All posts by amy

How to help tame a new, angry kitty

Working in a vet office, I’ve of course often come into contact with angry cats.  I’ve also had not so nice kitties in my household – my grandmas cat, Tiger, would attack you if you even looked at him.  However, bringing home Nacho led to the first time I’ve ever personally owned an angry cat.  

Initially, I would joke about how bipolar Nacho was.  He’d be on my lap purring away one second, & the next he’d be biting me…HARD.  After the first few times of being bit, it wasn’t so cute anymore.  That coupled with the fact that I was having a hard time introducing him to the other cats – he especially hated Artie, made it really difficult for me to want to keep him

So many toes!

I’m a sucker for the needy, anyone who knows me can tell you.  While I thought about getting rid of Nacho, my heart wouldn’t let me.  I knew that I had to work with him and help him become a normal cat, who could love and accept love.  

A lot of times, anger in cats comes from fear, and aggressive behavior comes from a cat’s perception that it needs to protect itself. Letting your cat be in any situation where fearful emotions could happen will often result in angry and aggressive kitties. Knowing how to minimize and remove such situations is the best way to keeping your cat calm.

Knowing this, my first step was to ask one of my vets to prescribe kitty Prozac.  I started him on the medication while keeping him completely secluded from everyone but me.  I have a small bathroom I was able to keep him in, with food, water, a litterbox (Cat Attract cat litter was an absolute godsend – when I first brought Nacho home he didn’t seem to understand what a litterbox was for, and would pee and poop anywhere and everywhere).  It has a small window so he could see outside and smell the fresh air, and I tried to spend at least an hour or two with him every day.  I would break that time up in increments – when he would get randomly angry, I would simply leave the room.  

As his body got used to his happy meds, the time that I got to spent petting him and snuggling with him increased in time.  It went from as little as 3-4 minutes, to we’re at the point now where I can leave him outside of the bathroom most of the time.  He still doesn’t get along with Artie – whenever they fight, I make sure that he knows that she has lived here longer, this is HER space…even if she’s the one who instigated the fight, if he participated in it, he gets put back into the bathroom.  

 Recognizing behaviors associated with fear or anger in Nacho was extremely important.  Most of the times, cats will have hairs that stand up, will flatten his ears against their head, or will hiss prior to attacking.  They give you every chance to stop whatever behavior they feel is threatening before they attack.  Nacho was a lot harder to read.  He wouldn’t show any of the warnings above.  It took time, but I eventually realized that his only “tell” was that his pupils would dilate ever so slightly when he was getting angry. That was pretty hard to work with at first – most of the time when he would attack, he would be sitting on my lap, facing away from me.  I adapted by only petting him when he was facing me, so I could see his eyes.  If he turned around, I would still allow him to sit on my lap, but I would not pet him.  It’s been about a couple of months now, and Nacho has finally started hissing and swatting – without claws out – when something is bothering him.  I’ve also realized that most of the time when he does this, he doesn’t WANT to attack me… as soon as I give him space, he runs away – the hissing and swatting is his way of telling me that he needs space and wants to run away.  I still haven’t figured out everything that scares him or makes him angry, but realizing that he’s afraid and not trying to be mean has been a huge help.  I still think that a lot of times when he is calm and in my lap being pet, the reason he would latch out and bite was out of fear – he’d dose off and when he woke up wouldn’t immediately recognize where he was and what was happening… the biting was his form of self-defense.  

With a lot of cats, having a squirt gun handy is a great way to break up cat fights and correct bad behavior.  That didn’t work with Nacho.  I don’t know for sure, but I believe that he spent a lot of his time outside.  He will sit under the sink when the faucet is on full blast, will walk right into the shower when I’m in it, and couldn’t care less when being hit by a water gun.  With Nacho, I found that he responded EXTREMELY well to Feliway sprays (https://amzn.to/2XsomVG).  Feliway is a pheromone spray that mimics the naturally released “happy” messages that mother cats release into the air when their kittens are around.  When Nacho hisses, or would start to pick a fight with Artie, I would spray the Feliway spray in their direction and Nacho would quickly calm down.  

As I mentioned earlier, another step that would work for Nacho would be to just simply walk away.  When Nacho would get angry, stepping away from him in a way that reduces the fearful response would always help – especially just leaving the room that he was in.  Leaving him alone for 15 or 20 minutes would almost always be enough time for him to relax.  

When I came back in the room, I would try to make him feel more confident by making myself appear as small as possible – instead of walking in the room and hovering over him while petting him, I would sit down in a corner, hunching over and avoiding eye contact.  By doing that, I didn’t feel like a threat to Nacho, and he would always respond positively.  Still, before paying attention to him, I would ignore him while he was checking me out, then start quietly singing or talking to myself.  After I could hear Nacho purring or physically feel him relaxing, I would allow for him to get back on my lap and be pet again.  

