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Lets Start With 10 Fascinating Facts About Cats

A Year is Not Just a Year. The first year of a cats life equals (in terms of development) the first 15 years of a human life. After its second year, a cat is 25 in human years. After that, each year of a cats life is equal to about 7 human years. Far and away the favorite breed of cat registered with the Cat Fanciers Association is the Persian. The hearing of the average cat is at least five times keener than that of a human adult. Cats can rotate their ears 180 degrees. The largest breed of cat is the Ragdoll; the males weigh in at around 20 pounds. Domestic cats spend about 70 percent of the day sleeping and 15 percent of the day grooming. A cat cannot see directly under its nose, which is why it may have a hard time finding tiny treats on the floor. The color of a Himalayans points is heat-related -- cooler spots appear darker. Most cats have no eyelashes. Cats have five toes on each front paw, but only four on the back ones. Its not all that uncommon, though, for cats to have extra toes. The cat with the most toes known had 32, eight on each paw! Superstition dictates that if you dream about a white cat, good luck will follow.

The Five Most Popular Breeds of Purebred Cats for 1997 (according to the Cat Fanciers Association): 1. Persian 2. Maine Coon 3. Siamese 4. Abyssinian 5. Exotic shorthair

First Things First : Can You Train A Cat?

Karen Payne instructs, Jump through the hoop; now sit before I give you a treat. Payne isnt training a dog; shes teaching her 2-year-old cat, Countess Katlyn. Its not that cats cant learn tricks, says Payne. Its just that we never ask them to. Millions of cats are content cuddling with their people on the couch, and most only get a minimum of training instruction. But learning to use a scratching post or to keep off the counters is one thing -- tricks are entirely another. Why Bother? The majority of our pet cats are exclusively indoor residents. As a direct result of living dramatically less precarious lives than their outdoor counterparts, as well as getting expert veterinary care and high quality foods, these millions of indoor cats are living longer than ever before. Thats good news. But, according to Nashville, Tennessee-based feline behaviorist Pam Bennett, The bad news is that many of these millions of cats are bored. Many are even clinically depressed -- and the inactivity contributes to the rise in feline obesity. Not to mention a wide range of confinement-related neuroses. Karen Payne spent nine years performing with Princess Kitty, whom she touted as the worlds smartest cat. The team astounded audiences who watched them on TV or saw them in person in schools, hospitals and nursing homes. While the Princess, who passed away in 1995, did have an amazing repertoire of 100 tricks, Payne says any cat can learn

The Basics Behind Training Your Cat

We cat lovers know that cats are exquisitely intelligent animals - but what, exactly, does intelligence imply? Too often a stereotype is constructed in which dogs are trained and cats are....well, pampered. But training cats can be useful and even fun, both for us and for our supercilious pets. What kinds of tasks can cats learn? Almost anything - as long as they are physically capable and they are motivated. Each animal can learn to do what it

was designed, by nature and evolution, to do. For example, cats are agile creatures that can learn to jump onto high surfaces. No matter how appealing the reward, however, dogs cannot jump that high, even though they may be capable of learning (wanting) to. A cat may be strongly motivated to jump onto kitchen counters when food is occasionally found there. Dogs, on the other hand, are more likely than cats to lie down before their higher-ranking owners (cats are certainly social animals, but they do not form highly structured dominance hierarchies as dogs do) and can therefore be trained easily to lie down on command. If you are determined to teach your cat to lie down on command, it can be done - but the reward better be exceptional, from a feline point of view. To teach an animal any task, the specific behavior must be reinforced (or rewarded). Cats will usually work for food if the food is attractive. Experiment with your own cat to find an appealing food reward. It is most efficient to teach your cat an association between the food and a quick sound such as a clicker. Using a clicker eliminates the need for perfect timing of the food reward. Once such an association is learned, the clicker (or bell, or other sound) can be used to quickly reinforce a desired behavior while the cat is then slowly offered, and accepts, the food reward. A simple rule of training is that newly learned tasks are rewarded each time the task is performed correctly, and then, once learned, rewarded only randomly. There is no need to have food constantly available - as long as it is periodically offered to her, your star performer will continue to do what youve asked. So what kinds of behaviors or tasks might you teach your cat? The first thing that comes to mind is use of a litter box for elimination. Luckily, urinating and defecating in diggable material comes naturally to most cats and, therefore, does not need to be trained. However, cats with the unfortunate habit of urinating or defecating outside the litter box may benefit from behavior modification, or training, to use the litter box instead. If your cat is habitually eliminating outside the litter box, try bringing her gently to the box once or twice daily and, if she then eliminates inside it, rewarding her for her efforts. At the same time, restrict her from the undesired bathroom area or cover it temporarily with thick vinyl. If the inappropriate urination or defecation continues, ask your veterinarian for assistance with this sometimes complicated behavior problem. Cats that spend part of their time outside - and twice as much time trying to get someone to open the door for them - might appreciate learning the trick of signaling at the door. Being smart animals, they often learn independently that meowing or scratching at the door will bring their human running to let them in or out. In this case, the opened door might be considered the desirable reward. Try hanging a small but loud bell (try a parrot toy bell) on a string on the door, at your cats eye level. Enlist the help of all family members to ignore the meowing, scratching and other efforts to get your attention. Eventually, your cat will touch that bell and make it ring - at which point you might leap up to open the door. If

this is repeated several times, your cat will soon learn to ring that bell deliberately. Cats are also quick to learn tricks such as fetching a toy, jumping through a hoop or simply sitting on command. Training can be useful, however, for reasons other than simple fun. Even young children enjoy having a vocabulary with their feline pets, and such purposeful activity is better for the cat than simply being carried from place to place. Playfully aggressive cats or those who exhibit statusrelated irritable behavior also benefit from learning tricks - again, it provides a way to interact with humans that distracts the cat from her conflicted social behavior. Cats learn quickly, for example, that their humans will accept only appropriate (e.g., sitting) behavior at certain times. Humans learn quickly, as well, that reward-based training results in much less irritability or play-biting than prolonged petting might. Is learning tricks, in general, a fun pastime for your cat? Think of it this way: there is little likelihood that she would humor you if it werent.

Teach Your Cat To Come

Anne Gordon, author of Show Biz Tricks for Cats (Adams Media Corporation, 1996), says, As a culture, we have an impression that cats should be off in a corner somewhere, lazing around. While cats are certainly different from dogs, theyre not all that aloof and independent. When cats fetch, or follow commands like sit or shake, people say the cat is being dog-like. Not at all, Gordon says. You simply have a responsive cat, more alert to you, with a more active mind. And the exercise is good. All in all, you have a happier cat. Karen Payne spent nine years performing with Princess Kitty, whom she touted as the worlds smartest cat. The team astounded audiences who watched them on TV or saw them in person in schools, hospitals and nursing homes. While the Princess, who passed away in 1995, did have an amazing repertoire of 100 tricks, Payne says any cat can learn. Learning at least one command may save your cats life. If you can only teach your cat one thing, teach the come command, says Payne. If Princess Kitty somehow got loose from her harness or there was a fire and I needed to call her, I knew she would come when I called. When most cats are called, its true theyll turn a cool shoulder and slink off in the opposite direction. It doesnt mean these cats cant learn to come, and it doesnt mean these cats dont know their names or what youre asking. It does mean you havent convinced your smart cat its in its best interest to come.

