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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

If you have been into any of the Two Bostons’ stores during the month of April your dog may have gotten a taste of the Wag More Bark Less Soft & Chewy Grain Free treats by Cloud Star.  Did your pup enjoy them? It’s hard to find a dog that doesn’t like them and here is why…

WagMore-April Treat Program

The Cloud Star story is a simple one…they started out in a home kitchen more than 15 years ago with a single goal: to make a tasty treat that their dog Samantha could eat and enjoy…she is s shepherd mix with a picky palate and pesky food allergies.  Since then, Cloud Star has expanded to include a wide variety of wholesome and natural treats designed to meet every pet’s unique needs.

 

Wag More Bark Less Grain Free Soft & Chewy Treats have a mouth-watering flavor and soft texture without the grain or the nasty preservatives found in other soft treats.

They are all high quality, natural ingredients that are minimally processed to make the best, wholesome and satisfying treats for dogs!

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These treats come in several fun and unique flavors and shapes including: Beef & Spinach, Peanut Butter & Apples, Bacon Cheese & Apples,  Smooth Aged Cheddar and many more!

GF-SC-PBApples-650x650All of their products are:

  • Limited ingredients
  • No grain, gluten, dairy, corn, white potatoes or by-products
  • In a cute smiling star, sun and cloud shapes
  • Made in the USA
  • All Natural and nothing artificial

So, if you are looking for a fun new treat for your pups, stop in and get a sample of the Wag More Bark Less Soft & Chewy Grain Free treats!

 

Beckie Schuerenberg is the content coordinator for Two Bostons.

Beckie Schuerenberg is the content coordinator for Two Bostons.

Two Bostons continues to grow in its number of stores and employees! During the past month, we held the grand opening of our new store in Burr Ridge and welcomed Beckie Schuerenberg to our team as content coordinator. She’ll help support our mission of improving the lives of people and pets by managing our blog, newsletter, Facebook pages and other communications to our customers and the community.

Here’s some fun tidbits about our new team member:

1. At which Two Bostons store do you work? I can be found at any of the three locations, usually making sure Two Bostons continues to communicate its great mission with customers and the community outside the stores as well.

2. What type of role do you play? I’ll be working with our owners, marketing coordinator and events planner to ensure we get the word out there–whatever the medium–of our efforts to support and assist our ever-growing family of customers and the outstanding communities we serve.

3. What first got you interested in working at Two Bostons? I’ve never worked at a company that was so focused on making customers happy! Everyone here has such a wealth of knowledge about pet health and strives to offer help to customers in a non-judgemental way. These core values not only make customers happy, also but promote the wellness of pets everywhere, especially with Two Bostons’ commitment to reaching out to customers via various media, like newsletters, this blogFacebook and more to come. I’m thrilled to be a part of such a great organization!

4. If you had to pick one “top favorite” Two Bostons product, what would it be? Well, given that I’m a cat owner, I’d have to choose any of the cat treats, including the Pure Bites Dehydrated Cat treats or the Cloud Star Cat Buddy Biscuits.

 

 

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My cat, Maggie, is still a kitten, and I can’t wait to see what kind of new tricks she will do for these yummy treats!

5. What’s your absolute favorite type of pet? I really do love both cats and dogs! I had several dogs throughout childhood who were cherished as members of the family. I also had several cats in childhood. After losing my last adulthood cat this past spring, I recently adopted a new kitten right before I heard that Two Bostons was looking to fill my new position. It was meant to be!

6. What can you tell us about yourself? Well, my family and I just moved back to Illinois almost two years ago after 11 years in Texas.  My three children were born there and now have a new love/hate relationship with snow!  We live in Naperville, near my extended family, and are enjoying spending more time with them, old friends and making new Midwest traditions. I also love watching sports, and heading out to family events, weather permitting!

