Litter training usually comes naturally to most kittens, as they instinctively bury their waste. It still takes a little bit of patience on our part to help them learn as quickly as possible. Make sure your kitten has the choice of a couple of different litter boxes, placing them in a secluded spot in the house where they are not likely to be disturbed. After your kitten has awakened from a nap, or shortly after he/she's finished eating, place him/her in the box. Praise him/her if she uses the box, but never punish him/her for mistakes. If needed, place him/her in it at hourly intervals until he/she gets the idea. Keep the litter tray scooped out each day as cats do not like to use litter trays when they are over soiled.
The rule of thumb is that you should have at least as many litter trays in the house as there is cats, plus an extra!
Place food and litter boxes away from appliances and air ducts that could come on unexpectedly, and locate them such that another animal or human cannot sneak up while he/she uses them. To keep them appealing to the cat, food and water should be fresh, with the two bowls not located directly next to each other (cats do not like to drink close to their food source).
To discourage clawing furniture, make sure to provide some scratching posts, and be sure to ask us about a new product called FeliScratch.
Indoor vs. outdoor
We recommend that all cats are kept permanently indoors to prevent injuries from motor vehicle accidents, cat fights, falls from a height and other common traumatic injuries. Outdoor cats are also more likely to contract Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) from fighting with other cats. Another reason to keep your cat indoors is to prevent predation of our native wildlife!
Although it is ideal to keep our cats indoors, we must make sure we provide adequate conditions for them to outlet their natural behaviours. Recent studies have found that a majority of indoor cats are not provided sufficient environmental enrichment, leading to chronically elevated stress hormones which impair the immune system and make them susceptible to disease. Cat behaviour is very complex and many owners may not detect the subtle signs that their cat is not coping within their own home!
We strongly urge that all cat owners visit the Ohio University Indoor Pet Initiative at http://indoorpet.osu.edu . It provides detailed information and checklists to help you ensure your cat feels safe, secure and enriched in the indoor environment.
Some general recommendations include:
- Making sure water and food bowls are kept clean and water is fresh daily.
- Make sure there are enough litter trays- one for each cat plus one extra.
- Scoop out soiled litter daily and clean trays thoroughly at least once a week.
- Make sure your cat has elevated platforms where he/she can view the room from up high as this is where they feel most secure.
- If there are stray cats that wander near windows or doors, try to visually block these cats from view with curtains/blinds or use tools to keep them away from the outside of the house such as sensor lights and sprinklers.
- Why not provide your cat with an outdoor run or enclosure? There are plenty of commercially made products available, as well as plenty of cost effective DIY projects online that you can try.
Do you need help with your pets' behaviour?
Fearful or anxious behaviours
Aggression towards other animals
Aggression towards people
One of our veterinarians, Dr. Chloe Groves, has a particular interest in behavioural medicine. As such, we are able to offer a behavioural consultation service to help you problem solve those frustrating issues that are tarnishing your bond with your furry best mate!
What does a behaviour consultation involve?
Behaviour is a complex and constantly evolving field of veterinary medicine, so getting to the bottom of a behavioural issue can take time! Gathering an accurate history of the problem is crucial, so we first give you a questionnaire to fill out about your dog or cat’s behaviour and lifestyle prior to booking your behaviour consultation. Your behaviour consultation will take an hour and a half or more and will be an opportunity for Chloe to examine your pet’s physical health, as well as to gather more information about their behaviour in the consult room setting.
Following this first session, Chloe will formulate a behavioural report which will outline a diagnosis of your pet’s particular behavioural problem(s), a series of recommendations (which may or may not include medications) and a prognosis for improvement. If necessary, we will schedule a follow up appointment to go through these recommendations with you in person.
What are the costs involved?
The cost of a behavioural consultation is $110 which includes your initial extended consultation, a written report, a follow up appointment (if needed) and any follow up calls required to monitor your pet’s progress within a 6-month period.
Can all problems be managed in- house?
If management of your pet’s behavioural concerns are beyond the scope of our clinic-based service, we will recommend referral to Dr Sally Nixon, a veterinarian with extra qualifications in veterinary behaviour. Sally has extensive experience as a behaviour veterinarian, and has her own local business that offers extended ‘house call’ behavioural assessments, as well as ongoing phone support for pet behavioural concerns on the border and in wider North East Victoria.