Gordon explains, Cats are more egotistical than dogs. Dogs have been bred for millions of years to please their people. And dogs will instinctively obey dominant pack members. When you think about it, many cats already know the come command -- except instead of reacting to their names, they respond to the electric can opener or the opening of the fridge door. Gordon says you can teach any cat of any age to come, even the most finicky of felines who you might have given up as hopeless. Pair the cats name with sound; the can opener can suffice, but using a little diner bell or a whistle is more practical. Begin with the cat nearby, and every time youre about to feed kitty, shake the bell or toot the whistle as you repeat, Flossy, come! Naturally, the cat will smell the food and respond. Then extend the distance. Once kitty is responding at a run, youre ready to chime the bell or whistle at unexpected times and from other places in the house. You can make the game even more exciting by sometimes offering just plain old food (just before the cats usual feeding time), but at other times rewarding with tidbits of chicken (some trainers use chicken baby food) , liver treats or anything else your cat really loves. Soon, you can phase out the bell or whistle, and just call, Flossy, come! The response will be as automatic as it is in the most obedient dog. For a great kitty workout, and as an upbeat way for the kids to interact with the cat, play hide-and-seek. Begin simply by hiding around the corner and calling, "Flossy, come! Soon, you can hide under tables or behind furniture and Flossy will bolt around the house until she finds the person with the tasty morsel.

How To Teach Your Cat To Sit In 10 Minutes

You can teach your cat to sit in less than 10 minutes. Of course, youll have to repeat the routine for your kitty to remember it. Repetition and consistency are the hallmarks of all good training. Place your cat on an elevated surface, such as a table. It may assist you if the cats back is to a wall. Allow kitty to get a good whiff of your bribe. When the cat shows interest, slowly raise the morsel (you may place the goodie in a teaspoon or between your fingers) along an invisible line from the cats nose to a point between its ears. Dont raise the treat too quickly or too high over the cats ears. Say the cats name, the command sit, and then click the clicker while presenting the reward when kitty does what you want. Now, praise your smart cat, and pet her.

If the cat isnt following the treat, either your kitty isnt hungry, youre waving the treat too high above the cat or that goodie doesnt smell good enough. Repeat these training sessions often enough and eventually your cat will sit at your feet whenever he or she is in the mood for a treat. Dont overdo compliance, or youll have a cat who is training you. Ask friends and relatives to command your cat to sit for a treat. Soon, Kitty will be more outgoing, and more interested in sitting for your guest, hoping for the possibility

Training Your Cat To Do Tricks

Although some cats will respond to positive reinforcement, most cats generally do better if they are working for food rewards. If you use soft moist cat food or dry food as a treat, you will lessen the chance of disturbing a properly balanced diet. If your cat has performed a certain task you have asked of him, make sure you not only reward him with a food treat but with verbal praise as well. You will have more success if you work with one command at a time. As with any kind of training you have to be consistent. Let your cat work at his or her own speed. When you see even the slightest glimmer that your cat understands the behavior you are trying to teach, reward him or her enthusiastically. Here are a few you may want to try. Come Try teaching this one at mealtime. Use your cat's name followed by the command "come." If necessary, tap on his food bowl to get his attention. When he comes, praise him lavishly and then give him the food. Eventually, your cat will associate the food with the command and then you will be on your way to owning a trained cat. Shake Hands Cats will naturally try to use their paws, so this is not a hard command to teach. With your cat sitting in front of you, touch his paw and say "shake." As soon as he reacts and lifts his paw, shake it and give him verbal approval along with a treat. Remember to be consistent here and repeat the command the same way each time. Sit-Up Start with your cat on a footstool or other raised area, place your cat into sitting position. Hold a treat over your cat's head and say "sit-up." Do not give him his reward if he stands or grabs at the treat, just repeat the command and wait for him to try and accomplish the behavior you have requested of him. When he does accomplish the desired behavior, give him the treat right away and repeat the command several times. Wave

Swiping at a morsel of food is a natural behavior for a cat. Hold a treat in your hand. Place it in front of the cat's nose but just out of reach of his front paws. Then, move it back and forth with your hands in a waving motion while telling your cat to "wave." As your cat reaches out for the food, it will appear as if he is waving. Once his motion simulates the waving behavior, praise him and give him a treat

Tricks and Commands

Can you teach a cat tricks? In a word, yes! A "trick" can be any simple task that would come naturally to the cat (or dog, rabbit, parrot, even goldfish). Some examples for cats are sitting down, jumping through a low hoop, and retrieving a thrown toy. Although some cats admittedly are more willing to learn than others, your efforts can be rewarded (with some fun activities for both of you). If the "trick" itself involves fun or food, it can be self-rewarding. What treats capture your cat's interests? Consider commercial treats, tuna, olives, popcorn, catnip, or anything for which your cat will "work." Once you have a reward in hand, the key, as with training any species, is patience. Does your cat naturally retrieve crumpled balls of paper? Have a treat ready the next time she brings one back to you. Does she naturally attempt to eat a piece of food held out to her? Place a small hoop between her and the food, and immediately reward her for stepping through. As long as reinforcement is consistent and welltimed (immediately following the desired behavior), you'll soon find yourself with a happily compliant performer. Important Starting Notes Keep the training sessions short. You want your cat to enjoy his training, not to be bored or annoyed by it. Always precede a command with your cat's name. We'll use the name Scooter .i.e."Scooter, down. Always hit the clicker at the exact moment your cat is performing the desired behavior. Even the slightest mistiming could reinforce the wrong behavior. Always give your cat his food reward immediately after you give your signal noise. This way, he knows the signal means a reward.

Remember that you are trying to reinforce the spoken command. And after your cat has performed the behavior correctly and is rewarded, continue repeating the command in a positive way- i.e. Sit, good sit. Make sure your cat succeeds. If your cat isnt succeeding with the desired behavior, youre progressing to quickly. Go back to the previous training until you and your cat understand each other. Cats need the positive reinforcement that comes with success. Teach your cat only one new behavior at a time. You can reinforce tricks your cat has mastered, but do not confuse him by teaching him more than one new behavior at a time. We recommend using a spoon to hold the food reward when training your cat. This way you can reward the cat from the spoon without constantly bending over. The spoon also comes in handy for tricks where you hold the food over or in front of the cat. Come On Command Once your cat comes to his feeding area at the sound of the clicker, this trick is an easy step. Its like a game of hide and seek for you and your cat. The goal is for your cat to come to you in any location when you give the command come and hit the clicker. Eventually, your cat should come to you on just the spoken command, with you hitting the clicker as his signal that he has done correctly. What Youll Need:

Your cat at mealtime. Quiet room where the cat is comfortable. A specific command and gesture - in this case, the word "come" preceded by your cat's name- i.e. "Scooter, come. Your signal (buzzer, clicker). The reward (his favorite food, special treats, etc).

