My Family and Other Animals

When adopting an animal, the whole family should be involved in the choice

Na’ama Rolnik, SPCA Adoption Counselor and dog trainer 

Adopting a dog or cat brings, without doubt, a significant change in the family dynamics, affecting everyone. Even if one member of the family takes on the responsibility of being the main caretaker, the choice still has to suit all the others.

As a result of our wide experience in giving pets up for adoption, for many years now we, at the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel, have been operating proceedings titled “Responsible Adoption”. The goal of this process is to reach maximum compatibility between the dog or cat and the adopters so that the animal will be able to live in its new home for the rest of its life and will not be abandoned again for reasons of incompatibility. During the process, the adopters read and sign a special form and have a meeting with one of the Society’s adoption counselors, during which we check if the adopters are able to provide the animal with all its needs and if they understand the obligation and responsibility involved in adoption.

As a result of cases when dogs or cats were returned from adoption because one of those involved decided that the choice was not suitable, we decided that, in the case of animal adoption by a family or other persons, the whole family or all those involved should come to the Society to be an inseparable part of the selection process. Everyone has to meet the new animal, to see how they get on with it. In the case of dogs, they should ascertain that the size of the dog suits and that the children are able to take it out for walks, that no member of the family has any hesitation or fear, if the energies suit the style of the family, and so on.

Following are some points for consideration:

The responsibility lies with the parents’: Very often adopters come to us claiming that it really doesn’t make any difference to their partners which animal they choose. Following our insistence upon everyone joining the process, sometimes, when the partners do come to the Society, they end up choosing a different animal. Sometimes, fathers come along with their children and say that the mother agrees to adopt a pet. On many occasions, when the mother actually comes or talks to us by phone, we discover that she does not agree to raise a dog in the house at all. In other cases, following a routine conversation with an adoption counselor, the parents realize that it is not realistic to expect a small child to take care of all the pet’s needs by itself and that they, the parents are the ones who have to take responsibility. Then we ask them to take time to reconsider and decide if they really are ready to start the process.

Animals do not make good gifts: A dog is a pack animal and will try to find its place also within the family unit. There are dogs that get along very well with adults but would have difficulty accepting the authority of a six-year-old child. Imagine, for instance, a situation where parents surprise their child with a dog that he has wanted so much but, when they bring the dog home, it bares its teeth when the child wants to take away its ball. Involving the child in the adoption process will prevent such situations that are detrimental both to the child and the dog, that will probably be returned to the dog pound. On occasion people come to us with the intention of adopting an animal for a friend or relative as a birthday gift. Also in such cases, we insist that the recipient of the gift should come to the Society to choose the animal. This is not a case of a new shirt or pair of shoes that can be exchanged or put aside when the owner gets tired of it, but a pet that will accompany its owner for many years. The new owners are the ones who will have to take care of their pet’s specific requirements, will become attached to it, to its story and its personality, and will raise it for the rest of its life.

Animals and the elderly: A pet is a loyal lifelong friend who can contribute wonderfully to older people who spend much of their days alone. A pet will give them a reason to go out of the house to walk, it loves to be caressed and snuggle and provides an interesting topic of conversation. Sometimes people come to us wishing to adopt an animal for their grandmother or grandfather, but pick out a dog or cat to which they themselves are attracted and then, at home, they discover that the dog is too energetic or that the cat’s litter box is not welcome in the house.

We know that the adopters have only good intentions and we want to find warm homes for all the cats and dogs in the SPCA, but first and foremost, we take into consideration the welfare of the animal itself and assess if the new house is going to be suitable in the long run. As far as we are concerned, there is nothing more disappointing than an animal that is returned to the Society because the wrong choice was made and did not suit the adopters. So, if you are considering adopting a pet, please devote some time to the process, as it is one that will greatly affect your life. Consider the advantages and the disadvantages, check how much free time you have at your disposal, remember that the children will grow up and leave the house while the animal will still be there. Think about the possible destruction of household items and all the other consequences. Once you have made your decision, come to us as a full family delegation, take the dog for a walk or spend some time with the cat in the cats’ home, and until you all reach a consensus, don’t hurry to adopt your new pet.

Main photo: The complete Gal family (the parents Na’ama and Dani, and the children Dana and Itai) when adopting three-month-old Max, about one year ago.

