Guest Post: 10 Reasons To Adopt A Cat

Written by Daniel Richardson for LAA Pet Talk. Tuxedo Cat is run by Whisky with assistance from Dan. Whisky was born in August 2014 and was adopted from the cat rescue home 6 months later. Whisky is the brains behind Tuxedo Cat. She hopes to educate and inform people about how great Tuxedo Cats are while hopefully having some fun along the way too! Dan keeps things ticking, answering emails on behalf of Whisky, scheduling social media posts, replying to comments, sorting mail, and occasionally writing for the site too. 

Not so long ago (well roughly 5,000 years ago) what we now call domestic cats were pretty much exclusively wild animals, undomesticated animals that roamed the outdoors hunting to survive.

The Egyptians led the charge in the domestication of cats. Many cats were kept to keep the rodent population down. Of course, it’s well-documented that the Egyptians considered cats to be sacred. You only have to see the famous Sphinx to begin to understand something of their love for the cat!

Unfortunately, the world has changed a lot since the times of the ancient Egyptians and this hasn’t played too well into the paws of many cats. While a large number of cats do live very happy lives in comfortable homes where they are well-cared for, but a cat overpopulation crisis exists. There are literally thousands of more cats than there are people or shelters to take care of them. In addition, there are an alarmingly large number of community cats worldwide.

How You Can Help

If you’re a cat lover, you’re no doubt worried about the number of stray cats. Happily, there are things you can do.

  1. If you find a cat which you suspect may be a stray the first thing you should do is tag it. You can do this by simply attaching a paper collar to the cat with a message on asking the cat’s owner to contact you if the cat is theirs.
  2. If you don’t get a response and the cat returns, you should report the cat to your nearest lost pets organization and/or rescue. They may be aware of any cats which have gone missing.
  3. If the cat will allow you to get close enough, you should next take the cat to your local vet and check them for a microchip.
  4. If none of the above yields results, the cat should be re-homed by you or a rescue.
  5. Most important, whoever decides to take responsibility for the cat from this point onward must ensure that the cat is spayed or neutered. This will help minimize the growth of the stray cat population.

Why You Should Adopt a Cat

Adoption is important for cats as it minimizes the dangers to their life and helps deal with the growing stray cat population.

There are also tons of fun reasons why owning a cat will also enhance your own life. We’ve put together the cat adoption infographic, by tuxedo cat, to show those reasons.

 

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Guest Post: The Many Ways Guinea Pigs Feel

Emotions are part of our everyday lives. We are sometimes happy, sometimes sad, or bored. Unless you’re a robot, you’re going to have emotions. Today I’m going to talk about guinea pigs and their emotions.

Stock photo, Wikimedia
Stock photo, Wikimedia

Boredom: Is your guinea pig starring at you? Watching your every move or wheeking as loudly as possible trying to get your attention? If your piggy is less active, chewing its fur off or biting on its cage, then your pig is bored and would like some toys or some of your loving attention. If your pig is alone, please interact with it as much as possible, or get it a fellow guinea pig if finances allow. Fun fact: It is actually illegal in Switzerland to only own one guinea pig due to the nature of these sociable animals.

Stock photo, Wikimedia
Stock photo, Wikimedia

Sadness: Unfortunately, guinea pigs do feel sadness. Normally, they’ll go into a corner of its cage or some form of hiding spot. A guinea pig will attempt to hide it’s sadness, which can prove difficult. Sometimes, a guinea pig will be sad because it is sick. If you suspect that this is the case, please take it to see an exotic veterinarian.

Stock photo, Wikimedia
Stock photo, Wikimedia

Fear: Being considered an entree strikes fear into the heart of a guinea pig. When a guinea pig is scared, it’ll freeze in place, show the whites of its eyes, or shiver. If your guinea pig shows fear, approach it cautiously, since it may begin to “chut-chut” as a sign that it may bite. Talk to it in a soft voice to try to make it feel better.

Stock photo, PXHere
Stock photo, PXHere

Anger: Whenever a guinea pig is angry, watch out! An angry guinea pig will chatter its teeth together quickly, making a “chut-chut” sound. Other guinea pigs know that this is a sign of anger and will tend to stay away. Also, angry guinea pigs may sometimes make themselves appear larger by puffing out their fur.