Training Steps 1. Make sure the cat is within hearing distance. 2. Clearly give the command "Scooter, come" then hit the clicker two or three times. 3. When the cat comes to you, hit the clicker again and say "come, good come" in a praising way. Immediately give him his food reward. 4. Move to a new location and repeat this pattern. 5. Eventually, your cat should come to the command "come." Then you will hit the clicker just as a reward signal when your cat gets to you. After you hit the clicker, immediately give him his food reward.

Sit This command is a foundation for many other ticks and behaviors. Your goal is to have your cat sit down when you give the command "sit". What You'll Need :

Your cat before mealtime. A quiet area where the cat is comfortable. A specific command and gesture - in this case, the word "sit" preceded by your cat's name i.e. "Scooter, sit". Your signal (buzzer, clicker) . The reward (his favorite food, special treats, etc.) A spoon to hold the reward.

Training Steps 1. Gently put the cat on the table at the edge closest to you and pet him so he is comfortable. 2. Give the command "Scooter, sit" while moving the spoon with his food reward over his head. 3. As he tips his head back following the food, he will sit to keep his balance. When he sits, hit the clicker and say "sit, good sit. Immediately give him his food reward. 4. Eventually you should repeat this pattern until your cat responds to the command "sit" without having to move the food over his head. 5. Once your cat has learned this behavior, you no longer need to place the cat on the table to sit. Note: In the beginning, if your cat does not sit on his own, you can gently press down on his hindquarters. Then hit the clicker and say "sit, good sit. This will be easy with some cats others may resist being helped into sitting. Be gentle and patient. Remember not to frustrate or frighten your cat. If he resists, try again another time. It's always better to have him sit on his own. Sit Up Sitting up, like a dog's "beg," is one of the simplest behaviors to teach your cat. Cats often assume this position naturally. Your goal is to have cat sit up on his haunches when you give the command "sit up" while you hold the food reward above him - and eventually on the command alone. What You'll Need :

Your cat before mealtime.

A specific command and gesture - in this case, the word "sit up" preceded by your cat's name i.e. "Scooter, sit up. The reward (his favorite food, special treats, etc.). A spoon to hold the reward.

Training steps 1. Gently sit the cat on the table at the edge closest to you and pet him so he is comfortable. 2. Give the command "Scooter, sit up" while holding the spoon with the food directly above the cat (but not close enough where he can grab it). 3. When he stands on his hind legs or haunches and reaches for the food in the manner you want him to, hit the clicker and say "up, good sit up." Immediately give him his food reward. 4. Eventually you cat should respond to the command "sit up" without the food held above him. 5. Once your cat has learned this behavior, you no longer need to place the cat on a table to do a sit up. Note: If your cat stands on his back legs verses sitting on his haunches, slowly move the food back over his head. To keep from tipping over, he will sit down on his haunches. Remember to hit your signal when he is in the position you want. Laying Down Teaching your cat to lay down on command is another "table top" trick. Your goal is to have your cat lay down on the command "down." What You'll Need:

Your cat before mealtime. A quiet area where the cat is comfortable. A table for the cat. A specific command and gesture - in this case, the word "down" preceded by your cat's name. Your signal (buzzer, clicker). The reward (his favorite food, special treats, etc.).

Training Steps 1. Gently sit the cat on the table at the edge closest to you and pet him so he is comfortable. 2. Give the command "Scooter, down" while holding the food reward in one hand slightly below and in front of the table (but not close enough where he can grab it). 3. When the cat lowers* for the food into a laying position, hit the clicker and say

"down, good down." Immediately give him his food reward. 4. Eventually your cat should respond to the command "down" and your downward gesturing hand without the food being held below the table's edge. 5. Once your cat has learned this behavior consistently, you no longer need to place the cat on a table. *Note: Like in sit, in the beginning, you might have to gently help your cat into position for this trick. Be gentle and patient. Remember not to frustrate or frighten your cat. If he resists, try again another time. Touching a Prop This behavior is fun to teach your cat because it is easy and can be used in a variety of ways. The goal is for your cat to touch a prop object with his front paw when you give the command "foot" or "paw. You should only teach this trick when your cat has accomplished a consistent sit on command. What You'll Need:

Your cat before mealtime A table for the cat. An object for the cat to touch that is sturdy and will not fall over when the cat touches it (like a small toy or a stack of books). A specific command and gesture - the word "foot" or "paw" proceeded by your cat's name. * Your signal (buzzer, clicker). The reward (his favorite food, special treats, etc.).

Training Steps 1. Instruct your cat to sit on the table following the instructions provided under "sit." 2. Place the object at the edge if the table between you and the cat. 3. Hold the food reward directly in front of your cat so the object is between the cat and the food. 4. Give the command "Scooter, foot (paw)" while tapping the object with your other hand. 5. As he reaches for the food, if he touches or steps on the object, hit the clicker and say "foot (paw), good foot (paw)." Immediately give him his food reward. 6. If he isn't touching the object, try slightly waving the food reward so he is apt to bat at it. Again if his foot touches the object hit the clicker and reward him. 7. Eventually your cat should respond to the command "foot (paw)" and your tapping the object. 8. Once your cat has learned this behavior consistently, you no longer need to place the cat on a table.

*Note: You may want to try using a different command for each front paw, such as "foot" for his right paw and "paw" for his left paw. You can then train your cat to use a specific paw to touch an object. Walking On A Leash Responsible cat owners will find this behavior has important safety benefits. With the dangers of dogs, disease, cars and unwanted litters, having your cat on leash when outdoors is a good way to ensure he has many happy, healthy years. Leash training a cat is very similar to leash training a puppy. It takes time and patience. The difference is, when people are leash training a struggling, pulling puppy, they persist with patience. They know eventually the puppy will learn. With a cat, as soon as he objects, the owner gives up. Well, don't give up. Your cat can get used to a leash just as well as your dog. Your goal is to be able to take your cat outdoors on a leash and walk short distances using the command "heel." What You'll Need :

Your cat before mealtime. A harness (not a collar) and a short leash. A specific command and gesture - the word "heel" preceded by your cat's name. Your signal (buzzer, clicker). The reward (his favorite food, special treats, etc.). A spoon to hold the reward. (You may also want to tape the spoon to a stick or wooden dowel so you won't have to bend over.)

Training Steps 1. Spend a week or two getting the cat used to the harness. Put it on him when you feed him so he develops a positive "association" with his harness. Remember to click the clicker while the cat is eating with the harness on. 2. After your cat is comfortable with the harness, you may attach the leash. Be sure to start the leash training inside your home so your cat feels safe and secure. 3. Put the cat down at your side and hold onto the leash. 4. Give the command "Scooter, heel" while you slowly move forward holding a piece of food in front of the cat. 5. When he takes a step or two forward toward the food, hit the clicker and say "heel, good heel." Immediately give him his food reward. 6. Repeat this pattern, each time taking a step or two more until your cat responds to the command "heel" and moves forward as you do. 7. Do not take this trick outdoors until your cat is very comfortable with the

harness and leash. When you do go outdoors, take it slow - let him explore the area in front of your home at first before venturing out into the neighborhood. Note: Although cats can be leashed trained just like dogs, they will not "trot around the block" like dogs. When you walk with your cat outdoors, he may stop frequently and examine the world around him. Over time, he will come to enjoy his leash and harness.


