Kitten Litter Training

Getting a new kitten is lots of fun and very sweet, but you need to do the mucky jobs too. That means teaching your kitten where to do his business. Starting early will set your kitten up for success. 

We have compiled a comprehensive how-to list of things you can do to make litter training a breeze.

Tray Size Matters

Young kittens can feel quite intimidated by large litter trays, so start them off with a smaller size. These trays are shallower, making it easier for your kitten to step in and out without tripping or getting stuck.

As your kitten grows you can swap the tray for a larger size to accommodate them. Even if you have adult cats in the home, include one smaller-sized tray for your kitten during litter training.

Ideally, your litter tray should be one and a half times the length of your cat.

Give Me Privacy!

Nobody wants an audience to do their business and this includes cats. where you place your litter trays will have a direct impact on how successful your litter training is.

Litter trays need to be placed in quiet areas of the house with minimal food traffic. This includes the laundry room, downstairs toilet, garage, or conservatory.

Try not to have your litter tray in the kitchen or dining room as this is a contamination risk for your food and could make you sick.

While privacy is important, not all cats like to go in enclosed spaces. While you may prefer a covered litter tray, your cat may feel trapped and refuse to use it. Every cat is different. Try one closed tray and one open to working out your cat’s personal preference.

It is important to have at least two litter trays away from each other so your cat has the choice of where they want to go. You may notice that your outdoor cat will not toilet in your garden. They will also go elsewhere. This is the same for litter trays. Cats like to have a choice.

Which Litter?

When it comes to choosing litter, the choices are endless. Gravel type litter, fine grain litter, wood chip, clumping or non-clumping? There is no straight answer here, just go with your gut. Try purchasing small bags of each type to see which litter your cat prefers.

When filling your litter trays, add no more than an inch of litter. It needs to be deep enough that your cat can dig and cover their eliminations, but not so deep that they fling litter everywhere.

Adult cats tend to prefer, sandy-type litters but if you have an indoor cat, you will want to choose the most absorbent litter types.

Introducing The Litter Tray

It is important to introduce your kitten to their litter tray so they know where to find them and get used to the new smells.

Pick your kitten up and gently place them into the litter tray. Give them a minute to have a sniff and praise them. They may even have a dig in the litter and some kittens will naturally wee.

Continue taking them to the litter tray after they eat, drink or wake from sleeping, as this is when they are most likely to need to toilet.

You can reward your kitten whenever they use the litter tray by giving them a little treat of their favourite biscuits or small pieces of chicken.

Do not scold your kitten for having accidents around the house. This will only make them fearful of toileting in the future, leading to more accidents. Simply clean up after them and continue rewarding them for using the litter tray.

Cleaning Your Litter Trays

It is important to keep your litter trays clean in order to prevent ammonia buildup, bacteria, and bad odours.

You should spot-check your litter trays daily and scoop out any messes. Add a little extra litter to maintain the depth. Once per week, you should empty the entire litter tray, throwing away the dirty litter.

Rinse the tray, clean it with a mild disinfectant and wipe it clean. Add a fresh layer of litter and replace the tray with its normal position. Cats tend to go straight into a litter tray after it has been cleaned, so keep your scoop ready.

What If Your Kitten Isn’t Getting It?

Some kittens take to litter training like a duck to water. Others seem to take forever to get the hang of it. If your kitten is struggling, there are a few things you can do.

Firstly, check that your litter trays are easily accessible and that your kitten is able to climb in and out without help.

If your litter tray is in a busy part of the house, try moving it to a quieter location and see how your kitten responds. They may be more comfortable having the litter tray away from the busyness of your daily routine.

Don’t tuck the litter trays right into a corner. Cats don’t like to feel confined or closed in and having a litter tray against two walls can make kittens feel uneasy.

If you have other cats, your kitten may feel intimidated using the same litter tray or your older cat may be territorial of their preferred toileting spot. Add an additional tray somewhere else in the house so your kitten has other options.

