give care to the animals.
Other Ways to Cope:
Animal Care Professionals across this country have spoken about other ways they are taking good care of themselves. Try one:
Listen to Doug Fakkema (Associated Director, Training & Special Projects, American Humane): Effective management of compassion fatigue is crucial to long-term employment and a healthy lifestyle. Organizations that effectively manage compassion fatigue are more likely to decrease turnover, increase adoptions, and reduce euthanasia.
Some Other Useful Resources for Managing Compassion Fatigue:
Some useful websites:
www.ExternalizationWorkshops.com: 3-day Life, Loss and Healing Workshops and 5-day Workshops for
People Who Were Abused As Children
www.groups.yahoo.com/group/euthtechsupport: Internet support group for euthanasia technicians
www.americanhumane.org: American Humane offers “Managing Compassion Fatigue” 1-day training
and awareness-building workshops Humane Society University offers training and awareness-
www.GrowthHouse.org: A Guide to Death, Dying, Grief, Bereavement, and End of Life Care
You are free to print this article to use to support each other in Compassion Fatigue.
Nancy Mullins, M.A., is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She has presented workshops for 20 years on grief, loss, trauma, and childhood abuse, nationally and internationally, including in Oklahoma City, Northern Ireland, and Zimbabwe (12 years as a member of the staff of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross). She is a partner in Support Services for Animal Care Professionals (SSACP).
© 2004 SSACP
TNR stands for Trap Neuter Return and is used to help control the feral cat and community cat population. TNR is a safe, humane way to keep cats in their neighborhood and make them a more welcome presence. TNR also helps to get kittens and friendly cats off of the streets and into rescues or foster homes.
One of the biggest complaints about feral cats is the noise from fighting and mating and the smell from them marking their territory. By getting the cats spayed/neutered, fighting over mates is eliminated and fixed cats are less likely to spray and be territorial. TNR also involves educating people about the benefits of fixing and returning cats instead of just trapping and removing them.
TNR not only helps cats, it also helps caretakers. When a cat colony is TNR’d, it not only stops them from reproducing, but it helps control diseases and fighting among the colony cats. When cats are TNR’d, most of the time they are also vaccinated, flea treated and given medical attention for any injuries they may have, making the colony healthier and stronger. The cats are also “ear-tipped” meaning the tip of their left ear is clipped off while they are under surgical anesthesia. So if you see a cat with a clipped left ear, that means they were part of a TNR program!
The Weirdo Cat Lovers of Cleveland TNR team was formed in 2019. So far this year we have TNR’d 44 cats! We also have a small foster program with 17 kittens and one momma cat currently in our care. We have also had local rescues take kittens and friendly cats for us and place them for adoption.
TNR takes lots of dedication and hard work. We encounter friendly cats and kittens as well as sick or injured cats, so knowing what to do with these cats and get them the help they need, is crucial.
We’d like to thank the following rescues for helping us by assisting us with trapping efforts and/or taking in friendly cats and kittens found during trapping projects:
If you’d like to reach our TNR team, please email TNR@weirdocatloversofcleveland.org Or, if you’d like to donate to support our TNR efforts, please visit the donation page on our website.
CAT FRIENDLY HANDLING: A "HOW TO" GUIDE TO DECREASE FEAR, ANXIETY AND STRESS IN THE CATS THAT YOU HANDLE
Co-written by Dr. Liz Bales and Tabitha Kucera CCBC, RVT, KPA-CTP
Cats are the most popular pet in America, and yet see less of them at the vet every year. Why? Cat parents reported that they found veterinary visits to be stressful for themselves and for their cats. Cats were fearful of the carrier, the travel, the office itself and the experience of being handled by the veterinarian and the veterinary staff. As a result, cat parents avoided taking their cat to the vet.
Feline specialists set out to find new techniques to improve every part of this experience, and the Cat Friendly Handling movement was born. And now, we will share these techniques with you. They will change the way you interact with cats and how cats respond to you. They will improve your practice.
