Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Advice From Our Friends

In which we discover an interesting suggestion regarding the care of our feline friends, and have a good, healthy belly laugh to boot.

As I continue my decade long liaison with the neighborhood alley cats, I am constantly in search of  any and all information that could potentially be of benefit to them. To this end, I read several lists and websites devoted to catly topics.

Some of the information I find is useful, some inspiring, some funny, some cathartic. As with all information gathererd by whatever means, I have to sift through it, picking out the good bits and discarding the bad. You shouldn't check your brain, after all, when you open your browser.

The other day, I was reading  feral_cats, a yahoo group to which I subscribe. It is devoted to helping feral and stray cats (they're not the same), and to providing support and information on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). One post I ran across soon had me laughing hysterically. The minute the spousal unit arrived home, I grabbed him.

"Listen to this," I said,
and insisted he listen to the reading of the post.

By the end of the reading, we were both laughing so hard our ribs were aching, tears were running down our cheeks, and we were gasping for breath. No matter, laughter is good for what ails you.

"He can't be serious," the spousal unit said, when he could speak again. I passed over the box of Kleenex, wiping my own tears of merriment away.

"I don't know!" I replied.

Well, I emailed the author, told him how much I enjoyed his post, admitted I didn't know if it was meant as a humorous or as a serious piece, but asked for permission to quote it here in its entirely.

The author, Kiff LaBar-Shelton, wrote back, graciously granting permission to share the piece. He did assure me that, while certainly chuckle inducing, the piece was meant as a serious solution to a particular type of behaviour problem. Our housecats have never exhibited behavioural issues of the type which Kiff addresses, so we have never had cause to consider the application of his technique.

Here, for your enjoyment, is the piece, reposted in full.  Enjoy!

Hey, all, It's been a long time since I've been a regular contributor to
this list, though I've always been lurking around. Just gotten very busy
and have had some personal/health issues, not much time or energy to
keep up...

But, I thought I'd take the time to pass this bit of information along
because it's so unique (never heard this anywhere until very recently)
and has proven so effective for me. I don't know if this one's ever come
up in discussion here before, but I've been doing cat rescue and owned
multiple cats for quite a while, and it's the first time I've run across
this idea.

Anyhow, we've all had problems with cats who simply will not stop
urinating or spraying in the house. The incorrigible ones. The ones who
do not have UTIs or serious behavioral issues, but are just waltzing
into inappropriate corners and leaving a puddle. We've tried everything
- deep cleaning, Feliway, squirt guns, extra litter boxes, repellents,
treats, ranting, raving, and tearing our hair out, you know the drill.

But the one thing most of us have NOT tried, is the one thing "hard
case" cats actually understand. The thing which actually asserts
ownership of your space, your dominance in the household pecking order,
and denies permission for the cats to urinate in it - in a language cats
understand on a gut level.

You pee on the cat.

Yup, that's right. You put down a towel and you give the cat a little
speech, without anger or frustration, just assertiveness - "This is MY
space, and MY territory. You may NOT pee in it. If anyone is going to
mark this territory, it will be me." Then , you hose 'em! I'm told
"direct application" works best, and the woman who taught me about this
does so, just holds the cats between her legs and lets fly. But, that
doesn't work very well for men (you'd need 3 hands - two to hold the cat
and one to aim), so I've been using a sports bottle.

They run across the room, shaking pee everywhere. You mop the floor and
wash the towels. You do NOT wash the cat. That's their problem. Fighting
tomcats pee on each other all the time - it's one of the ways they
assert dominance and territoriality. You won't notice a smell or
anything when they dry off and finish grooming.

Sounds gross? It did at first, but I gave it a shot, based on very
positive reports from someone whose experience and judgment I trust very
highly. Does it work? You bet! A single application might not be 100%
effective - you'll probably have to reinforce, especially if the cat
pees in multiple locations. You can do it anywhere, like a bathtub, but
I think putting down a towel in the place where they are peeing, and
doing it there might be best. I also think leaving the towel for a day
or two might be a good idea so they get used to the idea of your own
urine scent in "their little spot".

I've only tried this a few times so far, but the first time I tried it
with a single one of my worst offenders, NOBODY (out of 13 cats, 3 or 4
of whom sometimes spray) urinated ANYWHERE outside of their boxes for
about 3 weeks. Since then, I seem to have cured one of my 2 really bad
kitties, and gotten into a literal "pissing contest" with the other, but
I think he's backing down.

I know this seems pretty weird, but so far, it's certainly worked better
than anything else I've ever tried. The woman who heard about this
method and passed it along to me has pretty much cured her 2 old males
that she's called the "pisser kings" for years, cats who left multiple
puddles all over the house and were making her spend 45 minutes cleaning
every single day.

If anyone else has ever heard of this or tried it, let me know what your
experience has been!

,,,>^..^<,,, To the world, you are just another person. To a rescued animal, you are the world.

Kiff LaBar-Shelton is a street cat rescuer and TNR advocate. He is a volunteer and cat foster with  New Mexico Animal Friends,  a no-kill pet rescue in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He can be contacted by sending email to nazgul@morgulvale.com  


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