7. Do you have any pets at home? Yes, we just adopted our kitten, Maggie, who was born in June of this year.

8. If you could be any breed of dog or cat, which would you choose? I have always loved golden retrievers, as my last family dog was this type of breed. I think they are so beautiful with their shinny, fluffy coats, but they also are usually loyal and fantastic with children.

goldenretriever

9. Who is your favorite famous dog or cat?

The Biscuit dog from the children’s book series. biscuitthedog

My youngest son is in love with this series and we have had a lot of snuggle time reading about all of his adventures. Also, the little girl in the book reminds me of how my daughter loves to buddy up with little dogs!

10. Which common pet terms best describe your personality? Loyal and inquisitive.

 

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We carry SO many unique and awesome toys at Two Bostons -– there’s an option for every type of pup (and kitty) personality! It’s true that these toys, all by themselves, can make playtime a blast for your pet … but remember, most pets (especially dogs) love when YOU take part in the game as well. With our fall weather getting a little more rainy and unpredictable, here are a couple of energetic playtime ideas that are big favorites at my house. The best part is, they’re great for both indoor and outdoor play, any time of year!

Monkey in the Middle
Remember this game when you were a kid? Well, it’s also great fun (and great exercise) for your dog! This is an ideal game for canines who like to chase flying objects -– even those who don’t naturally retrieve. It’s also perfect for families, because there’s no limit to the number of humans who can play along. Simply stand about 7-10 feet apart (or in a circle, if there are three or more of you), and randomly flip a favorite toy or ball to each other while calling to your canine in an enthusiastic voice. A wonderful furniture-safe indoor toy for this game is Canine Hardware‘s fluffy, lightweight Chuck It Indoor Roller. Our own pups also adore any Planet Dog Orbee ball; and for super-tugger Maizy we use Tuffy’s amazingly durable Mega Junior Ring. Whichever toy you choose, just make sure to “miss” it once in awhile, so your pup has a chance to actually pick up the toy and play along. When you call to your pup and he brings the toy over, he (naturally!) earns a tiny treat or belly rub. This is a fantastic game for high-energy breeds like Jack Russells. Plus, if you keep it up long enough, many non-fetchers will even begin to exhibit fetching behavior once they figure out it’s such a blast!

Bow-Wow Basketball
Here’s an incredibly fun and easy way to interact indoors with your pup on a cold, blustery fall day. Grab a wastebasket, or an empty box. OR, if you want to get really fancy, head over to the toy store and pick up a toddler-sized basketball hoop — even the kind you can suction-cup to a door or wall. Place your “hoop” of choice in a place that’s about chest-level for your furry friend. Then, simply work on teaching your pup to drop his favorite ball into the basket for a treat! Once your dog gets good at doing this, you can step it up a notch: Toss a soft ball or plush toy to your pooch, and have him work on nose-tapping it into the basket for an extra-special reward. Our brood’s paws-down favorite in this category would be soft-and-chewy Cloud Star Bacon and Cheese Madness. If we offered our dogs enough of these, they could probably learn to pass and do layups.

FunPlaytimes

Looking for more ideas? Stop by any Two Bostons, and ask us about super-fun toys (and creative playtime suggestions) that can help keep your favorite furry friend engaged, active, and energized no matter what Mother Nature might throw our way this year!

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Some of my cats have been real characters, and some of their cute-yet-quirky behaviors have left me kind of confused. Over the years, I’ve worked with several animal behaviorists, and have learned some interesting things. Here are a few of the elusive kitty behaviors I’ve come to adore and appreciate:

1. Head-Butting. This is often called “bunting,” and not every cat displays it. For those who do, it’s just their way of saying “Howdy my human, you help me feel safe.” It’s also one of the ways cats “mark” you as part of their gang by sharing facial pheromones with you.

2. Chewing on Weird Things. Socks, carpeting, plastic, buckles – much like we humans nibble our nails when we feel nervous, cats often chew on non-food items as a way to deal with anxiety. The problem is, these objects can really irritate your kitty’s gums. Feline stress can be the result of boredom or unchallenged curiosity. Try getting your furry friend some fun interactive toys, such as the Nina Ottosson Cat Maze or Cat Pyramid. These colorful options encourage crafty pawing and batting so that kitty can earn the tiny treats you hide inside (Cloud Star grain-free Buddy Biscuits are a tasty choice). Note that if your cat chews or eats dirt, it might be caused by a condition called pica. Pica can stem from a gastrointestinal disorder or simple nervousness, but it’s always best to check with your vet.

