How often should I clean the litter box?

This is a question often posed by new cat owners, who really don’t know answer. If you’re like me, you know you need to do it, but you really don’t want to think about it. The general rule of thumb is to scoop it at least once a day, twice a day preferably and to completely change the litter and sanitize the box weekly or biweekly (if you’re really good about keeping it scooped).

Just think of it this way, you really don’t want to use a dirty toilet, do you? Well, neither does your cat, most cats are very picky and won’t use a dirty box. Some won’t even use it after its been used once! If you cat is like this, you can try using multiple boxes (ideally, you want one box per cat, anyway). You can even try using one of those Rubbermaid storage tubs if your cat needs more room (you can cut a hole in the side of it).

How do I keep my cat off the counters?

As cat owners, we all know that cats, by nature are curious creatures. They like to explore and reach the highest point in the house that they can. But, when kitty starts to become a nuisance and insists on creating havoc in the kitchen, we have to do something to stop it.

The first thing we must do is find out why kitty is getting up on the counters. Is there some tasty food up there to nibble on? Does the faucet drip? Is the counter the perfect spot to look out of his favorite window? We have to take away whatever tempts him to get up there. If there is food leftover on your plates, be sure to scrape it in the trash and rinse them before putting them in the sink. If the faucet drips, tighten it or replace it. You don’t want to give kitty any reason for being up there.

The next thing you must do is replace his favorite perch with something similar, such as a cat tree. This will allow him to climb up and survey the room, without breaking your fine china. Install the cat tree and sprinkle some catnip on it to encourage kitty to use it.

Ok, got the cat tree done? Here we go. Keeping kitty off the counter is pretty easy, you just have to associate it with something negative. For example, you can squirt kitty with a water gun every time he gets up there and yell a sharp, “No!” But, this doesn’t work when you are not around to police the kitchen. So what else? What I have found that works best is to make the surface of the counter unpleasant on his feet.

You can do this fairly easily. Find one of those plastic runner mats, the ones that have the sharp bumps on the backside. Place it bump side up on the counter top. You might want to tack it down with some packing or double-sided tape to keep it from sliding if kitty jumps up there.

When kitty jumps up on the counter, he will have these sharp pokey things on his feet, and just like you when you walk barefoot on gravel, it won’t be a fun thing. He will jump down, now, this make take awhile for him to totally get the point that the mat will be there every time he jumps up, so be patient. Keep the mat up there for a week or however long it takes to keep him off the counters. Then eventually, you can remove it and leave it off. Just remember, once you remove the mat, don’t leave anything up there to tempt him again or you will have to start over!

Another technique you can use is to take some unbaited wooden mousetraps and set them up on the counter. Cover them with a towel (remember you don’t want to hurt kitty, just scare him). When kitty jumps on the counter, it will set of a chorus of SNAPS! and will send him running from the kitchen as fast as he can. If you try the second one and catch it on video, you just might win America’s Funniest Home Videos!

Good luck! If you have any other techniques that you have used that have worked, feel free to post them in the comments section.

Teach Your Dog or Cat to Sit

Sit, is the first and most basic command to teach. Actually, it is quite easy. As always, you will need your supply of tasty treats and 5-10 minutes a day to practice.

While your dog or cat is standing in front of you, show him the treat. Hold it just above his nose. When he sees it, move it backward toward his bottom. He should naturally follow it with his head and to do so, will put his bottom on the ground. As he lowers his bottom, say sit. When he sits, reward him with praise and a treat. Repeat.

Teach Your Dog or Cat to Lie Down

Teaching the “Down” command first, leads to other tricks suck as “Play Dead” and “Roll Over.” The Down command should follow the training to “Sit.” Once your pet has learned the sit command you can move on to the down command.

  1. First get your tasty treats ready. Pick a time when your pet is relaxed and willing to work.
  2. Give your pet the “Sit” command. When he sits, reward with a treat.
  3. Next, put a treat in your closed hand. Put your hand by his nose and let him smell the yummy treat. Lower your hand toward the floor while putting gentle pressure on your pet’s shoulders. When he gives in and lies down, praise him and reward him with the yummy treat.
  4. At first, your pet will probably get right back up. As training goes on, you can have him lie down for longer periods of time by withholding the treat and praise.
  5. Repeat the above steps until your pet catches on. You will want to keep training sessions short, no more than 5-10 minutes so that both you and your pet don’t get frustrated.

How to get your Cat to Walk on a Leash

My cats love to be outside, but without the leash they will both take off running for the hills. They are fine as long as they go where they want to, but making them go where I want, is a whole other story, which usually ends in one of them flopping down and refusing to move!

Here’s some easy steps to get your cat to enjoy walking on a leash.

What you will need: an H-shaped harness that will comfortably fit your cat, a lightweight leash, and your kitty’s favorite treats.

For the first couple of days, you will just want to put the harness in an area that your cat frequents, such as near her food bowl or bed. This will allow her time to get use to the harness.

After a few days, try putting the harness on your cat. Immediately give her treats so she forgets about the harness being there and praise her. After she finishes her treats, let her walk around in the harness to get used to the feel of it. Distract her with a game or toys if she seems uncomfortable. When your kitty relaxes, remove the harness.

Repeat until your cat is comfortable just being in the harness. Next, attach the leash to the harness and let you cat drag it around. Keep an eye on her to make sure the leash doesn’t get caught up on anything. Play a game of follow with your kitty’s teaser wand and when she walks praise her and give her a treat.

When your cat is comfortable with both the leash and the harness, it’s time for you to pick up the leash. Keep the leash slackened and walk around behind her as she goes about her business. Don’t restrict her movement, but just follow her. You’ll want to do this for a few days until your cat is comfortable with the idea of you following her around.