Providing a safe place for Nacho was ultimately the best thing that I think I did to help him.  When angry or stressed, the first thing Nacho wants to do (after letting out a hiss) is to run and hide to his “safe spot” in the bathroom.  He typically hides in the tiny space between the toilet and the wall, but sometimes he’ll also prefer to hide up high, so I leave the window open enough where he can jump up onto the window sill to get away from Artie when she is antagonizing him.  

What I’m currently working on with Nacho is desensitizing him from any environmental stressors that have been freaking him out.  He was initially terrified of my dad, so i started out by letting Nacho hide in his spot in the bathroom while my dad and I had normal conversation right outside the bathroom.  After several weeks of doing this, Nacho eventually got brave enough to peek his head out of the bathroom to see who was out there.  At that point, I had my dad toss treats at him.  Nacho is now at the point where he will come right up to my dad when he was over.  

To try to help Nacho and Artie get along, I’ve been making it a point to feed them together – separate enough where they’re not directly on top of each other, but close enough where they can see and smell each other while they’re eating.  When I see them in the same room as each other and they’re getting along, i toss treats at them, and try to make sure that any space they’re usually in has plenty of catnip in it.   My hope is to not only desensitize them to each other, but to also help them associate the other one with yummy food and positive feelings.  

Ultimately, having patience with your kitty is the most effective strategy you can have.  Depending on the level of socialization your kitty has had with people and animals, the amount of time to develop trust and confidence can range from as short as a few days, to as long as a matter of years.  Many cats who strike unexpectedly were poorly socialized as kittens and didn’t learn to give warnings or how to trust.  It takes time to develop those skills – and that time is often something that new pet parents are unwilling to give.  Give them time.  It will be worth it, I promise.  

100 Best Food Names For Pets In 2019

If you know me, you should know by now that I’m pretty obsessed with food-related pet names. I keep a list on my phone with potential names for new pets, and while the list is alphabetized in my phone, I decided to share them below by ranking my favorites. If you’re looking for names for your new cat or dog, this roundup is a great place to start. I tried to pick some unique names along with classics. There’s a food name on this list for every style, and for every pets personality!

img_6072

FOOD NAMES I’VE ALREADY USED:

Obviously, my favorite names are the ones that I’ve already named my pets!

1. Oreo

2. Burger

3. French Fry

4. Linguini (Linus Linguini!)

5. Asiago (Artie Asiago!)

6. Zucchini

img_5856

94 More Fabulous Food Themed Pet Names:

7. Avocado

8. Popcorn

9. Sage

10. Alfredo

11. Guinness

12. Candy

13. Gravy

14. Pancake

15. Martini

16. Cheerio

17. Kiwi

18. Jellybean

19. Banana

20. Nutmeg

21. Merlot

22. Mango

23. Pepperoni

24. Ramen

25. Peaches

26. Pistachio

27. Pickle

28. Taco

29. Ravioli

30. Bacardi

31. Bacon

32. Wasabi

33. Grapefruit

34. Jalapeño

35. Raisin

36. Brownie

37. Queso

38. Chipotle

39. Pepper

40. Pineapple

41. Fettuccine

42. Sushi

43. Skittles

44. Waffles

45. Sorbet

46. Snickerdoodle

47. Potato

48. Snickers

49. Fig

50. Salmon

51. Dorito

52. Garbanzo

53. Marshmallow

54. Poptart

55. Meatball

56. Meatloaf

57. Wonton

58. Basil

59. Biscotti

60. Macaroni

61. Chip

62. Tequila

63. Ginger

64. Fritos

65. Blueberry

66. Mojito

67. Caramel

68. Papaya

69. Fudge

70. Artichoke

71. Margarita

72. Huckleberry

73. Dumpling

74. Walnut

75. Cobbler

76. Nacho

77. Butterscotch

78. Burrito

79. Tuna

80. Squash

81. Cannoli

82. Nutella

83. Quiche

84. Muffin

85. Cantaloupe

86. Panini

87. Plum

88. Ziti

89. Tomato

90. Sangria

91. Hummus

92. CreamPuff

93. Goji

94. Tofu

IMG_3458[1]

Choosing the Best Food-Themed Name:

I get it! Your new pet is special, and their name deserves to fit them perfectly. Finding the ideal name doesn’t need to be hard, though. Just consider their personality: a feisty Alfredo or an aloof Banana? A sassy Nacho or a playful Mango? The sky’s the limit!

Of course, sometimes the most obvious name choices come from their coat color. A beautiful Maine Coon with luscious orange locks? Clearly a Cheeto. A pleasantly plump white beauty? Marshmallow, anyone? Think of a name that makes you smile, and go with it!

img_3870

Need Pet Sitting?

