5 Ways to Deal with a Demanding Cat

a kitten lays  on a laptopBy Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a cat insurance and dog insurance agency. 

Does your cat nearly trip you with figure-eight maneuvers between your legs when you head for the kitchen? Does he sneak up on your desk and hover so closely that your elbow bumps him when you try to type on the computer keyboard? Or, worse, does he serenade you with loud meows at the foot of your bed an hour before your alarm clock is set to chime?

These irritating scenarios are just a few linked to demanding cats, felines who have clearly crossed the line of good manners. Animal behaviorists report that in the ranking of owner complaints about cats, demanding attention ranks third behind inappropriate urination and aggression toward another cat in the home.

Other examples of demanding behaviors include sitting on work papers or a book you are trying to read. And, leaping up on our lap the instant you sit down. Or pacing back and forth and vocalizing at you.

Why so demanding? Keep in mind that cats crave daily routines and some may vocalize when you’re an hour late to serve their meal or become irritated that you forgot to scoop their litter box.

And genetics also play a factor in the degree of demandingness displayed. In general, Siamese have reputations for being vocal and bossy. While breeds such as the Sphynx are noted for being clingy and wanting to spend every minute with their chosen person. It may be because they lack hair on their coats and need to be kept warm.

Medical conditions can also cause sudden insistent demands in a cat. If your mellow middle-aged cat suddenly starts conducting loud meow marathon sessions, he needs to be examined by a veterinarian. He could have hyperthyroidism, a glandular disease that causes the thyroid gland to produce excessive amounts of the hormone thryoxine, resulting in increased appetite, sudden weight loss and hyperactivity.  Or, your cat may yowl do to a painful injury or abscess.

Here are ways to tone down demanding behavior in your cat:

1. Don’t treat your cat as a small dog. Dogs usually respond appropriately when ushered into a closed bedroom or bathroom when annoying you or houseguests. Time outs do not work so well on cats. It doesn’t take much energy to meow for a long time. So, when you do usher your cat into a safe room, make it pleasant and engaging for your cat by providing a soft place to nap, food and water and a keep-busy toy. Also clip his claws so he won’t damage the doorframe by scratching.

2. Schedule daily play sessions with your cat – ideally 5- to 10-minute sessions in the morning and at night. Have him stalk and pursue a feather wand toy down the hall. Crinkle paper wads and toss them for him to chase and hunt.

3. Dine together. Some cats feel vulnerable when they lower their heads into food bowls to eat. They feel safer when they can eat their meals close to you while you eat your meal.

4. Practice the art of compromise. Position a cozy cat bed on your desk to stop your cat from standing between you and the computer monitor. For cats who dash into the kitchen each time you do, consider locating a towering cat tree near the kitchen to enable your cat to view your moves from a high secure perch. Be happy that your cat enjoys your company and wants to be with you.

5. Avoid engaging your cat in chatty conversations. The secret is to never answer a talkative cat when he meows. You unintentionally are encouraging him to continue the conversation louder and longer.

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3 Causes of Bloody Urine in Cats

A cat being examined by a vet.

By Dr. Tracy McFarland, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats. 

A frequent reason why a cat is brought to see me is blood-tinged urine. Often bloody urine is accompanied by my patient urinating outside the litter box, making the problem easier for the owner/guardian to identify. There are three common reasons for bloody urine, also known as hematuria.

1. Urinary Tract Infections

In older cats with decreased kidney function, blood-tinged urine can be a sign of a bacterial urinary tract infection. Young cats with healthy kidneys almost never have urinary tract infections because their urine is so concentrated that bacterial growth can’t occur. In older cats with more dilute urine, urinary tract infection can be limited to the bladder, or, in more serious cases may involve one or both kidneys. When a kidney infection is present, a cat will often demonstrate weight loss and a poor appetite. Visible blood in the urine is a sign that infection may have been present for a longer time, as an early, mild infection demonstrates the presence of red blood cells only when urine is looked at microscopically. Other signs of urinary tract infection include increased thirst, increased frequency of urination and straining to urinate.

In advanced cases of kidney infection, the owner/guardian may tell me, “My cat hangs his head over the water dish, but won’t drink very much.” Fortunately, bacterial urinary tract infections can usually be cleared with appropriate antibiotic therapy. In cases of kidney infection, antibiotics will need to be administered for at least four to six weeks.

2. Crystals in Urine

In younger cats, a reasonably common cause of bloody urine is the presence of crystals in urine (crystalluria), which when left undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to blockage of the urethra in some male cats. Because they can’t urinate through a blocked urethra, this creates a medical emergency, rapidly leading to kidney failure, and even death within 48 to 72 hours. In female cats and some male cats, mineral crystals in the urine (normally, either calcium oxalate or struvite) can lead to the formation of stones, but not urethral blockage. These stones can be found in the kidneys,ureters (the connecting tubes between the kidneys and the bladder) or in the bladder. Not only do stones cause blood in urine, they can also cause chronic or recurrent urinary tract infection. If a stone blocks a ureter, loss of the kidney “upstream” can result. Fortunately, ureteral stones are relatively rare. Crystalluria and stones are managed by special diets and in the case of calcium oxalate stones, surgery to remove the stones, as they cannot be dissolved by struvite dissolving diets.