CatFiles

Yeowww! Catnip, center; and the Nina Ottosson Cat Maze, right.

3. Seeking Out Small Spaces. Small spaces help cats feel safe. In the wild, feline survival depends upon stealth – hiding in a small den keeps a cat safer from predators. In addition to a standard kitty carrier, did you know that just the right pet blanket or bed can often work wonders? One of our very favorites is the fluffy, 3-in-1 Favorite Pet Products Trundle Bed, because it comes in great colors and can be arranged in a super-secure “cup” shape, as a snuggly sleeping bag, OR as a regular cloud-soft blanket. Let kitty decide depending on the day!

4. Staring. This is not a mind-control maneuver; your cat is often just trying to get your attention or coax a tasty treat from you. Looking for a yummy, healthy, 100% natural option? Try freeze-dried Purebites, which are easy to take along anywhere.

5. Yowling at Night. Cats are naturally nocturnal, which can be kind of a bummer when all you want is a good night’s sleep. You can help curb excess nighttime energy and the urge to hunt with intelligence-stimulating games like the feather-riffic Kong Glide ‘n Seek. Another great go-to option (though you’ll probably want to stay awake and watch the amusing spectacle) is extra-potent Yeowww! Catnip.

Stop by any Two Bostons today, and ask our Team for more fun, feline-friendly suggestions!

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Do you have a pup who tries to bolt every time you open the door? It’s a discouraging problem. As caring pet parents, we try to give our pets the very best of everything: a safe living space, a snuggly bed, healthy food, yummy treats, companionship. So why would they try so hard to get away?

“The majority of dogs are naturally curious,” notes Dr. Natalie Tate, DVM. “They like to explore and discover — so if they’re only taken out for occasional short walks and potty breaks, they make decide to seek out more activity.” Fortunately, not every dog is a natural runner. Just like people, certain canines are natural homebodies. Others simply lack the height, speed, or agility to ever make a serious go of it. Still others have a somewhat timid temperament, and would never dream of exploring uncharted territory on their own. But if you have a dog with a taste for increased adventure, there are steps you can take today to prevent problems later on.

Amp Up Excitement at Home
Nice, long walks provide physical exercise and mental stimulation. Natural, healthy, tasty chews like Bully Sticks, Antler Chewz, or Sam’s Yams veggie rawhide keep even relaxation time interesting. Interactive puzzle toys (including most of the amazing creations from Nina Ottosson) engage your dog’s natural curiosity and enhance his innate intelligence.

Teach Proper Recalls – and Teach Recall Properly
Getting your canine to come when called is part of basic puppy socialization training, but it definitely takes some work and practice. Always give your pup a really good reason to come back to you –reinforce the behavior with delicious treats (like Cloud Star Tricky Trainers), tons of praise, and/or lavish attention. Even if it takes your dog awhile to respond to your command, do NOT reprimand him when he finally does come back. Ever. This only teaches your pup that if he allows himself to get “caught,” bad things will happen. You want your dog to believe that, when it comes to being part of your awesome family “pack,” getting “caught” is a fantastic thing.

Make It Easy for Others to Return Your Dog
With the sheer speed of travel these days, a pup who does get separated can literally end up miles away from you in a matter of minutes. The good news is, there are animal-loving good samaritans who want to reunite dogs with their pet parents … so make their job as easy as possible. Inexpensive, etched aluminum tags may seem like a cost-effective option when you buy them, but it doesn’t take long for your information to wear away. Think about it: even a hazy digit or two could mean the difference between a tearfully happy reunion and a tragic end at the shelter. So ALWAYS purchase a good-quality steel or pewter tag that’s engraved to last (super-sturdy options we especially love at my house include Hot Dogs, Red Dingo, and Silver Bones tags). Then make this tag, along with your contact information, as large as possible and fasten it to a sturdy, dependable collar like any of the offerings from Up Country. After all, you want the tag in place, and very easily seen, if a total stranger attempts to lean in and help your nervous pup. As a backup, also get your dog microchipped and keep the information up-to-date. This way, a shelter, rescue team, or vet will be able to retrieve vital data with a special scanning wand.