I’ve been slowly getting back into some pet sitting! I had taken a break from it when Oreo and Burger were sick, as I had too much on my plate already. However, it’s something that I’ve always loved doing. If you’re going out of town and need someone to watch your cats or dogs, and you’re in the Rochester, NY area – email me ( amyyyyg@gmail.com)! I have a lot of people who are surprised when I say this, but when pet sitting, I’ve noticed that I seem to watch way more cats than I do dogs. Sure, cats seem to be more independent than dogs, but they need attention, playtime, and treats when you’re gone, too! Now that you’ve hopefully found the best pet name, it’s time to find them the perfect sitter (me! Duh!)

img_6098

5 easy ways to make your pets day!

These easy acts will help keep your fur baby happy – and keep you happy, too!

2

  1. Rotate toys

Some people only have one or two toys out at a time, while other people (like me!) have hundreds of toys laying around the house.  Just like kids, dogs and cats can, and DO, get bored with toys, and like playing with new things.  I’ll admit it, I go overboard when it comes to constantly buying them new toys.  However, I’ve noticed that by putting their toys on rotation, my kiddos seem to forget about the toys that are hidden away.  When I rotate in some of the older toys, it’s as if they are brand new again, and they quickly become the new favorite toys.  Trust me, it works!

4

These are some of Zucchini’s favorite toys!  They’re pretty sturdy, too.

  1. Respect their privacy!

It can be easy to overlook, but pets need privacy, too!  Cats tend to appreciate privacy the most, especially when it comes to the litter box!  Try keeping litter boxes in low-traffic areas, and consider including at least one litter box with a lid on it.  While a lot of dogs tend to prefer being around their family, sometimes they need to retreat to a quiet, special place of their own.  This is especially useful when they want to stay away from rambunctious children or loud noises like fireworks.  Try keeping a small doghouse or dog bed in a small space like a closet or bedroom.

5

  1. Feed them well!

The right diet is extremely important to both the happiness and wellbeing of your furry friends.  Don’t buy into popular “fad diets” – just like human fad diets, the current pet craze isn’t always the best option for your pet.  While some dogs and cats may thrive on grain-free, raw, or the most expensive food in the market, for most pets it’s simply unnecessary.  If you’re not sure what diet or brand of food to choose, talk to your veterinarian!  He or she will be happy to help you find the best plan for your fur baby.

1

  1. Go on walks!

While this one may apply more to dogs, cats can benefit from supervised outdoor time too!  Going on walks isn’t just good for exercise, it’s good for your pet’s mind, as well.  Imagine if you were stuck in the house all day every day for your entire life!    For dogs, they get so excited for daily walks because they get to experience new things, and sometimes they even get to meet new people and other dogs!  You can benefit from daily walks as well – what a peaceful way to spend quality time with your furkid!

3

  1. Build in a view

This is one more aimed towards kitty friends, but dogs can benefit from a great view as well!  Giving a view of the outside world, especially for pets who don’t get a lot of outdoor time, is a great way to make them happy!  Being able to look out of a window to see everything going on in the world around them can be extremely relaxing for your dog or cat.  Not to mention, have you ever seen a cat who DOESN’T like watching the birds and squirrels??6

These are just a handful of literally unlimited ways to keep your cats and dogs as happy as possible.  When providing mental and physical stimulation for pets, remember that they each have their own personalities and charms – that is one of the most satisfying parts of the relationship!  What is your favorite way to keep your pet as happy and healthy as possible?

ARTIE REVIEWS! Gingerbread House Cat Scratcher

With the holiday season finally over, one thing is for certain – I spent WAY too much money on my pets!  Something occurred to me as I was opening their gifts – there really wasn’t much feedback on anything that I bought, aside from an occasional 3-word review on whatever site I purchased the items from.  I really had no idea what to expect from most of these items.  How would the quality be?  Would my pets even like these things?  So, I figured I’d take a few of the things I bought and show you exactly what my pets think of them!

Up first – a gingerbread house cat scratcher, made by Companion Gear.

I can’t find this exact thing on Amazon at the moment, but this appears to be the most similar if you’re interested in purchasing one.

Overall, Artie seemed to really enjoy the catnip that came with the scratcher.  My first impression is that it seemed very flimsy, and sure enough, as soon as Linus attempted to go inside to play it fell apart.  I used some duct tape to put it back together, and all three cats have been successfully playing with it ever since.  The cat scratcher in this video was under $10, and since the one that I linked to above is significantly more expensive, perhaps it will be more sturdy than this is.  In the case of the Companion Gear product, you get what you pay for.

I’ve got a couple more videos that I’m working on — if this is something that you guys like, let me know!  My furbabies are SPOILED and are constantly getting new things, so I can record reviews of just about anything to let you see first hand how cats and dogs like or dislike them.

Happy New Year!!!