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A Speeding Ticket and a Spray Bottle


I got a speeding ticket the other day. No big deal, a few miles over the limit and a small fine. But still I certainly didn’t like the experience, and I vowed not to let it happen again!

The next time I passed that spot, I noticed a recently installed camera. Surely, this was the camera that caught my speeding. Over the next few days, I noticed that other drivers on the road had noticed the camera as well because they slowed down before the camera and sped back up shortly after passing it.

Clearly, all the drivers were only modifying their behaviour only in this one circumstance. Otherwise it was business as usual.

I noticed a similar thing happening with one of my neighbours. He is not fond of the local cats coming in his yard. He uses a spray bottle to chase them away. They run away but when the man leaves the house, the cats return and roam freely about in his garden.

So, what does this have to do with my speeding ticket?

Well, the cats respond the same way to my neighbour’s spray bottle as I did to the speeding ticket: the cats modify their behaviour in response to my neighbour’s spray bottle only! Just as I slowed down only when passing the speeding camera. Our behaviour is not corrected, it’s only amended to avoid an unpleasant experience: my and the cats' behaviour modification is temporary!

Next time your cat’s naughty - maybe jumping on a workspace or climbing the curtains - take a moment to think before you grab that spray bottle. Will that work? Or will you just get your cat to avoid places when you’re around, but continue being naughty when they’re alone?

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Cat Scratch Fever 

 

Many home owners provide a scratching post while the cat ignores it and goes right for the couch.

As for most things, cats like things their own way.

For the cat it’s not about what they are scratching but all about where.

You see, scratching marks the cat's favorite places as their own.  It’s like planting a flag.

Couch corners usually are placed in areas of a room where cats want to protect as their territory.

Is your couch getting a beating?

Try putting a scratching post in this place so your couch can remain as beautiful as ever.

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Older cats, colder months

As I write this, I can hear my neighbor’s cat meowing loudly outside on this cold winter’s day.

Pam is a nice cat who for years has roamed the back gardens behind our homes.

Today is different. Pam is determined to be relieved from the bone-chilling cold.

I realize she might be suffering from arthritis because she must be about 10 or 11 years old by now, and cats suffer more from this condition during the winter months.

If your cat is getting up there in age, it is a good reminder to observe if they walk or jump differently during the colder months. If you suspect arthritis, have a chat with your vet. They can help you and your cat live care-free through many more winters.

 

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First Day Cat Memories

Memories are made when a new cat joins your home. Memories that last for a lifetime!

It’s the same for your cat. Research has shown that events with a big impact create associations and behavior that lasts for a lifetime.

Imagine this cat experience: your travel box opens and you’re off to fend for your own in a space you don’t know, people you don’t know. There are scary noises. You don’t know where to pee. You don’t know where to eat!

Come to think of it, it’s like being left to your own devices in some city you don’t know, in a country where you don’t know the language. You’d appreciate some help, wouldn’t you?

This is how you can help your cat though the first days, and help them create memories and behave well from the first moments in your house:

  • Prepare a dedicated cat room
  • In that room, provide a litter box and food and water (more than 6 feet away from the litter box)
  • Provide a soft, warm bed and a space where your cat can look out the window
  • Place the travel box in a corner, open the door and allow the cat to explore the room at their own initiative and pace. The travel box will remain open and inside the room
  • The room itself remains closed until your cat eats and drinks well and uses the litter box. You can visit and pet the cat if they allow it
  • Only now it’s time for the door to be opened and the cat to explore the remainder of the home at their own leisure.
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How can cats stay outside in the winter?

When it's cold and wet, we humans retreat indoors. We’ll keep ourselves warm with blankets, we light up the fireplace, or the notch the heating up a bit. Curtains closed from the outside world.

Yet many cats stubbornly stay out in even the worst of conditions!

Do cats really enjoy being exposed to wind, rain and even snow? No! They're just like us: cats also want to feel warm and safe.

So next time you pass thought the garden, take a moment to consider your cat, and arrange a place for them to stay that is:

  • Protected from the wind
  • Protected from rain
  • Elevated, to alleviate the risk of frostbite and damp conditions
  • Situated to provide an unrestricted view over the garden.
  • A rabbit hutch with the door always open would be 'purrfect'. Add comfy cat bed and any cat will be happy all winter long!

 

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Aysa - Looking beyond Aggression

In psychology the term unmet needs refers to the needs that a person didn't manage to satisfy yet.

Just like there are physical needs such as the need to eat or the need to sleep there are psychological needs that people must satisfy in order to feel good.

When people fail to satisfy their important unmet needs they become depressed and when people manage to fulfill their unmet needs they experience true happiness1.

In my experience, we can correlate the above principles to cats.

Let’s consider Aysa: a young female shorthair tortoiseshell cat found on the streets in my town. As with all stray cats, she was taken to the rehousing center, and put on observation. It gives the cats a bit of rest to recover before they may be housed with the other cats for adoption. For Aysa this proved especially important: she was found to be pregnant.