And the Cat will Dwell with the Dog

You have a dog and are thinking of adopting a cat, or the other way around? Here are some tips that will shatter the myth

Na’ama Rolnik, SPCA Adoption Counselor and dog trainer

Many dogs enjoy chasing cats on the street. They are driven mainly by a strong hunting instinct, but when they reach the cat, the game is over. My dog, for instance, loves to make all the cats in the vicinity climb up the trees and then, when she has accomplished her mission, she comes back home, satisfied and happy. This does not prevent her from growing up in a house with two cats and living with them in perfect harmony.

If you are considering taking in a cat into your home, it is important to verify if your dog limits its enjoyment to displaying its hunting instinct, if it is, perhaps, totally indifferent towards cats, or, in the worst case – is aggressive towards cats, which will force you to abandon the idea of adopting a cat. Should your dog be indifferent to cats or social at a moderate, controllable level of enthusiasm, then you can bring a cat into your home.

In such a situation, it is advisable to bring a kitten so that it can learn to live with and accept the dog as an inseparable part of the household, and, more importantly, to protect the dog. An adult cat that comes into a new family and is under stress may take all its aggressions out on the dog and cause damage, the most problematic being a scratched eye. If you still want to adopt an adult cat, it is recommended to choose one that grew up with dogs or a breed with a quiet temperament such as a Persian or British cat.

If you are rearing a cat and have decided that you are ready to add a dog to your household, it is worthwhile taking the age of the cat into consideration. If the cat is ten years old, has never seen a dog and is a nervous type, it will probably take it a very long time to become accustomed, if it ever will. The ideal situation is when your cat is still a kitten that is still open and receptive to change and can grow accustomed to a dog. However, if your cat is fully grown then there are two optimal options: the first is to adopt an adult dog that grew up with cats or an adult dog that is indifferent to cats. This option suits mainly those who are not able to undertake raising a puppy. The second option is to adopt a puppy. A puppy is far more energetic, which may stress out the cat, but on the other hand, a puppy will learn to accept the cat and to live with it in equanimity.

It should be understood that in all cases of adoption there will be an acclimatization period during which it is not recommended to leave the dog and cat together in the same area without supervision. If you have taken a dog into your home, it is advisable to limit it to one defined area in the house, enabling the cat to wander freely around the rest of the house, and to do the opposite if you have brought a new cat to a home where a dog already lives. The interaction between them must be controlled and it is recommended to leave a leash on the dog when it is near the cat to enable you to control it quickly.

In the Shadow of the Sirens

Tips for looking after your pet during the sirens

In difficult times such as these, dogs and cats are also having a hard time. The noise of the sirens can cause them stress and anxiety or even behavioral changes. Following are a few tips to help you deal with your pets during the sirens.

1. Firstly, regarding dogs, one must avoid the natural instincts to comfort and stroke them. The dog might interpret this as positive reinforcement for his behavior and repeat his anxiety reactions. Take the dog with you, show him that you are confident and relaxed, don’t be angry with him and don’t punish him.

2. At times such as these, dogs and cats are liable to run away from the house in response to the noise of the bombs and sirens. To look after dogs and cats in high-risk areas, it is recommended to ensure that the house is closed and that our little friends cannot find any ways out. Take dogs out for walks only in the close vicinity of the house and with a leash. It is not recommended to let them run freely, not even for a short time, not even if the dogs asks to be let free. In addition, ensure that the dog has a microchip and that his and your details are up-to-date in the National Microchip Center, so that if he does run away, he can be more easily traced.

3. Try to take your pet to the shelter or protected areas with you. If the protected area nearest to you is a shelter or residential secure space, equip it with a little food and water, and in the case of cats – also a litter tray. Most cats will refuse to go into a cage within a short space of time and that will make it more difficult to take them with you to the shelter in real time. Prepare a comfortable and warm corner where the cat can curl up in a hidden place in the house. Let him hide and don’t call him out of his hiding place.

4. If your pet suffers greatly from anxiety and you have difficulty calming him, we recommend getting veterinary assistance.

In the light of the situation, we invite all residents of the South to bring their pets of every type, to our animal shelter at no charge – till the end of the military operation (on the basis of availability). Telephone for queries: *4553.

Hoping for secure and tranquil days in the very near future.

Who’s Afraid of Cats and Dogs?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in Animal Phobia

Dr Danny Derby and the Cognetica Center Staff – The Israeli Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Alon, 38, suffered from Canine Phobia from an early age. When he was five, Alon went with his mother to visit relatives who had a dog, and when he approached the dog with the intention of petting him – as his relative suggested – the dog jumped at him. Alon was very scared and began to cry, and his mother also demonstrated her alarm. This event was the trigger that began Alon’s fear of dogs. At first Alon kept a distance from any dogs on the road, would respond by crying if a dog approached him and would demand that the dog be taken away. As an adult he continued to behave in the same manner, though he asked to have the dog removed in a less dramatic fashion. As the years went by, the fear became more widespread: Alon avoided walking down streets where private homes were situated for fear of meeting up with a dog let loose in a garden which might, perhaps, have an open gate, he would also cross over to the other side of the street or even completely changed his route, if he saw a dog who appeared to him to be threatening, even if the dog was tied up or on a leash.

