Tag Archives: veterinary care

Four years ago, I met Kris Chandroo - a veterinarian with a passion for cats and low-stress handling (not to mention also a scientist and musician)!! I interviewed him previously on my blog about his program (Stress to Success) on medicating "challenging" cats. We became fast friends, and since then it's been exciting to watch where he has taken cat (and dog) care. I spoke with him last week about his new mobile practice, 100x Vet because I was so impressed with their approach to practicing medicine in the time of coronavirus. It's a long read, but I hope you will enjoy it!!

It’s been FOUR years since I first interviewed you about Stress for Success! A lot has happened since then…

I’ve changed how I’m interacting with people and their pets. When I did STS I was still working in a brick and mortar clinic. Now we are mobile and on the road!

First, I’d love to hear about the Cuban Experience. What is the purpose – to bring supplies to the vets there, to provide training for vets, provide medical service?

It started with my dad – he loves the country, he’s not a vet, he sells cars, but he has a super soft spot for cats and dogs. So he was going there twice a year, had met vets, connecting people. I’d never seen my dad do anything like this! One year he invited me to come down, and he invited me to meet the vets there. The experience we had, oh my god, bringing it back to…what’s it all for. How do people in a different culture feel about cats and dogs when they have so many of their own problems? Turns out they feel the same way we do.

In Cuba, to get ahead, you open your own shop. Everyone’s hustling. The second they make a little more, the first thing they go to access is veterinary care. There are these pop-up clinics, in a garage, no sign. Then a line of people with dogs and cats.

Were the needs for veterinary care basic, like vaccines and spay/neuter?

Even though internet is highly controlled there, people will still google everything about their pet, and they had questions about supplements, and medical disease. They had high expectations and in-depth questions, even though they couldn’t get food regularly for themselves with shortages. I assumed it would just be antibiotics, parasites, skin issues. Soon we’re bringing down equipment, microscopes, doing diagnostics, medical problem-solving.

What are your goals for the veterinarians who participate?

The team is everything from human nurses, vet techs, students, and vets of course. Everyone finds their role and expands on it. We’ve even had clients come with us. It’s unspoken teamwork. We form a unit. We would go to 3-5 clinics a day, drop off supplies. It might be a surgery day. So many people from different walks of life. There’s so much to reflect on. I haven’t met anyone who didn’t come back from that and didn’t reevaluate their own situation of where they were back home.

It sounds like you’re going in – integrating with the community, not just like “step aside, we’ll take care of your problem”

That was my dad – his question was always, how can I help? He built all that trust. It is to serve their needs, not any other agenda.  

Where can people go to learn more?

They can go to: iwillhelpyourcatcourses.com. This year, we were set to go, we had a sponsor, we had a crew of 10 or 12 of us ready to go down on April 19th and then life happened with coronavirus. We are planning to pick it up in 2021. I’m so sorry we can’t bring supplies there this year.

What I’ve been itching to ask you about is your mobile practice 100x Vet. What made you and Tarra decide to leave your brick and mortar practice to go in a different direction?

The inspiration was coming to a new awareness – I had a medical issue where my retina blew out. Everything suddenly looked crooked in one eye. I went to the optometrist in the mall. She got quiet and said, uhmmm, you should go to the hospital. Friday my eye went bad, Monday I was in surgery. I had some ideas about approaching medicine differently and the eyeball took me there in a hurry. I was out of it for months and couldn’t work at the clinic. I’d get headaches when I moved by head, and I looked like a zombie. I decided to just go with the flow, we got the mobile made and licensed, and went for it.

Tarra and Kris are 100x Vet

What was the inspiration for the name 100x Vet?

For every pet we see in real time, we strive to help 100 more through education, making videos, and working in Cuba.

You and Tarra worked together at a clinic.

Yeah, we met each other at a clinic we both worked at in Ottawa. We also worked together on Stress to Success, which was our acid test for working together in close quarters for long periods of time. It worked.

What made you decide to go mobile instead of opening your own clinic?

As vets in a clinic, you’ve got 15-30 minutes to assess a pet and try to not make it scary for them. Cats don’t live in that time zone. It can take them that long for their heart rate to slow down and for their pupils to stop dilating.

