Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, January 4, 2002


The secret to brushing your cat is to make him think that he is in control. Start with short sessions and lengthen them gradually, always making grooming a pleasant experience.

Tips for keeping cats
and owners happy

By Hawaiian Humane Society

Experience is the best teacher. We asked those who know cats to share their best secrets for keeping cats and their people happy.

>> Grooming a scaredy-cat: The cat who isn't willing to be groomed can be taught to enjoy brushing with time. It's important to let the cat feel like he is in control. Approach your cat in the midst of a catnap when he doesn't exert enough energy to get away. Hold out the brush quietly and let him nuzzle up against it. Start with short sessions and lengthen them gradually, always making it a pleasant experience. At the beginning, when he wants to leave, let him. You can entice your cat to sit still by offering him treats.

>> Keeping your indoor cat from running out: If there were a way to teaching your cat to dislike the door and therefore avoid it, the chances of her running out would be greatly reduced. The best suggestion we heard, and this from a veterinarian specializing in cats, is to spray the door jam with a pet-safe bitter apple or a citrus repellent spray. These products are available at pet supply stores.

>> The cure for biting: To avoid getting bitten by your cat, remember that hands are always the givers of affection. Use a toy as a plaything, never your hands or fingers. Keep toys separate from your hands and you'll avoid getting bitten.

>> Preventing litter box problems: Inappropriate elimination is the most frequently reported issue for cat owners, so knowing how to prevent problems and correct them if they occur is very important to cat, and cat owner, happiness. Use an open litter box, not the enclosed type; have one litter box for each cat; and keep the box clean. Place the litter box where your cat will feel safe -- from other animals and noises (such as washing machine buzzers) -- and have a sense of privacy. Use unscented, scoopable litter and once you find a brand of litter your cat likes, stay with it.

>> Keeping cats from digging in your garden: Place sharp-edged (not smooth) pebbles or rocks on top of the dirt or mulch area, and press them down so they are not easily moved or overturned. Or you can place screening just under the dirt around your flower beds. Cats do not like marigolds, marjoram, rosemary or basil, so planting a border of these can keep them from sleeping or digging in your flowers. Mothballs buried in the dirt also work but these dissipate and need to be reapplied frequently.

>> Safe excursions on the lanai: Cats can, and do, fall from lanais, and they can be seriously hurt or killed. One cat owner started using a leash when her cat is on the lanai -- this after her pet walked the length of the building on the one-inch wide rail. Other safety-conscious cat owners use netting. It's important to supervise your cat when he is on a leash.

>> Hazard-free outdoor play: There are two sure-fire ways for cats to play outside and not be endangered by cars and other animals, and not be a bother to neighbors. The first is to take your cat outside on a leash. The advantage of this method is that you get to play outside too as you'll want to monitor your pet's motions so he won't get tangled in branches or outdoor furniture. The second method is to build a cattery so your pet can enjoy the beautiful trade wind breezes and watch birds. Another idea is a specially designed cat fencing so your pet will stay safely in his own yard. The only disadvantage of cat fencing is that it may not keep other people's cats from entering your yard.

>> Helping your cat live longer: An 18-year-old cat is considered pretty long-lived, but we've also heard of cats that have survived happily and healthily for 25 years. We all want our pets to be part of our lives for as long as possible, and some ways to do that include: a diet of nutritious cat food, regular veterinary visits, being spayed or neutered, moderate exercise. Sounds a bit like advice given for humans (except for the spay/neuter of course).

Happy new year from everyone (animals included) at the Hawaiian Humane Society!

The Hawaiian Humane Society is located at 2700 Waialae Ave., open noon to 8 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. The incoming animals desk is open 24 hours for receiving animals and responding to animal emergencies. If you have lost or found a pet, call 946-2187, Ext. 280. The Web site is

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