Today's Veterinary Practice

SEP-OCT 2018

Today's Veterinary Practice provides comprehensive information to keep every small animal practitioner up to date on companion animal medicine and surgery as well as practice building and management.

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CONTINUING EDUCATION SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018 37 interaction with the owner (50% of cats), food (37%), toys (11%), and scent (2%). 32 Significantly more cats preferred social interaction over toys and preferred food over scent. Food. Cats prefer to eat individually in a safe, quiet location where they will not be startled by other animals, sudden movement, or sudden activity of an air duct or appliance. 33 Some cats prefer wet foods, possibly because of the potentially more natural feel in their mouth; others prefer dry foods. When a diet change is appropriate (and agreed to by the client), offering the new food in a separate container next to the usual food, rather than removing the usual food and replacing it with the new food or mixing foods, permits cats to express their preferences. Natural cat feeding behavior also includes predatory activities such as stalking and pouncing. These behaviors may be simulated by hiding small amounts of food around the house or by putting food into food puzzles ( ) 34 ( FIGURE 3 ). Litter boxes. Cats may display litter box issues even in the absence of LUT signs. A detailed discussion of litter box location (safe), size (big), litter type (ask the cat), and management is beyond the scope of this article; excellent recommendations are available from the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) ( ) and elsewhere. 35-37 Play. Cats may enjoy play interactions with their people and can be easily trained to perform certain behaviors (i.e., tricks). 38 Clients just need to understand that although cats readily respond to positive reinforcement (food), they do not respond to punishment like more group-social species because this form of social interaction never entered their behavioral repertoire. Cats also seem to be more amenable to learning if the behavior is shaped before feeding. These cats seem to like novelty, so providing a variety of toys, rotated or replaced regularly, can sustain their interest. Identifying a cat's prey preferences enables clients to provide toys that the cat will be most likely to play with ( FIGURE 4 ). For example, some cats prefer to chase birds, whereas others prefer to chase mice, lizards, or bugs. In contrast to play, some cats seem to prefer to be petted and groomed. Conflict. Like most of us, when a cat feels threatened, it often responds by attempting to restore its perception of control. During such responses, some cats become aggressive, some become withdrawn, and some become ill. Intercat conflict may occur when multiple cats are housed indoors together and health problems are present. 35 Conflict among cats can develop because of perceived threats to their status in the home, access to valued (or scarce) resources (e.g., food, resting areas, litter boxes, human attention), other animals in the FIGURE 4. Content cat with toy mouse. FIGURE 3. (A) Cat with food puzzle, unsolved. (B) Solved. A B Clockwise from right: Courtesy AAFP; shutterstock/jessjeppe (2)

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