Try changing the litter type you are using. If you have a fine grain, trying switching to wood chip or a larger grain litter. If your litter tray is covered, remove the lid or vice versa. A little trial and error will eventually hit on a sweet spot and your kitten will be a litter tray pro in no time!

Common Cat Behaviour Problems

We are a nation of cat lovers, with an estimated population of almost 11 million pet cats. While we adore or furry felines, they have their fair share of behavioural quirks that can cause serious problems if not addressed.

Today, we will take a look at the most common cat behaviour problems and how to correct them so you can give your cat the best life possible.

Why Certain Behaviours Need Correcting

When it comes to pets, we must remember that domesticated animals still retain a lot of their wild instincts and behaviours. What may seem strange to us, is completely normal for them.

The key to preventing further episodes of problematic behaviour is to find the trigger. Scolding the bad behaviour will not stop it from occurring again if the situation that causes the behaviour is not removed.

Litter Training

For cats, this is not a problem as they will toilet instinctively in a place they feel safe and comfortable. Without any litter training, this means your cat is likely to toilet behind the sofa or under the dining table.

This is an easily preventable issue by providing gentle and positive reinforcement when your cat toilets in an appropriate place.

First, you must provide a suitable litter tray. Confident cats will have no problem learning to use a simple tray, but nervous cats will be more comfortable with a covered litter tray.

Every time you see your cat getting ready to toilet (circling, sniffing, squatting) gently pick them up and carry them to the litter tray. If they do their business in the tray, give them a small treat and lots of fuss.

Don’t worry if they jump straight out, just be consistent. Eventually, they will start to connect the litter tray with toileting. It is important to clean out the litter tray regularly or your cat will stop using it. Nobody wants a dirty toilet!

Scratching Furniture

Clawing and scratching at furniture is one of the most commonly reported problems to veterinarians and animal behaviour experts. For us, it is frustrating to see our cat tearing shreds out of a brand new sofa, but for cats, this is normal and necessary behavior.

There are 3 reasons a cat will scratch:

  • Shedding claw sheaths
  • Frustration/lack of exercise
  • Communication

Cats shed their outer claw sheaths every 3 months or so and scratching helps to remove those shed sheaths. Cats also scratch to alleviate boredom and frustration caused by a lack of exercise. In households with multiple cats, scratching is a form of communication or territory marking.

The best solution to furniture scratching is to provide your cat with a more suitable scratching option. 

Scratching posts and towers are ideal as they are specifically designed for cats to scratch. A simple post with a solid base is fine, as it provides both vertical and horizontal scratching surfaces.

For cats with a more adventurous personality, a cat tower is a great option. These towers look like the cat version of a playground, complete with posts, tunnels, hammocks, and swinging toys.

To protect your furniture, try draping a blanket over the armrests of your sofa or armchair to dissuade your cat from scratching. They do not like to scratch on soft blankets as they are likely to get their claws stuck.

Furry Alarm Clocks

Cats are early risers, which do not bode well if you want a lie-in. If your cat shares your bedroom at night you will have learned to expect an early morning wake-up call, which includes loud yowling, face-licking, and patting.

Nobody wants a cat batting their nose at 5 am! So, how do you stop this behaviour? Your cat is waking you because they are hungry, so addressing this will prevent the unwanted wake-up call.

There are two options here. First, if your cat eats dry food, try switching to an automated feeding bowl. You fill the container with your cat’s food and program the times you want food to be dispensed.

 

Not only does your cat learn to anticipate when he will be fed, but he also no longer needs to wake you up.

The second option is to adjust his feeding schedule. Start by setting an alarm for 5 minutes before your cat normally wakes you and immediately feed him. Every day, add an extra couple of minutes until you get to a time that you want to wake up yourself.

This method creates an association for your cat between the sound of your alarm and him being fed. He will no longer try to wake you because he will be waiting for the alarm.

Excessive Meowing

It might surprise you to know that meowing is not a natural cat sound. They have learned over thousands of years to meow as a way of getting our attention. Cats never meow at other cats.