Many of us in feline medicine are still taught to restrain cats with the same techniques as we did when we thought that they did not feel pain. We are in the habit of just “getting the job done.” But, now we know that they do feel pain, and they do experience anxiety and fear. We have made great strides in improving pain management, and now we are improving our feline handling practices.
What is the Cat Friendly Handling movement?
Handling cats in a way that respects their instincts and innate needs leads to decreased fear and stress. In many cases, Cat Friendly Handling can lead to decreased aggression. First, you need a broad understanding of feline behavior and body language, that is then used to evaluate each individual cat and tailor the techniques used to their needs.
Goals of Cat Friendly Handling as defined by ISFM https://icatcare.org/sites/default/files/PDF/ffhg-english.pdf
✜ Reduce fear and pain for the cat
✜ Reinforce veterinarian–client–cat bond, trust and confidence, and thus better lifelong medical care for the cat
✜ Improve efficiency, productivity and job satisfaction for the veterinary team
✜ Increase client compliance
✜ Timely reporting and early detection of medical and behavioral concerns
✜ Fewer injuries to clients and the veterinary team
✜ Reduced anxiety for the client
Reading Feline Body Language
This is a case of “a picture is worth a thousand words." Thanks to Cattle Dog Publishing for this great infographic (below this article) to help us see the signs of feline anxiety.
Why Do Cats Act Like That?
A cat sees the world, and reacts to it, in a very different way than a human does. These are the basic reasons why cat behavior is so different.
✜ Solitary hunters
Cats are solitary hunters that are designed to hunt and eat alone. While they may choose to live in social groups, called colonies, they do not require them for survival. Additionally, they are averse to cats outside of their social group.
✜ Predators but also prey
Cats are prey. So, cats are constantly and subtly checking out their surroundings for danger. They feel most secure when they can choose how to survey their environment, and then figure out how to stay safe. Cats have the instinct climb to a height and/or hide in an enclosed space to feel safe and secure, even when the threat of being eaten by something in our living room or exam room is pretty low.
✜ Prefer avoidance to conflict
Cats do not want to fight. They will try to get away from a bad situation, instead of confronting it.
✜ Fearful of immediate and direct contact, loud noises and rough handling
Cats are most comfortable with soft voices, and gentile contact. Cats prefer initiate contact, rather than have us reach for them.
✜ Can become fearful/aggressive if touched in areas other than head and neck
When we do touch cats, they prefer to be touched on the head and neck, rather than the body or the stomach
✜ May freeze, rather than react aggressively, when in extreme distress
Use these “think like a cat” facts to guide your interactions. Let the cat choose where to be examined in the room. Create locations that are convenient for you to work in that also meet the instinctive need a cat has to climb and hide to feel safe - like the bottom of their carrier, a cardboard box, under a towel and/or up on a cat tree that is no taller than your preferred examination height.
All cats are individuals. Assess the cats body language and be flexible with handling techniques based on the cat's individual preference. Allow the cat to maintain its chosen position and vary your touch with the cat's response.
For many of us, scruffing was the only restraint technique that we were ever taught. We were told that it mimicked the way that cats restrain each other and was therefor the preferred method.
Now we know better. Cats are only grabbed by the scruff on their neck in limited circumstances: by their mother during the first few weeks of life, during mating, while fighting, and when they are being attacked by a predator. None of these situations are helpful to mimic in a home, veterinary, or shelter setting.
Scruffing is more likely to cause fear and stress, which can result in aggressive behavior. Remember, we now know that cats prefer to avoid conflict rather than to face it. Scruffing entirely removes the cat's options to retreat and their sense of control. Your attempt to restrain a cat by the scruff may actually increase the likelihood of you and/your co-workers getting hurt.
Additionally, lifting a cat or suspending their body weight by the scruff is unnecessary and could be painful. Don't do that!
Use Food to Ease Fear In the Veterinary Office
Food is your friend. Food treats smeared on the table, towel or even onto a toy will be happily distract the cat while you perform your exam, and even while you give vaccines. Be prepared with a variety of flavors, textures, and smells. Many cats enjoy whipped cream, tuna, easy cheese, anchovy paste, and even cut up cucumber!
