Tails Blog

Here are a few things I learned about catnip

Steve Coppell - Friday, April 09, 2010

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a plant in the mint family that grows wild as a weed.

Cats under three months of age usually do not respond to catnip. Most older cats typically become excited or aroused as they smell, chew and eat catnip.
They will frequently salivate, roll and rub, and sometimes run and leap in the air when responding to the catnip. It may be applied to scratching posts or used in stuffed toys.

Not all cats are stimulated by catnip to the same degree, and over a third of cats will not respond at all. Strange as it may seem, the different responses are probably due to environmental factors, and the gender of the cat, (males are more likely to respond than females). If a cat that normally responds to catnip is in a strange environment or is anxious, she may not react to the catnip. Cats in certain genetic lines do not react to catnip. No one really understands the genetic trait, but it can be bred into a line through genetic selection.

The cat active ingredient in catnip is nepatalactone. This substance closely resembles a chemical found in the urine of female cats.This would explain why unneutered males generally have more of a reaction to catnip than females and neutered males.

Give catnip no more than once a week or the effects may diminish. Cats love it green and fresh. Bruise it slightly before giving freshly cut stems or leaves. If using dried catnip, store it in a sealed container in the fridge and give up to a teaspoon per cat weekly.


My cat scratches the furniture

Steve Coppell - Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Scratching is a natural behaviour. Cats scratch to mark their territory, to stretch their muscles and for sheer enjoyment. It is impossible to stop a cat from scratching, so the only way to protect the furniture is to train the cat to scratch something more appropriate.

Provide an Alternative
All cats should be provided with at least one scratch post, preferably in an upright design that mimics the basic shape of a tree, something that  the cat can strech its body against to its full height. To fulfill this requirement, a post should be a minumim of 70cm in height.

Whether you provide a home scratcher or buy one, make sure it is securely anchored. If it tips over just once your not likely to get pus near the offending structure ever again, much less scratching it.

Scratch posts should be placed in a common area rather than hidden away when you first bring them home. Scratching cats are usually marking their territory, and the areas of a home they value are often those where their humans spend time. Once the cat has adapted to using the post, you may be able to move it to the far edge of a room or tuck it into a corner.

Train your cat to use a scratch post
Some cats turn up their noses at scratch posts when they first encounter them. You can help your cat develope positive associations with the post.Keep the post near where your cat sleeps. Play with your cat near it, rub or spray catnip into it, attach the cats favorite toys to it and give your cat treats when it uses the post. All these things will encourage the cat to associate the scratcher with its own territory.

Decrease the appeal of your furniture
When you first begin training your cat to use the scratch post, it is also helpful to encourage it to give up habitual scratching areas. Covering a favored scratching area with tin foil, sand paper, or double sided sticky tape will make the surface unappealing to scratch. Once the scratching habit has been broken and the cat has learned to prefer the post the covering can be removed.

Because a scratching cat releases its scent through its paws to mark its territory, its a good idea to thoroughly clean the areas that the cat once scratched to decrease its appeal. If the cat still goes back to scratch these areas, you can pair this behavior with a harmless but unpleasant stimulas. Purchase a spray gun or water bottle and squirt the cat each time it attacks the sofa, or blow a whistle whenever the bad behavior occurs. For those deterants to work, they must be done while the cat is actually scratching. Doing them afterward will simply perplex and upset the cat but not change the behavior because the cat will not make the connection between the two events.

When attempting to change the cats behavior, never use physical punishment. Hitting rarely changes cat behavior for the better, and is in fact more likely to create feelings of insecurity and anxiety in the cat that will result in even worse behavior.

Cat food and your Cats Eating Habits

Steve Coppell - Saturday, November 21, 2009

Did you know?

Cats have only 500 taste buds, compared to 1700 for dogs and 9000 for humans.
Cats eat in cycles, a trait passed down from their ancestors that hunted for food?
Don't mistake these peaks and valleys as signs your cat dislikes its food. Switching petfood brands frequently in response to your pets whims can reinforce bad eating habits and create finicky eaters.
Its important to change your cats diet gradually!
If you change your cats diet , it must be done gradually so that it's intestinal flora can adjust to the new diet.
10 days transition period is recommended. Following this advice will help reduce the risk of diarrhea.