I was interested in how I could take the way I practice medicine and evolve it to the needs of people and their pets. Our philosophy is we don’t treat animals, we treat relationships, and that takes time. Now, I can show up and sit in your living room, have coffee, talk for 15-20 minutes before I even LOOK AT your pet. And that kind of thorough discussion in and of itself reveals so much about what challenges their cat is facing. Their cat might come up to me. Step by step we can bridge that gap. Then any diagnostic exam and low stress approaches – I enjoy it, and my client enjoys it so much more. Instead of inherent stress and conflict, it’s about growth and evolution. It’s changed the practice of medicine for me on all levels. And the ways that cats and dogs feel about it is different as well.

So much of what triggers fearful behaviors at the vet – are these learned associations – the carrier, the drive to the clinic, the smells and sounds at the clinic. Those things are telling the cat or dog you are about to have a bad experience, so prepare for fight or flight now.

As vets, we are trying to get this done whether the cat is ready or not. Many vets are compassionate about that, but there are four people waiting in line. Mobile care allows the time that fits the psychology of the pet. We are working toward their needs instead of forcing them to work within the institution’s needs. It’s like children in school, there can be problems, but it’s not that the child has a problem. It’s the institution.

I can’t tell you how many people come to us in tears because their pet has been banned from a hospital, I get it, not blaming the hospital, I get the pressure cooker. I have x amount of time to solve a problem, the pet is already red-lining, and I have 2 more critical pets in line. But pets go from being muzzled, called “mean”, “aggressive” to coming up to you, and then you can start counter-conditioning to touch.

What have you learned about clients from going into their homes? What informs you as a doctor?

All of a sudden, if you think you’re on a pedestal, that will go out the window. You are a guest in someone’s home, which is going to affect how you conduct yourself and how it feels. The environment fosters an appreciation of who the pet is, when you’re coming to the pet from a perspective of wholeness, versus problem-solving and a lack of time, it changes how the interaction feels for EVERYBODY.

I’ve learned from talking about this with you before – the term enrichment is crappy – what does it really mean? Deconstructing that – what does it mean from the cat’s perspective? Nothing brought that together in a more impactful way than walking into my first consult in a client’s home for behavior. When you’re in someone’s home, you can walk around, see it all. We now do the “pee and poop tour”, we do a vantage point check off. I put it terms of natural behavior from your cat’s perspective, and does your home support that?

I think that reflects where the field is going. The term enrichment implies that it’s a bonus, instead of environmental requirements. If we call a toy enrichment, therefore it’s not as essential, like litter boxes and food and water.

Exactly. It’s not a bonus. It’s the base layer of naturalized behavior and care.

I was trying to do a research project that involved home veterinary exams. I was trying to find guidelines or protocols for a home visit, and I couldn’t find anything. The vet schools don’t bring this up. Even simple things, like having an ID or taking your shoes off, or working with another person. The only resources were the hospice and in-home euthanasia practices. Given that there isn’t much information out there, how did you figure out how to make this work? Some vets who do a home practice treat it like a regular clinic visit. The cat is confined in the bathroom, you go in and get it done. Do you have any suggestions for other vets who might be interested in doing a mobile practice?

You’re right, there are zero resources on how to do it. The only training you get in vet school is related to equine and dairy.

The easiest thing to do would be to say, I’m just going to take what I did in my practice and convert that to being in someone’s home. But that’s a missed opportunity in terms of where medicine can go for pets. We’re working with a relationship with a non-verbal pet who has opinions. We can respect that.

The other thing was, what did we want for ourselves? Did we want to be 30 minutes in and out, then running around town, 10-15 times a day? That’s a recipe for burn out. If we burn out, then we can’t be present in mind for our patients.

Our standard now is 90-minute appointments, and it goes by fast. And we need to remember that every veterinary appointment should be treated like a behavior appointment. The industry isn’t there yet. Fear Free is trying. Why did it take so long for us to have something like Fear Free? The veterinary institution thinks about what we do in a very specific, hierarchical way. You can feel it in the words we use, like “compliance.” Switching to a non-judging, non-labelling look at the individual’s internal need, and putting our philosophy about life at the top.

When we started, people assumed all we could do was vaccines and euthanasia. It took some marketing and video to let people know that’s not just what we do. It’s about 80% medicine, problem solving and coaching.

So you decided to do a YouTube channel!

I love making videos. We decided that if someone needed help, and they had a relationship with their pet, and they couldn’t afford our rates, we decided we wanted to help. If that person agreed to have that experience filmed, we could create something educational that would let people know that you might be experiencing the same problems, you can get help. People became more aware of what a house call could be like. It isn’t clinical, we’re not taking your pet out to our car. We stay in your home where your pet wants to be.

