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Understanding And Training Your Cat Or Kitten

Understanding And Training Your Cat Or Kitten

by H. Ellen Whiteley
What do you do to promote harmonious relations when your cat hates your fiancé? How do you raise kittens that will interact well with children? How do cats learn? Can you teach your cat to ring the doorbell or play dead? Are some cats despots? How do you know if a cat is depressed? Stressed? Sick? Happy? In fourteen information-packed chapters, H. Ellen


What do you do to promote harmonious relations when your cat hates your fiancé? How do you raise kittens that will interact well with children? How do cats learn? Can you teach your cat to ring the doorbell or play dead? Are some cats despots? How do you know if a cat is depressed? Stressed? Sick? Happy? In fourteen information-packed chapters, H. Ellen Whiteley, D.V.M., answers these and hundreds of other vital questions. Each chapter includes a letter from a concerned cat owner and Dr. Whiteley's advice to that owner. Whiteley draws upon her experience as a house-call veterinarian for felines and her years as a pet columnist for publications such as "The Saturday Evening Post," "Woman's World," "Cats," and others to write a book filled with interesting and insightful anecdotes about patients, clients, and readers that will keep you turning pages long after you've discovered the answers to your specific questions. H. Ellen Whiteley, D.V.M., is the author of "Understanding and Training Your Dog or Puppy," "Animals and Other Teachers" and the coauthor of "Women in Veterinary Medicine: Profiles of Success," all from Sunstone Press, as well as "Train Your Dog in No Time" from Que Publishing. She has been a veterinarian for over thirty years, with job descriptions as diverse as military veterinarian and national rabies awareness spokesperson. Whiteley founded Cat Clinic of Amarillo, Texas, and at the time was the only veterinarian in her locality to offer house-call services for cats. An avid hiker, Whiteley has trekked in Nepal and climbed Africa's Kilimanjaro. She and her husband George live in Guadalupita, New Mexico. For more information, visit her website: www.DrWhiteley.com

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Of obsessive-compulsive disorder among cats, Whiteley ( Women in Veterinary Medicine: Profiles of Success ) writes, ``MeeMee, a female Siamese looked around with a weird look in her eyes, swung her head to one side, and licked at her left paw in the sort of rhythm that you could set a metronome by. Nothing seemed to distract her when she entered one of her compulsive licking periods.'' The syndrome? ``Displacement grooming''; Valium solved it. Whiteley gets to the point, too, on a range of other problems and issues in feline behavior--anorexia; the insatiable appetite for grass or houseplants; the challenges posed by air travel, w/owner or w/o; and the meaning of purring (cats are not necessarily happy, she says, when they do it). And she discusses training your pet, whether or not you believe it will work at the outset, maintaining that it really is possible to instruct cats in the arts of sitting, stopping, fetching, jumping, and in shaking hands/paws. They can also, she says, learn to ring the doorbell. (But, wait--is that really an advantage?) The proof is in trying all of this stuff out; meanwhile, it's amusing. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Writing in an anecdotal style, Whiteley, a veterinarian and founder of the Cat Clinic in Amarillo, Texas, focuses on the cat's psychology and behavior. Her consideration of cat selection and suggestions for training will be helpful to prospective and first-time cat owners. She also covers such basic pet care topics as grooming, nutrition, and preventive medicine, though Terri McGinnis's The Well Cat Book: The Classic Comprehensive Handbook of Cat Care ( LJ 6/1/93) provides more detailed information. Whiteley's final chapter, ``Saying Goodbye,'' will be of interest to anyone who has lost a pet. Suggestions for pet funerals and a short bibliography of children's books dealing with the death of a pet are particularly helpful. Recommended for public libraries.-- Charlotte Means, UM-KC Health Sciences Lib., Kansas City, Mo.

Product Details

Sunstone Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.66(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Six: The Basics


Food Preference

A newborn kitten is attracted to the nipple by scent, and smell continues to play a role in his location and selection of food as he grows into an adult. Preference for food is also influenced by the food's taste and texture, and by its familiarity.

Cats are not naturally attracted to foods with high sugar content like people and other animals, and it makes sense to refrain from giving them sugar treats. Cats are particularly sensitive to bitter tastes and cats will not eat food containing hydrogenated coconut oil because they have an enzyme in their mouth that breaks this fat and certain other fats into bitter-tasting fatty acids. Cats that prefer dry food usually do so because they like the taste and feel of the food particles in their mouth, and they may have a preference for one particular particle shape or another. Watering a dry food usually enhances its attractiveness to dogs but not to cats. If a cat likes a dry ration, he likes it unaltered.

Kittens develop specific food preferences early in life, and their likes and dislikes are well established by the time they are six months old. Kitties develop an appetite for the type of prey their mother brought to the next. If mother was a bird killer, kittens develop an aptitude for killing and a desire for eating birds. On the other hand, kittens raised as vegetarians may kill prey but will not eat the carcass until taught to do so by an outsider who opens the carcass, exposing them to the smell of fresh tissue.

Adult cats tend to select the type of food they ate as kittens and juveniles. One study suggests that the milk of lactating mothers contains a flavor cue and that at weaning the young exhibit a preference for the same type of diet that the mother was eating during lactation. Juveniles eating a one-food diet such as liver or tuna often develop addictions to this type of food.

People have the same tendency to choose foods they grew up with. There are usually pleasant memories associated with our favorite childhood dishes. If you want to nurture someone who is ill, offer to cook him a piece of French toast, grilled cheese sandwich, or that old standby, chicken soup, prepared just the way his mom did it.

Whether you are raising kids or kitties, it helps to expose them to a variety of foods at an early age. Kittens eating a limited menu often grow up to be picky. Morris has become rich and famous by being finicky, but for most cats being hard to please is a handicap. It is a health problem when a cat with a chronic illness refuses to eat a needed prescription diet or when a cat accustomed to a diet consisting only of liver, for example, is placed on a balanced ration by his veterinarian. Luckily, most commercial cat foods contain a number of different food items.

Although some cats initially eat more of a new diet, others turn up their nose at anything that smacks of a change in food or feeding routine. It helps to proceed slowly when enticing a reluctant kitty to accept a new food. Add 20 percent new food to the old, and when the cat accepts it add another 20 percent, and so on. The process may take a couple of months. The old theory about a cat eating when he finally gets hungry enough is true most of the time, but not all. Some cats will starve before eating what they consider an unacceptable food.

Unlike dogs, cats do not eat more in social situations. Most dogs are stimulated to eat by the sight of another dog chowing down, and many will bolt their food in an effort to be the first with the most in the food department.

Cats given a choice will select small meals, about the size of a mouse in portion and nutrients, and will eat every two to three hours, much like their hunting ancestors. An exception to this tendency to munch is seen in an occasional cat, usually female, that eats erratically, consuming little food for one to several days and then gorging the next. However, since most cats are snackers, I recommend that cat caretakers offer several small meals per day or allow free choice of dry food, if the animal is not obese.

Studies prove that cats eat and drink just as readily during the night as during the day. Cats don't need a night light to find their feeding or water bowl; they have superior night vision and whiskers that function as feelers.

One experiment showed a variation on this theme. The observed cats ate frequent small meals spaced evenly throughout the day and night, except for an absence of eating behavior during summer afternoon hours. I assume this means that the cat, being smart, is comfortably curled up somewhere, sleeping until the evening cool signals the time to awaken and get on with the business of eating and living.

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