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.