Eight Steps to the Practically Perfect Kitten
1. Interact with kittens as soon as possible. Studies show that a litter of kittens born in a location inaccessible to humans will, as early as two to three weeks, hiss at humans. A litter of kittens from the same mother, if handled daily, will not react fearfully. Some research suggests that handling kittens each day during the first month of their lives may improve their learning ability. Kittens tend to react more readily to humans when the mother cat is present. The belief is that she does not send alarming signals to her kittens and her presence reassures them. The February 1993 Animal Health Newsletter published by the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine reports a study indicating that handling kittens very early in life accelerates their development. Siamese kittens handled 20 minutes a each day during their first 30 days of life opened their eyes earlier and emerged from their nesting box earlier than littermates not handled that way. 2. Recognize the importance of play as it helps introduce young kittens to their environment. During this critical play period when kittens are four to eight weeks of age, socialization to humans is extremely important. Frequent handling and petting of the young kitten can make it more responsive to his owner when he becomes an adult cat. Introducing a young kitten to many people is important in socializing kittens to humans. This seems to lessen their fear of strangers as adult cats. Kittens should also be introduced to children and children should be shown how to pet them. A kitten not socialized with children may reject them after it has matured. 3. Provide a healthy start with regular visits to a veterinarian. All kittens, even strictly indoor cats, should be vaccinated to protect them from deadly

diseases. Some viruses travel through the air or may be brought into the house on peoples clothing or shoes. There is also a risk that an indoor at may get outside or that a disease-carrying cat may wander into the yard or even get in the house. 4. Be aware that a kittens rapid growth and high energy requirements present a special nutritional need. Research show that a kitten grows from infancy to young adulthood in approximately one year. During its first 20 weeks a kitten can have a 2,000 percent increase over its birth weight. At 26 weeks of age, the growth level starts to level off. However, a kitten continues to develop inside with normal growth ending at about one year of age. This is why foods formulated to meet this growth pattern, such as Purina Kitten Chow brand kitten food are recommended for a kittens first year. They provide the extra protein, calcium, phosphorus and other nutrients kittens need for normal, healthy growth. 5. Establish a grooming routine for you and your kitten. When a kitten becomes accustomed to grooming, it will be easier to groom as it matures. Longhaired cats should be groomed daily. Shorthaired cats should be groomed at least one or twice a week. Appropriate grooming equipment for longhairs and shorthairs is available at pet shops. 6. The grooming routine should include a careful inspection for external parasites such as fleas or ticks and skin disorders such as ringworm. Grooming also provides an opportunity to accustom a kitten to be examined for lumps or skin lesions. If any are observed, prompt veterinary treatment is recommended. During the examination check for: - eyes that are clear and bright. Any discharge from the eyes is usually a sign of illness - ears that are clean and pink. Redness or sores or an offensive odor may be an indication of ear mites or bacterial infection. - teeth should be clean and gums free of any soreness. 7. Set ground rules for your kittens behavior and be consistent in working with your kitten to enforce these rules. Once you have decided on a name for your kitten, enlist the cooperation of family members by calling the kitten only by that name. Some misbehavior results from a kittens desire to play. Provide diversions such as toys made for kittens (look for this information on the product label), a scratching post, box, a crumpled piece of paper or a golf ball.

Avoid rough play with your kitten which encourages scratching and/or biting. Pinpricks from tiny teeth and claws can become bites and scratches as a kitten matures. Kittens are sensitive to the tone of voice. When you see your kitten being naughty, a firm no usually stops the misdeed. If your kitten develops a bad habit and you catch your kitten in the act, a squirt from a toy pistol or spray bottle is usually an effective deterrent. 8. Begin training your kitten to use a litter box immediately. A plastic or enamel pan is easy to clean and will not rust. Fill it with a commercial cat litter such as Tidy Cats brand Cat Box Filler. Keep the pan in a secluded area in your house. Place your kitten in the litter after meals, after periods of energetic play, long naps, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Be consistent in taking your kitten to the litter pan during this training. Do not allow your kitten freedom of the house until you are certain he is using his litter pan regularly. Make certain you keep the litter pan clean. Many cats will not use soiled litter. A sieve or scoop designed for cleaning cat litter is available at pet supply stores and departments. When you change the litter, wash the pan with soap and warm water. Do not use strong disinfectants not specifically designed for use around cats. For sanitary purposes, wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning the litter pan.

Scratching is a biological necessity for your cat. So you can't really punish her for clawing the furniture, unless you have provided her with an alternative like a scratching post. If your cat has already scratched something, cover it with plastic and she will likely turn to the post instead. When you catch your cat scratching furniture, try squirting her with a water pistol or squirt bottle and use a firm "no." When she scratches her scratching post, reward her with praise

Spraying Many cats use urine to mark their territory. This behavior is called spraying. Instead of squatting and urinating in a puddle, the cat will raise its tail and squirt the urine backward toward the object it is trying to mark. Both males and females spray.

As a rule, cats will start to exhibit this behavior when they feel their territory is threatened. For instance, some indoor cats may feel threatened and start spraying in the house if an outdoor cat makes its presence known at the window. Cat Urine Cat urine actually glows in the dark, so if you know its there, use a UV light to mark the spot. Cat urine is difficult, but not impossible to remove. Be sure to thoroughly clean soiled areas of carpet with a commercial product designed for that purpose (ask at your pet store). If the scent is not eliminated, the cat may return to the scene of the crime and repeat the offense. A clean, strategically placed cat box should prevent this problem. Some cats require privacy, so a box placed in a high-traffic area can lead to trouble

Troubleshooting your cats behavior Problems

Having cat behavior problems? Here are 5 correctable causes: TerritorySome cats will not use litter used by another cat. Multiple litter boxes are an option. Never have more than two cats per litter box. Litter ChoiceAny cat may resist a new filler if it smells or feels different, so mix in a new type of filler a little bit at a time. If your cat still doesn't adapt, stick with your original filler. Because of a kitten's playful nature, you may prefer a conventional clay-type filler. Dirty Litter BoxCats are very fussy about cleanliness. Remove waste daily and replace conventional litter weekly. But don't clean the box with ammonia. Cats have an aversion to it. Try using warm water and a mild soap - rinse thoroughly. PrivacyAvoid placing the litter box in a high-traffic area. Most cats, like humans, prefer privacy. IllnessCats can't talk, but they can give you clues. One of the most common symptoms of Feline Urinary Syndrome (FUS) is failure to use the litter box. FUS is a life-threatening illness. If symptoms persist, see your veterinarian

Why Kittens "Misbehave"