What is easier and harder about having a mobile clinic?

If I talk about technical things – blood pressure is easier and more accurate. But I would say EVERYTHING has gotten easier, from initial conversations to meeting pets and people where they are at, no time crunch…what is harder? Logistically, man if you had food intolerances you will sort them out real fast! I mean for Tarra (my RVT) and I. You want a gut that is feeling good. Peeing in someone’s home…I had one experience where I had to go pee and the client had a big problem with it. She didn’t want me to go unless I would sit down on the toilet seat. I politely just held it in lol.

Taking a cat's blood pressure during a home visit.

You only have to live with one guy with bad aim. Guys are slobs. You know those weird rugs around the toilet…there’s a reason those exist and it’s bad.

It’s true. Guy bathrooms are notorious.

So now we’re in a pandemic. How are you keeping your business going, assuring clients that their pets will get medical care while staying safe in this scary time?

It was mid-February, I saw the word exponential being tossed around. As a vet, thinking about infectious disease control, you need to have protocols ready. It had nothing to do with politics, or managerial opinions. It was midnight, and I just started researching, what would I do to keep going? What could I do to keep my family safe?

I made a few assumptions, that fit in line with what I would do anyways. Accepting asymptomatic transition was one. How could I provide care to others, AND keep them safe and vice versa? So I started ordering PPE, hats, gowns, eyewear. At that point all of the N95 respirators were already gone. But I found I could get NIOSH approved P100 respirators, with reusable, washable masks that could be disinfected.  

Then I thought about aerosolization of droplets. That means no contact. We are going to help your pet but we’re not going to see you. And the third way – touching something in your environment, then touching your face. People were freaking out about getting hand sanitizer, but the gold standard is hand WASHING. We built a handwashing station for the back of our mobile, so we could wash on the streets, instead of someone’s home or a fast food joint.  

When things started to heat up a few weeks ago, things got real for so many people. The most tragic way was, we got a lot of calls for euthanasia, and people who were quarantined and couldn’t leave their home. Or people who could leave their home but knew the last time they would see their pet would be in a carrier as I pass it through their car door. That hit people in a way that was rough.

Tarra and I were like, this can’t happen. We figured out step-by-step how we could do a euthanasia with dignity, the animal is with their people, while Tarra and I are absent. It involves phone calls, 8-foot IV lines, other equipment. The pet is inside with their person and we are on the other side of a door administering medication from a distance. We walk in, we give sedation, we leave the room. We call the owner and they can be with their cat as he falls asleep. As far as the cat knows, nothing has changed. All they know is all they’ve ever known, there’s nothing new or stressful.

Kris gowning up

To innovate solutions like that is so great.

People have appreciated it. Euthanasia is the first thing to have suffered because of this. It’s super emotional. The pandemic has hit, how do we problem solve as a society to preserve relationships? And my advice to everyone – it’s 20% being prepared in all the ways you can, and the realization that for all the rest, it’s hands off the wheel. No resistance to change. Children and pets are masters of this. Not having anxiety for the future, not regretting their past. Just being present, in the moment. Whatever that moment brings. 

So for us, we wash our hands frequently. When in doubt, wash them out. It’s not controversial for us to wear masks. It’s just basic science. We have a protocol for anything coming in or out of our homes, including vet supplies, mail or groceries. Clothing, cellphone, keys. Anything that could act as a fomite. Once all of that is in place, the rest of life is still here. Just ask any cat.

All photos provided by Dr. Kris Chandroo.

Did you know that cats should see their veterinarian at least once a year? That’s right, even if they are indoors only and seem healthy, it’s good to have a check-up. A big reason that people do not take their cat in for regular care (aside from money) is the stress they perceive that their cat experiences. A survey found that 38% of cat owners reported that they get stressed out just thinking about taking their cat to the vet, and 58% say their cat hates going to the vet. I’ve previously written about how training your cat to love a carrier can make this whole process a LOT easier. But what about what happens AT the vet?

Passive versus full-body restraint. Image from Moody et al., 2019

Researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College have published two studies exploring how the way cats are handled at the vet might effect their behavior.  The premise of both studies was comparing responses to what the authors call “passive restraint” (defined as handling the cat lightly in a position of the cat’s choosing) and “full-body restraint” (holding the cat on their side, while grabbing the cat’s legs, preventing movement of the head, body and limbs).

