The Truth About Declawing Cats

The Truth About Declawing Cats

truth about declawing cats

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Scratching is normal cat behavior. It isn’t done to destroy a favorite chair or to get even. Cats scratch to remove the dead husks from their claws, mark territory, and stretch their muscles.

Cats are usually about eight weeks old when they begin scratching. That’s the ideal time to train kittens to use a scratching post and allow nail trims.

What is Declawing?

Too often, people think that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat’s nails—the equivalent of having your fingernails trimmed.

Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.

It is an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat.

Tips for Unwanted Scratching

  • Keep their claws trimmed to minimize damage to household items.
  • Provide stable scratching posts and boards around your home. Offer different materials like carpet, sisal, wood, and cardboard, as well as different styles (vertical and horizontal). Use toys and catnip to entice your cat to use the posts and boards.
  • Ask your veterinarian about soft plastic caps (like Soft Paws®) that are glued to the cat’s nails. They need to be replaced about every six weeks.
  • Attach a special tape (like Sticky Paws®) to furniture to deter your cat from unwanted scratching.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Disaster Prep for Pets Can Bring Piece of Mind

Disaster Prep for Pets Can Bring Piece of Mind

Disaster Prep for Pets Can Bring Piece of Mind

When preparing your home for earthquakes, floods, fires, or storms, don’t forget your four-footed, feathered, and finned friends. AAA South Jersey suggests some steps you can take now that will help ensure their safety and well-being when disaster strikes.

May 8 is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, and it serves as a reminder to create a disaster plan for pets. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) established National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when approximately 600,000 pets were either killed or left without shelter.

“While pets can suffer from sickness or injury as the result of a natural catastrophe, we hope to minimize those impacts,” said Gene Castiglioni, AAA South Jersey VP of Insurance. “Through education and careful planning, you can protect the well-being of your pet(s), along with the other members of your family.”

Tips to Support the Safety of Your Pet When Disaster Strikes

  • Apply a pet rescue alert sticker to your window. These stickers can be purchased for dogs, cats, birds or multi-pet households. They alert rescuers and first responders there may be animals trapped inside.
  • Create an emergency supply kit. This kit should include the essentials your pet needs. These include a three-to-seven-day supply of food, necessary medications, medical records (in a waterproof container), bottled water, garbage bags, a leash, a crate or carrier, and anything else necessary for your pet’s survival
  • Microchip your dog or cat. Even an ID tag or collar can be lost or pulled off. A microchip may be the only way to be certain your pet can be identified during a disaster.
  • Investigate places for your pets to stay. Because pets are not always allowed in emergency shelters, you may want to have a list of places your pet can stay in case of a natural disaster. A pet shelter, a pet-friendly hotel, and the homes of relatives or friends in another area are all potential places where your pet can be sheltered safe and sound.
  • Bring your animals inside. When you hear that a storm or disaster is on its way, make sure your pets are in the house close to you. Dogs and cats can get confused and become disoriented during difficult times and may try to run away.
  • Contain your pets. Put dogs in a room with the door closed and put cats in a carrier. The sound of thunder or the smell of smoke can frighten animals, and they might disappear under beds or in other parts of the house, making them difficult to find in a hurry.
  • Make sure birds and small animals are secure. If you have a bird, try to get it into a cage, and make sure that its leg band, if it wears one, is properly in place. For pets like mice, hamsters, lizards, and guinea pigs, the best thing is to latch them into their cages, so they can’t escape.
  • Establish a buddy system. Arrange to exchange keys and information with a friend who also has a pet. That way, you can check on each other’s houses and pets in case there’s an emergency when one of you can’t make it home.

For more information, please contact us.

How to Stop Your Cat from Urine Spraying/Marking

How to Stop Your Cat from Urine Spraying/Marking

How to stop your cat from urine spraying/marking

Are you at your wit’s end? Help is here!