Coincidentally, Aysa very quickly developed unwanted behavior. In a matter of days, she changed from a relaxed cat into what some described as ‘a monster’. She bit anybody who got near her. Hard. She attacked the legs of her caretakers. She let her nails be felt at any opportunity. Not a single person that came near was safe.

Thus, she was put in limited housing (a cage), but her bad behavior increased and staff had increasing concerns on how to handle her. When Aysa’s cage could not be cleaned safely anymore, I was called in to treat her.

When kittens grow up, they must be handled by humans as part of their so-called socialization. This teaches them playfully how to live with humans.

If Aysa remains unapproachable, then her kittens cannot be socialized well. Treatment in har case was urgent: 1. The carers must be able to provide her daily care and 2. It must be possible to take her kittens out of the nest to provide care to them and socialize them. Moreover, low stress therapy is a must to avoid any negative effects on the pregnancy.

When I met Aysa the first time, her immediately interaction was loud meowing. A loud, intense, drawn out vocal welcome. I was warned this would be followed by the aforementioned biting and scratching upon opening her cage.

I have seen many cats ready to unleash terror. Usually I can tell. But this was different. I didn’t see a cat intend to fight. I didn’t see a cat blinded by rage or fear. I saw a cat that wanted to tell me something. Aysa had an intention to obtain something. She had a strong unmet need.

So I set out to allow Aysa time to get to be comfortable with my presence, applying the ‘cat I love you’ steps championed by Jackson Galaxy. After a while she responded: she gave me the ‘go-ahead-wink’ with her eyes, I finally opened her cage slowly. Inch-by-inch. Instead of attacking relentlessly like she had done each time before, she waited patiently. Then I pet her very, very gently on her forehead.

No biting. No scratching. No more meowing. Only instant relaxation. A weak purr even. Eyes closed after a while. This cat, so pumped up full of aggression and stress had now turned into a soft heap of light relaxation.

What she needed was patience, understanding and love. A lot patience, understanding and love. Sometimes it’s so hard to see past the aggression for something so basic and pure. A big lesson.

Sometimes it’s important to look beyond the aggression with some patience, understanding and love to find the unmet need. Isn’t this often the same for our own species? It’s striking to realize how emotionally similar cats are to humans.

I feel proud, humble and grateful I was able to work with Aysa, and that she opened up to me so much.  She let me identify and solve her unmet need. Rapidly she’s become the rehousing center staff’s favorite cat. We are sure she will pose no objections to our handling her kittens. What’s left now for us it so wait impatiently what beautiful kittens she will give birth to.

1: From https://www.2knowmyself.com/Unmet_needs_psychology

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Fuzzy Companions or Fierce Predators?

How do you see cats? Are they fuzzy companions that sit and be cute in the home? Are they fierce predators? I experience both sides of this discussion regularly in my work.

And even in my home.

Take our cat Eno.

Eno joined our family as an adolescent male cat. This fellow was born in rather an unsavory house for cats to be brought up in. And then, as a little boy, he was left on the streets to fend for himself. We took him in from our local shelter and it soon became apparent he had plodded along in life seemingly without any sense of training or socialization. We wonder if at that time he even knew what it meant to be a cat. He does love to play. With anything that moves. To the annoyance of our other 3 cats, Eno did not know when to leave other cats alone.

Our little boy has adapted very well. Since we live close to a main road, our cats roam the garden only, but can’t get out. Eno being a muscular, lively cat hell-bent to explore has found countless ways of getting out of our garden. So, I trained him to go for walks with me. He walks off-leash and stays within about 20-30 feet of me.

But he’s also equipped with his natural instinct.

Cats’ instincts are vital to their survival. They help a cat determine when to hide if confronted with danger. They guide a cat what to eat, and what not to eat. Perhaps most importantly, instincts are the build in programs that cats have relied on for thousands of years to recognize opportunities to hunt, catch and eat. When cats grow up, they learn to use those instincts. They learn how to behave on those urges that they feel. They learn how to hunt, to play. And growing up with us humans also how to be cute.

But what if they don’t learn? What if they did not get an opportunity to learn what it is like to be a cat?

This is what happened a few months ago when I took Eno out for his daily walk through the neighborhood. He got all excited when we entered the patch of green he usually mucks about in. I did notice the big black birds circling over our heads. Eno ran off to a corner with 2 of those birds and another magpie sitting on a fence displaying an interest in the ground below them. I waited and let Eno sort out his business with birds. They were too big for him to catch anyway.

Then it happened. Within a few seconds I spotted Eno coming from underneath the bushes following a big juicy mouse. As the mouse crosses the stony path intent in reaching safety, Eno smells the rodent. Looks at it. And continues to follow the mouse, all at a cat’s claws distance. Surely one sweep with his claws will get him a priced prey.

Now, this happened in broad daylight. In an open space. The birds knew this and were evidently circling, waiting for their opportunity to strike and catch the price. Yet, Eno, with all his instinct, did not seem to know what to do. And almost sheepishly followed the mouse until it reached safety.