Finally, in his early twenties, Alon reached the point where even the sight of a dog caused him anxiety, even if the dog was not close to him, and he avoided a wide range of places for fear of running into dogs. Unfamiliar places were also problematic, since he didn’t know if there would be dogs there or not. Sometimes he avoided new places and sometimes he made exhaustive enquiries, agreed to go only when accompanied, or drove to the entrance of the place and only got out of the car after carrying out a thorough inspection of the area.

What is feline or canine phobia?
A phobia is extreme or even paralyzing fear of a certain situation or object, with canine and feline phobia being amongst the most common. In most cases, these phobias appear initially during childhood or adolescence, and tend to be chronic conditions that continue throughout life. Those suffering from canine or feline phobia experience fear or deep disgust when they come in contact with these animals. The fear is not limited to the actual duration of contact, but can also extend to many other instances where there is a possibility or probability of coming in contact with the animal feared, causing actual damage to the person’s functioning level and quality of life. Should the phobia be left untreated, it may well grow more extensive and intrude upon the person’s everyday life, causing restrictions in everyday functioning.

As stated, the phobia can start as the result of an unpleasant encounter with a dog or cat or by observing from the side an unpleasant occurrence experienced by someone else, accompanied by a reaction of alarm. Learning also has an important role in the development of this phobia, and children of parents suffering from these phobias are susceptible to developing them themselves, since they see the fear and their parents’ avoidance of animals. For instance, a child who sees his mother crossing over to the other side of the road when she sees a dog, feels her holding his hand more firmly while glancing frequently at the dog, will learn that dogs are dangerous things and should be avoided.
Though this is a very common disorder, and despite the relatively short time needed for therapy that shows high percentages of improvement, only one quarter of those suffering from the phobia actually apply for therapy. The reasons for this are mainly the prevalence of the problem (since so many suffer from some phobia or other, the feeling is that one is talking about a normative situation and not one that can be treated) and fear of the therapy, which demands confrontation with the object of the fear itself. It is important to point out that the therapists themselves are aware of this difficulty, and the therapy program takes this into account and it is carried out in gradual stages, with the aim of reaching recovery without undergoing undue distress.

How is Canine or Feline Phobia treated?
The most effective treatment of phobias is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – therapy dealing with changing thought and behavior patterns for better coping with the threatening factor. The therapy, which focuses solely on the phobia and does not stray to other issues, thus allows for considerable improvement to be reached in a short time, usually within 12 – 24 sessions

The cognitive section instills knowledge of the animal feared, information about fear itself and learning about coping skills. In addition, superstitions and beliefs that the person has are examined and in the event that these assumptions or beliefs are extreme and unrealistic, work is done on creating more accurate perceptions and thoughts that are less threatening. For instance, many persons suffering from Canine Phobia believe that dogs can smell fear and will attack a person who feels afraid. This premise is examined during therapy and it will become clear that dogs do not have super-powers; they can only discern fear in a person according to that person’s behavior, which in itself gives a person more control over the situation and reduces the feeling of threat.

The behavioral section is the central part of the therapy. Some people don’t need to address the cognitive aspects, since they are already aware that their fear is irrational and exaggerated and consequently there are no thought patterns that need to be changed. Therefore, there are those who need only to take part in the Behavioral Section. In this section, the person begins to be exposed to the threatening factor in a gradual and controlled manner. The gradual pace is extremely important; many people suffering from phobias are afraid to go for treatment because they can summon pictures to mind, that just thinking about them causes them extreme anxiety (they are buried under a pile of cats, a dog jumps out at them and they freeze on the spot in terror, and so on).

In actual fact, these scenarios are far from true. Usually, at the beginning of therapy, each person is asked to look at photos of the animal, or if that is too difficult, even to read texts or look at drawings. This is carried out in the company of a therapist, who supports the person, helps him to overcome his difficulty and to see that when he perseveres and doesn’t run away despite his anxieties, the intensity of the anxiety subsides. After this, the person is asked to practice what he has done at the meeting when he gets home. Each time the person feels relatively at ease with something that previous to the therapy had been a threat, he goes up one more step, up till the tangible meetings with dogs or cats. Those meetings are also carried out very gradually; for instance, walking with the therapist on a street with dogs, being near a dog that is tied up, petting a small puppy that someone else is holding, and so on.