When your cat meows at you and follows you around the house, he is trying to get your attention. If he has already been fed, the likely reason is that he is seeking some company.

Try playing with your cat for 5 minutes, either will a lure toy or a cat ball. This is a two-fold solution. Your cat gets to spend some quality time with you and also gets to release his pent-up energy.

If your cat is an outdoor cat, try installing a cat flap so he can come and go as he pleases, instead of having to pester you to be let out. You will notice that he leaves and comes back at the same time each day.

This is because outdoor cats have a schedule. Outdoor cats have a territory, which is typically a small area around their own house, such as the houses on either side or perhaps two houses on either side. The size of a cat’s territory depends on the availability of food. If they get plenty of food at home their range will be small.

Tomcats (males) have a larger territory than females and will spray around the edges of their territory to keep away other tomcats.

Understanding Cat Behaviour

Cats are expressive creatures and are always telling their owners how they feel, but sometimes, their behaviour intrigues can be frustrating. Understanding their behaviour is the way to speak their language, and the following insights into their mind and behaviour can help you bond faster with them.

Peeing on personal belongings

It may seem disgusting that your cat urinated over some of your belongings, but that’s a way cats mark their territory. Cats transfer their scent to objects in the house by peeing on them so they can relieve anxiety. If this bothers you, be very tidy with your belongings to reduce the chances of further reoccurrence.

Rubbing

When a cat rubs their cheeks against your hand, the doorway, or furniture, it’s more than just an act that shows affection or says hello. That behavior is referred to as “bunting” and usually involves the release of pheromones, which is primarily another way to show pride in that you’re his and that space belongs to him.

Sniffing

By now, you must have realized that cats rely heavily on their sense of smell. When a cat sniffs your face or other parts of your body, they’re trying to commit your scent to memory so they can build trust which relieves anxiety and fear.

Kneading

Kneading refers to the activity where your cat alternately pushes out and pulls in their front paws into you or any soft object like a bed or blanket. Cats do this prior to relaxation as it’s a sign that they’re happy or trying to alleviate stress.

Chattering

It’s not uncommon for cats to emit a fast and intense tooth chattering when watching a bird through the window. Behaviourists speculate that chattering indicates their frustration at not being to hunt or catch the bird they are watching. They also may be excited or slightly aggravated.

Swishy tail

Cats can get anxious easily, and it helps to provide a place they can retreat to in such situations, so they don’t become aggressive. You can tell that your cat is becoming uncomfortable and is ready to pounce by its swishy tail. In such instances, it’s always best to distract them by directing their energy onto appropriate toys.

Eating non-food items

If you notice your cat is chewing on non-edible items, it’s time to take a trip to the vet. Eating non-food items is often a sign of Pica which is often attributed to mineral deficiencies. A visit to the vet for a full examination can help rule out any underlying problems.

Surprise gifts

Although domestic cats don’t need to do anything to feed, their hunting skills are still top-notch. It’s not unusual for cats to bring the remains of a dead (or live) rodent or bird to their owners, and while this may seem gross to you, behaviourists believe cats do this to thank you for taking care of them.

Cat eyes

Cats communicate a lot through their eyes; for instance, if your cat slowly blinks at you from afar, it’s a sign that they are comfortable with you and enjoy your company. Behaviourists call this act “cat kisses,” and you can return the gesture by slowly shutting your eyes and opening them. But if you notice that your cat won’t look at you no matter how hard you try, it could be a sign that they need some time alone.

Conclusion

Since cats can’t speak to communicate with their human owners, it’s imperative to understand their behaviour, so you can give them appropriate care. The above tips can help you understand their needs and personality better.

How To Raise a Kitten to be Cuddly

Is your kitty crabby and you’d like to change that? While heredity influences a cat’s personality, you can raise a kitten that’s friendly and social even if you don’t know its early influences and experiences. If you’re looking to help your feline become a lap cat, here are five tips that can help you succeed.