Stop by any Two Bostons store, and ask a Team Member for additional suggestions on items that can help keep your own hot-to-trot hound safe, secure, and close to home.

MelissaG_profile
Puzzle toys (as we’ve talked about numerous times before, including here, here and here) are fantastic ways to exercise your pet’s brain. Not only do they serve as a fun treat dispenser, but they can even be used to feed pups who gulp their food too quickly so they’ll slow down. As great as they are, however, occasionally we’ve had customers come in with a slight problem: their dogs have figured out the puzzle toy! Once certain dogs figure it out, not only will they complete the puzzle in a matter of minutes, but they might not even be interested in the toy – even WITH the treats inside! If that happens to your pup, what’s an owner to do?

Luckily, the JW Pet Company makes a number of SUPER-awesome pet toys that can double as puzzle toys. JW is a unique company that has a number of very specific toys you won’t find anywhere else. One of my favorites, which we’ve covered before, is the DNA Dogs-In-Action toy. Not only could this be used as a tug toy, but I LOVE to use it as a puzzle toy by placing Shenzi’s bully sticks inside! It slows her down and forces her to maneuver around the toy to get at the bully stick. This makes each stick LAST much longer than just allowing your dog to chew away uninhibited.

Another awesome toy that doubles as a puzzle toy? The Hol-ee Roller! Some people see this toy and wonder how exactly dogs can play with it, besides just throwing it around like a hollow soccer ball. Well, it’s actually a fantastic hide-and-seek game in disguise! Many owners love hiding treats inside little strips of cloth, which are then tied up and wrapped around the openings in the ball (see an example, below left). This gives your dog something to work for: a tasty reward for using innate problem solving skills! Another plus to these toys? If you’re a fan of the Curly Q dog chews, these can easily fit inside the openings of the Hol-ee Roller. Again, this slows pups down by adding an obstruction to the chew. See how versatile these toys are? They’re amazing!

JWToy_Examples

Finally, my favorite treat toy is the Treat Tower by JW. This one is shaped very similar to the Dog Pyramid — but it can be more challenging than the pyramid or certain other beginner treat toys we sell. The tower has three adjustable levels through which your dog must maneuver the treat before being rewarded. Plus, each separate level spins on the cone, so you can adjust the size of the holes inside. Not only will it be harder for dogs to get a treat out the smaller holes, but those treats will change position as well, throwing your dog for a loop and making for a unique experience every time. This is one of Shenzi’s personal favorites (see her playing with it, above right), and I love that she can’t seem to figure out just how the toy works!

Not only will you notice your dog getting smarter (just as with humans, exercised brains = smarter brains!) — you’ll see your dog having a blast with challenging, unique JW puzzle toys. It’s great watching your pup get excited at the chance to play each and every time. Don’t forget to stock up on some Cloud Star Tricky Trainers as a tasty, healthy way to fill them up — then let the fun begin!

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I stopped by my neighbor’s house recently as she was baking something in the kitchen. This something smelled an awful lot like bananas, and my neighbor’s 3-year-old Wheaten Terrier loves bananas more than almost anything on earth. As she placed the pan on her kitchen counter, I noticed two things: 1) the pan was shaped like a cute dog bone, and 2) Trevor, the Wheaten Terrier, was following her every move like a hawk. That’s when I realized this could only be one kind of cake: a Puppy Cake!

