Creating kinder, gentler experiences for pets


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Kennels, Travelingand Bathing

Let's see…would you prefer to sleep on a comfortable mattress with warm bedding in a private room, or to sleep on a cot with a sheet in a group shelter?  Cats are a lot like us.  They appreciate all the comforts of home and enjoy being close to their families.

However, cats unlike us, often prefer a small, cozy area over a king size bed.  Why is that?In nature, cats feel safer hidden from view where they can escape predators and maintain a warm body temperature. For these reasons, cats, like dogs, adapt well to contented kennel training.

When you begin introducing the kennel to a cat, make sure everything wonderful happens in the kennel and nothing interesting happens outside of the kennel.

Here are a few tips on how to begin kennel training

First, do NOT begin by putting the cat in the kennel and locking the door.  Do NOT  begin to close the door until the cat loves being in the kennel.  And, even then, begin by closing the door for a few minutes at a time while giving lavish praise.   

Second, all treats and toys live in the kennel. You praise and fuss over your kitten only when your kitten is in the kennel. Keep the most comfortable, clean bedding inside of the kennel.

Third, when you DO begin to close the kennel door, start for a few minutes at a time when the cat is either eating a meal inside the kennel, or sleeping (if overnight, preferably in your bedroom.)

Help your kitten associate the kennel with good experiences such as finding treats, favorite toys, your praise, petting, and the most comfy bedding or pillows.

Why should you provide your cat a kennel?

If you have small children, a kennel gives your cat a safe refuge.  Cats love "caves" as a place for retreat. That's why they often sleep in closets.  If you have other pets, kennels are a great way to introduce pets to each other.  If you have guests and do not want your cat underfoot, you may rest assured if your cat is happy and content resting in an indoor kennel. If possible, place the kennel above ground on a dresser or table.  Cats also like to rest in high places.

Until she enters the crate readily, feed the kitten inside the kennel for every meal.

Teach Your Cat To Travel

Usually, the most common time to take a trip is to the vet. If the kitten has a negative experience, it is very important that he take several car rides with positive experiences to balance out a single bad experience. Otherwise, he will associate all car rides with an unpleasant outcome.

Cats that travel in the car without being crated sometimes go wild with energy. Their movements and noises distract the driver. In some cases they hide under the brake, and can cause serious accidents.

Once he is crate trained at home, your cat can travel comfortably with you in the car. He can also travel by train or air without fear (in his own crate bedroom!). In addition, many hotels will allow you to keep a cat (or a dog) in your room if they are trained to stay in a crate.

Once the kitten is crate trained, it is a small step to take him with you on an errand. Again, link a food treat and praise to the experience. Go on short trips together.  Never leave him inside a hot or very cold car.

Teach Your Cat To Enjoy A Bath

Teach your cat what a bath is while she is still a kitten. Before you attempt to bathe the kitten for the first time, choose a time when you know he's hungry. Begin to feed the kitten in the sink or tub that will eventually be used for bathing him. Once he is comfortable, turn on the tap while he is eating. If he wants to leave, let him. Still, only give him food in the tub. You may need to repeat this step several times before the kitten will eat while the water is running. If he runs away, it means you proceeded too fast, and need to pace the training in smaller steps.

 Be sure to give the first bath before the kitten is three months old, if possible. The earlier you start, the more flexible the kitten's response to the experience will be.

Once the kitten associates water with food (pleasure), give him special food treats while you begin to sprinkle him with water. Try to make it fun. You may need to repeat this part over a few sessions until the cat relaxes and likes being wet.

During the first bath, give the kitten plenty of treats, praise and petting.

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