How does the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel fit into the picture?
At the final stages of the therapy in Canine or Feline Phobia, the therapist comes from the Cognetica Center to the Society with the patient, and there an actual encounter with an animal takes place. In the Society there are various types of animals of all ages, sizes and breeds. This variety, and the therapists’ close acquaintance with the animals, allows the matching of a specific dog to every stage in the process that the person has reached; be it a quiet dog who will not approach a person even if he is right beside him, a small puppy who is full of enthusiasm and curiosity who will jump up and want to play with him, or a big dog who is used to letting out a loud bass bark from time to time. In addition, the therapists can help the patient to approach an animal and teach him how to behave towards him, which allows him to feel that he is in control and to change the way in which he conducts himself with the dog or cat.

These meetings also have an added value: not only do they lessen anxiety, they can help create a different and positive experience. During the course of treatment, some of the patients discover a new and wonderful world and they fall in love with one of the dogs or cats with which they have worked.

Cognetica Center , under the directorship of Dr. Danny Derby, is a treatment center offering short-term, target-focused psychological therapy to those suffering from specific problems such as treatment of anxiety, depression, post-trauma or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and deeper treatments for changing life patterns and complex or unfocused difficulties.

Petting–biting syndrome

Cat behavior problems: Why does the cat bite a second after being petted?

Orli Zacai – Chinese Medicine for Animals and Consultation for Cat behavioral

Many cat owners recognize this situation all too well: their cat enjoys being petted on its head or back, but the minute that they touch its stomach or its paws, the cat growls or scratches their hand. Some of the cats even use their back paws to try to distance their owners. Right afterwards, in a second, the cat runs away a short distance and sometimes just stands their and looks at its owner with its ears back, and with an uncertain expression on its face about the next step to take. In general, following this, the cat sits down and cleans itself enthusiastically, an activity that is usually an expression of stress or confusion or the desire to rid itself of the odor remaining from the owner’s petting hands.

Is this normal or not?
Aggressive behavior in cats can be divided into two principal types: normal behavior (a reaction that is essential in specific situations) or abnormal behavior (an exaggerated response). Most cat owners believe that aggressive behavior in their cat is abnormal, and since the normative behavior is often mixed with a scratch or a bite, they have no patience for this type of behavior.
The larger problem is not the scratch itself, but the disappointment or the surprise of the owner when they see their cat go from such a very relaxed state of being petted and comfortable to a state of aggression. The fear people have of being scratched or bitten, and their lack of understanding of this intelligent animal causes many to withdraw from the cat, and abandoning the cat is unfortunately but a short
step away.

Relaxed and calm or aggressive?
Through the years, during domestication, housecats forgot or lost some of the reasons to attack. In spite of this, aggressive behavior still exists, primarily among non-castrated cats or cats that are in situations where their physical and emotional needs are not being met.
Most cats love to curl up and be petted, and they generally purr with enjoyment, since this generally reminds them of the time they had been little kittens being cared for by their mothers.
Adult cats have very well developed instincts for survival, and in some situations, if they allowed themselves to be too relaxed, they might feel vulnerable. The minute that they feel there is a potential to be hurt, they are likely to attack or simply to run away from the situation.
The common situation that is described at the beginning of this article is one of the examples of aggressiveness in cats, and it received the name: the Petting–biting syndrome.
Cats that are used to being petted and the feel of your hands, will react aggressively less frequently, that is to say, it will take them more time before they attack than it takes with cats unused to petting. However, the latter cats could go from a relaxed state to aggressiveness even if they are only being approached or from an attempt at petting.

So what do we do?
In order to deal with the problem we must attempt not to get to this border between calm and stress. If your cat gets to this point relatively quickly, learn to pet it each time only a little. In this situation it is advisable not to pick it up, and thus to avoid an additional scratch to yourself. Little by little the cat will become accustomed to you, and you will be able to pet it for longer periods of time.
Furthermore, it is always worthwhile to pay attention to the cat’s body language. The cats will provide us with signs in order to warn us, and all that we have to do is to be aware of their body language and learn to read the preliminary signs. Cessation of purring or violent waving of the tail from side to side, are examples of preliminary signs, after which you should discontinue petting the cat.
If your cat continues to attack, and you are unable to find the reason and to change the situation, it is advisable to turn to a cat behavior specialist.

