I am a declared pet lover and if I encounter an issue with one of mine, I strive to find the best method to solve the problem for both me and my pet. I’d like to share a few products with you that in my opinion can make life a lot easier for a household with animals. The use of a couple of these fine products may sound a tad questionable – but they’re safe and I have found they work. Actually, I find it is far better to discover ways to quickly deter or prevent pets from unwanted behavior than to have them suffer through constant scolding and owner frustration. Not everything that you do for your pet should necessarily be all about their behavior; sometimes it’s good to focus on making them comfortable and giving them what they need to enjoy life in your home. If you have a bird, for example, something as simple as a java wood perch in their enclosure can help to give them a natural element so that they feel more at home – it can also bring a sense of security to your pet.
I must provide a disclaimer here. You know your pet better than I. This post is written based on experiences with my pets. If you have an elderly, sick or extra sensitive pet, or have any reservations about the below products, do not participate in the recommendations.
First of all, probably the very best thing I’ve done for my pets is install doggie doors.
Yes, there are a few negatives to doggie doors – such as the fact undomesticated creatures may venture inside your house (this rarely happens since most non-pet creatures are deterred by your pets’ odors) or your pets may willingly bring these creatures in (I must admit I have found mice, moles and mockingbirds inside my house, see https://natureisnurture.net/lessons-learned-the-hard-way/ .) Another thing to keep in mind regarding doggie doors is that if you are at work and a downpour occurs, you can count on muddy tracks in your house when you arrive home (may be better than urine puddles, though!) And, lastly, if you have small pets such as cats, or dogs under 15 pounds, and bobcats and coyotes are prevalent in your area, I recommend you forego installing a doggie door or, if you do, at least keep it closed off when you are not at home.
On to the positives – The very obvious positive to installing doggie doors is your animals can take care of bathroom business outdoors at any time the need arises. No more crossing your fingers that your poor puppy dog can hold it for 12 hours as you work overtime or get caught in traffic! You may have noticed I said I have doggie doors – as in more than one. At one time I lived in a household with three cats and three dogs. Yes, I was in violation of my suburban pet limit. I can admit this now because I am down to one of each. Well, in a multiple pet household, dogs do not respect the difference between their food and that of the cats’ – plus some dogs tend to take a liking to the cat box (yes, I know, this is gross, but true.) Thus, I had to develop a system where I could easily feed both species and provide bathroom privacy for the cats. The solution came by installing two doggie doors. The larger one is installed in my back door which goes from my home directly into the backyard and is for the convenience of the dogs. (Note: Some indoor cats may see this door as a means to escape. Fortunately, mine did not. Yes, they would occasionally sun themselves on the patio, but they always returned indoors when their nap was done.) The other doggie door in my home is tiny – and actually is a “cat door.” It is installed in the door that leads from the garage into my house. The cat’s food and litter box reside in the garage in an area safe from car traffic. Use your judgement on this, but most cats will skidaddle back into your house when a car starts up or the garage door is activated. Now, a caveat – this system will only work if your dog is too large to squeeze through the tiny cat door. My dogs were large, but if you’ve read my blog posts of the past, you are aware my current dog, Buzz, is a contortionist and at times succeeds at (or gets stuck) going through the cat door. See https://natureisnurture.net/nose-knows-know-better/ . Still, the system works 99% of the time and a couple of very big bonuses – no cat food or litter box odors in the house!
For those of you with dogs and cats that prefer to drink running water, there are various drinking fountain water bowls available. Most are electric, so you need to place them near an outlet where your pet cannot trip over the cord. These devices include a filter system to ensure your pet’s water stays clear and fresh. Other benefits of a constant flow of water is that it is oxygenated and stays cool for your pet. Although most have a reservoir for water, you must refill the device regularly. The one I purchased is placed up against the wall in the garage for my cat, as my dog is A-OK with regular water bowls. My cat, Biscuit, on the other hand, was literally driving me crazy as every time I turned on a faucet in the house, for example, to brush my teeth or cook, she’d jump in front of me and attempt to lap the water! Since I made this small purchase, we are both much happier – and so are my dinner guests, by the way!