Stock photo, PixaBay
Stock photo, PixaBay

Happiness: When guinea pigs are happy, they tend to purr, kind of like a cat. They’ll also “pop-corn” by jumping straight up and then run around. Guinea pigs are usually happiest when their owner is petting them. When guinea pigs are relaxed and chilled out, they’re a state of happiness.

There you have it, the top 5 emotions of guinea pigs. They may be small, but their minds are anything but! Guinea pigs make great pets and remember, “Adopt don’t shop!”

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Dog Etiquette at a Coffee Shop

Written by Aurora James for LAA Pet Talk. Aurora believes there are no bad dogs. She created DogEtiquette.info to share her dog training tips and advice to dog owners everywhere. DogEtiquette.info welcomes and encourages anyone to use its infographics in their writing. It simply ask that you please cite and link to them as the source. 

Coffee is the go-to source of energy, relaxation, and socialization for many people around the globe. What better way to truly revel in the experience than to bring along your pup for an outing? The good news is that more and more coffee shops are opening their doors to furry paws. Unfortunately, this friendly extension could end if your pup doesn’t mind his manners. Follow the tips in this guide to create an enjoyable experience for everyone.

    1. Locate the best dog-friendly coffee shops in your area.
    2. Make sure your leash fits your dog’s weight, strength, and behavior.
    3. Pack the essentials with a dog-day trip bag.
    4. Teach your pup to greet others properly.
    5. Learn how to teach your dog basic training at home.
    6. Keep an eye out for signs it is time to leave.
    7. Understand the risks associated with dog poop.

 

Now that you know some of the basics regarding dog etiquette in a coffee shop, it’s time to start exploring with your pup. Keep the above tips in mind to enjoy a fun day out together.

If you’re a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you’re interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: To Buddy, The Best Golden Shepherd Ever!

Buddy was my “first” dog, ever. I was 22-years-old and never had a dog; sad, I know. I grew up in a household that only wanted cats (no offense to cats). I knew nothing about dogs, how they act, what that woof meant, etc.

My husband and his family had a dog, Thor, for almost 14 years. I knew Thor for about a year and half, until he passed away in 2005. The family decided to not get another dog right away, which is understandable; you can’t “replace” a pet. At the end of 2006 the family, mainly my mother-in-law discussed getting another dog, but it had a to be a Golden Retriever male. We found out that a family close by had a bunch of puppies that needed good homes.

My mother-in-law talked with my father-in-law and they decided that they’d get one of the puppies. The mom dog was a Golden Retriever and the dad dog was a German Shepherd, so there was a chance Buddy would be the golden dog. My mother-in-law and I decided to take the Jeep to see the puppies. There were a lot of them! A male golden dog not spoken for, but he was mixed with the Shepherd. We hung around with all of the puppies for quite a bit, watching that one particular dog. The dog that became Buddy decided to challenge his mother and try to take her bone. When this didn’t work out, Buddy went over to one of siblings and knocked it down a little hill. We knew Buddy would be an interesting dog!

My mother-in-law spent some one on one time with Buddy and she decided to purchase this golden fur ball. The coolest part about this whole story is Buddy rode on home on my lap. I was able to pet him and talk with him and basically get to know this little guy. Buddy was only 9-weeks-old and kind of sleepy on the ride home, but he listened to the talking and observed his surroundings. In a nutshell, Buddy was my “first” dog.

Over the years, Buddy and I have formed quite an awesome friendship. I’ve gotten to see Buddy grow from a timid puppy to a large Golden Shepherd with a big bark and ears that he finally grew into. My fondest memory of Buddy is when he was little. I’d chase him around the coffee table and Buddy would put his ear down, as if to show that he was signaling his turns. We did this until he got too big to do the sharp turns; he is quite a large dog. There was a time when he moved away and I did not see him as much, but I’d always ask about him and request that my mother in law pet him for me. We live a little closer now, so I can see him on occasion, while Eclipse plays with him. Buddy has shown me that dogs are great, loyal, and fun to play with. Buddy has been so kind to our dog, Eclipse. He’s very tolerant of her not sharing the Frisbee or her bopping his head every time they see each other. Whenever we see Buddy, even though he’s now an old pooch, he’s always up for a game of chase.