By Mieshelle Nagelschneider, aka The Cat Whisperer, cat behaviourist at the Cat Behavior Clinic | Illustration by Taryn Gee

“Spraying is a major reason that cats get sent to the shelters or put out on the street. My job is to end the spraying and change the storyline. Like a director in a movie, I insist on my own ending, the happily ever-after ending with the cat and the owner staying together. And I always get my ending, because spraying is surprisingly easy to remedy.”—Mieshelle Nagelschneider in The Cat Whisperer: Why Cat’s Do What They Do and How to Get Them to Do What You Want

At The Cat Behavior Clinic I’ve performed thousands of urine spray-marking behaviour consultations by phone or video Skype. Spray-marking is one of my favourite consultations because so many cat owners have been told urine marking is an unsolvable issue. On the contrary, it’s one of the easiest behaviour issues to solve. Once the reason for the behaviour is identified and then eliminated, the urine marking can stop completely—sometimes even literally overnight. It may sound too good to be true, but as long as there is no longer a reason for spray-marking to be performed, then it shouldn’t happen, ever. In the majority of cases I’ve dealt with, it’s as simple as that.

What is urine spray-marking anyway? And why does your cat stand there with tail held high and vibrating and insist on shooting urine vertically on your curtains and what might seem like any vertical surface he or she—that’s right, females can perform the behaviour too—can find? Even once neutered or spayed, cats can still urine spray-mark for territorial reasons, though fixed or unfixed, cats generally don’t urine spray mark before they are two years of age when they move into social maturity (social maturity happens between the ages of two and four years; sexual maturity at about 6 months). In my cat behaviour book, The Cat Whisperer, I’ve devoted an entire chapter to urine spray-marking, giving answers on why cats spray urine, how to stop the behaviour, and why you need to calm down already. There are several reasons cats urine-spray mark, but for this article, I’m going to discuss the number one reason.

The #1 Reason: You have outside cats.
No, really, you have outside cats!

Your cat has become aware of an outside cat’s presence and feels his territory may be under threat. This is, by far, the number one reasons my client’s cats will urine spray-mark inside the home. There can be other reasons at play, but this is the main reason in the majority of the cases I work with. Your cat seeing (or smelling) outside cats can cause him to bolster up the perimeter of his home’s territory with urine. Doors leading outside, windows, walls—any location that is perimeter-based in your home—can become a prime urine marking location. In your cat’s mind, urine marking the perimeter will help deter outside cats from crossing the territorial line— “thou shall not pass”, so to speak. Yet many cat owners will tell me they have “never, ever seen an outside cat.” I tell these clients that their cat marking in the home indicates they most likely do have an outside cat (or cats, which is usually the case) visiting their property where their cat can see them. Feral cats are actively hunting between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. and often not seen by the cat owner—but are seen by their cats. Or your cat may simply see a cat all the way across the street in the neighbour’s driveway once a week and that is enough for daily urine marking.

Think you’ve tried everything? I’m pretty sure you haven’t.

Deter Outside Cats: Make your inside cat think he is the only cat in the universe. In other words, no outside cat of any sort (stray, feral, or neighbourhood cats) should be seen or smelled by your cat. This can mean a combination of two strategies—using humane outside motion sensor cat deterrents (Cat Stop and The Scarecrow by Contech are very effective) and blocking certain windows in your home so your cat cannot see outside cats where motion sensor deterrents may not reach. Many of my clients use wax paper on certain windows to block the view in cases where their cat could still see outside cats all the way across the street.

Remove Urine Odour: Use an enzymatic or neutralizing urine cleaner and discontinue using any products that contain ammonia in your home (ammonia is a constituent of urine). My favourite urine removal products are Zero Odor and Anti-Icky-Poo.

Promote Claw Marking: Give your cat an alternative way to mark territory that doesn’t involve urine. Place cat scratching posts or corrugated cardboard scratchers right in the areas where the urine marking is occurring. This will help promote claw marking which can help take the place of urine marking behaviour. Sprinkle cat nip on cat scratch areas to entice clawing behaviour.

Promote Body Rolling: Sprinkle dried catnip in the urine marked areas to create body-rolling behaviour in your cat. Cats also mark territory by body rolling in the location they wish to “mark” and this behaviour can help take the place of urine marking behaviour.