Eno, the muscly playful energized cat in the prime of his life? Yes, that Eno. His lack of socialization suffered though his upbringing and time surviving on the streets all alone as a little boy robbed him of the opportunity to learn how to deploy his instincts to hunt. He did not know what to do when he had a chance. He did not even touch the mouse to play with it like he does to his moving toys.

So, what can we learn from this?

Cats are rapidly losing the ability to act on some of their most primal instincts. Cats generations are short. Remember how just a few short generations ago, a cat was expected to bring home prey? Now, with extended urbanization, cats that live excursively inside and effective pest control in our cities, the predator instincts are not called upon at all.

In fact, instinctual behavior is often considered a nuisance. Thus, I think the question is not how we see cats, but what do we want from them? Do we want to them to continue being fuzzy companions or being fierce predators?

And how must we support that? Getting a cat bed set-up is something we all do. But how many of us would go to the pet store, buy a live-mouse, let it loose in the house so that kittens can learn to kill? How many of us would find that practical or ethical? I wouldn’t.

However, I do believe we must preserve our cats’ instincts as much as possible. What we can do is understand our cats for who they are. In health, behavior and nutrition. We should buy toys that keep our cats’ senses active. Find ways of letting them somewhat enjoy the outside – I have seen people bring in patches of grass for their cats to play with and I think it’s fantastic. And strive to find the best food available within our budgets.

And that is exactly what I did with Eno.

The other day he brought home a bird. It had passed away, but Eno did show he knew it was HIS prey. And he played with it just like he should.

It makes me content that I helped him find the ways to let his ‘inner cat’ come out.

What is your opinion? Share with me at: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JonneTCE/status/1007614310150008832

 

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Homework Cat and Why I enjoy being a feline behavior therapist.

 I meet with a lot of distraught families, who seek me out as a last resort. Like the family in the story below.

Just last week I was on a home visit. A lady had called me shortly before, distraught, out of options and just at the end of her tether. After a short in-take call, we made an appointment for a house consult.

When the front door opened, I found myself welcomed by loving family. Before I even sat down, it was abundantly clear that they considered taking care of each other, and their cats, of very high importance.

Recently, they had extended the family with an adopted senior cat that had met with some very rough times in her live. Let's call her Dopey.

It would have been a great story, except 2 cats already lived in the home. And they did not get along with Dopey. Not at all. The balance in the house had been totally upset. The 3 cats all did their best to stay away from each other. Tension was palpable around each of them. And perhaps most disheartening was that one of the cats would now refuse to go into a kid’s room to join her in doing her homework – something that the family had loved and cherished.  

So, I was called in.

During the visit I recognized what was going on in the communication between the cats. And I proceeded to explain it to the family. Especially the ‘home-work cat’ who felt pushed out from the kid’s room since Dopey’s arrival and probably felt lost in the house as a result.

At that time, the family got quite upset when I described what emotions the cats where going through.

Seeing the family display such love and affection for their cats, makes me happy and proud to bring back love, harmony and balance. Even going as far as providing a home for a cat in need of a safe and loving home.

With my understanding of cats, and experience in life, I can play my part in making that happen. Being a chain in the link that holds it all together.

And I was for these cats too. First, we gave the cats a much-needed break from each other! Then we helped ‘home-work cat’ feel happy in the kid’s room again. Finally, mimicking what would happen in nature, we went on to carefully guide the 3 cats in getting to know each other. And it worked!

The little joys in life like being able to help a little girl get her study buddy back – and allowing her parents the opportunity to provide this for their children. This is just one of the special gifts I receive while helping the animals as well as the humans that they live with.

This is why I enjoy being a feline behavior therapist. 

  • Feline Behavior Therapy
    My mission is to collaborate together with you, the owners, and develop together tools and strategies to: care for and living together with your feline companions peacefully, symbiotically and with optimum health.
  • Who am I

    Who am I

    My name is Jonne Kramer. Since my childhood, I have enjoyed the companionship of cats. I have four adopted cats: Fripp, Eno, Peter and Madison. I have completed a Master's degree in Biology at Amsterdam University VU.
  • Complimentary Consultation

    Complimentary Consultation

    My approach is distinguished by a relaxed way of working with you, looking together for solutions to manage your cat's unwanted behavior. I apply my knowledge and experience for sound solutions and personalized advice.
  • Services

    Services

    I invite you to contact me to discuss any cat related issues.
  • Contact

    Contact

    Please reach out to me for any feline behavior questions using phone, e-mail or WhatsApp: +31 (0)6 44 81 44 93 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Charitable Activities

    Charitable Activities

    Local rehousing centers house lot of cats in my area. I support these by (re-)socializing (re) cats with severe behavioral problems. I specialize in in cats that show excessive fear or aggression, but I also support the team by recognizing health problems, and optimize living arrangements for elderly cats, and other cats with special needs.
  • Testimonials

    No obligations

    Please contact me through +31 6 4481 4493 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.