My neighbor spread frosting on this warm-from-the-oven creation and topped it with some all-natural Peanut Butter Buddy Biscuits. As she did this, she told me I was just in time to help sing “Happy Birthday” to Trevor. You could tell she was trying to make the occasion very fancy and ceremonial, but before she could even place Trevor’s cake on the floor he had frosting all up his nose. In the midst of this wild enthusiasm, Trevor actually picked off the Buddy Biscuits and carefully placed them aside, just so he could lick off every ounce of frosting before starting in on his Birthday Banana Cake. He saved the Buddy Biscuits for last, but they sure disappeared quick. This entire spectacle amounted to maybe 10 full minutes of the most hysterical photo ops ever. Needless to say, Trevor had an epic 3rd birthday party.

Which brings me back to Puppy Cakes, which are a truly awesome way to celebrate your pup’s birthday (or adoption day, or even just a regular Tuesday) in home-baked style. Puppy Cake mixes actually come in four flavor varieties: super-popular, wheat-free Red Velvet; plus Banana, Carob, and wheat-free Peanut Butter. Plus, there’s also an award-winning Carob Chip Cookie Mix that earned “Best in Show” at the Global Pet Expo. Two Bostons carries convenient cake kits that come complete with their own adorable bone-shaped pan, along with super-luscious, creamy frosting mix.

 

PuppyCakes_andCookies

My absolute favorite thing about Puppy Cake products is that they’re made in the U.S.A. from human-grade, all-natural ingredients. That beautiful velvety-red color in the Red Velvet cake? It’s natural beet powder. The ingredient that gives the frosting its fluffy-smooth consistency? It’s probiotic-rich, unflavored yogurt. Puppy Cake mixes are designed to give your dog a super-healthy yet satisfying treat; while giving you a fun, easy, nutritious way to provide some home-baked TLC. And because they’re packaged in convenient dry form, you can store Puppy Cake mixes right in the pantry until you’re ready to use them.

My other favorite thing about Puppy Cake mixes is that they’re SO easy to whip up! You just mix, bake OR microwave, then cool and frost (if your pup lets you get that far). Each package of mix makes one bone-shaped cake, a single round 6” cake, or about 8 individual cupcakes. The Carob Chip Cookie Mix is chock-full of super-safe and healthy unsweetened carob chips (because don’t forget, chocolate is toxic for our canine kids), and makes about 18 soft-baked cookies.

Want more pup-approved, best-buddy birthday ideas? Stop by any of our stores with your furry friend(s). While you’re there, sample the amazingly yummy, all-natural, ready-made treats in our Bakery Case. But if you’d like to consider some home-baked goodness that’s perfect for any occasion, ask about Puppy Cakes. By the way, if your pet happens to have a birthday or adoption anniversary coming up, remember that we normally serve up some freshly-made Puppy Cake at our monthly Birthday Bashes, too. Just one more reason to join in on the fun!

 

 

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As we celebrate our nation’s birth this month, our Team also decided to celebrate something that benefits YOU. It’s something that drives every single decision we make at Two Bostons, and it makes us very proud: We’re an independent, locally-owned business.

This means that whether you shop, work, or volunteer with us, YOU are an active contributor to local charities and Naperville civic life. YOU help create financial stability for our local community. YOU establish a training ground for generations of future entrepreneurs. YOU assist local shelters with supportive programs that help pets in need find loving forever homes.

 

IndependentRetailerMonth

 

We’re a proud member of indieboundnaperville.org, and we’re also a featured retailer on shopindieretail.com (check out the Thundershirt segment)! We recognize that as our customer, you place a huge level of trust in the experience and service capabilities of our Team Members. It’s a responsibility we never take lightly. After all, every time you make the conscious choice to shop at Two Bostons, YOU make sure that:

