Cat-egorical Affection

Birta og Rjómi

“The kid followed me home…can I keep her?” Image Copr. Maria Magnus/Flickr

This is a topic I’m covering in the future release of my updated PURINA ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CAT CARE. I’d LOVE to have your discussion/opinions for possible inclusion so fire away in the comments!

How do your cats show affection? When Seren was younger, she’d run into the living room and meow-meow-meow until we finally paid attention. It was her “Timmy’s down the well!” cry, so we’d follow her.

Without exception, she’d race away, pausing every now and then to be sure someone followed, and lead us into the laundry room. There, she’d leap onto the washer and head over to her food bowl on the countertop–

Which was full.

She wasn’t hungry. She just wanted us to watch her eat. Seren demanded that we observe and comment on her cuisine, after which she’d meow-meow-meow her appreciation and head-butt (and wipe her face!) on our sleeves.

I”m preaching to the choir here, I know. But anyone who has spent time with a special feline understand that cats have an undeserved reputation as aloof, solitary creatures. I believe that’s because people who have never been around them–or that are more attuned to dog behavior–simply don’t recognized feline signs of affection. Cats communicate their moods, emotions, and desires in a variety of signs that can be quite subtle. And affection is, after all, a two way street. The cat who is offered little interaction will return that indifference, while the beloved feline showered with attention blossoms into a loving pet. Cats are also individuals, with a wide range of personalities.

Cats show affection to other cats–and even dogs or other pets–by sleeping together and grooming each other. They indulge in subtle body contact, like bumping hips as they pass in the room or twining tails together. Affectionate cats share food, and enjoy playing together.

They show affection to humans in many of the same ways. They want to sleep on the pillow next to your face, they groom your hair. Often, cats will solicit owners to play, or watch them eat (like Seren!). Affectionate cats twine around ankles, offer head bumps, purrs and trills, and knead with their paws to express contentment. They’ll even follow you into the bathroom and nestle in your unmentionables. Ahem.

What are some unique ways your cats demand your attention, and/or reciprocate? How do you explain some of kitty’s foibles to family and friends who may be less appreciative of their antics?

CompetCatBy the way, more “felinese” cat language is discussed in ComPETability-Cat . . . and to help out with the pending kitten season and onslaught of new fur kids, I’ve reduced the Kindle price today and tomorrow to $2.99. You can also enter the GoodReads giveaway for a chance to win a paw-tographed free print version.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

ComPETability Books FREE!

I’m on vacation visiting with family and may not be able to respond to emails/comments as timely as usual. Maybe it’s the eggnog, or the carols, or the sheer joy of the challenges and blessings of this past year–a lot of my smiles have to do with YOUSE GUYS.

May your holidays bring you all good things, furry and otherwise. And to help with the pet-astic family members, and THANK YOU for all your blog luv this past year, I’ve made these three Kindle books free today December 21 through Christmas Day.

If you get a new Kindle, be sure to get a copy. Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can get a free Kindle-For-PC and still get the books you want. Pick one, two, or all three–give them as a gift to your pet loving friends.

HOLIDAY BONUS!

FREE copies of ComPETability Kindle books DEC. 21-25 ONLY

COVER NEW-DOGCompetCatCOMPET-cover-new

If that’s not enough, I will give away 10 free pawtographed copies of LOST AND FOUND too, through GOOD READS. Now through Christmas, Sign up here!

PLEASE SHARE!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Oh Baby! Introducing Dogs to Kids–Safely

A cat writing colleague called me last week after someone asked about tips for introducing babies to dogs. The person wanted to know how to teach the dog that the Baby was “alpha.”

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKK!!!

Think about it. There is so much WRONG with that statement I really don’t know where to begin. You bring an infant home from the hospital, a creature that makes funny, weird (scary! prey-like) sounds and moves in a (scary! prey-like) strange way, and has enticing (scary! food-like) odors–milk, baby lotion, poopy-treats–

And you expect the dog that’s lived in your house, shared your lap/sofa/bed and received his share of attention and love to suddenly say, to this helpless and obviously puppy-esque creature–YOU DA BOSS!

You can try, of course. I don’t recommend it, and here’s why. A baby physically and mentally and emotionally–in reality–cannot be “alpha” over anything. That’s a contradiction in terms. “Alpha” implies being in charge. I hate that term, by the way, it’s so over-used and incorrectly thrown around. A dog may certainly tolerate the new baby and even come to love the infant but not at the baby’s behest, but because your dog respects, trusts, and loves YOU and your relationship.

My ComPETability books detail a whole lot more about how dogs think (and also how cats think), and both books include detailed step-by-step advice on what to do when you bring an infant into your home.

Toddlers are a whole other matter. The ComPETability books also have details about introducing toddlers and older kids to pets.

That’s vital not just for parents, but important for grandparents and visiting relatives to know especially over the holidays. Young kids may, indeed, think they are in charge of things and act that way, but the dog still knows better! I even covered this issue in my LOST AND FOUND thriller with the relationship between a highly-trained service dog and Shadow’s seven-year-old boy partner. How would Shadow have reacted to being struck repeatedly if he hadn’t been trained and drilled over and over again to expect and accept such treatment–and even then, that’s no guarantee a hurt dog won’t lash out.

You do NOT want a dog to try and teach a child his/her “proper place” (from the dog’s perspective–and hey, it’s normal for dogs to do this!) and so tips for introductions and supervised interactions are vital.