Hmmmm . . . has your dog or cat found an area in your home that they enjoy marking? Do you prefer your cats stay off counters? Would you like your pets to keep off the furniture?
Well, whether you have a doggie door or a litter box, sometimes pets just hone in on a corner of the house or a piece of furniture to mark. I once had one of those cheap vinyl bean bag chairs. It was THE PLACE for my cat to urinate. I finally had to toss it. Here’s a tip – in my experience, for some strange reason, cats are particularly attracted to vinyl – this includes the vinyl backing of some throw rugs, unfortunately. Just be sure and check twice in those areas and wash them (in cold water) often if you can. In addition to marking, sometimes our pets hone in on a piece of furniture or a spot on the counter where they simply like to lie. Not always the best of spots, especially if you are entertaining. Thankfully, there are a few products that can help keep pets away from undesired areas.
The first suggestion for these issues are expandable pet gates. For those of you that have toddlers, you probably recognize these devices as “baby gates.” They are merely temporary expandable barricades that you securely place between doorways or hallways to keep your pet confined to a designated area of your home. You can find these gates in just about any type of material and size and they even have one that has a mini-cat door at the bottom so your cat can pass through when your dog needs to remain temporarily confined!
However, sometimes it isn’t convenient to confine your animal to a back room, especially if your doggie door is located in another part of the house. For animals that need more aggressive deterrents to keep them off furniture and counters, you may wish to consider Ssscat Cat repellant and/orthe Scat Mat.
Ssscat Cat repellant is simply an air-filled aerosol spray can with a battery-operated motion detector device attached. Some versions allow a setting where the motion detector will emit a shrill audible warning prior to the spray of air. You simply place the can (about the size of a shaving cream can) in the area of the house you wish to keep the cat or dog away from. Of course, your cat will totally freak out the first couple of times the can spits air (this is the point) but it will not hurt him or her. Your dog may be more puzzled than scared, quite frankly, but he or she will not spend enough time in the area to mark it! Mission accomplished! I have also found that when the air is depleted of the Ssscat Cat, the audible alarm continues to deter your pet until the battery goes dead. And a bonus is, after your first purchase, you can simply order refills of canned air at a very reasonable price. This harmless behavior modification technique usually works fairly quickly.
As a side note, I have a greenhouse in my backyard and last spring some unknown critter was entering through a crack in the structure and eating my seedlings. I had no idea what type of creature was doing this, but it could certainly climb as it was able to devour plants on the top shelves as well as on the bottom. At any rate, I didn’t wish to hurt the poor thing but I did want it to stop eating my produce. I finally placed a couple of the Ssscat Cat aerosol cans inside the greenhouse and ta-da – no more half-eaten seedlings!
OK, right up front, I wish to tell you this next product will indeed emit a small, benign shock to your pet – similar to that which is produced by static electricity. Faced with a dog that, on a daily basis, decided to tinkle on my pool table’s legs several years ago, I had to resort to something a little more serious. The Scat Mat is a battery-operated or electric, plastic mat that you spread out over the area you’d like to deter your pet from, such as your couch, a specific area of your carpet, kitchen counters, etc. When your pet steps or jumps on the Scat Mat, it will provide them just enough of a shock to make them uncomfortable and they will retreat. This product works very well with stubborn pets, covers relatively large areas, and can be adjusted in strength to accommodate cats and small dogs.
Lastly – an extremely simple, but very kind gesture you can do for your pet that also benefits you is to comb their hair with a brush that has massaging bristles. Not only will this largely alleviate shedding issues in your home, it will bond and establish trust between you and your pet. Some of these brushes are formed to fit like a glove, allowing you to mimic the petting motion. Believe me, there is nothing sweeter than hearing your cat purr or your dog moaning in pleasure of having their hair combed and body massaged. Try this and I promise you, they’ll be your friends for life!
Well, the above pet items have certainly made my life easier over the years and I must say, they have also greatly benefited my adorable pets as well. If you have an interest in learning more about these items, click on any Amazon product in the right sidebar and perform a search where you’ll surely find more detailed information. Good Luck!
Until next time,