 

 

Both studies included (I think the same) 51 healthy adult shelter cats. All cats were first categorized as either friendly or unfriendly according to an “Unfamiliar Person” test. Each cat was individually placed in a room in a carrier. The carrier door was opened and the cat was given two minutes to choose to exit the carrier, explore the room, and approach the experimenter (an unfamiliar person). If at the end of two minutes, the cat was still in the carrier, the experimenter removed the top of the carrier and left the room, and the cat was given another minute to explore. At that point, the experimenter approached and attempted to pet the cat. Friendly cats had to leave the carrier, approach the experimenter within about a foot and a half, and allow petting. Twenty-four cats were categorized as friendly, and 23 as unfriendly.

Next, all cats were given a two-minute “mock” physical exam using either passive or full-body restraint. The experimenters measured how long it took to restrain the cat, as well as the presence of ear movements, tail lashing, lip licking, respiratory rate, and amount of pupil dilation to assess stress responses to both types of handling. Two cats in each condition were not able to be examined due to aggressive behavior.

Lip licking can be a sign of stress. Photo via Public Domain Pictures.

Now for the results of the first study “Can you handle it? Validating negative responses to restraint in cats”: it took longer to get cats into full-body restraint than passive restraint. Full-body restraint also resulted in a higher respiratory rate and more lip licking. Cats who had been subjected to full-body restraint were quicker to jump off the examination table. The authors concluded that the full-body restraint increases the activation of a cat’s stress system, and the attempts to escape the exam table suggest that those cats found the experience more aversive than the cats in the passive restraint condition.

Image from Moody et al., 2019

Fast-forward to 2019. The second study that was just published earlier this year in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, titled “Testing two behavioural paradigms for measuring post-handling cat aversion behavior,” looked at whether cats found the handler threatening AFTER being placed in either full-body or passive restraint. After the two-minute exam, cats were given two tests to assess how they felt about the person who did the exam. For the first, cats had previously been trained to walk down a runway for treats. Only 38 of the shelter cats were able to be trained to complete this task. The cat was placed on the runway, with the handler at the other end, and the experimenters recorded whether the cat approached or moved away from the handler.

There were no differences in the time it took cats to approach the handler, regardless of whether they had been subjected to passive or full-body restraint. Because no differences were found, and because a sizeable number of cats could not be trained to use the walkway, it appears that this is not a good measure of aversion responses in cats.

The apparatus used to test location preference. From Moody et al., 2019.

But wait, there’s more! The researchers next tested whether cats would form negative associations with a LOCATION after full-body restraint compared to passive. This study included 45 shelter cats and 10 adult laboratory cats who were group housed. All cats were subjected to BOTH restraint methods for one full minute, but in two different, visually distinct compartments of an enclosure. After the cat had been restrained, they were allowed to choose which side of the compartment they wanted to stay in – the one they had been passively restrained in, or the one in which they received full-body restraint. All laboratory cats, and the “friendly” shelter cats spent more time in the passive compartment; the “unfriendly” shelter cats were equally torn between compartments, perhaps finding both types of handling aversive.

From these studies, we can conclude that overall, cats have fewer stress-responses to passive restraint. For some cats, particularly the friendly ones, those stress-responses carried over to preferring the location that they had received passive restraint in compared to full-body restraint. However, the cats subjected to full-body restraint were no more or less likely to approach the person who had restrained her compared to the passively restrained cats, so to answer my original question, it doesn’t appear that cats hold much of a grudge if any.

Cat handling is a hot topic for a lot of reasons, and the trend of “less is more” can be found in several movements to help make the veterinary experience better for cats (e.g., Cat Friendly Practice, Fear Free and Low-Stress Handling programs). I feel like I should mention that “scruffing” or the restraint of cats by holding the skin of their neck is NOT what was tested in this study. I bring this up because scruffing is a commonly used method of restraint that is considered outdated and a bit  controversial, and unfortunately I know of no research to condemn or condone its use. Two studies (here and here) did not find strong evidence for aversive responses to a handling technique called “clipnosis” or pinch-induced behavioral inhibition in cats, which is sort of similar to scruffing. Regardless, the consensus is that cats should never be LIFTED by their scruff.

And, when we teach cat handling at the veterinary school, the messages that we try to leave in the student’s minds are, “do you automatically default to heavy handed techniques, and if so – why?"  and “EBYs (Even Better Yets)” – what can we do better next time?

