After a long day at work, you’re tired and all you want to do is go home and put your feet up. But as soon as you open the door, you see trash scattered all over the kitchen floor and your dog has a guilty look. If you only have one pet, the naughty one is obvious, but households with two or more pets may not know which one did the dastardly deed. Before jumping to conclusions, are you sure you’re blaming the right pet?
Like any pet owner, when I come home and find knick knacks lying on the floor I assume one of the cats must have had a fun afternoon dusting the table. I’ve even returned home to find a chunk missing out of the arm of my couch. My first reaction is to look to see who looks guilty. Trying to find the guilty cat is like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack! “Don’t look at me. I’m a cat and we never do anything wrong.” Besides, cats believe everything in your home belongs to them anyway. So, since the knick knacks and table are theirs, it’s a cat’s right to rearrange them if she decides the table looks better without all that clutter.
Dogs sometimes give us a peevish look of guilt that says it all, whether they’ve been naughty or not. My dog Alex will sit in the corner of the couch with all of the guilty signs of a bad dog. Her face is long, her head drops low and she looks at me with the saddest eyes she can muster even though I know she’s innocent. Alex doesn’t get into trouble, but she reads me like a book.
If you have more than one feline in your household, there may come a time when your ears are assaulted with the awful screeching noise of two cats fighting. Most of the time, these are merely playful tussles that sound a lot worse than they actually are. The noise fighting cats make can seem like they are in a fight to the death, even if they’re really just engaged in a mock battle or trying to assert their place as Top Cat in your household. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to be able to distinguish between a real cat fight and a “play” fight. Play fights don’t require human intervention, but all-out cat brawls do, lest one or both of your cats get injured in the fight. Learn about the body language of cats and the signals that indicate a fight is for real.
The best way to break up a cat fight is to not let one get started in the first place, and understanding a cat’s body language is a great help. The problem is that with some cats, there is a bit of a “gray area” between play and fighting. Generally speaking, growling, hissing, arched backs, flattened ears, puffed up fur and big fat tails are not good signs. Subtleties aside, if you really take the time to observe your cats’ posturing and sounds, you can usually distinguish between the mock battles and a serious fight.
Breaking up a dog fight can be difficult and potentially dangerous. If your canine family includes two or more dogs, they may all get into a fight at one time or another. It’s a scary situation, especially if you’re alone and there’s no time to think about what to do in the heat of the battle. Even a dog who is quiet and docile can turn into a raging bull when pushed too far. Breaking up a dog fight is one of the hardest things you may have to do. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place; even better, learn about the body language of dogs to prevent fights before they begin. Dog behavior that might lead to a fight is clear and easy to see, if you know what to look for.
Having lived in the country my entire life, feral cats have always been a way of life. They are everywhere, and they multiply at the rate of two or three litters per year. Each litter averages four to six kittens that can begin reproducing at around five months of age. It’s easy to see how feral cat populations grow out of control.
It’s estimated that there are more than 10 million feral cats in the United States. The only difference between stray cats and feral cats is that strays were once someone’s pet. They became lost or abandoned and live wild, scavenging as they are able. Cats later born to these strays have not had close human contact and become feral cats. Feral cats generally stay far away from humans, presenting another tricky issue: how do we cut down on the population?
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