Trigger the Prey Drive: Encourage your cat to play in the area where the urine marking is occurring by maneuvering a wand toy daily in this area. This will help change the association of what your cat does in that area. Instead of having anxiety and urine marking, he is hunting and feeling confident.

Place Food Strategically: You can also feed your cat in the urine marked areas to help change the urine marking association to an eating association. Cats tend to keep eating and urine marking areas very separate.

Encourage Facial Marking: Replace the territorial behaviour of urine marking with friendly facial marking by utilizing friendly feline pheromones found at pet stores and online. The Feliway pheromone can be very effective, especially once you eliminate the outside cat threat.

Above all, please remember that urine spray-marking is a natural behaviour. Your cat isn’t bad or trying to spite you. He is responding with his natural instincts to the environmental circumstances in which he has been placed.

Need more help? To schedule a behaviour consultation with Mieshelle Nagelschneider by phone or Skype video, please visit

*Medical Alert: Due to painful urination, some cats will actually urinate standing up which can look like urine spray-marking. Please be sure to work with your vet to rule out urinary health or kidney issues that can cause stand-up urination due to pain or discomfort.

For more information, please contact us.

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Helping Your Pet Across Rainbow Bridge

Helping Your Pet Across Rainbow Bridge

Helping your pet across rainbow bridge

In December, we had to say our final farewell to Carney, who had developed a neurological issue that caused him to lose the use of his limbs.

We decided to have our vet administer in-house euthanasia, and I insisted that our young dog Hunter be there for the experience. My husband wasn’t convinced that a dog, like humans, could understand death, nor experience closure.

When the time came, it was a beautifully bittersweet moment, with Carney surrounded by Christmas trees, flickering candles, bright twinkling lights and the companionship of our cat Buddy. In the comfort of his own home, Carney was with all those he loved and passed away peacefully in the arms of his mommy.

Hunter was present, but because he was trying to steal Carney’s pumpkin-filled send-off Kong, we put him in the yard for a while. Our vet is a sweet, soft-spoken person who made Carney extremely comfortable.

While Carney indulged in his Kong, the vet administered a strong sedative that allowed for a slow sleepiness to take hold. As Carney drifted off, I was able to tell him what a good boy he was and how much he was loved.

When he was completely asleep, the vet put him under anesthesia, waited a few moments, then administered the final dose that sent Carney across the rainbow bridge.

Not every vet who offers the choice of at-home euthanasia practices this three-step process, which provided our beloved dog — and us — the experience of such a beautiful departure. Some vets put the dog out instantly before administering the final dose. In my opinion, this can rob owners of the time they need to say goodbye.

When Hunter was allowed to return, he was quite hesitant to approach Carney. He looked up to us for guidance and I told him it was okay. He began to sniff Carney and then sniffed around his muzzle.

Then he looked up at us in what I could only describe as a combination of confusion and astonishment. His eyes opened widely and he stepped backward in retreat. I went to him, kissed him and told him it was okay.

When Hunter appeared entirely comfortable, I returned him to the yard to be with my husband as the veterinary staff removed Carney to their vehicle.

While Hunter’s reaction cut me to the core, the result was that he didn’t spend time searching the house for his missing friend, as so many dogs do when they are not allowed to join the process of saying goodbye.

Some denied this closure may engage in worrisome behaviors, such as obsessive self-grooming and barking, whining, bouts of fear-aggression, loss of appetite or even depression that can last for weeks.

When preparing to send your pet over the rainbow bridge, you may want to consider at-home euthanasia by a veterinarian with whom you have a good relationship, one who practices Fear Free medicine and is accredited by AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association).

It’s my belief that bringing Carney to the vet’s office for the procedure would have been too frightening for him. And Hunter and us would not have had the time to experience quality closure.

Karen Fazio is director of training and behavior at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital and owner of The Dog Super Nanny in Monmouth County.

For more information, please contact us.

Ten Great Cat Breeds for Kids

Ten Great Cat Breeds for Kids

So you have kids and you want to get a cat. Well, there are certain cats that are better for kids than others. You want to make sure you find just the right cat for your children. Check out these great cat breeds for kids.