Once the cat chooses a favorite, make a note of it in the record for next time.
Use a Towel to Ease Fear In the Veterinary Office
This "How To" blog is just the start. There is a lot of CE available to learn about and practice Cat Friendly Handling. We call it “practicing” medicine because we are always practicing and improving. When you know better, you do better!
To read the original article, click here.
weirdos by the numbers
Hi, I’m Amy, the accountant for Weirdo Cat Lovers of Cleveland. As a recognized 501(c)(3) organization, we were required to file our annual report with the state on July 15. This was our first, as we only received this recognition in October 2019, and it was post-dated to April 2, 2019. While I was going through the ledgers to gather the required information, I found some interesting points to note that I felt our members would appreciate knowing.
- Last year, between April 2 through December 31, we raised almost $5,000 through our fundraisers, including t-shirt sales, Larchmere Fireworks, and calendar sales.
- Through emergency posts (EPs), during that same time period, our members donated just over $17,000 to help pets experiencing medical crises, and we paid out $18,500 in doing so.
- Because our leadership is comprised solely of volunteers, we were able to keep our expenses down to $3,100, and almost $1,000 of that was money spent to attain our non-profit status. That will not be an ongoing expense.
- Because of the way records were kept, it’s difficult to determine exactly how many cats and kittens were helped (i.e. we had line items that just said “kittens”, so I couldn’t tell how many that meant), but I estimate we helped between 50 and 70 cats and kittens last year.
As you can see, our members are especially important to us and our mission, and we are so thrilled that we were able to help so many cats as a group of over 18,000 members. When an emergency post goes up, please know that we have completely reviewed the situation, and any funds we collect beyond what the situation requires are then reserved until the next time an emergency arises for one of our members.
Recently, I’ve noticed comments on some of our EPs asking why we type “bump” as a response. Facebook newsfeed algorithms work in, among other ways, almost a Fibonacci method (Google it), the more a post is interacted with, the more it is seen. In other words, as ridiculous as it sounds, the more it is seen, the more it is seen. It’s like the old Breck shampoo commercials: “and they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends…” (I just seriously dated myself). So our admins and moderators continuously respond with “bump” or an emoji to increase activity and views. Some have taken issue with this, saying that it’s obnoxious, but I ask you to consider this: If it was your cat who was in a life or death situation, wouldn’t you want as many people to see it as possible?
On behalf of the entire leadership team, I wish to thank everyone who participated in our fundraisers, donated funds to an emergency, or even bumped an EP for us. Every little bit helps with our mission. Here’s to hoping that 2020, despite this pandemic, sees us make a difference in the lives of even more felines and their human mommies and daddies!
While it can be upsetting and frustrating, fighting between cats that live in the same household is a problem that in many cases can be prevented and resolved with the help of a cat behavior professional and veterinarian. Cat behavior is complex and there are a variety of reasons why aggression can occur.
Why Do Household Cats Get Aggressive?
Aggression is not a diagnosis; it is part of normal feline behavior and is strongly influenced by early social history and exposure to humans and other animals, gender, social context, handling, personality, and many other variables. Aggression between cohabitating cats can come in several forms with different causes. Fear, anxiety, medical issues, the inappropriate introduction of a new cat, and lack of resources all can contribute to inter-cat aggression within a household.
Lack of Socialization
Socialization is the process of preparing a cat to enjoy interactions and be comfortable with other animals, people, places and activities. Ideally, socialization should begin during the "sensitive period" which is between 2 and 7 weeks of age for kittens.
Many cats do not receive adequate socialization and due to this, problems are more likely to arise when one or more adults that have not been socialized to their own species are involved. Because these cats lack appropriate experiences, they do not understand normal feline communication and etiquette and are likely to have intense and inappropriate responses to the sight of another cat. They may run away and hide in fear, or they may attack in an attempt to drive the other cat away from their personal space.