Babies and cats: How to prepare the cat for the arrival of the infant in the home

Congratulations! The birth is approaching, but with all the excitement around, you are troubled about how the new arrival will get along with your adult cat

Orli Zacai – Chinese Medicine for Animals and Consultation for Cat behavioral


Almost everything is ready. You’ve read all the possible books, chosen a number of names, you know exactly what shade of blue you want for the baby carriage, you attend all the birthing classes and you feel emotionally prepared for parenthood.

Stop a moment….you’ve forgotten something important! Your cat has no idea that a new baby is coming into the home and life is going to change, and therefore, it is important to also prepare him before the birth. For a moment, look at the situation through the eyes of your cat: when a baby comes into the home without any prior preparation, from his point of view it is a very noisy intruder who is stealing a lot of attention. This is not the impression that we want the cat to receive, and we of course prefer that they will be good friends.

It is important to note that in the event that there are behavioral problems such as defecating outside of the kitty litter, aggression and such, they need to be treated during the pregnancy and before the birth of the baby. These problems have various causes, such as improper environmental conditions, and therefore, it is advisable to confer with a professional behavior therapist who will identify the causes and offer ways of solving the problems.

As stated, preparing the cat for the coming of the adorable infant and the changes that are going to occur in the home needs to be done gradually before the birth, in order that the encounter should not be too stressful. Here are a few tips that can make it easier for all sides:

– Get the cat used to the sounds and odors of babies. Spread on your hands some of the cream that you will use on the baby, let the cat smell you and then give it a tasty treat. Thus, he will connect the odor to a positive experience.

– Invite friends with a baby to your house and let the cat wander around the room and smell the baby. Pet the cat and give it a treat.

– Let the cat sniff and get used to the area in the house that you have prepared for the baby, whether this is in your room or in a separate room. It is important at this stage to satisfy the cat’s curiosity, so that his interest in this area will lessen.

– If you do not want the cat to jump on the baby’s bed, it is advisable to cover the bed with nylon sheeting and stick double sided tape on the upper surface so that the glue will remain exposed. After the cat has jumped on the bed a few times, it will understand that the surface is not a pleasant place for it.

– If you really don’t want the cat to go into the baby’s room, you can install a screen door ahead of time.

– Close to the return from the hospital it would be worthwhile to bring a diaper or clothing from the baby and let the cat get used to the odors.

– When you arrive home with the baby, pet the cat and let it sniff you and the baby carefully. Remember that the cat was yearning for you, and therefore it is important not to lock it up alone in a room until you get arranged since this is likely to over-stress it and to increase its curiosity.

– Try to play with the cat and to maintain the routine of the games, the petting, the grooming and basically everything that the cat is used to, even after the baby is already in the home.

In summary, it is important to maintain the life routine of the cat and to make it feel like an inseparable part of the family. In spite of the understandable difficulty and lack of time, do not neglect your cat. Paying attention to your cat will reduce its stress and will prevent behavioral difficulties that are likely to occur otherwise.

A baby and a cat. Photographed by Dr. Aya Peri
A baby and a cat. Photographed by Dr. Aya Peri

Cats’ Claws

Behavioral problems of cats: How do we solve the problem of cats sharpening their claws on the furniture?

Orli Zacai – Chinese Medicine for Animals and Consultation for Cat behavioral


“I have gotten to the point where I don’t know what to do…my cat is destroying the sofa with its claw sharpening. I want to buy a new sofa, but I am afraid that he will also destroy that one too. I am really desperate”.
Sharpening claws on the furniture is a very common problem among cats, and many times their owners wonder: “Why are they doing this?” Of course, we’re not talking about revenge or making a statement about your prized piece of furniture or your taste in home decoration. If you did not train your cat to sharpen its claws on a sharpening stand while it was young, it is logical that it will find functional equivalents in the form of furniture or other hard surfaces.
It is important to understand that claw sharpening is a natural action for a cat, which is genetically part of its make-up as part of its survival mechanisms. By sharpening, the cat removes the dead layer of the claw and exposes the new, younger, sharper layer. Our goal is to supply a suitable alternative and to direct the cat to the surfaces that are meant for sharpening, and of course not to punish it for behavior that stems from a natural urge.