  1. Community nonprofits receive ongoing support. It’s a proven fact that local business owners donate more to community charities than non-locals. At Two Bostons, we’re dedicated supporters of The Naperville Area Humane Society, A.D.O.P.T. Pet Shelter, and numerous others.
  2. Environmental impact is reduced. Local organizations make more local purchases that require less transportation. Two Bostons currently has 59 product lines that are exclusively MADE IN THE U.S.A. – and within those lines, we offer many different products including treats (like Sojo’s, Cloud Star, Stella & Chewy’s, and Bravo); toys (like Planet Dog, West Paw Design, Ruff Dawg, and GoughNuts); and foods (like Fromm, Pure Vita, Zignature, Nutrisca, Merrick, and Raw Bistro). In addition, many of our supplements and ALL of our collars are U.S.A.-made.
  3. More value is created within Naperville. Studies show that a dollar spent at an independent retailer is normally re-spent 6 to 15 times before it leaves the community. When you spend that same dollar at a national chain store, 80% of the money leaves town immediately. So by choosing to shop at an independent retailer like Two Bostons, you create $5 – $14 in value right here in Naperville for every dollar you spend! This helps give Two Bostons the resources we need to keep expanding our U.S.A.-made product line, provide community volunteers, and develop programs that directly benefit local organizations.
  4. Two Bostons owners invest in Naperville. Local business owners live in our community. They’re less likely to leave and they’re more invested in the community’s future. Our Two Bostons owners, for example, are members of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. They’re active in the Downtown Naperville Alliance. They periodically attend Naperville City Council meetings. They’ve led Two Bostons to develop a comprehensive cause marketing program that allows local organizations to receive vital sustaining funds. Our owners inspire our entire Team to partner with these organizations and participate in numerous community outreach events every month.

On August 16th , for instance, we’re partnering with popular Naperville eatery Crosstown Pub & Grill to bring you Pints 4 Paws! Stop by either of our locations through August 15th, and in return for a $20 cash donation to NAHS you’ll get a glass that you can fill with $2 pints or $3 craft pints from 12 noon -4 p.m. on the day of the event. Plus, of course, your pup’s invited to join us on the patio! Visit our Facebook page or web site for more fun summer happenings that are making a difference!

Why do YOU shop with Two Bostons? We’re always interested to hear your feedback!

AnnaL_Profile
Whether you just got a puppy or adopted an adult dog from a shelter, training is an ongoing process for dogs of all ages. For food-motivated pups, receiving treats during training can really speed up the learning process. In fact, many brands have treats specifically made for training. Today I want to tell you about some of our Team favorites!

Cloud Star, known for their Buddy Biscuits, also makes a great training treat option called Tricky Trainers. Considering that your dog will probably have more than one treat during each training session, Tricky Trainers are low in fat and calories. They are also wheat, corn and soy free, making them a healthy, low-allergen treating option all around. Of course, Tricky Trainers are also very small, so they’re easy to store in your pocket or a treat pouch (which, by the way, is also available at any Two Bostons location!). Tricky Trainers come in two textures, chewy or crunchy; and three flavors: salmon, liver, and cheddar. After all, when it comes to texture and flavor, it’s all about what your dog likes best!

Another popular pet company, Bravo, makes a great variety of all natural, mini-sized, freeze-dried, grain-free Training Treats. Options include:

  • All-Beef Hot Dog. Most dogs love hot dogs, and these freeze-dried treats are the real deal.
  • Turkey Bites. These are perfect if your dog is a fan of poultry. They’re made with one ingredient — turkey thigh meat – with no added preservatives or hormones. This limited-ingredient profile also makes them ideal for dogs with allergies.
  • Buffalo Bites. This is another limited ingredient treat option, made from freeze-dried buffalo heart. Because this is an especially good source of protein, iron, and B vitamins, your dog ends up getting a healthy boost while he thinks he’s being treated.
  • Trail Mix. For those who are undecided, Bravo puts all three options together and adds some freeze-dried Vermont cheddar cheese! These are perfect for pet parents who want to try each of Bravo’s protein types, while giving their dog some yummy variety while training.

Our newest training treats include Five Star Organic Coconut Training Treats from Cocotherapy. These one-calorie treats are free of grain, full of fiber, and low in fat. They also contain USDA certified organic coconut flour and organic coconut oil, which are wonderful for your dog’s skin and coat. Choose from heavenly Coconut Gingered Pumpkin or Coconut Bananas Foster flavors.

Training Treat Options

When it comes to tail-waggin’ training treat choices, look for options that address your pet’s unique allergen sensitivities and weight management requirements. Cloud Star Tricky Trainers and cheddary Cheese Please are just a few furry friend favorites.