During adequate socialization, the animal should develop appropriate social behavior towards their own species and those others with which they have been appropriately socialized. This will positively influence social behavior expressed later in life.
Introducing a New Cat
Properly introducing your new cat with your existing cats is essential, as introductions often lay the groundwork for their relationship. If your current cat has lived with other cats and was always friendly it can be very tempting to just let your new cat out in the same space as your current cat. You may assume they will just work it out; however, cats don’t always hit it off the right way and a negative initial meeting can set a poor foundation for their relationship.
Cat-to-cat introductions should be done slowly, and with the needs of each cat kept in mind. It is difficult to resist the urge to have the cats meet immediately so they can begin a wonderful friendship; however, if you let your new cat loose in the home a number of things can happen with less than stellar consequences.
Your existing cat may feel that their territory has been invaded if the newcomer is just let loose to explore. This could lead to your established cat feeling unsafe in their home and in turn that leads to behavior changes or it could be aggressive (offensive) towards the new cat. That does not help either of them!
From the new cat’s perspective, it is unsure of where it is. Every scent and sound is unfamiliar and a possible threat lurks around every corner. If you have adopted your new cat, it has likely experienced a controlled number of sounds and smells. It may also be used to living in a small space and while you want it to experience ‘freedom’, rushing it can leave it feeling very overwhelmed and stressed.
Competition for Resources
In multi-cat households, it is not uncommon for one or more cats to prevent access to important resources, such as food, water, and litter boxes. It is important to provide multiple and separated key environmental resources which include litter boxes, water, food, hiding spaces, places to perch, resting/sleeping areas, play areas, scratching areas, and toys. This helps to decrease social tension and competition, decreases territorial motivations, decreases stress and fear, and provides choices that all help to prevent aggression between cats.
The last thing cats want to do is fight. Instead, cats prefer to flee or avoid each other, as fighting can result in an injury. But if these options are not available, aggression is the last option. In multi-cat households, the cats are often not related, yet have to share their resources and have limited opportunity to hide or avoid situations of potential conflict.
If you notice your cat has sudden changes in their behavior towards another cat in the home, your cat should be examined and have diagnostics to rule out underlying medical issues. Cats in pain can also uncharacteristically have episodes of aggression. A cat may begin to growl or hiss when other pets in the household approach them and have overall increased irritability. Other medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, dental disease, osteoarthritis, and cognitive dysfunction can also cause increased irritability and aggression between cats.
Lack of Predatory Outlets
Cats have natural behaviors and needs, and they must have opportunities to express those behaviors. It’s important to provide your cat with predatory outlets which include a variety of toys, scheduled playtimes with cats separately once to twice daily, and puzzle food toys.
How to Treat Aggression Between Cats
Aggression refers to a wide variety of complex behaviors that occur for different reasons under various circumstances. Early intervention is best—contact your veterinarian and credentialed cat behavior professional to help as soon as you notice tension and/or aggression between cats.
Identify any triggers that upset your cats (e.g. visualization of outdoor cats, loud noises) and alter the environment so that they are minimized/removed.
Create an enriched feline environment that allows for natural coping .strategies. This includes multiple elevated single cat-sized resting perches throughout the environment, multiple litter boxes (the number of litter boxes should equal the number of cats plus one) in different locations throughout the home, multiple feeding and watering stations, multiple scratching posts/pad, etc.
Make sure cats have plenty of appropriate outlets for play and enrichment.
Keep cats separated when not supervised or if aggression is mild to severe, or keep them separated at all times to avoid furthering negative associations with each other.
Gradually reintroduce the cats using counter-conditioning and desensitization and watching closely for signs of stress and anxiety.
Learn and monitor body language and at the first sight of aggression, stalking, or bullying, you should positively redirect the aggressor cat with a toy or treat away from the other cat.
Avoid punishment. This includes yelling, spraying with water, loud noises (shaking cans of pennies, clapping) hitting, etc. Punishment can teach the cat to dislike the other cat more by associating the punishment with the other cat and can cause escalated fear and anxiety and break the human-animal bond.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.
Article courtesy of The Spruce Pets