Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cat Behavior Expert

A few minutes before the seminar began.
Early this week, area cat lovers attended a sold out seminar hosted by the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCAJoan Miller, Vice President of the Cat Fanciers Association, came to the UVA Caplin Auditorium to share her cat behavior expertise.  Joan has 30+ years of experience in handling cats to determine and often adjust their behavior to make them adoptable.

Joan had been at the SPCA for several days accessing cats and training staff.  For her presentation, she selected a group of ten hissy shelter cats to illustrate proper handling and care to get positive behavior from a cat.  Animal control facilities often only keep cats for 72 hours, and Joan's years of experience has verified that that is often too short of a holding period.  It can take weeks of slowly and gradually adding challenges to the cat before it comes around allowing human interaction.

Joan illustrating scent glands.
One of the cats that she brought to the seminar was residing in the SPCA "barn cat" room at the shelter.  Found free roaming and thought to probably be semi-feral, she had the cat out in front of a packed room that was as comfortable and friendly as any other cat she handled.  Obviously, the cat had been acting unsocial at the shelter but with her careful handling she brought it out of its shell and it can now be adopted into a home!

  • The number one thing cats want is PLEASURE FOR THEMSELVES! 
  • A Safe, clean, and comfortable environment.
  • Cats are cautious observers.
  • Gradual change and predictability.
  • Some adversity and challenge each day.
  • Cats are much more smell, than visually oriented.
  • There are 400+ colors and patters in Pedigreed cats.
  • All cats are black and tabby (genes will mask the tabby marking making it a solid or the black color making it yellow for example).  Genes can also affect the eye coloring.
  • A cat is not called a Calico (orange, white, black) UNLESS the black is solid colored.  It is a tabby mix.
  • Often blue eyed white cats are deaf, often if one eye is green, that side will be hearing but the blue side will be deaf!
  • If your cat has copper eyes then you can almost be certain it has pedigree in its background. 
SPCA kitten calmly sitting in room full of cat lovers.
Another interesting fact from Joan was that when you raise a 4 - 8 week old kitten you should NEVER put anything in the cage or area that will allow the kitten to scratch (for the exception of the litter box).  It has been studied and proven that this will prevent them from developing that bad behavior of scratching your furniture and other valuable items.  Proper kitten behavior is learned during this time period and it is so important for a kitten to learn from its mother or another kitten "proper behavior".  It's best to raise a kitten w/another friendly cat.

My obviously relaxed cat Gus.
Joan is was amazing and I know that each person in the room learned something new about our special felines during the presentation.


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