Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk

February 5, 2020

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka explains about some of the behaviours in cats

By Maneka Gandhi

My cat had her kittens. She keeps one of them under my bed then brings him back to her nest a few minutes later. Why is she doing this?

She is probably uncomfortable with the spot where her kittens are. It may be too much out in the open, or there is too much going on, too much foot traffic. Cats instinctively try to hide their young kittens. Try moving her and the kittens somewhere quiet and dark. Try the back of a closet, keeping the closet door cracked open for her, of course. Some cats are very insistent about choosing their own spot, so if she picks a new spot, or if she moves the same kitten each time, it’s probably because this is the most active/ vocal of the kittens, so gets the most attention. If it’s a different kitten, she is just showing her anxiety with where the kittens are located.

She should be someplace private, like a bedroom. Even putting toddling kittens into a playpen, with a small litter box, should help her anxiety.

Cats generally like dim, cave-like, environments to raise kittens. You could try cleaning out the area under the bathroom sink, and place towels and blankets under that for the kittens, and confine her and the kittens to the bathroom. Or you could get a cat carrier big enough for her and the kittens, set it up in a quiet corner of your bedroom, and drape blankets over it to make it dark and quiet. If she freaks out and insists on taking a kitten, or kittens, to a specific place, though, just try and go with the flow and make sure she doesn’t lose count and leave a kitten, or kittens, behind.

The kittens will start to toddle between 4 and 6 weeks, and start eating solid sometime after that. They should not be weaned until they are all very solidly eating food and using the litter box, usually between 9 and 11 weeks. Allow the mother’s milk to dry up, and get her spayed soon, because she can get pregnant again right away.

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I rescued my dog from the pond and she’s extremely shy. Every time I raise my voice she pees herself. Should I return her?

I am happy you rescued her. Rescuing saves 2 lives — The dog you adopt, and the dog that takes its place in the shelter.

She was probably abused in the past. But she will get better. It will take time, patience, and love, and eventually she will become a bright happy dog.

The fact that she pees herself when you raise your voice is because she probably comes from a violent situation before. Her previous owner probably shouted at her all the time and beat her, so she pees because she’s afraid it will happen again. Don’t raise your voice. Stay calm and tell her off calmly. You could even pick her up and put her in another place. You need to be her best friend.

Buy a bag of treats. Train her to pee outside. Every time she does this, praise her and jackpot her with treats!

Soon, she’ll ask to go out to pee. Then come back. Praise her and give her two treats! Work on it!

If you return her she will die and you will be a person who should never keep a dog again.

The behaviour that you want to stop might be the fear pee, but that won’t happen until she sees that you don’t need absolute submission. Which takes time.

What does it mean when I pet my cat and then she quickly stands up and arches her back? Should I stop petting her if she does that?

When a cat stands up and arches her back it means that it wants more petting in exactly the same way. You can tell when ‘enough’ is because she’ll stop arching into your hand. If she sort of shrinks away, it’s time to stop petting.

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Why will a cat you have been petting suddenly turn and bite you?

If a cat you have been petting suddenly swats you, or bites you, it is saying, “ENOUGH!” Some cats like to be petted and some tire of it quickly. Cats are individuals. When cats tire of petting they often just jump down from your lap or your bed.

Biting and swatting occurs with some cats. It doesn’t mean the cat doesn’t love you, nor is it an indicator that the cat is upset with the attention, it just means it has had enough attention for the moment.

Most cats will indicate to you, through their body language, that enough is enough. Warning signs that your cat may no longer want to be pet are: flicking or swishing of the tail, ears rotating to the side or back, staring, fur rippling on the back or sides, or tensing of the body. The best way to avoid being swatted or bitten is to stop petting as soon as you see the warning signals.

How can I get my dog to stop running off?

To stop this behaviour, one must first understand the cause for the same.

Causes may include:

Frustration. Your dog might figure out a way to take off if bored. If high energy dogs do not get enough exercise, the built up stress could lead to running off.

Missing the owner: Your dog might hit the road because it stresses her out to be apart from you. A dog with separation anxiety will usually run away right after you leave.

Fear: Some dogs run because they’re scared. Common fears include thunderstorms and fireworks.

Sex drive: A dog that isn’t fixed, may escape in search of a mate. Dogs become sexually mature when they’re around 6 months old. Because their drive is so high, it can be very hard to keep them confined.

Solution: Play with or walk your dog every day. Exercise is a must to release the built up stress in your dog.

Give fun toys while you’re gone.

In case there is separation anxiety, and if the problem is mild, give a special treat each time you go. Don’t make it a big deal when you leave or return.

Neuter/ Spay your dog  after 6-8 months of age.

Comfort your dogs and give them safe space inside the house in case there are loud noises around, like fireworks, thunder, a parade etc.

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