“Cats are not commodities, status objects, toys for children, tools for research or promotional gimmicks for a consumer society. They are other beings who can grace and enrich our lives and who are worthy of equal and fair consideration, if not reverence and unconditional love.” -Dr. Michael Fox
Hello! Welcome to our site. We hope you enjoy your visit!
This website is, of course, all about cats–their care, their behavior (and how to fix it when you need to!); anything but for actual veterinarian advice. We are not and have never been licensed veterinarians; our only knowledge of feline medicine comes from an owner’s experience. If you can’t find anything to help with your particular problem on this site, feel free to contact us by e-mail at Brainicat@LivingWithCats.org, or just leave a comment.
A little bit about us:
We’ve been rescuing abandoned, starving, ill and injured cats for nearly 30 years now. We’re a privately owned and financed operation. You probably don’t want to know how many cats we care for at one time…but rest assured, we are not hoarders. We have the approval and blessings of our local Animal Control and County Board. We’ve had people visit with us, right in our kitchen, for literally more than half an hour before they even realize we have a single cat, much less the true number! (That was during Nap Time. We have a couple Feline Greeters with an insatiable curiosity towards strangers, especially concerning lap softness and quality of petting, who if they are awake–are going to investigate strangers. To these few outgoing individuals, the sound of the door opening is like ripping open a bag of catnip! As opposed to most of the others, who prefer to lurk where they can see but not be seen until they decide if a new person is safe to approach. Of course, then there’s the handful of pure cowards who we are forever chasing down to make sure they’re still with us…)
The cats we rescue live in a home environment which has been adapted to meet their needs. Confinement in cages is limited only to new arrivals until they’re accepted by the other cats, or if any cat is ill or in need of seclusion from the others. They always have access to fresh water and a large selection of flavors and brands of dry food, as well as being fed a good variety of canned food each day. We actually do have a few skinny cats, but there are several we might have to put on restricted diets soon, or we’ll need a crane to pick them up! People who have been to visit us say that if there is reincarnation, there’s no doubt they want to come back as a cat and live with us!
We have at least two litter boxes available for each cat, which are all cleaned twice a day (scoopable litter is just the single greatest invention of mankind!!). Clean litter boxes are an absolute must; cats prefer to use a clean box, thus inappropriate elimination problems are decreased dramatically. Look at it this way–if you had to use a litter box, which would you prefer? A dirty, smelly, over-flowing one…or a nice clean one??? It’s the same as a human flushing the toilet after using it, after all. You certainly wouldn’t do that only once a week!
The cats who live with us enjoy a large outdoor play area (about 45’ by 90’) complete with three cat jungle-gyms (constructed of logs) to climb on. This area is completely fenced in to prevent any cat from wandering off. There are large lilac bushes, a full grown Maple tree and a young apple tree, plus plenty of grass for them to enjoy. Access to this area is by a pet door. When the weather is nasty we keep everybody inside, but they can still enjoy climbing and playing in a special room (16’ by 20’) which is filled with carefully placed logs of varying sizes and shapes (6” diameter or larger), boards, box steps, ladders, and cardboard concrete tube forms of 10” diameter, to give the cats a variety of runs at various angles to promote good exercise. There is also one 12” deep shelf running the entire perimeter of the room, 18” below the ceiling, that makes an excellent feline race-track.
We have few behavioral problems. Since we have many years of dealing with a large number of cats all with a variety of problems, we are able to deal effectively with most problems that come up. Our cats are in contact with people 24 hours a day and if a new problem crops up, it is dealt with immediately and never gets a chance to establish itself firmly. Most of the cats that come to us come with problems of one sort or another, or were feral.
We will keep a cat until we either find a good a home for it, or it dies of old age. Euthanasia is used only when our veterinarian deems it necessary, and is usually performed on cats suffering organ failure due to advanced age, or incurable cancer. Most of our cats are over ten years of age, with many over sixteen. We have had them live to twenty-six years.
Each cat in our colony is either spayed or neutered, and each receives all necessary vaccinations and regularly scheduled veterinarian examinations to ensure that all of them remain healthy.
