How to Introduce a Baby to a Cat

Posted August 26th, 2014 by admin

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Dear Kitten,” a viral video making the Internet rounds, features an older, wiser cat begrudgingly teaching the new kitten the ways of the world. Hilarious and oddly believable, some of the video is spot on, including how the “human larva … can be a bit grabby.” Although I don’t tend to refer to my child as a “human larva,” she IS a bit grabby, especially with kitty cat tails. Here’s what we’re doing to curb this behavior before it becomes a bad habit.

“If you tell any more of my secrets on the Internet, I might forget about the ‘soft paws’ rule.”

When Toby was a kitten, I taught him “soft paws,” a trick I picked up from Pam Johnson-Bennett, CCBC, the star of Psycho Kitty. Kittens are curious, playful creatures, and your moving fingers, toes, and legs are all major targets. When a kitten grabs you with their claws, lean in to their grasp. Prey pulls away, so if you pull away, you’re continuing the “game.” When you lean in, kitty gets bored and eventually learns not to grab you with claws. Clearly, this only works with consistency and much repetition, but it’s super important for your cat to know that grabbing you with claws is NOT acceptable. Your appendages and your guests will thank you.

People are amazed when they pet Toby and find out he has all of his claws…and yet they remain unscathed. Toby, Master of the Soft Paws!

So what do soft paws have to do with babies? Everything! Babies are much like kittens –- curious, playful, and eager to explore the world. Kitty fur is soft and that twitching tail is so tempting to grab! Babies first learn to grab things with a “raking grasp,” meaning they curl their fingers inward and pull the object towards them. Later, they learn to pinch things between their fingers to hold them, but both of these methods equals grabby and uncomfortable for a cat.

They’re just adorable together.

When we have kitty/baby play time, I carefully monitor their interactions. When Willow Bean reaches for Toby, I encourage her to pet him gently. As soon as I see those little fingers beginning to bury themselves in fur for a good handhold, I open her palm and stroke Toby’s fur with it. I tell her, “Open palm, gentle touch, happy kitty.” I then take my own hand and gently rub Toby’s head, behind his ears, and along his back as she watches me. When she goes for that irresistible twitchy tail, I move her hand and tell her “no,” then place her open palm back on Toby’s side, and we repeat the open-handed petting, all the while praising them both for their patience and good behavior.

She’s only six months old, so you might think me silly for trying to teach her how to be gentle with animals so early, but I believe that a good foundation starts from day one. Some people think it’s cute when they see children hauling their pet kitties around by the neck, pulling their tails, or tugging at their ears, but I think it’s setting the children and the cats up for failure. Even the mildest-tempered cat may strike out with claws (or teeth!) if they are harassed enough or hurt, and that means that cat may end up in a shelter or much worse.

Toby says, “Raise ‘em right, raise ‘em to love cats!”

Remember, our children are the pet owners and advocates of the future. When we teach them love and respect from an early age, they hold those values within themselves for life. An added bonus? They’ll have a wonderful relationship with their childhood cat, making some precious memories for the future.

Have you ever had a baby and a kitty at the same time? How did they interact? Let us know in the comments. 

Read more about cats and babies:

About Meghan Lodge:: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

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    ‘Pig Perfume’ Stops Dogs From Behaving Badly

    Posted August 26th, 2014 by admin

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    Spritzing dogs with a “pig perfume” helps prevent them from barking incessantly, jumping frantically on house guests and from engaging in other unwanted behaviors, according to new research.

    Ingram Publishing

    Credit: Thinkstock

    The eau de oink, aka “Boar Mate” or “Stop That,” was formulated by Texas Tech scientist John McGlone, who was looking for a way to curb his Cairn terrier Toto’s non-stop barking. One spritz of the pig perfume seemed to do the trick in an instant without harming his dog.

    RELATED: 10 Best Sniffers in the Animal Kingdom

    “It was completely serendipitous,” McGlone, who works in the university’s Animal and Food Sciences department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, said in a press release. “One of the most difficult problems is that dogs bark a lot, and it’s one of the top reasons they are given back to shelters or pounds.”

    The key ingredient is androstenone, a steroid and pheromone produced by male pigs and released in their saliva and fat. When detected by female pigs in heat, they seem to find the male more attractive. (The females assume a mating stance.) One can imagine that dogs spritzed with the scent should not hang around amorous female pigs, but other than that, the product seems to work, according to McGlone.

    Androstenone smells pungent and is not very appealing to humans, but it can have an effect on mammal behavior, he said.

    VIDEO: Dogs Have Feelings, Too

    He and his colleagues tested the product on four different groups of barking dogs in separate kennels. The researchers were looking at not only the possible effectiveness of the key ingredient, but also if the spritzing itself (sound and liquid around face) dumbfounded the dogs.

    For the study, the first group of dogs simply had a person with another dog stand in front of the kennels. The second group of dogs was sprayed with a placebo that made a startling spritz noise. The third group of dogs was sprayed with the noise and a lower concentration of androstenone in isopropyl alcohol. The fourth group was sprayed with a higher concentration of androstenone in isopropyl alcohol that also made the spritz sound.