We do not de-claw
Unfortunately, there are cat owners who chose a cruel and unnecessary solution – de-clawing. This operation is done only for the convenience of humans, who are not paying attention to what terrible suffering it causes to their beloved pet cat.
De-clawing is not similar to a manicure! We are talking about the cutting off of the last joint of every finger. Look for a moment at your own fingers and imagine the process. This is a difficult operation with a long, difficult and painful recuperation period, during which the cat still must walk on its legs, jump and dig in the kitty litter – in spite of the pain it is experiencing.
It is no wonder that in England and in other European countries this operation is now against the law.
Cat lovers know that there is no doubt that the cat is suffering. A cat of course can hide its pain better than we can since it feels itself endangered, that is to say, in a position of weakness. And in a situation such as this in nature, it would have to hide its weakness. However, do not make the mistake and consider this operation lightly.
The cat’s body is designed perfectly to give it an elegant, slight and beautiful form. Its claws are an important part of this design, and cutting them off dramatically influences the cat’s balance and prevents it from defending itself. This is the basic genetic purpose of claws, even if it seems to you that the cat has nothing to defend itself against at home.
Now you understand that the de-clawing is a very cruel process, but you are still worried about the damage to the sofa in the living room. Is there a logical solution? I am happy to tell you that the answer is yes – and the truth is that there are a few solutions.
Before we get to the problem of claw sharpening on furniture, we have to understand why the cat feels a need to mark an area where it already feels comfortable and secure, and whether or not the sharpening stems from the need to mark the territory. After we understand the reason for sharpening claws, we can then choose a relevant solution.

Territory Marking
Cats that sharpen their claws on various places in the home, especially near to windows and doors, are in essence marking their territory by means of their scent and by means of sharpening marks on those same surfaces, in a very similar way to their marking places in the house with their urine.
There are various reasons why a cat desires to mark its territory, for example, bringing a new cat into the home, without properly getting them acquainted, is likely to upset the cat’s feeling of security. This secure feeling could also be disturbed by bringing in a new mate, or when outside yard cats try to enter the home.

If the cat sharpens its claws in one or two fixed areas, the reason is usually strengthening and preservation and maintenance of healthy claws. However, sharpening of claws on furniture could stem from the cat’s desire for attention from its owners. The cat is an intelligent animal that is expert in manipulating human behavior, and quickly learns new methods for getting noticed. A cat that walks on the window sill, for example, learns how fast we jump up and pick it up. In the same way, it will learn that chewing the pretty plant in the living room or sharpening its nails on the armchair are excellent ways of being noticed.

Scratching Post
So what should you do? Buy a suitable scratching post for your cat. You can find in the market a large variety of surfaces for cats that are intended for claw sharpening, in many shapes and sizes, made of blocks of wood, rope or cardboard. Each cat has its preferences regarding sharpening surfaces. Finding the correct surface is a matter of trial and error, but the way the cat sharpens its claws could guide you to the correct surface. (Does it stretch out and sharpen its claws on a high surface such as your sofa? Or does it prefer flat and low surfaces?).

Encouraging the use of the scratching post
Below are some tips that will help your cat use the new scratching post:

– It is recommended to place the scratching post next to the sofa or the furniture that the cat uses for sharpening its claws, and then afterwards teach it to use the new surface.

– “Sharpen” your nails on the scratching post. If the cat imitates you, give it a treat.

– Gently and without force, hold your cat’s forepaw and make sharpening movements with it on the surface. If the cat cooperates, give it a treat.

– Scatter catnip on the scratching post. There are cats that really love the scent and there are those that do not react to it at all.

– Give the cat a treat or a caress each time it touches or sharpens its claws on the scratching post.

– At the moment when the cat goes over to sharpen its claws on the sofa, move it gently to the scratching post.

To sum up, it is important to remember that sharpening claws is a basic need of a cat and that it is our job to provide it with a good enough alternative. If you supply the cat with all its physical and mental needs, and if you are persistent and patient in getting the cat used to using the new scratching post, you will not have to worry about damage to your furniture or about purchasing a new sofa.

Night Creature

Is your cat not letting you sleep at night? A short adaptation period, including games, stimuli and patience, will solve the problem

Orli Zacai – Chinese Medicine for Animals and Consultation for Cat behavioral

Many cat owners know this phenomenon very well: night falls, the cat wants more attention, it’s time to sleep and the people are tired, but their cat has other plans, which include games, howling, running through the house, and a desire for attention.
Everyone knows that a cat is a creature of the night and its night activities are natural to nocturnal animals such as cats. Cats are active primarily from the evening until the early morning hours, so that if you let the cat choose, it will sleep all day and at about eight or nine at night it will wake up, stretch itself, sharpen its claws and begin its cat activities.
As stated, the problem with this picture is that the natural schedule of the cat is 180 degrees away from that of most people, and therefore what we need to do is to change its daily schedule from being awake at night to being awake during the day, and this is a lot easier than you might think.