References

Moody, C. M., Picketts, V. A., Mason, G. J., Dewey, C. E., & Niel, L. (2018). Can you handle it? Validating negative responses to restraint in cats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science204, 94-100.

Moody, C. M., Mason, G. J., Dewey, C. E., Landsberg, G. M., & Niel, L. (2019). Testing two behavioural paradigms for measuring post-handling cat aversion behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science210, 73-80.

Nuti, V., Cantile, C., Gazzano, A., Sighieri, C., & Mariti, C. (2016). Pinch-induced behavioural inhibition (clipthesia) as a restraint method for cats during veterinary examinations: preliminary results on cat susceptibility and welfare. Animal Welfare25(1), 115-123.

Pozza, M. E., Stella, J. L., Chappuis-Gagnon, A. C., Wagner, S. O., & Buffington, C. T. (2008). Pinch-induced behavioral inhibition (‘clipnosis’) in domestic cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery10(1), 82-87.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Do you play with your cat? How about every day? Be honest. I know most of you reading this are pretty lazy about playing with your cats (I can be too). You might even blame it on your cat…”Oh…he doesn't really like to play with toys,” “She liked to play when he was a kitten, but now that she’s older, she prefers to cuddle.” I've heard it all before and I know it’s a lie! Why? Because to cats, play should be practice for predation, and cats are natural-born killers who cannot resist the opportunity to pounce! This doesn't mean that the play is always fun for the human, who may or may not be particularly skilled at eliciting those killer behaviors in their cats. But we’ll get to that. First, let’s look at a recent study examining how play might influence the behavior of cats.

An Owner Survey of Toys, Activities and Behavior Problems in Indoor Cats” was recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior. The study was a survey of 277 veterinary clients in Tennessee who were bringing their cats in for a veterinary visit (coming for anything besides a behavior problem rendered someone eligible to participate). The goal of the study was to examine just how much playtime owners give their cats, and how this might be correlated with behavior problems.

Owners were asked standard questions about their cats (such as if they were spayed/neutered, the cats’ sex and the like). The survey also asked owners if the cats eliminate outside of the litterbox, fight with other cats, and if they bite and scratch people. They were next asked how often and long they play with their cat, and what types of toys/activities they provide for their cats (e.g. balls, mice, stuffed toys, catnip, etc.). Finally, they asked participants if they talk to their veterinarian about any behavior problems their cat might be experiencing.

On the human side of things, all owners stated that they played with their cat at least once a month, with 64% claiming to play at least twice a day. Most owners played with their cat for 5-10 minutes at a time. The majority of people (78%) reported leaving toys out all the time for their cat.

On the cat side, we've got a lot of naughty kitties out there. Sixty-one percent of owners reported at least one undesirable behavior, with many cats displaying aggression toward people (36%), closely followed by urination outside the litterbox (24%) and aggression between cats in the home (21%). Of those owners with “problem children,” only half of them had mentioned the problem to their veterinarian.

Photo by Jon Ross via Creative Commons/Flickr
Photo by Jon Ross via Creative Commons/Flickr

Was playtime correlated with behavior problems? Maybe. The owners who played with their cats for longer periods of time reported fewer behavior problems (on average one behavior problem, compared to the 2.25 behavior problems reported by those who played with their cat for only one minute at a time). Behavior problems were strongly related to the sex of the cat, with male cats being more likely to have reported behavior issues, regardless of neuter status.

I do think we should interpret these results with some caution. First of all, we have a very small sample size of people (less than 10) who reported they only play with their cat for one minute at a time. These people may not be representative of a random sampling of people who don’t play much with their cat, and of course, we don’t know if the decreased play is the cause of the behavior problems, or the result (or because of something else altogether). We also don’t know if those who claimed to play with their cat for longer periods of time were being honest. Perhaps many of them only play for one minute as well, they just didn't feel like admitting it!

We also don’t know if people who bring their cats to the vet regularly are different from pet owners who do not. More than half of all pet cats do not get a yearly exam, due in large part to the fact that many cats are afraid of their cat carrier (a subject for another blog post!). So it’s possible that the cats represented in this survey are also somehow different from your average pet cat, for better or worse.