    In the first group, 25 percent (3 out of 12 dogs) stopped barking. In the second group, 44 percent (4 of 9 dogs) stopped barking. In the third group, sprayed with the lower concentration of the pheromone, 78 percent (7 of 9 dogs) stopped barking. In the fourth group, sprayed with the higher concentration of androstenone, 100 percent (6 of 6 dogs) stopped barking.

    “We sprayed it in their nose or toward their head while they were barking…barking and jumping, running back and forth,” McGlone said. “This whole behavior stopped. You could almost see them thinking, ‘What was that?’”

    The good news is that the product had no impact on the heart rate/cardio function of the dogs, which was the main side effect that they were worried about. Androstenone, in addition to being a pheromone in pigs, appears to also be an intermone, which refers to a product that is, McGlone explained, a “pheromone in one species and has a behavioral effect in another species, but we do not know if it is a pheromone (naturally produced) in the other species.”

    RELATED: Dogs Likely Born with Canine Telepathy

    He indicated that the product stops cats in their tracks too.

    McGlone, though, quickly added, “It’s best used as a training tool rather than a circus act to stop animals from doing what they’re doing.”

    He’s now testing pheromones released by dogs, cats, pigs and horses to see if any might be useful in commercial products. Other researchers continue to look at human pheromones as well, hoping to create the perfect Love Potion #9 and other hopefully beneficial formulations.

    MORE ON PAWNATION: Lauren Bacall Leaves $10K for Dog’s Care


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      Hi Einstein,

      I’ve been feeling like something the cat dragged in. I’m hot and my legs ache. When my human feels like this, he goes to the magic cabinet and he feels better soon. Sometimes he gives those orange baby aspirin to the dog when Fideaux’s joints hurt. Is there something behind door No. 2 that can help me?

      –Prozac the Persian

      “I feel crappy. What’s in the first aid kit?” Senior cat portrait by Shutterstock.

      Keep calm, Prozac,

      It’s a supremely bad idea for you to take humans’ medicine without a vet’s okey-dokey. The possible causes of fever and painful joints are legion. Better to go to the vet so she can treat the real reason, not just the symptoms.

      We kitties are made very different from humans, and even dogs. So many foods and medications that are safe for dogs and toddlers can have us pushing up the catnip. (For example, dogs and kids can eat lilies and get an upset stomach, but if we kitties nibble on lilies, without quick treatment, we end up in the bottom of a hole.) Human meds should only be given to a kitty when your vet says it’s okay. 

      Even if you and the family dog take the same medications, they will have different doses because dogs come in different sizes, you have different medical histories, and pooches and pusses metabolize chemicals differently. Human instruction labels don’t apply to us because we kitties are so much smaller than kids and we process drugs more slowly; daily doses of medicine for a 10-pound baby still might be an overdose for us. What’s good for the grade-schooler and the Greyhound may not be good for the Javanese.

      Your cat might easily mistake these for edible treats. Pills poured out of the bottle intended for pets by Shutterstock

      Dr. Catherine Adams of the Pet Poison Helpline says we kitties don’t typically break into medicine bottles like dumb dogs do. (Not a direct quote. She didn’t call dogs simpleminded; I did.) Leaving sleep aids or anti-anxiety pills out on the nightstand can end in disaster because they look and act like cat toys. Humans need to make sure they don’t accidentally poison their kitties by letting us lick medicated creams off their skin. Dr. Adams says therapeutic creams may have “a low margin of safety.” Who’d have thought a little love taste could send you to the emergency clinic?

      12 over-the-counter and prescription drugs that can quickly ruin a kitty’s day

      If your human suspects you may have ingested any poison, he should call either of these 24/7 animal poison control hotlines, then take you to the vet immediately: Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435). These aren’t free calls, but you’re worth it. 

      • Acetaminophen (Tylenol), a non-aspirin pain reliever that is highly toxic to cats. Even the tiniest dose can be deadly. Drug companies put acetaminophen in all kinds of bipedal cold, headache, and arthritis medications. Acetaminophen not only damages the feline liver, but it also destroys red blood cells. If your human gives you acetaminophen you may experience salivating, brownish/gray-colored gums, labored breathing, a racing heart, swelling in the face or paws, no appetite, diarrhea, low body temp, puking, jaundice (which your human can see in the yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes), coma and even dropping over dead.
      • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), another popular human analgesic. It causes stomach ulcers and kidney failure. 
      • 5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil, Efudex [topical]), a nasty chemotherapy ointment. When we lick it off of our human’s arm, says Dr. Adams, it causes gastrointestinal concerns, neurologic symptoms and bone marrow suppression. 
      • Medicated creams of any kind (including Vitamin D creams) can cause a variety of serious to deadly effects. You shouldn’t lick your human if he’s using medicated lotions.
      • Venlafaxine (Effexor), a human antidepressant. Most human medications we avoid like a flea bath, but we kitties love to eat venlafaxine, says Dr. Adams. Yum. Humans should keep a close eye on their venlafaxine stash and not leave these capsules on the counters. It can cause agitation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.

      • Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), which is found in many OTC products like Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol and also in medicated creams. It causes drooling, dehydration, puking, and a staggering gait. It can affect the bone marrow and liver. Internal bleeding is common.
      • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Even small doses can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
      • Alprazolam (Xanax), a prescription anti-anxiety/sleep aid. Humans often leave them on the nightstand so they remember to take them. It can cause a blood pressure drop, weakness or collapse.
      • Adderall, which is prescribed for hyperactive kids, causes elevated heart rate and body temperature, along with hyperactivity, tremors and seizures.
      • Zolpidem (Ambien), a human sleep aid and another nightstand no-no. We kitties get wobbly and sleepy or become very agitated with a rapid heartbeat.
      • Clonazepam (Klonopin) is prescribed as an anticonvulsant, anti-anxiety med and as a sleep aid. Once again, when kitties ingest clonazepam they can become sleepy and wobbly. It can lower the blood pressure, leading to weakness or collapse.
      • Duloxetine (Cymbalta), a antidepressant/anti-anxiety med. It can cause agitation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.

      Let's hope your human now keeps medications like these locked away in a high cabinet, and make sure he has these important phone numbers on hand: Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435).

      Read related stories on Catster:

      Got a question for he who knows everything feline? Just Ask Einstein in the comments below and you might be featured in an upcoming column. (Letters don't have to be written from the cat's point of view.) Remember, any change in your cat's behavior or activities could be a symptom of disease and should be investigated by your vet, even if it unfortunately involves glass tubes and cat posteriors.

      Einstein’s assistant, Dusty Rainbolt ACCBC, is the vice president of the Cat Writers’ Association, editor-in-chief of and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She’s the award-winning author of eight fiction and non-fiction books including her most recent paranormal mystery, Death Under the Crescent Moon. 

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        Black Cat Interrupts Barcelona Soccer Game

        Posted August 26th, 2014 by admin

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        It’s always annoying when a match is stopped by spectators running onto the field. However, when a cat is causing the ruckus, it’s hilarious. A black feline ran onto the field at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona during the opener between La Liga and Elche. The rambunctious kitty romped around before finally being caught.

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        Sleeping Cat Doesn’t Appreciate Wake-Up Call

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        Kitten Has Epic Battle With Ceramic Cat Figurine


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          Daily GIFs: August 25, 2014

          Posted August 25th, 2014 by admin

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          Getting through the day can be tough, but you know what makes it easier? Adorable GIFs. Check out these furry mini-flicks floating around the Internet. It’s probably the cutest way to waste time and wait for the weekend.

          1. “Fight back, you coward!”

          2. “Bye-bye! Have a nice day!”

          3. This little bear got quite spooked by the nonchalant lion cub.

          4. “I’m the cute one.” “No, I’m the cute one!” “No, I am!”

          5. Full-body sneeze.

          Get another dose of adorable animals:


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            Videos We Love: 5 Cats Who Are Weird Sleepers

            Posted August 24th, 2014 by admin

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            Fall is coming, school is starting, and we’re all stressed to the max — or maybe that’s just me. After a week of grad school orientation, my brain is full and my energy reserves are empty, and I could literally curl up on the wood floor next to this pile of cat vomit and sleep all afternoon.

            In any case, it’s Friday, and we could all probably use a nap. Face down. On a foosball table. Take it from the cats in these videos: Napping is a challenging activity that requires a lifetime of practice — so you’d better get started. 

            But first, watch these cute and funny videos, and don’t miss the quote of the day: “This is Roger sleeping. Very typical; very normal.”

            1. Weird Sleepers

            Lots of people do yoga to meditate or relax, but how many of us hold a yoga pose for six hours while taking a nap? Answer: your cat. It seems there’s no way these weird sleepers could possibly be comfortable — but look at their faces. They’re out cold (show-offs). Though I’m not convinced the little guy napping face-down in the flower pot didn’t just pass out after too much catnip. 

            2. Twitchy Kittens

            If their mid-nap twitches are any indicator, these adorable babies are having some really good dreams. When humans dream, we’re not this cute; I tend to talk about marshmallows and pull all the blankets over to my side of the bed.

            3. Indifferent Dreamer

            Ever had one of those moments where you’ve reached your limit, and you don’t care who’s watching — you need to do what you need to do RIGHT NOW, and that just happens to involve rubbing Koosh Balls all over your face at the toy store? Or devouring an entire chocolate croissant while in line at the coffee shop, before you’ve even paid?

            “Screw it” seems to be the mantra of this handsome striped fella, who plopped down in an awkward seated position to rest, gawkers be damned.

            4. The Deep Sleeper

            This cat is sleeping more deeply than anyone has since the invention of sleep. He is a little bit terrifying, actually, what with the tongue sticking out, the eyes rolled back, and the way he flops around like a puppet lacking a hand. Someone grab the smelling salts!

            5. The Innovator

            This kitten has figured out that “desks” are really just big, flat, hard beds. So stretch out and get comfy, already.

            Watch more cat videos:

            Learn more about your cat with Catster:

            About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.

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