Teach a Cat to High-Five

Not only is it fun to teach your cat to do tricks, it can also be practical. For example, teaching cats to high-five can give them a way to interact with strangers. It can also help them become more comfortable with having their paws handled. As with all training, teaching cats can boost their confidence and increase their bond with you. Before you start your training sessions, figure out what most motivates your cat. Do they come running the quickest for treats, toys, or attention? Training works best when the new behavior is reinforced with the thing that most motivates … Continue reading Teach a Cat to High-Five

Review: Grieving the Loss of a Pet by Betty Carmack

Years ago, I bought Grieving the Death of a Pet by Betty Carmack because the topic interested me. When I recently lost my cat of eight years, I picked it up again to once again find comfort in it. The first few weeks after Lucy’s death, the personal stories of owners who had also suffered loss filled me with such uncontrollable grief that I had to put the book back on my shelf. Now, two months later, I’ve finally been able to read Grieving the Death of a Pet in its entirety. In the chapter about love, Carmack addresses the … Continue reading Review: Grieving the Loss of a Pet by Betty Carmack

Review: Mine for Keeps by Jean Little

Mine for Keeps by Jean Little is a long-time favorite book of mine. Little so perfectly captures the emotions of her characters that all readers will relate to them, whether they’re the intended audience of elementary-school children or forty-something-year-old adults like me. Mine for Keeps, along with Little’s other stories about young people with disabilities, remains among the best fiction out there on the topic. As an additional perk, Little’s books are set in Canada. The main character of Mine for Keeps has cerebral palsy. While Sal’s experiences might differ from mine, her feelings continually resonated with me. Take for … Continue reading Review: Mine for Keeps by Jean Little

Agility: A Fun Way to Improve Your Cat’s Health

The instant I open our basement door, two of our cats race from their resting spots to join me. They meow and clamber over one another to be the first allowed downstairs. Why are they so excited? They know that an agility session awaits them. Cat Agility, Really? Agility is a fun activity that helps to address a cat’s physical needs. In this team sport, your cat will race through tunnels, leap over jumps, weave between poles, and more. Cats benefit from agility because it makes use of their senses and skills. They have excellent visual focus and accuracy, which … Continue reading Agility: A Fun Way to Improve Your Cat’s Health

How To Modify A Pet’s Behavior, Part Two

Dr. Sophia Yin says animal training requires well-defined criteria and clear communication, the right motivators, and excellent timing along with the correct rate of reinforcement. In this second of a two-part article on behavior principles based on the text and the lectures from my Low-Stress Handling certification course, I’ll define and give examples of each principle. I’ll start with well-defined criteria. Let’s say we want to clean our pet’s teeth. It’s unlikely that our pet will let us put a toothbrush in their mouth the first time they’re exposed to one, let alone clean all their teeth in one sitting. … Continue reading How To Modify A Pet’s Behavior, Part Two

How To Modify A Pet’s Behavior, Part One

When it comes to modifying animal behavior, one can turn to behavior specific guides for answers, but the best solution lies in understanding principles behind behavior modification. In both the text and the lectures for her Low-Stress Handling certification course, Dr. Yin discusses four of them: habituation, flooding, desensitization, and counter-conditioning. In this part one of two series, I’ll define and give examples of each principle. I’ll also explain why Yin (and other experts) advises against flooding, and instead recommends a combination of desensitization and counter-conditioning. Habituation is a repeated exposure to a stimulus with no negative effects. When my … Continue reading How To Modify A Pet’s Behavior, Part One