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Urine spraying

Urine spraying

There are many different reasons for urine spraying – some are physical, some are behavioural. The first thing we want to do is a full physical examination and urine analysis, to eliminate any medical problems.

Having done this, we can then approach the behavioural causes.
Some cats may urine spray because they are feeling anxious. In these cases you will need to do some extra things to make areas the cat is urinating in less attractive or unsuitable, while making the litter tray as attractive and accessible as possible.

1. Clean the soiled area to eliminate smells of previous urination with cleaners such as the laundry powder, Bio Zet and neutralise rather than mask, the smell with a product such as Bac to Nature, Nilodour or Enzstain.  When possible, clean with 90% alcohol prior to Bac to Nature to further reduce odour.  Avoid bleach and ammonia as these have a residual smell that can actually enhance the urine odour.

2. Confine the cat to a small area that has previously not been sprayed in.  Gradually allow access to more of the house once the spraying diminishes.

3. Change the significance of the soiled areas by placing there such items as food (superglueing some dry cat food to a paper plate placed on that spot), toys, double-sided sticky tape, lemon-scented soap, citrus peels, mothballs, or Snappy Trainers.  Cover the area with thick plastic or plastic hall runners or place the cat’s bedding in that area or simply denying access to certain areas until the cat is reliably urinating appropriately.  Another alternative is to place a tray in the area the cat prefers and then gradually move it to the area that you consider acceptable. Spraying a pheromone spray on all soiled areas daily for 30 days may help.

4. Spray the cat with a water pistol if it is caught in the act of urine spraying.

5. Provide one litter tray per at and an extra one in another area, to allow easy access.

6. Clean the tray at least once daily with warm soapy water and preferably every time it was used.

7. Vary they type of litter or add an empty litter tray, as cats have different litter and/or privacy preferences. Modifications to the tray itself can also be useful, for example, providing  a covered tray for more privacy or a tray with a cut down side for an arthritic cat for easier access.

8. Spend 10-15 minutes per day at a set time, playing, grooming and otherwise interacting with the cat on its own.

9. Grow an indoor garden of safe plants such as catnip or catmint for the cat to use.

(SEE ALSO TIPS FOR FELINE FUN and Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease.


Progressive reinforcement training

Progressive reinforcement training

Positive Training Yields Positive Results!

By Kristin Crestejo, ABCDT

 Progressive reinforcement training (PRT) is a type of animal training that involves no forms of intimidation, violence, or domination, but rather emphasizes teaching the desired behaviour using only rewards, such as a toy, treat or positive environment.

I know that when a lot of people hear the phrase “reward good behaviours and ignore bad ones” they have conjure images in their heads of training that allows dogs to get away with murder. This is very far from the truth! Over the years, trainers and animal behaviourists have learned that dogs will always do what is reinforced, so it is therefore our job to show them exactly what we want them to do.

 Benefits of starting PRT with a young dog

 A young dog’s mind is like a sponge-whatever you show them it is absorbed quickly, and so learning comes easy. If you begin training your pup by showing him exactly what you want him to do, that pup will have a clear understanding of what’s expected and will be less confused. For example, when your puppy is chewing on your hands, many people scream “no” and wave their hands around. This often gets puppies more excited, so now you’ve shown him or her that a person screaming equals play. The puppy is doing what comes natural to him-using his mouth to explore the world, play and soothe achy teeth- so you cannot punish this behaviour. You need to interrupt, and redirect. When the puppy is biting you, make a noise such as a whistle or kissy sound (interruption); most likely the pup will stop to see what the sound was. This is your chance to show the puppy the proper chew toy by moving one of his toys around for a chase and wrestle game (redirect). Don’t make the mistake of tossing a toy to the pup when walking away and ignoring him. Why would the puppy stay with the toy? That’s boring! Make the toy interactive, and play with it for two or three minutes.

 Why is it best to use non- aversive methods?

 When you use punishment techniques, such as intimidation with verbal and physical corrections, you’re teaching the dog to suppress whatever behaviour the dog is showing. Suppressing an undesirable behaviour doesn’t fix the problem, it just covers it up – and a potentially worse behaviour can pop up down the road. Because dogs cannot talk, their communication efforts get lost in translation. If we start comparing human behaviour to dog behaviour in an effort to understand them, things can get really ugly. Dogs and humans have very different communication systems; while we primarily use words, dogs communicate mainly with their bodies. For example, when you see a snarling, lunging dog, chances are it is extremely terrified and feels he must put on a scary face to, say, make another dog or person go away. Rather than correcting your dog, show him what behaviour you would like instead, and reinforce that behaviour with something that your dog likes, such as treats or toys.

 Be proactive, not reactive

When I meet a client for the first time, I constantly hear about how they have had to correct their dog time and again. When the dog doesn’t make any progress, owners often blame the dog’s intelligence level and sometimes even give the dog away, believing her or she will never grasp training. Corrections fail most of the time because we cannot give the right amount of punishment paired with the exact moment the behaviour happens for it to take effect. Most corrections are given too late, and are either too hard or too soft. This makes it difficult for the dog to understand what he is doing wrong.

Don’t wait for your dog to get into trouble before showing him what is acceptable; manage your environment so that he is unable to get into trouble. For example, this could mean not allowing the dog free access to the entire house until he can be trusted.

By not allowing dogs to exhibit bad behaviours, they can’t learn from them!

 The above article is a courtesy of

PETS Magazine, January/February 2012

Kristin Crestejo, ABCDT, is head trainer and behaviour consultant at Modern Canine Training in Langley, British Columbia. www.




What is Toxoplasma?

Toxoplasma is a microscopic organism that is found in many domestic animals including cats, dogs, horses, pigs and sheep. Humans can also become infected. There are a number of possible routes of infections. These include:
1.Eating raw or under cooked meat
2.Contact with cat faeces
3.Drinking water or eating raw vegetables contaminated by cat faeces.

Once infected, humans produce antibodies which can be detected by a blood test. While any person can be infected with Toxoplasma, the people at greatest risk of serious problems are pregnant women with a cat in their household and immunocompromised people eg. those with leukemia or Hodgkin’s disease, AIDS sufferers transplant patients or cancer patients recieving chemotherapy.

Many people often panic and have their cat rehomed or euthanised when they discover they are pregnant. Pregnant women should have a blood test first to determine whether they have any Toxoplasma antibodies. It is only women that have no antibodies and thus have not been previously exposed that are at risk. However, if appropriate precautions are taken then there is often little risk if any to the pregnant woman and her foetus.

Precautions to follow are:
1. Do not handle or eat raw meat and ensure all meat is cooked thoroughly.  If meat must be handled wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly after.
2. Wash utensils used for meat preparation in hot soapy water.
3. Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
4. Do not feed cats raw or undercooked meat.
5. Prevent cats from hunting or scavenging.
6. Avoid handling cat litter. If this is not possible wear gloves when doing so and dispose of cat litter daily. Disinfect trays with boiling water and wash hands after handling litter trays.
7. Wear gloves when gardening.
8. Always wash hands thoroughly before eating.
9. Do not assist ewes lambing without gloves!