Opposite schedule
The most important aspect of dealing with a “behavioral problem” such as this is not to make the situation even worse. What do we mean by this? One of the reasons that cats act like this is that their owners permit them to act this way. Some people get out of bed and play with them—thinking that the cat is lonely and bored. Others feed the cat and then wonder why the cat wakes them up over and over again in the middle of the night. They actually educated the cat to do this by not only getting out of bed but by giving the cat a prize.
In attempting to solve the problem we must not punish the cat for behaving in the natural way of his species. It is of course clear that we should be sensitive to the cat’s needs and that we cannot expect a cat to sleep for 24 hours a day. A cat needs stimuli and it can be assumed that when you are away from home during the day, that the cat spends most of its time sleeping. You need to teach the cat to change its schedule so that its more active time period will be in the earlier part of the evening.

Instead of allowing the cat to sleep all evening, while you are watching television, turn it off, sign out of Facebook and play a bit with the cat. Take a fishing rod game and let the cat chase it and run around the house. Teach the cat to use its claw sharpening stand, through games, to climb the ‘cat tree’ in the house or the shelves; bring it new toys every once in a while or be creative and prepare some toys yourself.
Most cats love to crawl into crates or boxes in which you place some catnip. We recommend that you play with and then feed the cat near bedtime and even provide it with quiet games to play with during the night to keep it busy when you are sleeping.
If you make sure that the cat will play during the evening and will be tired out before you go to bed, this will significantly increase the possibility that it will sleep at night.

Make sure that you play with the cat during the day and in the evening. Then you can assume that your cat will get used to sleeping at night since it will be tired out, and because it will be satisfied that you are providing it with its physical and intellectual needs. Do not give up if your cat still wakes you up at night during this adaptation period to the new daily schedule. Even if you are doing everything correctly, simply be patient and wait. If you give in you will have to start the whole process over again.
After you have supplied the cat with a bunch of enjoyable games, it is time to teach it that jumping on your face or howling outside the bedroom will not work and will not bring any interaction. The more consistent that you are – the quicker the changes will come.

There are no shortcuts
If you believe that just ignoring the cat during the night will change its schedule, you are mistaken. That way you will cause a bigger problem then the one you had previously, and the cat will become more frustrated and even nervous. In many cases a frustrated and nervous cat will eliminate in various places in the house, our will develop other problems, which will not be pleasant to either party. Therefore, it is worth making an effort during a short period, during which you reset the cat’s “clocks” and so eventually improve your own quality of life.

Household leftovers

Feeding table scraps to pets can be dangerous to their health

Dr.Vered Ables, veterinarian of the Mapet Company Ltd

The question of nutrition for dogs and cats has more than once given their owners a well known dilemma – whether or not to give the beloved pet human food and how to refuse their pleas. Many dogs and cats are fed in the best circumstances with commercial food and with additional table leftovers, and in the worst of circumstances their nutrition is based only on the scraps. The owners are not always aware of the quantities of leftovers given to the animals, and when they are questioned about this, the answers range from “only some pastrami now and then” to “I can’t stand up to the looks he gives me…”.
The coming holiday season aggravates the problem even more so. The many holiday meals supply a wealth of leftovers that are too good to throw out, and feeding them to the pets seems like an efficient solution.
It is important to know that the damage done by giving leftovers to dogs and cats is great; sometimes it amounts to temporary troubles that come and go, and in other cases the damage is accumulative.

What is the damage?

Digestive problems: The digestive systems of dogs and cats are not accustomed to people food. Giving them scraps, especially spiced foods, can cause digestive disturbances such as gas, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea.
For example, chicken skin in Israel contains a high concentration of salt due to the koshering process. The high salt content causes water to be drawn into the digestive system, causing diarrhea.
One of the most common and most difficult problems is the giving of bones. Looking through children’s literature, even the most up to date, “teaches” that the food for dogs is bones. Wild dogs feast on the flesh and innards of their prey but not on the bones, and therefore everything that is not crushed by the dog’s teeth passes through the digestive system as is. This is the reason for the many cases of rips in the digestive system, bleeding due to puncturing of the mucous membrane and intestinal blockages, which require life threatening surgery.
An additional mistake that is common to the public is that the food of the cat is milk. The stomachs of cats are used to a different kind of milk altogether, and feeding them our milk products can be very costly for them.

Weight gain: Household scraps are not nutritionally balanced and in many cases they are full of fats. Dogs and cats that receive large quantities of scraps tend to get fat, even though in most case they do not get the essential nutritional components necessary for their development or their sustenance. Weight reduction for these dogs and cats is extremely difficult, since they will refuse to eat the commercial pet foods made for weight reduction.