Keep Calm

Sudden movements and aggressive actions scare cats and can make them stay away from you. Instead of sudden movements which might catch your kitten unaware, move slowly so your cat and kitten alike will feel comfortable with you being around. Even if you’ve been living together for some time, your kitten will appreciate some calmness which is at the core of basic feline manners.

Don’t stare

Cats don’t like eye contact and typically feel threatened by it. This is probably the fastest way to earn your kitten’s dislike and make them want to avoid you. Instead, slowly blink your eyes at him and watch for its reactions. The slow-blinking is a non-verbal statement that says “I love you” and if your cat responds with the same slow-blinking, it means your cat loves you. The slow blink is a kitty kiss without all the touchy-feely stuff. And if your cat walks toward you while purring and wriggling around your legs, it’s a sign that you’re getting it right.

Rub him/her the right way

Kittens and cats have the way and places they want to be touched, and when done right, it can help your feline pet become cuddly. The best spots to scratch are between the ears, beneath the chin, and that sweet spot between the eyes. Don’t forget to also stroke them along the spine as it can help you gain some extra points too.  Meanwhile, avoid the belly and base of the tail area as kitties and cats do not like being petted or scratched around those parts. Many cats feel uncomfortable when their tummy is at risk, even if you’re not a threat. The reason is that cats release scents off their odor from their tail glands which they don’t like to pick up from us even though they like to perfume us with glands on their heads and face. Perhaps, the glands at the base of the tail have certain uses for other cats, and their perfume isn’t meant for you.

Bond through grooming

Grooming is another way to gain your cat’s favoritism. Grooming is a social thing among felines as they do it to themselves and each other. Your cat will probably enjoy it if you rub him tenderly and in rhythmic movements while talking to them in a soft voice. Make sure you watch for your cat’s reactions to know if it is enjoying your attention. If you see your kitten’s tail twitching or he stands up and walks away, it’s a sign that it’s enough.

Bribe your feline: Cats do not mind you showing them the love that goes through the belly or stomach tract. Always go around with some cat food stick treats so you can reward your feline whenever he approaches you.

Conclusion

While you’re trying out these tips, keep in mind not to force petting on your kitty.  Research suggests that cats can become more stressed when they reluctantly allow people to stroke them than cats who avoid being petted at all. Perhaps, the most important nugget while training your cat is patience, and remember to observe their reactions to your petting.

Compulsory Microchipping of Cats in UK

 

Our pets are part of our family and it feels just as sharply when they are lost or stolen. One of the best ways to protect our pets is by microchipping.

Currently, it is not compulsory for cats to be microchipped in the UK, however, the government has introduced a commitment to including compulsory cat microchipping as part of their action plan for animal welfare to be put through parliament later this year.

What Is A Microchip?

A microchip, or passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag, is a tiny implant roughly the size of a rice grain that carries pet a unique digital data code.

The microchip is placed under the skin, usually in the scruff of the neck, where it can be easily picked up by a microchip reader/scanner. Microchips can be inserted by a veterinarian or other trained professional who has undertaken a qualification in animal microchip implantation.

The cost of microchipping and registration is inexpensive, costing £20-£30 for a lifetime of service and cover, but they are priceless when it comes to being reunited with a lost or stolen pet.

There are currently an estimated 6.5 million unchipped cats in the UK with a far lower chance of being reunited with their owners if they are ever lost or stolen.

Benefits of Microchipping

Microchipping your cat is beneficial as it is the best way of proving that your cat belongs to you. When a cat is found, one of the first things a cat charity or vet clinic will do is check if the cat is microchipped.

The chip contains an encoded 15 digit code that will identify your cat. The microchip identification code is securely linked to the national Pet Identity UK database.

The database will hold the recorded details of your name, address, and phone number so they can easily get in touch with you to reunite you with your cat. New data-linked technology also allows for the recording of your presiding cat’s veterinary details and next of kin as well as any other vital information that can be used in the reunification of your pet or to assist in any urgent veterinary RTA (Road Traffic Accident) health care treatments.