A kitten does not misbehave to make trouble. His behavior is largely based on instinct, and the way you react to your kitten will affect his habits for life. Remember that your kitten has feelings. He deserves kindness, good treatment, and responsible care. Kittens are sensitive to tone of voice. When you see a

kitten being naughty a firm NO usually stops him. If he develops a bad habit, a squirt of water from a spray bottle or a toy water pistol is generally an effective determent. Some misbehavior results from a kittens desire to play; the kitten may be bored and looking for something to do. Provide diversions such as toys safe for cats, a box, a crumpled piece of paper or a plastic golf ball. Your kitten may disturb you by playing at night, since cats are nocturnal animals that instinctively sleep in the daytime and hunt at night. You can help alter this behavior by playing with your kitten in the early evening, to use up some of his excess energy. Feeding him his last meal early may also help since hell probably get a burst of energy shortly after eating. Also, do not feed him or play with him if he awakens you, this only rewards such behavior. If you notice a definite change in your kittens behavior, try to find out what is causing this problem and how you can correct it: is there a new baby in the house, a new type of cat litter, a change in the kittens diet? If you cannot solve it, ask your veterinarian for help

Everyday General Behavior Tips you can use

Whether you keep your cat indoors or let it weather the elements outside, there are certain things you need to know about your cats behavior. Many mistakes have been made by owners who think they can discipline a cat as they would a dog. Unlike dogs, cats form social groups based on respecting territory, not by respecting the "top dog," so overpowering or hitting your cat will only make it fear you, not alter its behavior. As even the best cats occasionally create a little havoc, here are some effective tips for changing undesirable behavior in your cat and keeping it out of situations that might mean trouble. Teach your cat an alternate way to behave:

Since cats hate to be surprised, water bottles, clapping, hissing, and other sudden noises help to stop unwanted behavior. Remember, immediacy is key. You must respond as soon as the cat starts the unwanted behavior. Push the palm of your hand into the cat's face and say "No!" - to discourage biting. Catproof your home. Keep food in containers and breakable objects out of reach.

INDOOR CATS Plants You like plants and so does your cat...only for different reasons. Cats are frequently fascinated with house plants and their attention can range from

chewing on the plant leaves, which may be poisonous to your cat, to using your plant as a litter box. To discourage chewing, try spraying cayenne pepper on the leaves. For digging or urinating in the plant soil, try covering the dirt with aluminum foil or gravel. Drape/Curtain Climbing If possible, use tension rods. The tension rods will simply fall down on top of the cat if it tries to climb them. Vertical blinds also work very well; cats cannot climb up them, cannot shred them, and cannot shed on them. Furthermore, it's easy for cats to push them aside to look outside. Electrical Cord Chewing Put something distasteful on the cord to discourage chewing. Effective substances to try include hot pepper sauce, cayenne pepper, nail-biting nail polish, or orange/lemon peel. If you cannot find a substance to keep your cat away from electrical wires, try wrapping them in heavy tape. Biting To discourage biting, a loud scream or hissing sometimes works. Otherwise, try letting your hand go limp and ignoring your cat for a few minutes. Then, offer a toy to bite on instead. Garbage The best way to prevent your cat from getting into the garbage is to keep it safely out of reach or get a garbage container with a lid that is tight and secure. Do NOT start with a container that's easy to get into, then gradually move to harder and harder containers. This will just train your cat to become more and more skilled at getting into the containers. Counters There are several ways to prevent your cat from going on your kitchen counters or tabletops. First, remember not to leave food on the counter. Then, try leaving a collection of poorly balanced kitchen utensils or empty aluminum cans with a few coins inside on the counter near the edge, so the cat will knock them off if it jumps up. Your cat will not like the loud noise or the surprise. Ripping Carpet Some cats may develop the habit of ripping up carpet. There are several possible reasons behind this, listed below. In all circumstances, be sure that there are plenty of items that the cat can scratch.

Other "approved" scratching posts may be made of carpet, confusing your cat. Switch to scratching materials that do NOT use carpet. Common alternatives include sisal rope, corrugated cardboard, or carpet turned wrong-way out. Retrain your cat onto these items.

Some cats rip at doorways that are closed, trying to get through. You can put down plastic carpet covering, securing it with nails if necessary, through the doorway so that it sticks out on both sides. A particular spot may be favored, for no apparent reason. There may be some odor at that spot. Try cleaning it thoroughly with an enzyme-based cleaner.

Furniture Scratching Scratching is one of your cats most ingrained instincts. Unless you have your cat declawed, you can expect it to scratch. The idea is to train it to use a scratching post instead of the couch or drapes. Good scratching posts are about 30" tall and have a wide, non-tip base. Keep it where the cat usually sleeps or, if your cat is already scratching something other than the post, next to its favorite scratching spot. Everytime you see the cat scratching something other than its post, scold him, carry him to the post and move his claws on it. Repeating this every time will teach the cat where it is allowed to scratch. If you're not home to supervise your cat, strong-smelling furniture polish rubbed on your furniture will help it to choose the scratching post over the furniture.

OUTDOOR CATS As a cat owner, you should be considerate of your neighbors by making sure your cat doesn't annoy them. You should keep your cat inside, supervise it when outside, and be sure to bring it inside at night. All cats allowed to roam outside should, of course, be neutered. Your Garden Between digging and eating your plants, cats can do considerable damage to a garden. There are a number of ways to keep cats from digging in, chewing on, or altogether eliminating your garden.

Plant catnip in another corner of the garden to divert your cat's attention. Put chicken wire down and plant between the wire. Cats dislike walking on it. Since cats respect each other's territory, try using a lifesize statue of a cat in your garden. Check your local pet shop for products specifically formulated to keep animals out of your yard. Place lemon peels or slivers of soap dipped in cayenne pepper around your garden. Cats hate water, so surprising them by turning on your sprinkler can be very effective.

Keeping Your Cat in Your Yard There are some radio transmitter products for cats, where the perimeter of the yard is marked with a wire that will activate an electric collar on the cat. These should be used in strict accordance with their instructions and in conjunction with a visible fence that the cat can use as a visual reminder of its constraints. Spraying In addition to urinating out of physiological necessity, many cats use their urine to mark their territory. This behavior is called urine spraying. Instead of squatting and urinating in a big puddle, the cat will raise its tail and squirt the urine backwards toward the object it is trying to mark. Both males and females spray urine. As a rule, cats will start to exhibit this behavior when they feel their territory is threatened. For instance, some indoor cats may feel threatened and start spraying in the house if an outdoor cat makes its presence known at the window

Keeping Your Cat Happy When You're Away

Cats are being taken for granted, despite the fact that they have replaced mans perennial best friend as the nations most popular pet. According to the 1996-97 American Pet Products Manufacturers Association survey, there are 66 million pet cats in the U.S., pouncing on 54.6 million dogs. Cats dont require daily walks and theyre more self-reliant than their canine counterparts, which may be part of the explanation for their surge in popularity. It can be argued that cats generally dont miss their owners presence as much as the typical dog, who waits at the door pining for their return, says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, veterinary behaviorist at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts. Cats continue to party in the owners absence, and that requires an outlet. Kitties without an acceptable outlet will create their own for example, shredding drapes or tearing through garbage amusements that can lead to catastrophe. By creating an in-home virtual playground, you can give your cat plenty of amusements while youre away and even when youre at home. Jacque Schultz, behavior counselor and director of companion services at the ASPCA in New York City, points out that a cat can have 50 mouse toys and still be really bored. The same toys left out all the time get old, she says. Instead, rotate three to four toys on a weekly basis.

