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Frequently Asked Questions
My cat keeps scratching the sofa. What can I do?
First, you'll want to ensure that you have proper cat scratching items for your cat, like the carpeted ones you find in department or pet stores. Often, cats like the two foot squares of carpet that were used as samples in carpet stores. These stores will probably let you have a couple of samples for free when that particular carpet is no longer being offered. Other favorite scratching items include the cardboard scratching posts you can find in many stores; they come with dried catnip as an added bonus. Also, make sure that you keep your cat's claws trimmed. Claw trimming tools may be found in most pet stores. Remember to trim only the white part of the claw--not the pink part.
Second, please do not think that having your cat declawed is the best solution for stopping scratching. Declawing is a drastic procedure--like having your own fingers cut off at the knuckle. Our experience with cats who come to us declawed tells us that declawing alters the cat's personality. Claws are a cat's primary defense; without them, the cat will withdraw, become timid or hostile, and fail to thrive in an environment in which she/he feels threatened (an environment with small children or dogs, for example). Also, a declawed cat has no way to survive outside. So declawing is not the answer. With a little thought and effort, scratching can be minimized without declawing your cat.
Third, get some double-backed tape or use regular tape. If you know cats, you know they don't like to touch anything sticky. Use this fact to your advantage. Stick a piece of tape down the arms of the sofa or chair that your cat is scratching (or wherever you'd like the cat to stop scratching). You will have to leave the tape up for a couple of weeks. Yes, the furniture may look a little funny to outsiders, but to your cat, it will look like "no cat's land." Meanwhile, your cat will discover the other items that you've put out for her/him to use as scratching posts and learn to use these instead.
I have two cats, and one of them won't use the litter tray. What can I do?
The rule of thumb for litter trays is one tray for every cat, plus one. So if you have two cats, you'll need three trays, preferably located in different areas. Remember, cats are territorial by nature. The litter tray is one of those territories.
Should I let my cat go outdoors?
Simply put, no. Your cat will be a healthier cat if you keep her/him indoors. The typical lifespan of a cat who spends most of her/his days outdoors is five to six years. A cat who is kept indoors may live to be twenty or more years.
The reason for this is simple: outdoors, your cat will be exposed to life threatening diseases and danger from cars, mean people/children, ill mannered dogs, and fleas and ticks. We have heard and witnessed too many stories of killings or maimings by cars or by the hand of a violent boy.
If you'd still like your cat to experience the outdoors, the only safe way to do so is to build a small lattice room against the side of the wall of the back of your house, in a place where a window or door is located. The structure need not be very large. Usually, a four by six or eight foot area is large enough. The structure is three-sided with lattice sections comprising the walls and roof. If you're renting, you can tell the property owner that the structure is temporary and can be dismantled in an hour. If you're in an apartment on an upper floor but have a balcony, a similar, if smaller structure may be fitted.
I have young children. Is there anything I should know before I adopt a pet?
Something to keep in mind when you have young children and you'd like to adopt a pet is that small pets and young children do not make a good combination. Young children can inadvertently maim or kill a small pet. The new addition to the household will have to be able to withstand the treatment of children--that means no small kittens or small puppies.
Cats or dogs who are frightened of noises or sudden movements likewise will not fare well in a household with small children.
The best candidates for a household with young children are those cats and dogs who have been socialized from their earliest days and who have not been mistreated. A cat who is at least six months old and a puppy who is at least three months old are probably old enough to run away from a child when she or he needs to get away. Better yet, adopt the cat who is at least a year old to get a cat who is confident and ready to take on the world, including a small child. If you're adopting a dog, find one who already has experience around children. When you're at the shelter, spend some time in the room and watch the cat's or dog's reactions to your presence and the presence of your children.
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