Since many family cats go outdoors every day, there is a chance that they could get lost exploring their neighbourhood or even be stolen by someone hoping to sell them for profit.

The microchip never needs to be replaced, so you do not have any recurring fees to pay.

Microchipping is a quick and painless procedure, similar to your cat getting an injection. There is no recovery time required and your cat will not feel any different.

If you have a cat flap in your home or are considering getting one, your cat’s microchip has an added benefit. You can purchase a cat flap that can be programmed to recognise your cat’s microchip and only allow them entry. This stops other cats from entering your home to steal your cat’s food!

Are Some Cat Breeds More Likely To Be Stolen?

While the theft of dogs is more common, there are up to 300-400 cases of cat theft reported each year. This figure may seem low compared to dogs but It is difficult with cats to determine if they have been stolen or are simply missing as most cats have access to the outdoors.

It is not uncommon for cats to spend a few days wandering before returning to their home for food and rest. In fact, many cat owners learn to judge their cat’s wandering habits.

When a cat does not return home after a normal period, the owner would then report them missing.

Any cat can be a target for animal thieves if the opportunity arises, but the targets for criminals are typically rare pedigree breeds:

  • Maine coon
  • Siamese
  • Bengal
  • Russian blue
  • American curl
  • Munchkin

It is becoming increasingly common for owners of rare breeds to keep them as indoor cats, as the risk of them being stolen is too great.

Cats are typically targeted for two reasons:

  • Breeding: thieves will steal cats in the hope they are unneutered and can breed from them, with kittens being sold for as much as £2,000 each depending on the breed. Most cats stolen for breeding purposes are kept in poor conditions and are not given any rest time between birthing a litter and the next pregnancy. They are not providing any veterinary care as the vet may scan the cat’s chip and recognise the cat has been stolen.
  • Selling for profit: cat thieves will try to sell on the cat they stole for a quick profit. The quicker they can resell the cat, the less chance there is of them being linked to the crime. It is vital that you ask for a cat’s microchip number if you are considering buying a cat. Any reputable owner will happily provide this information.

Stealing a cat tends to be appealing to criminals as the prosecution rates are low and punishment does not fit the crime. While a person convicted of stealing a pet can be sentenced to up to 7 years in prison, the most common sentences are community service or a fine.

What To Do If Your Cat is Lost or Stolen

In 2016 there were 261 reported cat thefts, however, research shows that as many as 360,000 cat owners believe their cat may have been stolen between 2016 and 2017, and only 55% of these people were reunited with their cat.

Your cat may never be the target of criminals, but it is best to prepared should the worst happen. It is important to act quickly if your cat is stolen to give you the greatest chance of being reunited with them.

  1. The first thing you should do is to contact Pet Identity UK and report your cat as lost or stolen. They can quickly in real-time update the details on your cat’s microchip so any animal organisation or vet clinic will be informed if they find your cat.
  2. Your next step is to call the police if you are certain your cat has been stolen. Give them your cat’s microchip number and any details you can remember about the incident. You should request a crime reference number so you can check the progress of the investigation.
  3. Post on your social media with a recent photo of your cat, where the theft took place and any details you think might help. Ask people to check their home CCTV as this can often provide vital evidence for the police to track and find the criminals.
  4. Contact local vet clinics and animal rescues to see if a cat matching yours has been handed in as a stray.
  5. Print posters and put them up around your local area. Choose busy places like supermarkets, parks, and high streets that will get lots of attention. Be sure to include your phone number so you can be easily contacted.

Your Lifetime Pet Identity UK registration will perform all of the veterinary lost cat report links and local contacts directly on your behalf should you report your cat missing or stolen.

Pet Identity UK has direct integrated links to over 5,000 veterinary surgeries, 1,000 council boroughs, and links to charity cat organisations and even international border control units.

Remember the key to microchip identification is to keep all your details up to date for the quick and safe return of your purring family companion.