Dead prey. Thats how feline behaviorist Pam Johnson of Nashville, Tennessee, refers to an inanimate mouse toy. At least some of your cats toys should be mobile or have movable parts to appeal to your cats natural curiosity or its predatory drive. And these toys dont necessarily require a major financial investment. Johnson says that whenever she receives a package in the mail or purchases a product with a box, she places the box upside down with ping-pong balls or other cat toys inside it for her cats. Paper bags (please, not plastic bags) are also fun for exploration. When a box of tissues empties, Johnson sticks a pair of walnuts or ping-pong balls inside. Dodman freezes dry cat food in ice cubes, giving the cat a chance to work for its meal and the added plus of cooling off on hot days. He also suggests hiding food, allowing the cat to play its natural role of stealthy predator. Cat dancer-type toys (fishing poles with little birds or feathers at the end) may be propped into secure places, such as between books on a bookshelf or between the cushions on the couch, and your cat may spend half the day batting at it. (Make sure there are no dangling strings that may be swallowed.) Schultz likes feline-powered turbo-track toys. The cat paws at a mouse, which then goes round and round on a track. Johnson, who is also the author of Hiss and Tell (The Crossing Press, Freed, California, 1996: .95) suggests constructing plastic cat tunnels, which are available at pet stores, giving the cat her own place to play

Proof Positive: Cats Are Good For Kids

Proof Positive: Pets are Good for Kids If youre a parent, you know that the times when you look and feel and sound like your own parents on their worst days are inevitable. You try to stop it, but there it is, coming right out of your mouth, and at full volume: Am I talking to the wall? Not while youre living in this house, you wont! or worst of all, the completely frazzled, Because I said so! And thats one of the reasons our kids can benefit from pets. We all need a little unconditional love, but its better yet if we can get a small share of the blind, deaf and dumb variety of adoration and approval seldom offered by any two-legged creature. Its the kind we get from companion animals, most of all dogs and cats. The greatest benefit of a good kid/pet relationship is the security a child feels in the pets love. No matter how bad the day, how low the grade, or how entirely inappropriate the table manners, a four-legged friend loves you all the same. Hell be grounded with you; and he wont mind at all, because you, beloved child, are with him.

Pet Smarts? According to Kansas State University sociologist Robert Poresky, the quality of the home environment for a child is the most influential factor in increasing a childs intelligence scores, but adding a relationship with a pet to a wellestablished home life is a significant factor in facilitating cognitive and social development. Generally, we see some increases in IQ scores and measures of cognitive functioning, he says. And if we look at empathy, the understanding of other peoples feelings, children who interact with pets score higher on our measurements. The Professor Poresky notes that when selecting a pet for a child, parents need to look at a couple of important factors. If youre dealing with children, you want a pet thats relatively calm and well-behaved, and that has a history of being able to get along with kids, Poresky says. And if you are going to get a pet for a young child, it has to be one thats not going to knock the kid over. Poresky points out that age is also important when placing the responsibility of a pet on a child. Young kids, Im not sure they are ready to take on the responsibility of a pet, he says. While they may benefit from the companionship, they shouldnt be expected to be its primary caretaker. Poreskys findings may be especially important for only children, particularly those who may not get much social interaction with other kids. But to anyone whos ever felt warmed, heartened or just better during the bad times because of a pets love, Poreskys claim isnt really news. Its simply confirmation of a heartfelt conviction

How To Help A Depressed Cat

Cats become depressed for many of the same reasons people do. Often its because of a major life change, such as the pet owners divorcing, the death of a family member or pet, the kids going off to college, or the addition of a new family member into the household anything that significantly disrupts the cats ability to predict and control its life. Pam Johnson Bennett, a feline behaviorist in Nashville, Tennessee, says the fact that kitty doesnt have the inside story can exacerbate the problem. For example, if the pet owners are separating or divorcing, the cat will not understand why the husband and wife are arguing with each other, or why certain people have suddenly disappeared from the house. That can make the cat feel unsettled or depressed.

During a crisis such as a death in the family or divorce, the cat may approach its owner, expecting that person to act like he or she usually does. But the owner may be crying or act very withdrawn and not pay much attention to the cat. So suddenly everything in the cats world turns upside down, Bennett explains. If you are feeling down, chances are, your cat will feel the same. Your cat can easily pick up on your emotions, Bennett says. If your cat thinks your world is falling apart, that worries the cat because if your world is falling apart, it thinks its world will too. But you dont have to have a major crisis in your family for your cat to feel downin-the dumps. Lack of activity or exercise, a poor diet, boredom, or long hours of being left home alone all can cause a pet cat to be depressed. Perhaps the wife who had been a stay-at-home mom goes back to work full time. Try to monitor how you are presenting yourself to your cat and be as cheerful as possible when you are around it. If you think your cat is simply lonely or bored, provide some outlets to keep it happy while you are away from home. Buy some new cat toys and put the old ones in storage. Rotate toys occasionally for variety. Tie a toy to a rope and suspend it from a chair. Leave an empty paper bag on the floor for your cat to bat around. Buy a window perch for your cat so it can watch the great outdoors. Fill the food bowl with some enticing, new flavors. Rub some catnip on the scratching post for a surprise that your cat will discover when it walks by. Be creative in thinking of ways to keep your cat entertained when you arent around. When you are home, make a special effort to interact with your cat. Try to greet kitty the minute you come home from work. Talk to the cat while you cook dinner. Let it sit on your lap as you watch television. Take it for a walk after your evening meal. Start a trick training program. Dont let a day go by without spending at least a half-hour of one-on-one time with your cat. If your cats depression persists, consult a certified animal behaviorist or veterinarian who can recommend the appropriate kind of anti-depressant or antianxiety drug. The drugs should not be used as a solution in and of themselves, but as an adjunct to behavior therapy, Wright says. Once the behavior starts to turn around, then in cooperation with the referring veterinarian, you can start to wean the cat off of the drug gradually from week to week. Most importantly, dont just ignore your cats depression and think it will just get over it by itself. Often when theres a reason for the cat to be depressed, theres also a reason for the owner to be depressed, such as during a family crisis, Bennett says. It may be hard to think of your cat when your life is in upheaval, but your cat is suffering too and it needs your help. Making the effort to cheer up

your cat will not only help it adjust, it may also help you. A snuggly little kitty can make anyone feel better

Everything You Need To Know About Litter Box Behavior

A change in litter habits can indicate serious health problems, try to be aware of your cats habits. If you notice a change or suspect a problem, have your cat examined by a veterinarian. Other considerations:

Cats are meticulous and will avoid a foul-smelling litter box. For best results, remove waste and clumps (scoop users) daily. Routinely stir regular and Tidy Cats Crystals fillers, allowing granules to dry and absorb odors. Periodically wash box and replace litter. Keep 2-3 inches of clay litter in the box so urine doesnt soak to the bottom. Only 1 2 of Tidy Cats Crystals is necessary. Use a liner to protect the box and make cleaning easier. If you have more than two cats, you need multiple litter boxes (2 cats per box is the max). Some cats will not use litter used by another cat. If you are experiencing odor problems, try Tidy Cats Crystals with advanced micropore technology that evaporates moisture and traps odor. If you prefer clay litter, try a filler with a time-release deodorizing agent like Tidy Cats Long-Lasting Odor Control. If you notice your cat eating litter, you should contact your veterinarian - it may be a sign of an underlying health problem

Housebreaking/soiling the house: Kittens and cats have a natural affinity to using a litter box, but it is important the help your kitten get off to a good start. The first step to ensure successful housetraining is to make sure you have the right equipment. If the kitten was using litter prior to coming in your home, make sure you use the same type of litter. The litter box should be made of a washable material such as plastic. The sides must be low enough for the kitten to enter, but high enough to contain the litter. Some commercial litter boxes come with hoods that help control odor as well as keep in litter. The box must be placed in a relatively quiet are of the house in a minimal traffic area. Be sure the box is easily accessible and not too difficult for your kitten to find. To ensure that your kitten uses its litter box every time, keep it within eyesight at all times. If it stops playing and begins sniffing around, gently carry it to the litter box. Praise any sniffing or scratching and give it lots of praise or a small food treat for eliminating. Whenever you are unable to watch your kitten, restrict it to a cat-proofed room with its litter box. Continue this for at least the first two weeks,

until your kitten is using its box regularly. Also, make sure you keep the litter box clean and that the kitten is never frightened when in or around the box. The box should be scooped daily and washed out weekly. Many cats do not like to use an excessively dirty litter box and may look for a cleaner spot to use.When an accident does occur, do not scold your kitten as this technique does not work with cats and will only make them afraid of you. Instead, try to determine why your kitten did not use the litter box and work on a solution. Causes for house-soiling:

Brand of litter was changed. Litter has scented additives or the odor of cleansers/deodorants. Litter box is not cleaned frequently enough. Kitten was frightened in or near the box. Kitten has medical problems.

If soiling persists, make sure that the soiled area has been thoroughly cleaned and treated with a commercial odor neutralizer. Additionally, you should take your kitten to the veterinarian as a medical problem may exist. Furniture Scratching Cats scratch on furniture as part of a normal grooming instinct. As they scratch on objects, the outer sheath of their claws are shed off, exposing the newer claw beneath. There are several different ways of handling this problem. 1. Cat claws can be tipped. Small plastic caps are glued to the cats claws, preventing them from causing damage when the cat scratches something. Initially the vet will size the claws and show you how to apply them. The caps are inexpensive and easy to replace, but will have to be replaced when the outer sheath is shed. This is certainly a humane, inexpensive, and convenient way of remedying the problem. 2. Provide your cat with scratching posts. Place one post near your cat's sleeping quarters as they like to scratch upon waking up. You may also smear cat-nip on the post to attract your cat. 3. Place squirt bottles strategically around your house. When you see your cat begin to scratch on the furniture, squirt him with the water. Be careful not to squirt the water in his eyes, however. 4. Do not yell or hit your cat. This will not teach him anything other than to be fearful of you. They are not able to associate the fact that you are yelling/hitting them because of the scratching. 5. Repellants for cats are available in pet shops. Spray the repellant on the corner of furniture that may look appealing for your cat to use as a scratching area. 6. You also have the option of de-clawing your cat which is a very controversial procedure. You must give this careful consideration as it

does involve amputating a portion of your cats toes. The procedure does have a painful recovery and renders your cat completely helpless to protect himself should he get out of the house. Your cat will also be compromised is terms of his ability to evade predators such as coyotes or dogs, due to compromising his agility and ability to climb trees. Play fighting: Many cats and kittens can play rough. This can be characterized by attacking and biting your ankles or arms. Cats can be very energetic and have difficulty finding ways to release their energy. Their natural instincts involve stalking and biting, and so this behavior characterizes their play. Several solutions to this include providing more cat toys, allowing him/her to play with another cat, playing with your cat/kitten i.e.: by having him/her chase a string, or allowing your cat to play with another cat. To discourage this behavior, spray him/her using a water filled squirt bottle. Buy several of them and leave them at strategic points in the house. Although you may be tempted to hit your cat, do not do so as you may harm your cat or become fearful of you. Aggression: In general, cats become aggressive out of defensiveness and self-protection. Additionally, their sense of self preservation is extremely high. Incidences of offensive aggression are extremely low as compared to dogs. Cats may feel threatened with new people around or with the introduction of a new cat. When introducing cats to each other, more common than not displays of aggression will occur in both cats characterized by hissing, raising the fur along their backs, and arching their backs. In such occurrences, the cats should be allowed to retreat and in time will introduce themselves. Once they have determined that their is not a threat, they will be able to cohabitate peacefully. It is common for cats to take days or weeks to reach this point. The same process can occur when a cat meets a new human, although more often the cat will hide until he/she feels there is no more of a threat. when introducing cats together, it is often a good strategy to separate one of them in another room with it's own litter pan, food and water. Ultimately the cats will sniff each other through the door and will be more accustomed to each others presence. After several days of this arrangement, you may open the door and allow the cats to introduce each other on their own. It is important not to pick them up and place them next to each other. This in fact may escalate the situation. Some cats may become aggressive when rubbed vigorously on the belly or at the base of their tail. Some cats like being petted in these areas and others do not. Your cat may have an area he/she does not like being petted. They can

respond t this by biting. Like people, animals vary in their acceptance/enjoyment of physical contact, which should be respected. If you are concerned that your cat is excessively aggressive, beyond the reasonable scope of most cats, you may consult with your veterinarian. Cats with thyroid problems can develop aggression. Additionally, remember that hunger and physical stress can elicit agitation and ultimately aggression. If your cat becomes isolative/aggressive and this is out of character, you may be dealing with a physical issue

What To Do about A Biting Cat

1. Completely ignore Kitty. Pretend he is invisible. Take care of his physical needs (food, water, litter box, etc) but do not talk to him, play with him or even look at him. When he greets you when you come home - ignore him - just walk by as if he wasn't there. After anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks of this, he should be craving your attention and affection. He should be following you around, pestering and begging you for attention. Withhold your attention until he is craving it. 2. Begin to give him extremely small doses of affection. When he sits on your lap, stroke him 2 or 3 times, then get up and walk away. Gradually increase the amount of affection you give him, but always end the session with him wanting more. If you give him more than he needs or wants, then he will end the cuddle session on his terms (running away or biting to make you stop petting him). If you always leave him wanting more, then he will value it and look forward to it more.