3. Interstitial Cystitis

The third and most common reason for bloody urine is interstitial cystitis. We are just starting to understand this complex and often frustrating disease, which appears to be the most common cause of recurrent blood in a cat’s urine. In addition to blood tinged urine, increased frequency of urination and straining to urinate may also be seen. This disease is diagnosed by excluding crystalluria, urinary tract stones, and urinary tract infection via analysis of urine, urine culture and abdominal radiographs (x-rays) or ultrasound. It is managed by diet modification, increasing canned food to increase the cat’s hydration and thereby decrease the concentration of his urine.

When clinical signs arise, pain medication is important and more recently, it has been demonstrated that environmental enrichment (more toys, cat perches, less stress) can help reduce the frequency of episodes of painful and bloody urination caused by interstitial cystitis.

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Breed Guide: Bichon Frise’

A bichon friseDr. Marc is a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

About the Bichon Frise’

Height (to base of neck): 9.5-11.5″

Weight: 7-12lbs

Color: White

Origin: Mediterranean

Coat: Double coat with dense soft inner layer and curly fine outer layer.

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Energy level: Moderate to high

Exercise needs: Moderate to high

Breed Nicknames:

Is a Bichon Frise’ the Right Dog Breed for You?

Bichons are a true companion dog, bred for their playful and outgoing temperament.  They need close human contact and can be prone to separation anxiety.  They will alarm bark, but are not considered watch dogs.  They are a good family dog and can tolerate city life well.  They have high grooming needs including regular brushing and trimming.  They are low shedders and considered hypoallergenic.

5 Common Illnesses, Medical Conditions and Accidents for the Bichon Frise’

According to the number of dog insurance claims Pets Best receives

Medical Issue  Average Claim Amount  Most Expensive Claim 
Ear Infection $174 $794
Lipoma $413 $2,245
Skin Allergies $502 $7,106
Toxicity – Chocolate $557 $2,371
Cystitis $413 $3,435


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7 Tailgate Foods to Not Give Your Dog

Dog with football

By: Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

Tailgating is one of America’s favorite fall pastimes. While you cheer on your team this football season, make sure to keep your dog safe from tailgate food that can make him or her sick. You or other tailgaters may be tempted to share food with your dog, but these seven popular tailgating foods and beverages should be kept away from your pup.

 1.) Pork Sausages

There are several different concerns with feeding people food to pets. Ham and other pork products can cause pancreatitis, a painful and sometimes fatal disease of the pancreas.

 2.) Pulled Pork

As mentioned above under pork sausages, ham and other pork products can cause pancreatitis in your dog, a painful and sometimes fatal disease of the pancreas.

 3.) Hamburgers

High fat meats such as ground beef can cause your dog to have diarrhea and to vomit.

 4.) Chicken Wing Bones

Chicken bones pose a threat if ingested by dogs. These bones can puncture through the stomach causing severe pain, inflammation and infection of the abdomen.

 5.) Alcohol

Beer and other types of alcohol are staples of football season. Be sure to keep all alcoholic beverages away from dogs. Dogs have a much smaller body weight and mass than humans, so a little bit of alcohol can have a very big effect. Alcohol can cause weakness, vomiting, dangerously low blood pressure, coma and death in pets.

6.)  Salsa

Salsa typically contains onions which are highly toxic to dogs. Onions can cause a severe and potentially fatal anemia (destruction of the red blood cells). If your dog accidentally ingests salsa or dip containing onions, he or she should be taken to your veterinarian immediately for treatment.

 7.) Guacamole

Avocados contain persin, a toxic compound that causes vomiting and diarrhea. Additionally, many people include onions in their guacamole which–as mentioned under Salsa–are highly toxic to dogs. Onions can cause a severe and potentially fatal anemia (destruction of the red blood cells). If your dog ingests onions, he or she should be taken to your veterinarian immediately for treatment.

Have a safe, fun tailgating experience this fall and go team!

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4 Reasons Hunting Dogs Need Pet Insurance

Hungarian hunting dog in a field.

Pet insurance is a pivotal part of keeping your pets healthy.  Many people overlook the importance of coverage for working dogs such as trained hunting dogs, even though they are at increased risk for injuries and illnesses.

Hunters spend a lot of time, money, and resources to ensure their dog gets the proper training needed to assist them while hunting, as well as to provide a source of companionship. Hunting dogs are disciplined but they’re also very active. While out hunting, these dogs are exposed to the dangers of the wilderness and weather elements, which puts them at a higher risk for accidents and injuries.

Almost any dog can be trained to assist hunters, but the more common breeds you’ll see as hunting dogs include those in the Retriever, Pointer, Setter, Spaniel and Hound families.

4 common injuries & illnesses among hunting dogs:

1. Orthopedic injuries. The most common and costly to treat injuries include cruciate (ACL) tears, sprains, fractures and muscle strains. Treatment for a torn cruciate is surgery.  Some fractures can require surgical plating or pinning, and minor fractures can be casted or splinted.  Sprains and strains generally respond to rest, anti-inflammatory medication and time.

Real Pets Best claim: Hershey, a Labrador retriever, suffered a cruciate ligament injury while hunting last fall and was presented with a hefty vet bill of $2,497.96 of which Pets Best paid $1,888.82.

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