Buddy is like a brother to me, a furry brother. I’ve grown to love dogs and understand them better thanks to Buddy. I dedicate this article to you Buddy. You’re an awesome dog!

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: The Most Important Things Horses Have Taught Me

National Day of the Horse falls on the second Saturday of December. The holiday encourages people of the United States to be mindful of the contribution of horses to American economy, history, and character. Thanks to Heather Wallace for writing the following tribute to horses.

There is a unique relationship between humans and horses that go back potentially 6,000 years. Our relationship has changed our manner of transport, farming, warfare, and art. During the industrial revolution horses were numerous and were depended upon by many people for their strength and dependability. They were the backs upon which our modern world was founded.

Of course, technology relegated horses unnecessary and they became a luxury once more. Yes, financially horses may be a luxury. But what they teach us is priceless.

Teamwork

Equestrians work with horses as partners. Different horses teach us different things about our riding, about ourselves. They can and should challenge us to become better.

My eldest daughter has perhaps learned this best of all. She rides therapy horses for her cerebral palsy. As a result of her pediatric stroke, one side of her body is tight and weaker, especially in her right hand.

Copyright Heather Wallace, Bridle & Bone
Copyright Heather Wallace, Bridle & Bone

Balance is incredibly important when riding. Any shift in weight or pressure results in different movements. So for my daughter, riding has taught her to use her body successfully in a more balanced way. No one wants to spin in circles right? Her horses have taught her to confidently communicate with her body on both sides. More than that, she’s learned to work in tandem with an animal that is much, much larger than she is. Communicating with her body, she works as a team with her horses.

Patience

Working with any animal can teach us patience. Patience with them and with ourselves. Our approach does not always work for every horse. Sometimes we have to step back and recognize why our horses are behaving in a certain manner, and why we are not effectively communicating.

Copyright Jordan Wicks Photography
Copyright Jordan Wicks Photography

Australian equestrian and dressage rider, Andrea Parker, has learned a lot about patience through horsemanship.

Horses have taught me so many valuable lessons over the course of my life so it’s difficult to pin it down to just one.

Possibly one of the biggest lessons that I have learnt from horses is actually about learning! It is a lesson which I have learnt and refined over a number of years. Through working with horses and riding I have come to understand that there is a fine balance which must be struck between remaining patient and persistent and knowing when to try something new. Riding horses is all about consistency, but when something is clearly not working, it is time to try a different strategy. The greatest insanity is to continue doing the same thing expecting a different outcome.–Andrea Parker, Sand Arena Ballerina

Confidence

Horses are flight animals and their natural instinct is to run. But somehow for thousands of years humans and horses have depended on each other. Through understanding their needs and behaviors we can build their confidence and in turn they can build ours.

Returning to horseback riding as an adult brought a different kind of fear than I’d ever known. I knew what I wanted, but I had not physically been on a horse in more than a decade. I had a small child at home that depended on me for everything. I tried to balance my passion with keeping myself safe.

So I rode horses that were forgiving of my mistakes and knew their job well. Their goal was to teach their rider it was okay to make mistakes and how to grow in confidence. These horses became my babysitters. They took care of me. At the same time, they taught me how to keep on the outside without cutting corners; how to transition perfectly to a canter on the correct lead; and how to be comfortable again communicating with an animal.

Humility

While horses build confidence in many ways, they also have an uncanny ability to teach you humility. Something I learned again recently. Delight and I have come far in our work together. We had gotten to the point where we were transitioning to canter beautifully and getting our leads.

Something he had trouble with for a long time due to muscle imbalance from horse racing. Knowing he was feeling high strung I should have taken the time to lunge him. But I didn’t and he was perfect at the walk/ trot. Canter was another story and he bucked trying to get his lead up a small incline. I flew through the air superman style and landed badly.

Just goes to show you, everyone has a bad day. Sometimes you just have to wipe the dirt off and get back on.

Perseverance

Horses can be stubborn, sure. But earn their loyalty and they will try their hardest for you. We need to try our hardest for them as well, even when we feel like giving up.

Mathilde Kvernland
Mathilde Kvernland

My Norwegian friend, Mathilde Kvernland, shares her story.

Personally, my horse taught me to never give up no matter how dark everything seems at the time. If I ever gave up on Baldur, we would never have come this far!

