Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tips For Cats Looking For a New Home

So many cats are abandoned or given up at shelters. It is a multi-million dollar problem, as well as multi-million cat problem. So, to help all those unwanted cats, this little report aims to teach cats how to find new homes so their owners won't dump them, and so local animal control officials won't want to kill them.

When Radar got dumped, he managed to survive on the streets of his small town for several years, no small thanks to his amazing intelligence and street smarts. As a former house cat, he had no fear of humans, yet he sensed that humans could mean trouble, too. As a result, he remained wary and could only be approached by someone with a sincere concern.

He was eventually removed from the streets and alleys by a concerned neighbor who had heard that the animal control officer intended to do away with him as a pest. That's how he came to live at the shelter in another town. And that's where he met the kind lady in charge. They struck up a friendship, due primarily to Radar's efforts to win her heart, and within the year, he found himself living at her house.

But most cats are not that savvy and take the wrong approach. They hiss or growl - which puts a lot of humans off - or they hide in corners or under furniture. In this article, Radar will try to explain the right approach so other cats can find themselves in happy new homes, instead of consigned to a cage for many months, with no prospects in sight, leading ultimately, unfortunately, to that final trip to the back room and the big needle.

Making Friends With Humans
Cats are considered mysterious by most humans, so if you want a person to care about you, you must find a way to show that person you are not like other cats. That YOU can be trusted, and most importantly, that YOU will forever appreciate being saved.

Be Trustworthy
Being trustworthy can include many things. What most humans are looking for, though, is some assurance that you can be trusted NOT to do these things:

* bite the hand that feeds you
* pee in the corners
* scratch the furniture
* steal food off the kitchen counters
* climb the drapes
* poop outside your box
* howl all night
* play all night, knocking stuff over
* try to climb your human's leg when they are wearing shorts
* chew up the morning paper
* unroll the toilet paper
* bring nasty critters into the house as "gifts"

Being Affectionate

Humans love to be loved. Sure, you do, too, but since they are in charge, you must be the one to start it. It will make them want to keep you, because no one else ever did that before.

Snuggle up to them when they sit or lie down. Purr a lot. And I mean a LOT. This impresses humans. They take it as a sign of your undying love and devotion and pure contentment and joy at being in their presence. This is a valuable trait to develop, as most humans usually don't get this kind of attention from their other human contacts.

Stare lovingly and adoringly at them when they are watching TV. But don't do it when they are busy with something. They may misinterpret it as you being nosy, and some might even take it as you planning some nasty surprise. This is typical, as most humans are paranoid anyway. Just try to work around that and find their most vulnerable times to display your devoted attention.

Some humans hate being licked, so if you feel the urge to do so, try a few tentative licks now and then on their hand or arm, never on their face. If they like the brief hand-lick, you can proceed to a longer session. You might even find that special person who actually enjoys being licked on the face. But you have to work up to it. And don't forget, you have a sandpaper tongue, so keep these sessions short so you don't irritate them. They don't have fur, so it hurts after a while.

It's OK to follow your person around the house, as this shows you are interested in what they are doing, but avoid walking too closely to their feet. Humans are very clumsy beings and are easily tripped. If you trip one, you may find yourself outside again very quickly. And permanently. You do NOT want that to happen, because you may not get a second chance.

Be Clean

Humans have a different view of the world from cats, and you must learn that they do not appreciate certain things, such as bad smells, stains, and shredded things or fur scattered around their houses.

The best things you can do are to always use the litter box, don't shred anything unless they ask you to, and lick yourself to keep your coat shiny and smooth.

One last thing: Please try to refrain from vomiting on their carpets or furniture. Please try to do that, if you must, on a smooth floor, like the kitchen or bathroom, laundry room, or garage, or even better: the litter box. I've never met a cat yet that could do that, so if you could, you would be considered a unique and desirable cat above all others.

In conclusion, if you follow these brief and simple concepts, you should find yourself in a permanent new home with a great future!

If you want to learn more, just sign up for my person's newsletter. She's very nice to me and would be to you, too. I guarantee it! She loves answering questions, so be sure to send those in also.

From the happiest cat in the world,

I live with Dr. R.J. Peters in Nebraska
My advice:
Find a human to help you get to her web site, at
Don't forget, her book, How to Make Cats Adore You, is written for the humans in your life, so try to get your person to buy it:
You can find it at
Good Luck!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Learning about cats

If you want to learn about cats, probably the fastest and most complete method is to work with many of them in a relatively short time - such as at a humane shelter.

I have been rescuing, sheltering and caring for hundreds of cats for almost 4 years. By now I've handled approximately 1,000 cats.

Since it's a sheltering environment, conditions are different from a home life - which in many cases is an improvement. Shelter life is generally crowded and extremely stressful, as cats normally do not live in large groups. But, as mentioned, it may be better than the environment they were in before. Cats just in off the street, for example, are usually used to being hungry and will therefore be used to fighting for every morsel of food. It can take months for them to become used to the idea that competing for food is no longer necessary.

Obviously, cats can be conditioned to live in groups, as many farms keep groups of cats around for mousing purposes. But those groups usually are generated right there, as progeny from an "original couple," or several mating pairs produce their own offspring over time. Thus, cats in larger groups, called clowders or colonies, are related to each other, have grown up together, have shared parenting tasks, and are used to each other.

Shelter groups, by contrast, consist primarily of unrelated animals that seldom even know each other. There is no familiarity, and thus little if any community spirit. The pecking order has not been established, as it would be in a pre-existing communal setting. This results in a high level of stress for the cats, who are motivated by instinct to create such an order. There must be a "top cat," and there must be subordinate members who respect him, although it occasionally can be a female.

For the good of the shelter situation, or even a multi-cat household, the top cat had better be you. One or more staff must earn the respect of the cats in order to minimize the stress, as well as the urges to fight as a means of jockeying for position.

Cats are social to a point, but much less so than dogs. When people are involved, it is very important for the humans to maintain a setting in which the cats can feel secure.

Of course, the typical "pound" type of shelter, where animals aren't given much time before they are destroyed, will never reach a point where the social order and well being of the cats are considered important. Moreover, pound pets are usually caged, eliminating any concerns for social dynamics.

The group assimilation efforts apply more to the "no-kill" facilities, where the aim is to rehabilitate those that need help and to find them new homes. But cats can live in such a facility for years before a home is found. It then becomes extremely important for the cats to carve out their own niches within the group, to preserve harmony, if possible.

Cats thus socialized often make the transition to a new home with less apparent trauma than those imprisoned in traditional “kennel” environments.