Now it’s time to get your cat to go where you want her to go. Encourage her to follow you with praise and treats. (Note: in no way will walking your cat be like walking your dog!) Allow your cat to wander, but don’t pull or jerk her on the leash this can scare her and throw your training in a tailspin. When she reaches the end of the leash, she will either come in your direction or just plop down on the ground. This step may take the longest for your kitty to get the hang of, so be patient and always reward the behavior you want with praise and treats.

Once your kitty has mastered walking on the leash indoors, it’s time to head to the great outdoors! If your cat has never been outside allow her to take her time getting used to the sights and sounds. When she is relaxed, you can try going for your first outdoors walk. Allow her to explore, chase leaves and have a good time basking in the sun.

Clicker Training Your Dog or Cat

Clicker training uses positive reinforcement and behavior conditioning to train your pet. By rewarding desired behavior with a “click,” your pet knows that he is doing a desired behavior and will be rewarded for it. Clicker training does not use punishment and is a safe, humane way to get the well behaved pet of your dreams!

Animals and people associate an event, action, person, place, etc. with an outcome, either good or bad. The more an event is paired with a consequence, the stronger the association becomes to that event and consequence. This is called classical conditioning and forms an automatic behavior, such as a habit. This is the same type of response that Pavlov got with his dogs and a ringing bell.

At first, this is the type of conditioning that you will use for clicker training. When your pet starts to repeat the action in order to earn the reward it becomes operant conditioning. Operant conditioning has four aspects, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment and extinction. Clicker training uses positive reinforcement as the desired behavior is rewarded with a click and a treat.

A clicker works better than treats alone because the clicker is an immediate response to the desired action. It takes a moment to give a treat and by then your pet will have forgotten what he is getting rewarded for. By clicking immediately during the action, your pet more quickly learns what he is being rewarded for, therefore he knows which actions to reproduce to get the reward.

Using the clicker rather than words gives your pet the exact same sound for each action. Your pet quickly associates that sound with doing something right. Because your voice can change pitch, etc. it is not a reliable way to tell your pet that what he is doing is the desired action.

When you first begin clicker training, you won’t give your pet commands, such as “sit” or “stay.” You will allow your pet to perform the action on his own. When you get the desired behavior, immediately click, then reward. When your pet has been clicked several times for doing the desired behavior, he will soon come to associate that behavior with a reward. Once the behavior is completely learned, you can start using commands to get the desired behavior.

Homemade Cat Scratching Post

I was surfing the ‘net looking for nothing in particular and I came across this article on how to make your own cat scratching post from CatsInternational.org. It really is easy to make one yourself, so if you’re feeling crafty, have at it!

My cat has taken to scratching on the corner of my brand new mattress and box spring, which is rather infuriating, given the cost of a new bed. They do have one of those scratchy cardboard circles, but all that does is get tiny bits of cardboard EVERYWHERE, so this homemade scratch pole sounds like a good option. You could even dress it up with a perch or something like that if you get a tall enough pole!

Here’s the article:

How To Build A Scratching Post

Making a Sisal Wrapped Scratching Post

This scratching post has been cat tested and approved by various felines. If you would rather buy this scratcher already made, Mr. Spatz makes a scratcher called the Scratch’R Cizer that you can purchase.

Here is a list of the supplies needed (These supplies can be purchased at any building supply store).

  • One cedar post that is about 30″ tall and at least 4″ in diameter
  • A bundle of non-oiled sisal rope measuring a 1/2″ wide
  • A piece of 3/4″ plywood to make the base sturdy (at least 16 x 16 diameter)
  • 1/2″ roofing nails
  • Four 3/4″ 16d coated sinker nails

The requirement for this type of scratching post has come from our “cat testers.” The reasoning behind this cat post is simple. A post should be as high as your cat is tall when he is fully stretched out plus a few inches. The post should also be wide enough that your cat can sit on top and survey his surroundings. The base should be sturdy enough that the post will not tip over. Once a post tips over on a cat it is very hard to convince a cat to use the post again. The post should be wrapped with sisal rope

because cats like something to dig their nails into.

DIRECTIONS: Before beginning you will want to make sure your post is dry so that there will not be any shrinking of the post after the sisal is wrapped on. To make the post you might want to wear a pair of work gloves when you wrap the sisal around the post. To start you will want to nail the beginning of your rope all the way around the top of the post. Then you wind the rope around and around and around the post very tightly so that there is no air space between the pieces of rope. This process will take you all th e way down to the bottom, once again nail the end of your rope all the way around the bottom of the post. Next you will want to nail the base on to the post, use about four nails and pound them through the bottom of the plywood base and into the bottom of the post. You no have a cat approved scratching post!

TRAINING: To introduce the post to your cat you may want to use catnip as a lure for older cats (kittens younger then 5 months of age are not affected by catnip). Rub the catnip right into the rope so that the cat can smell that wonderful smell. Once your cat has smelled the catnip scratch your nails, gently, along the surface of the rope. This will help teach your cat where to scratch. Once your cat begins to scratch, praise your cat, tell them what a good cat they are. You could also reward your cat with a food t reat, cats love treats. This post can help save your furniture, if your cat is using a certain corner of the couch for a scratching post start out your new post right by the corner of the couch. Cover that corner of the couch with double-sided sticky tape that is completely unattractive to your cat (the tape can easily be removed for entertaining company). This will repel your cat away from your couch and right there is a post that they will love. If this does not work for you please contact us and let us help find an effective solution for you and your cat.

If you make the scratching post, send us your pictures and story! E-mail them to msommerville AT petsupplies4less.com.