When I started riding Baldur, he didn’t trust me and he was constantly stressed. As the Icelandic he is, he would prefer the tölt. But here we are talking about four MONTHS of only tölt because he refused to trot. I was in the middle of writing a text to his current owner, saying I wanted to stop the lease, but I caught myself and thought I had to try at least for another day. So I had to think completely different from what I had earlier. I went back to the basics, took off ALL the tack and jumped up in a round corral. And we would just trot as if nothing was wrong. So that is what we did, and slowly with time, I started adding more tack until we could trot with a full set of tack. I also learned myself the difference in asking for trot and asking for tölt at this point. And now, 2 years later, we have never had a problem again.–Mathilde Kvernland, Passion for Horse

Trust

Most of us humans, equestrians or otherwise, have trouble giving up control and trusting. We feel safer if we are calling the shots, sometimes to our own detriment. Horses have a way of encouraging us to trust. Their trust and faith in us inspires us to do the same. Wellington Florida trainer Melissa Wanstreet shares her story.

Melissa Wanstreet
Melissa Wanstreet

My horses have taught me you have to lose control in order to gain control. Many of us, in our early years of riding, will try to control a horse with force. Force it to stop, force it to go, force it to jump, force it to bend. I was especially guilty of this, being rather strong both mentally and physically–as well as spoiled, I thought I could muscle or scare anything into doing what I want.

But my whole world changed when I finally figured out how to ‘Let Go.’ Let go of the reins. Give the horse a chance to relax, then ask them to slow down. Let go with my leg. How fast would you run if you had someone squeezing your ribs every step of the way? Give the horse a chance to make a mistake, so I can be clear about what I don’t want, then reward when I get the correct answer. The result was happy, confident and relaxed partners.

Control is really about fear and when we let go of fear, we are allowed more opportunities to grow.–Melissa Wanstreet, Starbound Equine

Love

More than anything, equestrians have a huge place in their hearts for horses. We spend our days with them. They fill our thoughts or dreams. Many of us have been working with horses since we were young, or at least dreamed about working with horses. At the root is a deep love. A sweet tale of love from Australia.

People have different personality traits, as do horses, not one is alike. When I rescued my horse Buddy from the meat yards in Feb, I had no idea what I was in for. Buddy is much different than my older horse Charlie. Charlie is cheeky but reliable, nothing bothers Charlie. Buddy was scared of everything; I had never had to deal with a horse I couldn’t catch, or a horse that was scared of 90% of things.

In the months since, Buddy has learnt to trust me, the process of this has been one of the best experiences of my life. I am so proud of him and how far he has come. I had never owned a horse that everyday tested my patience. My horses have taught me patience, trust but above all my horses teach and show me love in every aspect of their interactions with me. Buddy has become such an incredible mount and the first one to run over when he hears me, sometimes not everything goes right, but his trust and love for me has been my favorite love story.–Kiera Burrows, Aussie Urban Huntress

On the ground or in the saddle, working with horses is a gift. To them, I want to say thank you. Thank you for making me laugh when you are silly. Thank you for making me smile when I am crying. Thank you for testing me and teaching me patience. Thank you for teaching my daughter confidence. Thank you for teaching me that giving up control is what I need to become a better rider. Thank you for everything you have given me.

Thank you for being a horse.

 
Heather Wallace is a certified equine and canine sports massage therapist, co-owner of Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC, and equestrian & canine blogger at Bridle & Bone. She is an adult amateur equestrian in unrequited loved with an OTTB and has two rescue dogs always up to no good. You can follow her on social media @bridleandbone or bridleandbone.com.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: A Guinea Pig Thanksgiving!

Just as I’m preparing the watermelon appetizers, Aunt Martha bursts in the door yelling, “You’re doing that all wrong!” Welcome to a guinea pig Thanksgiving–complete with drama, food, and all around family time.

Mom has prepared all the food. She is serving an extra special dish, a hay casserole in a hollow pumpkin. It took time to hollow out the pumpkin to get it just right. Mom spent three days on the hay casserole due to the order the ingredients were placed; some are a secret.

Just as she pulls the casserole out of the oven to cool, my brother flips the pigloo in a burst of boredom. It lands in the casserole, which splatters everywhere. Meanwhile, Grandma Petunia’s dentures fall out as she demands a squash martini with a kale twist.

