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Category Archives: Cats

Introducing A New Baby To Pet Cats And Dogs

The arrival of a baby in a household turns things upside down. That’s certainly how it can seem to your pets. A dog may find there’s less time for walks and playing, and a cat may suddenly be ousted from her favorite sleeping places in the bedroom or on your lap, due to the presence of the baby.

It’s important to get your pets used to the idea of having the newcomer around, along with the changes in routine that go with it. And ideally the preparation needs to start before the baby is born.

Prenatal Pet Training

In the months leading up to the birth, spend slightly less time with your cat or dog – particularly if they are used to lazing in your lap or sitting by your feet demanding attention.

If your dog is not fully trained at this point, fill in the gaps with some training sessions. Get an expert in to help out, if necessary. Your dog needs to know the basic ‘Sit’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Leave it’ commands, at the very least. It’s essential that the humans in the house reinforce their roles as Alphas in the pack.

A new baby will bring new sounds and smells to the house. You can get your pets ready for this by inviting mums and dads with babies or toddlers to call in for coffee. Play a recording of a crying baby to acclimatize pets’ ears, and switch on any noisy new toys, mobiles, swings or other baby-related apparatus. Let your pets sniff a nappy and a cloth with a few drops of baby oil on it. Familiarity is half the battle.

Get Your Pet Vet-Ready

A neutered pet is a calmer pet, and less likely to bite. This is especially true with males. When neutered, they are less likely to view the baby as a rival. Arrange for a vet to perform the operation, if the pet is not yet neutered. And while you’re there, make sure Puss and Fido are up to date with their vaccinations, worm-free, and generally in tip top health.

Reset Schedules

Babies bring lots of unpredictability to a household, and old routines soon break down. There’s nothing wrong with this, but a pet who’s set in his ways may not take kindly to sudden change. Break him in by varying feeding times, blocking off no-go areas with a baby gate, or perhaps hiring a dog walker.

If the human mum-to-be has always been the pet’s chief companion, it’s handy if you can introduce another ‘favourite’ into its life. This could be a partner, older child or friend – anyone able to spend quality time with the animal.

Introducing the Baby

Before letting a dog or cat see the baby, let them sniff a blanket and a soiled nappy. Try not to show any nervousness when bringing the baby into the house for the first time, as pets will pick up on the bad vibes.

To make the first introduction, sit with the baby in your arms – ideally in a ‘neutral’ room, one where the pet doesn’t usually go – and let the dog or cat approach in its own good time (and one at a time, if you have multiple pets). Don’t force the issue. Have some treats ready to reward good behavior.

You can reinforce the positive associations by treating a dog whenever it’s around you and the baby. That way your pet will come to associate the baby with good things (i.e. food!) A cat will need less fuss in this respect, and will simply equate the baby with you, logging it as something not to worry about.

Whenever there’s any interaction between baby/toddler and pet, make sure there’s an adult around to keep an eye on the situation.

Special Notes For Cats

A docile cat needs to get used to the new baby, and to keep away when it’s asleep. A more flighty cat should simply be kept away. Toddlers seem to have an instinct for grabbing handfuls of pet fur, and a nervous cat may react by scratching. A cat flap with a lock can be handy in the early days, to keep puss outdoors at key times.

Many cats dislike a baby’s crying, and will disappear when the screaming begins. This is very handy! Make sure there’s a quiet, safe spot for them, away from the mayhem. The Maya Nook is a perfect solution to give your cat some privacy. 

Cats feel exposed and nervous when they eat, so you should keep a toddler away from the place where your pet is feeding. It should also go without saying that you should prevent young ‘uns from rummaging in the litter tray too!

Special Notes For Dogs

All dogs will need to be well-trained, in a situation where trust is so fundamental. Some dog breeds are very rarely going to be friendly with children, though. A dog bred over hundreds of years for aggression is NOT a dog you should have in the family home. ‘Snappy’ breeds such as Jack Russel, Dachshund or Chihuahua can be problematic too, but you probably know your dog best.

A treat-based puzzle toy such as a Kong ball is a useful distraction. You can give it to your dog while you spend time tending to the baby, to divert the pet’s attention.

It’s important not to abandon dog walks, as that will lead to doggy stress and frustration. It’s a case of ‘business as usual’, where ‘usual’ has simply undergone a few changes.

The dog/child relationship is a two-way process, and youngsters need training too. Teach them to be gentle with the dog, and they will have the basis for a good relationship.

And the importance of that relationship shouldn’t be underestimated. Children learn lots about friendship, respect and responsibility from interacting with animals. There is also evidence that allergies are less of an issue in kids who have been brought up with pets.

So – you’ve replaced your ‘pet baby’ with the real thing. That means big change. But when handled properly it’s a positive change, the beginning of a new chapter in the happy family home.