Stress on internal organs: High salt levels, high fat levels and high protein levels found in human foods present a significant risk for dogs and cats (for that matter, also for heart patients a low sodium diet is recommended). Since excessive salts and proteins put stress on and make it difficult for internal organs to function properly, animals are likely to suffer from malfunction of the heart, liver and kidneys.

Food allergies: Most of the food allergies are due to an animal protein source. Dogs and cats that are fed scraps are exposed from an early age to a variety of protein sources from animals, and the likelihood of their developing food allergies is very high. Furthermore, it will be very difficult to suit hypoallergenic food to them that is based on a protein that they have not been exposed to previously.

Education: Every veterinarian and animal trainer knows that the one of the fundamental rules of training puppies and adults is to define the dog’s position in the family hierarchy. The dog must not be given the feeling that it is an equal in its standing with the family members, and it must be given clear boundaries. Giving table scraps at family meal times is one of the prevalent mistakes, which cause many of the common behavioral problems with puppies and adults. A dog that is used to eating in this manner will demand food from anyone who opens the refrigerator or sits down to eat, a phenomenon that is amusing at the beginning but soon becomes a serious nuisance.

Poisoning: Some household foods are likely to cause accumulated poisoning in dogs and cats, even to anemia of blood platelets. Garlic, onions and chocolate are only a few of the examples of ingredients that can cause this poisoning.

Then what is there to do?
Education towards feeding only commercial pet food to the animals starts the moment the puppy or kitten enters the house. The pet should be conditioned to eat commercial food from a bowl set aside for that purpose at set times – times that do not coincide with meal times of family members. A dog or cat that is conditioned to this from an early age will not be aware that there are other possibilities.
If you want to pamper your pet, you can give them an addition of a pet treat or an occasional snack, but not regularly.
Maintaining these rules will prevent heartache and will bring you much more pleasure from raising your pets.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Cat AIDS

FIV is a virus that is transferred only between cats, and is not infectious to humans or to other animals

Doctor Hila Bareket, SPCA Israel veterinarian

Every week cats arrive at the clinic of the Society, with inflammations in their mouths and severe gum problems. Seemingly, it is possible that we are talking about cats that simply need a teeth cleaning. However, many times, a gum infection, especially in homeless cats, is likely to testify to a much more severe problem.

FIV is a virus that is transferred only between cats, and is not infectious to humans or to other animals who are not felines! It is common primarily in homeless male cats over five years old. The virus is transferred between cats primarily by bites, by blood, saliva, milk and sexual contact. The infection could also be through an infected mother to her kittens. When a cat is infected with the virus, it does not immediately show symptoms of the disease.

At the onset, the virus arrives at the lymph glands where it multiplies throughout the cells of the immune system. Within 4-6 weeks the general symptoms develop, which are fever, depression, lessoning of appetite and an enlargement of the lymph glands. The owners usually do not notice these symptoms; the cat looks “healthy”. Anti-bodies develop in its blood against the virus. However, at the same time the virus continues to multiply and to destroy cells of the immune system.

This process is slow, and could take months or years. At a certain stage, the immune system of the cat is extremely weakened and it no longer succeeds in defending the cat against infection with illnesses that without the virus the cat would not contract. We are speaking, in general, about severe chronic inflammations in the mouth, on the skin, in the respiratory or digestive systems, which are accompanied by bacteria and even develop into cancerous growths. In this stage the cat is very sick, depressed, develops fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, eye inflammations, neural problems and death.

It is possible to perform blood tests upon the cat who is suspected as having contracted the virus in order to detect anti-bodies that were created upon the infestation of the virus. Blood tests don’t always testify unequivocally that the cat has contracted FIV, since there is an immunization for the virus that creates the same anti-bodies. Additionally, in the terminal stages of the disease it is possible that no anti-bodies will be found in the blood at all and the test will be negative, in spite of the fact that the cat is very ill. Sometimes the test has to be repeated after a few weeks since only then will the level of anti-bodies be high enough to be detected.

The treatment is generally supportive:
– Antibiotics against the secondary infections.
– Vitamins, liquids and food with high nutritional value—to support the cells of the immune system.

To prevent the spread of the illness, we have to prevent other cats from contracting the FIV virus, and this is by: separating the healthy cats from the sick cats and preventing contact or quarrels with other cats, and by keeping the ill cats at home and immunizing the healthy cats against the disease once a year.