Not all cats have the right temperament for kids, so you want to make sure you find a cat that is playful and low maintenance. Here are the ones that are particularly suitable for children.

1. The American short hair – With its muscular body and short hair, this makes this cat the perfect one for kids. It’s a medium activity cat with a playful personality. It is an even tempered cat which can be very loyal, therefore developing deep relationships with the people in its life. These cats usually get along well with other animals and children too. They aren’t really up for hours of play, but they do like to play. And being short haired they don’t require a lot of grooming. So it’s an easy to care for cat who is playful, but not overly so. It would make a great addition to just about any family.

2. The Maine Coon – This is a very playful cat who loves the outdoors. If you have a place for an outdoor pen and a rambunctious group of children, then this is the perfect cat. These cats are hugely loyal cats as well, with big personalities. They are constantly moving, even in their sleep, and your kids might get a kick out of seeing the different positions they’ll find their cat in every morning. This is a sturdy cat which can get rather large, weighing around 12 pounds. They do require a little more grooming with their longer hair. Brushing a few times a week is needed.

3. The Persian cat – This is a low activity cat, so if you have more docile children this would make a great first pet. It’s like a big fluffy stuffed animal almost. They don’t demand a lot of attention, but when you’re ready to give it to them they love it. This cat is best kept indoors because of its very fluffy coat. This will keep it from getting dirt and debris in its coat. Persian cats require regular brushings, but other than that they are rather low maintenance.

4. The Siamese cat – Siamese cats are very loyal cats, making them great family animals. It might take them a while to warm up to the family as they can be shy, but they are great and will get the kids moving. With their short hair they require very little grooming, and are actually great if you’re concerned about allergies with your children as they are less likely to have an allergic reaction to these cats.

5. The Birman cat – This is a cross between a Persian and Siamese cat. It has a soft, long coat. These are very docile cats, so they are not a big hit with active children. But you’ll appreciate this cat’s ability to sit still for long periods of time when it comes time to grooming, because that will take a while. This is a hugely friendly breed of cat, though. It’s a great cat for low energy level children who will like to cuddle the cat.

6. The British short hair – This cat is very similar to the American short hair. Its muscular body and short hair requires little grooming that can withstand constant petting, even rough petting. This cat bonds easily with children and adults. The British short hair is full of personality and can be very playful. It’s a very friendly cat. The only drawback is the ailments these cats are prone to, including sun burn and tumors. White ones with blue eyes are prone to deafness.

7. The Tiffany cat – Also known as Chantilly, this cat has semi-long hair. It has a shiny coat with a silky feel. Personality-wise these cats are perfect. They have an even temperament. They are active, but enjoy their quiet time. They aren’t super aggressive. They play well with children, but not overly so as to wear them out. Just an all-around even keel cat.

8. The Ragdoll cat – This is a quirky breed. When lifted, it will go limp. No need to worry; this is the only time this cat will go limp. They are sturdy cats that get along well with children and dogs. You can even teach these cats a few tricks like fetch and “play dead”. This will be a huge hit with the kids. But don’t expect extremely high activity levels from this cat. If you’re looking for a cat to chase the kids around, this isn’t the cat for you. If you’re looking for a lay around trick cat, then this is the one.

9. The Abyssinian cat – This is a slender and muscular breed. It would be the perfect cat for older, energetic children. These cats like to be outside. They are playful and clown like. However, they are not good cats for young children or toddlers. These cats can get fussy if not payed attention to regularly. They don’t warm up quickly so children will need to be patient. This is a good cat to have as a kitten.

10. The Manx Cat – This is the cat without a tail. There is however a short stub. This is a friendly cat who looks like he’s ready to pounce. It’s a very playful cat as well, almost like a dog. It likes to bury and dig like a dog. These are very loyal cats which should be kept indoors.

Basically when choosing a cat for your children, just remember to keep in mind each child’s age and personality. Match your child’s personality with your cat’s personality.

For more information, please contact us.

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