Ding dong goes the doorbell! It’s Uncle Buddy. He’s brought his famous pumpkin pie in a pellet crust, but has forgotten to bring the whipped cream. As he turns around to head out to the store, Bobby Kitten, Eclipse, and Max zoom past. The pie becomes airborne. Dad happens to walk into the kitchen and catches it…… square in the face.

Pixabay, Stock Photo
Pixabay, Stock Photo

Luckily, the veggie platter was purchased at Piggly Wobbly Bottoms! I go to open the fridge to fetch it but the platter is gone! If we don’t have a veggie platter, Thanksgiving is ruined! The veggie platter is the “turkey” of a guinea pig’s Thanksgiving. Frantically, I run around the house trying to find the platter while Grandma Petunia continues to play with her dentures. I hear “munch, crunch, munch, crunch” coming from under the stairs, it’s Max and he’s eaten the entire veggie platter! His cute, furry cheeks are full of carrots, parsley, and cucumbers!

I look around in dismay. There’s pie, veggies, casserole, and dentures in various areas around the house. There’s also a house full of hungry family members ready to eat whatever they can find. Eclipse has figured out a way to climb up to the ceiling to lick the remnants of the hay casserole, while Aunt Martha criticizes Eclipse for standing on the cabinetry to reach the casserole. Grandma Petunia continues to use her dentures as entertainment, and Uncle Buddy is passed out in front of the TV while the football game continues on.

Ding, dong! It’s the doorbell again! Grandpa Rocco is here and he has the complete Thanksgiving guinea pig meal! Knowing our family well, he had a feeling that we’d need some help. We all sit down around the table and share what we are thankful for. Most of all, we’re thankful for another year of shenanigans and family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: How to Introduce Two Rats

Rats are smart and social small animals that make great pets. If you want your rat to be happy, you should have more of them. They’ll be the happiest with a few ratty friends running around the cage with them.

Pixabay, Stock Photo
Pixabay, Stock Photo

But even though they love to be in the company of other rats, introducing a new pet rat should be done right. You can’t just throw in a new rat in the cage, but must follow a few steps that will ensure your rats accept each other and start their friendship on the right foot.

Below are the steps to follow. Make sure you do them properly, especially if you’re dealing with adult males who can get quite territorial. Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t introduce rats of the opposite sex until they are neutered.

STEP 1: Quarantine cage

Put your new rat in the quarantine cage completely isolated from the other rats. Make sure you give him your time and love because rats do not like to be alone. You can take a walk around the house with your new rat and play with him often to make their quarantine time easier. You should keep your rat in a quarantine cage for about two weeks.

Before you start to introduce your rats make sure your new rat is healthy and not showing any signs of illness. You would be wise to have a vet check it. If after two weeks, your new rat looks just fine, with no signs of illness, you can proceed to the next step.

STEP 2: Put the new rat cage close to the other cage

When you put your new rat cage close to the other cage, make sure you leave a space between them so that rats wouldn’t fight or injure each other. About four inches should be fine. They will become very interested in each other and sniff each other often.

Optionally, you can clean the cage where your ‘old’ rats are and leave the cage with the new rat uncleaned for a few days so the odor stays. That way they can easily see and smell the new rat which will prevent the old rats to become too territorial and aggressive towards the new rat. Keep an eye on any signs of aggression.

STEP 3: Introduce the rats on the neutral ground

You can introduce rats in a lot of places in your house. On your bed, on the floor or in the bathtub would work fine. If you have multiple rats, I would suggest you introduce them one by one because it can be too shocking for your new rat to see multiple ones and fights could occur. By introducing them one at a time you can see also how each rat is going to react.

Normal rat behavior would be a lot of sniffing of their genitalia to get to know each other better. If any of the rat poops, it’s also not atypical.

Repeat the process for any other rats. Then put the whole group in the neutral ground and observe them. They will probably just explore. You’ll have to be cautious of any teeth chattering or similar because it could be a sign of aggression.

STEP 4: Swap the rat cages when they are a bit dirty

When the cages get a bit dirty, you can put the new rat in the cage where the other rats are and vice versa. Let them smell each other’s odor to completely familiarize with each other.