We cannot guarantee that any of our methods and solutions to a behavior problem will work for you, even though our methods and solutions have been effective for us and our many cats. Cats are very individualistic and their environments can vary greatly from one home to another. What works for one cat’s behavior problem may not work for another, or not work as well. This website is a source of tried methods; there are always circumstances that will affect the outcome, therefore, no guarantees can be made.
This web site has been established to help those of you who are involved with cats, whether a single feline or many. Perhaps we can help you solve a problem, or answer a question you might have about your cat, or just give you new ideas to use in relating to your cat. Our goal is to make life easier and better for both you and your cat, and perhaps present you with some ideas and tips you may not have considered for solving behavior and other cat-related problems you might have. We have a number of written sections on a variety of topics dealing with cats.
The various sections offer a variety of effective ways to correct different behavioral problems. If one method doesn’t work for you, try another. Remember, cats are very individualistic. Just like people, no two are exactly alike; one method may work for one cat, but not for another; or it may only partially work. That’s why we give more than one way to solve a problem.
Kindness and patience accompanied with rewards for the desired behavior is always the path you should follow. Physical punishment, food deprivation and the like are not acceptable methods to correct bad or unwanted behavior. These simply do not work; they only create a fear of you, and oftentimes even more problems. Cats are very smart, and can quickly learn to understand you.
Reward behaviors that are desirable. Cats, like people, like rewards, and will respond positively with the desired behavior if they receive something for it. Cats always ask, “What’s in it for me, if I do what you want me to do?”
We repeat, physical punishment simply doesn’t work with cats. Even when your cat understands that you don’t want a particular behavior repeated, punishment won’t cause her to cease doing it, and may even do more harm than good; especially if the activity is normal and natural to her–like clawing. Your cat will have no idea why you are so upset about it, and will view you as someone to avoid, engaging in the unwanted behavior when you are not there to see it. She may even begin to not trust you, and that is a serious problem that is very difficult to overcome.
If your cat finds the unwanted activity pleasurable, she will continue to do it, unless you can provide her with a better alternative. You need to learn and understand your cat’s needs. It’s amazing how problems disappear if you are careful to fulfill your cat’s needs.
By punishing your cat, you might also be “rewarding” her by paying more attention to her. The misbehavior may simply be an attempt on her part to communicate with you. Listen to what she is trying to tell you, instead of screaming at her in anger and punishing her.
A cat craves attention, affection, and approval from you–but on her own terms. She will look to you on how to behave. Behaviors which are rewarded and praised will be reinforced. Since she craves your attention, an unwanted behavior could also be reinforced if it draws your attention, even if that attention is negative. Therefore, you should deal with an unwanted behavior either by totally ignoring it, or by diverting the cat’s attention to a more attractive activity and thus lose her interest in the behavior you want her to stop.
The easiest way to stop misbehavior is to prevent it in the first place. Socialize kittens properly. Be thoughtful, and thoroughly cat-proof your home. Give your cat play opportunities, comfortable hiding places, a variety of toys, places to climb, and good scratching surfaces. Spend time each day with your cat. You will then have few if no behavioral problems.
Reward or praise your cat when she behaves in a way you like. She is a cat, not a dog, and does not live to please you; but she does cherish her bond with you, and will want to keep you happy. Never abuse her trust in you. Remember, interactive play with her is a great reward strategy. Many cats crave play sessions and look forward to them eagerly.
A proper consultation with a cat behaviorist normally involves an in-home visit to determine any environmental origins to problems; but those types of consultations also tend to cost what feels like a limb or two. Many cat owners feel their problem with their cat isn’t worth an exorbitant-seeming fee, especially now that times are tight for most of us; and so they end up just putting up with the problem–or getting rid of the cat. This isn’t fair to the cat or her owner, especially when there are many problems that really aren’t that difficult to correct. Always, always keep in mind that some behavior problems can be caused by an underlying physical condition, so it is always wise to be sure your veterinarian has checked your cat to be sure she is in good health before you attempt a solution to the problem.