On behavior problems: it seems like a lot of cats are having them (more than reported in a previous study). Is this because people are making less time for their cats? Are more cats bored and indoors? (For the record, I advocate keeping cats indoors only, but it needs to be a loving, fun and stimulating environment!) They also didn't report whether age correlated with behavior problems, but I wonder if aggression toward humans is more prevalent in younger cats and kittens, with more of a playful/predatory bent, than the more fearful, defensive types of aggression problems seen in some cats.

Most people don’t mention behavior problems to their veterinarian, and while the authors suggest that veterinarians can be a resource for help, (no diss on vets, but…) I think it’s important to remember that most veterinarians do not get much (if any) training in cat behavior. In many veterinary programs, ONE multi-species behavior course is an elective, not a requirement (see here, here and here for examples of veterinary curricula). Many veterinarians admit they know little about behavior, while others may give outdated or just bad behavior advice!

That said, veterinarians are hopefully making progress on this end, and hopefully know of some resources for cat-owners that they can at least point them to (such as veterinary behaviorists, CAABS, the IAABC and Cats International) if they can’t answer a client's behavior-related questions! Because behavior issues are a major reason that cats are surrendered to shelters, it is important to intervene and provide assistance early!

This study reveals some valuable information about pet owners and the type of activities they provide for their cats and I have plenty of thoughts about the findings! This study found owners reporting even less playtime with cats than data from a study in 1997, where owners reported 20-40 minutes of daily play with their cats. Sadly, the current figure is probably not enough to meet most cats’ needs.

Food puzzles are a great way to provide enrichment for your cat!
Food puzzles are a great way to provide enrichment for your cat!

Furthermore, people need to expand their selection of toys and activities. In the current study, only 39% of owners reported using an interactive (“fishing pole”) toy with their cats. This is a travesty! Only NINE percent had a cat tree, four percent trained their cats to do tricks, and less than one percent provided food puzzles as enrichment for their cats. I’d say those are four “magic bullet” things that all cats owners can do to immediately improve their cats’ lives, and sadly, not many people are doing any of them.

 

Does your cat have a cat tree? Picture by David Kowis via Creative Commons/Flickr
Does your cat have a cat tree? Picture by David Kowis via Creative Commons/Flickr

So for those of you who might be cringing about the kitty care you are providing right now, I’m going to give you a few quick tips to make playtime easier for you and your cat:

Think like prey – get interactive (that means a toy with a stick that you move, not a toy you just toss across the room) toys that resemble birds, bugs and mice. Move them like birds, bugs and mice! Quiver, skitter, hop, but whatever you do, don’t shove the toy in your cat’s face. No self-respecting mouse would do that. Also, don’t feel the need to wildly wave the toy around constantly. This might work for kittens, but older cats need more calculated play…bringing me to my next tip:

Take advantage of your cat’s stalk and rush hunting style. Stalk and rush means that the predator spends a lot of time carefully watching prey before making a very hasty and deadly attack. Cats really like the “pre-pounce” phase – where the toy is barely moving for many seconds. Watch their eyes – are their pupils dilated? Is their butt wiggling? Are their whiskers forward? If yes, you have feline focus!

This short burst style of hunting means that you don’t always need 20 minute play sessions with your cat. Several 5-10 minute sessions are likely just as effective! Just make sure your cat has a little time to calm down from the play before taking the toy away.

Use all of their senses! We are visual, so we tend to think that cats are too. But they want to use their senses of smell, sound and touch too! Try toys scented with catnip, or small amounts of mint, valerian or even cat food. Remember their sense of smell is much stronger than ours, so a little bit will go far. The scent may help them track toys as you move them around.

Move toys against a scratchy surface, like under a paper bag or rug, or hide the toy behind a table leg and gently tap the toy against the leg. The sound will immediately pique your cat’s interest!

Be sure to let the cat catch and touch the toy frequently. They have many sensitive nerve endings and whiskers in their face and paws to help them hunt. These are designed to help them capture prey. This why lazer pointer play can get frustrating; they can never catch the toy.

Cats can get bored of the same toys. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Cats can get bored of the same toys. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Rotate toysa previous study suggested that cats don’t get bored of play – they get bored of the same old toy. So be sure to take some toys away, and put out different ones. Have multiple interactive toys for play sessions. Switch toys if your cat seems to lose interest and see if she is re-engaged!

 

I hope now you feel a little more inclined to pick up that dusty cat dancer that’s been sitting in the back of your closet and give your kitty a little exercise! You may even have fun and create a bonding moment with your cat…and if you’re lucky, you’ll prevent some behavior problems too!