STEP 5: Put the rats together

I would recommend to keep the cages open, so you can get rats out quickly if a fight happens. Watch carefully for any signs of aggression; this can be stressful for some rats.

If there are any problems between the rats you can try putting vanilla extract near their genitalia to disguise their natural smell. Also, you can give them treats after some time to distract them a little bit and to release the stress.

I hope these step by step instructions were useful in learning how to properly introduce two or more rats. When this is done, enjoy the presence of your beautiful pets getting along great!

Written by Monika Kucic for LAA Pet Talk. Monika is a huge animal lover, currently having two cats in her life. She is the owner of the pet blog called Animallama, where she posts pet care, pet tips, and advice.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Dear Miss Behavior: My Dog Eats Poop!

Dear Miss Behavior: My little Shih-Tzu ‘Mitzy’ was a gift from my son. She is the sweetest little girl, and I love her to death. But she has one most disgusting habit–she eats her own poo. I take her to the back yard to do her job and I clean up after her but sometimes not quickly enough. Why does she do this? What can I do to change this behavior? Scolding her has not helped.

missbehaviorDon’t be embarrassed! Some dogs eat feces. First, take Mitzy to the vet to make sure there’s not a medical reason. Then look at the food you’re feeding her; sometimes dogs eat their feces because they aren’t getting a needed nutrient. It may just be that Mitzy’s trying to help you keep the yard clean. She see’s you picking up and wants to do her part.

If she gets a clean bill of health and is eating a quality dog food, then it’s time to work on training Mitzy. Start by putting her on leash when you take her out for her ‘walkies’. As soon as she’s done her business, call her to you, tugging gently on the lead if necessary and reward her. Put her in a sit, and then clean up after her. Once she’s moved away from her feces, you can gently restrain her from going back to it. I might say “Ah-ah” or “Yuck” to let her know you don’t approve.

Teaching her a “Leave it!” command would be really useful. Check out the Good Dog Classes at GLOC to learn how!

marcygraybillThanks to this feature goes to Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, who ran the Miss Behavior Dog Advice Column in their newsletter. Appreciation also is extended to Marcy Graybill, a trainer at GLOC and the expert behind this column. She also hosts her own blog, Dog Log, where she talks about training adventures with her dogs.

Guest Post: Using Catnip to Train Your Cat

It all started after the move. Pumpkin, a formerly-outdoor cat for nearly a decade, needed to get used to life indoors.

But was it possible?

He had been used to roaming outside for hours on end, pretending to hunt squirrels (and never catching anything), and meeting up with his neighborhood girlfriend/arch-enemy named Rocky. Although we always forced him to sleep inside (ever since the “lost for nearly two weeks” incident of 2015), he would wake up in the morning, meowing insistently to be let outside.

Not surprisingly, his transition indoors started off disastrously. Let’s just say there were a lot of bodily functions going on outside of litter box. And the poor couch…it was being destroyed daily by Pumpkin’s frustrated claws.

So I decided to do some research on how to ease the transition, and discovered a magic ingredient to success: Catnip.

Previously, we gave Pumpkin catnip as a treat — the way it made him go wild and then collapse was pretty adorable. To spoil him, we even tried growing catnip inside, but he destroyed the poor little sprout. I never thought, however, of using catnip as a training tool.

Stock photo
Stock photo

First of all: What is catnip?

Did you know that catnip is actually a herb that’s part of the mint family? According to the Scientific American, it originates from Europe, Asia and Africa, and early settlers brought it to North America. The Pilgrims (the Thanksgiving ones) grew it in their gardens for medicinal purposes and appropriately called it “Cat Mint.” Its official plant name is “Nepeta cataria.”

Have you ever wondered why cats love catnip?

It’s a sex thing. Really. The oils in the catnip act as an “artificial cat pheromone,” which in turn excites the cat and triggers the crazy-happy “high” that you’ve likely witnessed. No wonder cats love it!

But is it dangerous?

Thankfully it’s completely safe and non-addictive. Sure, your cat might collapse in a love-drunk stupor, but it’s all good fun. That means you can rest assured that training your cat using catnip won’t do her any harm.

Stock photo
Stock photo

So how will catnip help me train my cat?