What To Do About Excessive Meowing

The single most common reason a cat will meow excessively is because she has been trained to do so. Kitty has learned that all she has to do is meow and she gets whatever she wants - food, attention, affection. Often, what starts out as a demand for attention soon becomes a self-reinforcing habit. Now kitty will meow all day just for the fun of it. This situation becomes even worse if the cat is lonely or bored. The first step in breaking this habit is to exercise your cat daily with active play sessions. Don't expect kitty to exercise herself. Many cats will swat at a ping-pong ball or a catnip mouse once or twice then lose interest. You must get involved in the game. Tie a string to the mouse and pull it slowly, temptingly and repeatedly across the floor. Secondly, pay attention to kitty and give her what ever she wants, but ONLY when she is quiet. Ignore her whenever she begins her vocal blackmail. Don't give in. Each time you give in to your cat's verbal

demands, you are teaching her to meow even more. If you wait until your cat is quiet, she will soon learn to associate silence with rewards. Some cats enjoy talking and some owners enjoy their cat's chatting to them. But if you want a few moments of peace, you can teach your cat to be quiet on request. Gently ask kitty to "Shush." If the cat ignores you, immediately shout, "BE QUIET!" or squirt her in the face with water once or twice. After a few repetitions, kitty will get the idea and obey the gentle request of "Shush," rather than get screamed at or doused with water

How To Toilet Train Your Cat

There have been more books and articles about toilet-training your cat than you'd think. In the summer of 1989, when Misha was a small kitten with big ears and enough meow for five cats, I searched out and read a half-dozen of them. And then tried it myself, and discovered there were a couple of things they all failed to mention ... Some of the advice in those books turned out to be impractical. Some of it was unnecessary. Some of it was quite sensible and worked like a charm. A lot of what works and what doesn't work depends on the individual cat on her personality and smarts. Here's what worked for me and Misha. The central idea is that the transition from litter box to toilet be accomplished in a series of stages. You make a small change and then give your cat time to adjust before you make another small change. If at any time Felix gives the whole thing up and pees on the rug instead, you're pushing him too far too fast; back up a stage or two and try again, more slowly. In the following instructions, I've used the word "rest" to mean: do nothing for a period of between a day and a week, depending on how flappable your cat is. (Misha caught on fast and was completely trained in under two weeks, far in advance of what the books led me to expect.) Ready? First start by training yourself ... The very most important thing to remember is: Lid Up, Seat Down. Post a note on the back of the door or the lid of the toilet if you think you (or your housemates or guests) might forget. (Nowadays, if I have a guest who leaves the lid down, Misha will usually come and ask me to fix it, but you can't expect every cat to go to this much trouble. Besides, he's been using the toilet for more than six years now; when the whole idea was new to him he'd just as soon pee in the

bathtub instead.) And if you are accustomed to closing the bathroom door when it's empty, you'll have to break that habit too. Begin by moving the cat's current litter box from wherever it is to one side of the toilet. Make sure he knows where it is and uses it. Rest. Next put something a stack of newspapers, a phone book, a cardboard box under the litter box to raise it, say, about an inch. (Magazines are too slick; you don't want the litter box sliding around and making Felix feel insecure. Tape the litter box down if you need to.) Rest. Get another box or phone book and raise it a little higher. Rest. Continue this process until the bottom of the litter box is level with the top of the toilet seat. (For Misha I raised it about two inches per day.) At the beginning of this process, your cat could just step into the box; later he began jumping up into it, until at some point he probably started jumping up onto the toilet seat first and stepping into the box from there. You've been diligently keeping the lid up and the seat down, of course, so by now your cat is thoroughly familiar with tromping around on the open toilet. Lift the seat on your toilet and measure the inside diameter of the top of the bowl at its widest point. Venture forth and buy a metal mixing bowl of that diameter. Do not (I discovered this the hard way) substitute a plastic bowl. A plastic bowl will not support the cat's weight and will bend, dropping into the toilet bowl and spilling litter everywhere, not to mention startling hell out of the cat. Now you move the litter box over so that it's sitting directly over the toilet seat. (If your cat has shown reluctance over previous changes, you might want to split this into two stages, moving it halfway onto the seat and then fully over.) Take away the stack of phone books or whatever. Rest. Here's the cool part. Take away the litter box entirely. (Ta da!) Nestle the metal mixing bowl inside the toilet bowl and lower the seat. Fill the bowl with about two inches of litter (all of this is much easier if you have the tiny granules of litter that can be scooped out and flushed). Naturally, any humans using the toilet at this point will want to remove the metal bowl prior to their own use and replace it afterward. The next week or two the whole process is likely to be something of an annoyance; if you begin to think it's not worth it, just remember that you will never have to clean a litter box again. Watch your cat using the bathroom in the metal bowl. Count the number of feet he gets up on the toilet seat (as opposed to down in the bowl of litter). The higher the number, the luckier you are and the easier your job is going to be ... ...because next you have to teach him proper squatting posture. Catch him beginning to use the toilet as much of the time as possible and show him where his feet are supposed to go. Just lift them right out of the bowl and place them on

the seat (front legs in the middle, hind legs on the outside). If he starts out with three or, heaven forbid, all four feet in the bowl, just get the front two feet out first. Praise him all over the place every time he completes the activity in this position. (Misha is very doglike in that he craves approval and praise. If your cat is indifferent to this sort of thing, you can also reward him with small food treats and wean him from them later when the toilet behavior has 'set.' Just keep the treats as small and infrequent as possible half a Pounce or similar treat per occasion should be plenty.) When he is regularly using the toilet with his front feet out (and some cats naturally start from this position), begin lifting a hind foot out and placing it on the seat outside the front paws. Felix will probably find this awkward at first and try to replace the foot in the litter. Be persistent. Move that foot four times in a row if you have to, until it stays there. Praise and/or treat. Repeat with the other hind foot, until your cat learns to balance in that squat. (There will actually be two different squats, a low one for urine elimination and a high one for bowel movements.) Once he's getting all four feet regularly on the seat, it's all downhill from here. Which is fortunate, because the last bit is also the most unpleasant. I suggest that you postpone this stage until you have at least a weekend, and preferably several days, when you (or another responsible party) will be at home most of the time. I skipped through this part in about two days; I only hope that your cat allows you to move along that fast. Begin reducing the litter in the bowl. Go as fast as he'll feel comfortable with, because as the litter decreases, the odor increases. You'll want to be home at this point so that you can praise him and dump out the contents of the bowl immediately after he's finished, to minimize both the smell and the possibility that your cat, in a confused attempt to minimize the smell on his own, tries to cover it up with litter that no longer exists and ends up tracking unpleasantness into the rest of the house. By the time you're down to a token teaspoonful of litter in the bottom of the bowl, your next-door neighbors will probably be aware of the precise instant your cat has used the toilet. This is as bad as it gets. The next time you rinse out the metal bowl, put a little bit of water in the bottom. Increase the water level each time, just as you decreased the litter level. Remember if at any point Felix looks nervous enough about the change to give the whole thing up and take his business to the corner behind the door, back up a step or two and try the thing again more slowly.

Once the water in the mixing bowl is a couple of inches deep and your cat is comfortable with the whole thing, you get to perform the last bit of magic. Take the mixing bowl away, leaving the bare toilet. (Lid Up, Seat Down.)

Good Luck and Best Wishes