I’ve offered some of these tip on my puppies.about.com site for preparing dogs for new babies, and introducing dogs to young children. How have you handled these situations with your pets? This is an opportunity to create a loving and lasting relationship with pets that can build and grow for a lifetime! Please share your tips.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Monday Mentions: Kitty Cover, Free Books & Pet-astic Links

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo writer links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. You’ll have to indulge me a weeee bit today, because SQUEEE! the full cover of my thriller is now available and it (DOUBLE SQUEEE!) has a cat on the back.

I’ve already had two great write-ups about the book, an advance review at Darlene Arden’s PerPETually Speaking and an interview today at Mary Shafer’s Author Blog, woot! Thanks so much to both these terrific writers.

That’s not the only news, though. Last week I announced a new Kindle-lized book, and this week to share my delight in all-things-furry, I’m giving them away. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the Multi-Dog ComPETability book is free on Kindle. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the Multi-Cat ComPETability book is free. And Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the Cat-Dog ComPETability book is free. I hope you’ll share the news with your pet-loving friends.

Now on to the other fun stuff. I’ve published nonfiction books with “traditional” publishers, brought my backlist and new nonfiction to life as an “indie” author, and my fiction will be published by a small press. Maybe I’m a hybrid, I don’t know. But the video, below, has some great insight from smarter and more successful authors that have taken a similar path, so don’t miss taking a look at this glimpse of one of the terrific 2012 Thrillerfest Panels on going “indie.”

Meanwhile I’ve compiled the usual helpful and fun links. Enjoy!

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Amazon NY Signs with Ingram to sell Ebooks through other retailers

Amazon Serials–One Chapter at a Time ooooh this sounds nifty!

Florence, Italy Writers Retreat! oh, I soooo want to do this…maybe you can

Auditory Hallucinations Via Better Drugs, fun mayhem (for your fiction!) from DP Lyle

Tips to Avoid Social Media BurnOut

25 Things Social Media Must-Knows from a truly terrible mind (good stuff!)

Author Website 6 Must Haves, 6 things you should include for readers

7 Freelancing Scams and how to fight them from Writer Beware–and another Freelancer Beware Content Aggregators

What Kind of Reader Are You? here’s a test…do tell?

Get the Most Out of GoodReads oh, and if you’re a member, you can find me on Goodreads here.

PET SCHTUFF

Whale-Tracking DOG! fascinating stuff, a canine environmentalist

Archeologist Doggy Assistant digging for bones–reeeeeely old ones!

Cat Video Festival, meow-velous fun videos featuring fantastic felines (I dare ya to just watch ONE!)

Origin of Dog Collars, with some great historical tidbits and pictures. Awesome!

Thrillerfest 2012 Panel Master Bob Mayer, with Diane Capri, C.J. Lyons, Leo J. Maloney, Aaron Patterson, Lewis Perdue and Jennifer Talty. Tips that you don’t want to miss! Oh, and that’s my amazing publisher and editor in that lineup.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Oh Behave!

puppy licking dishes in dishwasher

Dogs aim to help us out–whether we want them to or not! Image Copr. Claire Hodkinson

In reality, pet-loving owners can have unrealistic expectations. Few of us speak “dog” or understand “felinese” at least without practice, and people easily misunderstand normal pet behaviors—and may actually encourage bad antics without even knowing any better. So what do you do?

HELP IS AVAILABLE

Too often, these socially inept cats and dogs (and owners!) means the pet ends up in shelters! Yet there is help available that can literally can save your pet relationship or even the dog and cat’s life. To promote that idea, the Keep the L.O.V.E. Alive Behavior Express Tour sponsored by Ceva Animal Health and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists may be coming to a city near you!

Dr. Marty Becker, America’s Veterinarian, is a spokesperson at the September 8, 2012 Dallas event (THAT’S SATURDAY, GANG!) where you’ll find free behavior tips, shelter pet adoptions, behavior demonstrations, giveaways and more. My friend and colleague Dr. Amanda Florsheim, a veterinary behaviorist, will also be on hand to field your dog and cat questions. For a preview, check out this hot-off-the-virtual-press radio interview with Dr. Marty at Pet Peeves Radio.

FINDING PET BEHAVIOR HELP

You really can’t separate pet behavior from their health and well being. For instance, the kitty that gets “creative” outside the box may, indeed, be a behavior problem to you but due to a health condition–or a combination of both. Getting the dog checked by the veterinarian can help pinpoint an anal gland abscess, for instance, that makes him snarl when approached from the rear.

The vet can also direct you to the best person for helping you with a potential behavior issue. Some puppy problems can be fixed with training from a reputable dog trainer. Kitty angst prompting frenzied furniture scratching may be soothed with some help from a cat behavior consultant’s tips about enriching the environment. And veterinarians are the ONLY folks able to prescribe medication (for physical or emotional issues) that may be the tipping point for solving big-time problems. Learn about some of the professional behavior organizations here.  You can learn more about questions to ask to find a dog trainer in this article. Of course, your local veterinarian should know who might be available in your neck of the woods. Many of my referrals come from veterinarians.

ComPetability: Dog Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Cat Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Dog/Cat Behavior Problems

MAKING IT PURR-SONAL

Have you ever needed the help of a pet professional like a dog training specialist or a cat behavior consultant? Where do you go for behavior advice? Yes, you can find some solid, helpful tips on the Internet or even in my books–that first one on dog behavior problems is brand new!–but honestly, it’s a toss up how good “free” info might be, and it could do more harm than good. Your pets rely on you to get the best help possible. And the longer a behavior gets “practiced” the more time it will take to un-learn. Just sayin…

What are your top kitty or doggy behavior complaints? How do you manage them? Please share! And if you’re in the area, say “howdy” to Dr. Marty Becker and the other behavior experts at the event. They truly do want to help your pets behave!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!