Before you go out and try these tricks yourself, keep in mind that only 70-80% of cats are catnip-junkies because only some cats have the “catnip gene.” So if your feline friend is in the minority, you may need to try other methods of training. For those of you willing to try, here are four ways catnip can help you train your cat:

It redirects poor behavior. For example: My poor couch was Pumpkin’s scratching post. That is, until I purchased a real sisal scratching post and covered it in dried catnip. The post was more satisfying to scratch than the sofa, but it was the catnip that made him want to try it out. Without it, Pumpkin might have kept to his old ways.

It attracts a cat’s attention: I had to make our home more interesting if I was going to convince Pumpkin it was worth staying inside. So we bought him a cat tree. But as you know, cats can be particular about what they like. That’s where catnip comes in: Even if your cat thinks she’s too good for a new perch, sprinkle it with catnip to make it more appealing.

It encourages exercise: Maybe your problem isn’t unruly behavior, but a lack of movement altogether. If your cat is struggling with his weight and the vet has encouraged you to do something about it, catnip can jumpstart playtime. Whether you purchase catnip-filled toys or just sprinkle it on something you already have, it will make playing (and therefore, exercising), much more exciting. It might get your lazy cat to roll around and work off a few calories.

It shows your cat you love him. We all love our cats and want to treat them. While buying food-related treats can be fun, too much can cause your cat health problems in the future. With catnip, on the other hand, you can make Whiskers’ day without dealing with the unwanted side-effects. What does this have to do with training? Letting your cat know you love her pays off. It might not fix all your behavioral issues, but at least she knows you want to spoil her.

I’d like to say that after a couple of months of catnip-training, Pumpkin is perfectly content with being indoors, but that’d be a lie. He still hankers for his wild-child outdoor days, but we are making strides in the right direction — all thanks to catnip!

Tell me, have you tried using catnip with a purpose? Has it worked? Share your successes (or failures) in the comments.

Natalie rescued Pumpkin when he was just a days-old kitten. He was the baby of a stray cat that lived near her uncle, and after a decade of living outdoors, Pumpkin is now transitioning to a safer and quieter indoor life. Natalie writes over at Leaping Cats, discussing ways to keep your indoor cats fit, healthy and happy.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please check out our Author Guidelines.

Guest Post: The Community Cats at LAA’s Pet Food Bank by Blake Gilmore

When Lincoln Animal Ambassadors moved into its Pet Food Bank location on Knox Street in 2016, we were sad to see the neighborhood was also home to at least one colony of feral cats with some very young kittens. Mama was not tame, but was willing to accept some food. Over the last few months, the kittens
have grown up and have learned to trust people. Ron, our resolute warehouse manager, has worked with a resident of the surrounding complex to keep the local cats from starving.

Fast forward a few months and we finally felt like one of the kittens was now somewhat tame and would let us catch her and get her spayed. We finally caught Callie in late spring and estimated her at
approximately nine months old. Keep in mind that Lincoln Animal Ambassadors is not a rescue organization and does not typically rescue any animals directly. However, we thought it important to help in the neighborhood we called home. It also helped that we knew she had a home after she was
spayed; a Lincoln Animal Ambassadors volunteer had agreed to take her in.

The first order of business with Callie was getting her in to see Dr. Otto for a checkup. She was in good health after some basic preventative care. Unfortunately, we were also too late as she was also already pregnant! This unfortunate turn of events meant delaying her spay procedure and having a few extra kittens to care for. Ron and Donna, our volunteer coordinator, stepped in to care for her while
she was pregnant, and gave her kittens a good start on life. Callie must have sensed the excitement of Wine & Howl because she gave birth the day after to three adorable kittens. These three were fostered through Revolution Rescue by Lincoln Animal Ambassadors volunteers until old enough to be spayed/ neutered. Homes were also quickly found!

Callie’s story has a happy ending. Unfortunately, there are a few cats left in the neighborhood who can’t be tamed. Because Lincoln Animal Ambassadors is not a direct rescue organization and do not have the proper licenses, we are working with animal control and local rescue groups to insure the well-being
of the cats we have left behind in the neighborhood. These colonies can be very successful when all of the cats have been spayed or neutered—Trapped, Neutered, and Returned—but can also be expensive! That is where we need your help! Make a donation to “Callie’s Colony” to help us leave a lasting legacy in the community and save these cats from a terrible fate too.

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Summer Newsletter. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2017.