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This entry was posted in Cats


How Clever Is Your Cat? – The Omlet Cat IQ Test

Cats are famous for several things. Independence, hunting and purring, for example. But intelligence? That’s a word more commonly handed out to dogs and parrots.

But that doesn’t mean cats aren’t smart. It’s simply that they don’t show off or shout about it. Under that cool exterior, there may be a lot of brain power.

So, do you have a feline Einstein, or more of a Tired Tom?

To find out how your pet’s grey matter measures up, we’ve put together this fun Cat IQ test. Put puss through her paces and see how she compares to the other brain-fit felines out there! Add up your results in the points column and share them with your friends!


The Omlet Cat IQ Test

1 . How old is your cat?

Less than 1 year
1-5 years
5-10 years
10-15 years
Older than 15
0
1
2
1
0

The years of peak feline fitness are matched by peak brain power.

2 . Does your cat respond to its name?

Yes
No
Sometimes
Yes – along with any other word I say!
3
1
2
1

No zero points here, as a cat that knows its own name may sometimes simply choose to ignore it!

3 . Does your cat sit in the middle of the street?

Often
Sometimes
Never
0
1
2

Basic knowledge of what constitutes a dangerous place is key to cat intelligence.

4 . Does your cat run out in front of cars?

Often
Occasionally
Never
We live away from busy roads, so it’s hard to tell
0
1
2
1

Awareness of danger sorts the smart cat from the not-so-smart.

5 . Does your cat stalk and kill small animals?

Often
Occasionally
Never
Hunts, but doesn’t usually catch anything
3
2
0
1

For a cat, a hunting brain equals a clever brain.

6 . What is your cat like around people?

Loves everyone
Likes family and friends, dislikes strangers
Seems scared of everyone
Has certain people she seems to hate
Doesn’t seem interested in anybody
1
3
1
2
0

A cat that can differentiate between people is a smart puss.

7 . How does your cat react when you come home?

Pleased to see you, rubbing and meowing
Comes to check who it is, but leaves it at that
No reaction (but make sure the cat’s actually in the house before reaching this conclusion!)
3
2
1

Bright cats will be pleased to see you. 

8 . How does your pet respond to other cats in the neighbourhood?

In a friendly way
Cautiously
Aggressively
Submissively
Ignores them
1
3
2
1
0

Clever cats need to work out their place in the feline hierarchy. 

9 . How does your cat respond to strange dogs?  

Runs away
Stands its ground and hisses
Attacks
Ignores them
3
2
1
0

A smart puss knows an enemy when it sees one, and also knows when a fight isn’t worth it!

10 . Present your cat with food she’s not tried before. How does she react?  

Refuses to eat it
Sniffs cautiously, possibly with an experimental bite
Eats happily
2
3
1

Not everything is edible, and a sensible cat will show a certain amount of caution.

11 . At feeding time, put an unopened tin of food next to the food bowl. What does the cat do? 

Sits and looks at the tin, and then at you
Sniffs and/or rubs against the tin and meows
Examines the tin cautiously and then walks away
Shows no interest in the tin
3
2
1
0

Interaction with the tin suggests that the cat knows it contains food.

12 . Hold one of the cat’s favourite toys in front of her for a few seconds, and then hide it. Make sure your pet is watching as you do this. What does she then do?

Look for the toy, and find it
Look for the toy, but fail to find it
Remain sitting impassively
Walk away
3
2
0
1

Cats don’t always want to ‘play ball’, so it might be worth trying this one a few times before deciding on the result.

13 . Place a windup toy on the floor and let it ‘run’ under a chair, sofa, or other piece of furniture. What does your cat do?

Anticipates were it will emerge, either by moving there or simply watching the space
Looks at you expectantly
Gazes at the place where the toy first set off on its journey
Walks away
Looks away and takes no interest
4
3
2
1
1

A bright puss can deduce where the toy will emerge. But she might just not be in the mood!

14 . Put your shoes and coat on, as if you were about to leave. What is the cat’s reaction?

Meows or rubs against you
Goes to a window ledge to watch you leave
Seems uninterested, or walks away
2
3
1

Observant cats will recognise the clues that mean you’re about to leave the building. 

15 . Has your cat learned to – or tried to – open doors, cupboards, windows, etc?

Yes
No
2
0

Clever cats watch and work it out, soon learning that things can be opened.


Scores

The smartest cats are thought to have an IQ equivalent to a 2- or 3-year-old human. How did yours do?

5-10 – Not-So-Cool Cat – Your pet barely has a claw on the IQ scale – less catnip and more training required!

11-19 – Tired Tom – Maybe your cat was feeling a bit lazy today… and every other day, come to that!

20-28 – Purrfect Puss – nothing wrong with this score, although if your cat keeps on looking and listening it might learn even more.

29-37 – Moggy Mastermind – your pet is well above the average when it comes to knowing how the world ticks.

38-42 – Feline Einstein – only a tiny percentage of cats are this clever!

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This entry was posted in Cats