 

Also remember that at Two Boston’s, we have treats of all different sizes and protein sources available! Almost all can be, in some way, used as training treats. For example, Buddy Biscuits are easily broken up into smaller training pieces. Fruit-based Fruitables (my dog’s favorite) can be made smaller as well; and Healthy Dogma’s Amazing Apple Crisps or Blissful Banana Crisps are another tasty, dehydrated fruit reward. Is your dog a big cheese lover? Try Cheese Please. These yummy bites are just 3 calories each, gluten-free, low in salt, and 99% lactose free.

All of these options are available at any Two Bostons location. Come in today and find out which one works best for you. Do you and your pet have special favorites? Tell us about them below!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that my family has done a great deal of work with rescue dogs of all breeds and sizes. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a special place in our hearts for sweet kitty cats. In particular, I’ve experienced the unique ups-and-downs of bringing new cats and kittens into a home where dogs have established a benevolent (?) dictatorship. I won’t say it’s always been an easy transition — but in most cases, it’s also been extremely rewarding. Rescue groups like A.D.O.P.T., Anderson Animal Shelter, and NAHS — along with the Two Bostons team! — can offer some great tips for bringing a brand new cat or kitten home. The points listed below have really helped me in the past:

Litter box lingo
According to my vet, the idea that every cat has some sort of inner GPS that locates the litter box is a fallacy. So, much as I’d prefer to cover the litter box and hide it out of sight, it turns out the best location for a litter box is where it’s extremely obvious and easy for your new cat or kitten to find. In some cases, we’ve even ended up putting a litter box on every floor so kitty will always have access to clean, fresh litter (and will always seek out the actual litter box when it’s time to go). Our pet behaviorist explained that placing several litter boxes side-by-side doesn’t really help new cats or kittens acclimate – they just see all the grouped boxes as a single, gargantuan oasis of cat litter. This does not always help if said humongous litter oasis is in the basement, and kitty is way up on the second floor.

Plan on play time
Kittens and cats are naturally active at dawn and dusk – so they often want to play throughout the night. Providing plenty of playful exercise during the day helps tucker out your kitty and can even gradually “re-set” his/her time clock to reflect your family’s sleeping habits. When it comes to playtime, we’ve always loved the Kong Moppy with Feathers, the Play-N-Squeak Ball of Fury, and especially Yeowww! Brand Catnip, which is an ultra-pure form of catnip that can really rev up your feline’s energy and engagement level.

Brush it out
I was surprised to learn this, but very young kittens – especially those who were improperly weaned — often need help learning how to clean and take care of themselves. So brushing and grooming right from the start can be a huge help. If you start with a very soft, gentle brush like the Kong ZoomGroom Cat Brush, kittens will often learn to look forward to these brushing sessions over time. Plus, regular grooming can discourage matting in long-haired cats, and often reduces hairballs too.

Kitty Kit

Many vets and behaviorists suggest preparing a “Kitty Kit” before bringing your new feline friend home to meet the family. Many of the items mentioned in this blog may be helpful to consider.

 

Perching possibilities
Cats and kittens typically like to perch as they explore new surroundings, and in multi-pet families they often feel much safer in elevated spaces. In fact, in my house the cats have often ended up “claiming” the high areas while the dogs patrol their own floor-level turf (a consolation prize, of sorts, from the kitties). Tall cat trees, hideaways, and window perches can often help a new feline feel much calmer and more comfortable.

Carry on
Cat carriers safeguard your pet’s safety and security in so many situations – they’re not only for vet visits. Introducing the carrier early on helps kitty learn that it’s a safe zone not intended to cause anxiety. Leave it somewhere secure (and maybe even higher up), like a little welcoming “house” with the door open so kitty can wander in and out. Line the floor with a soft and cuddly blanket. You can even sprinkle a few treats inside the carrier so your cat associates going inside with a positive (and yummy) experience.

Tune in to the tail
Most pet behaviorists note that a secure-feeling cat has a relaxed body posture with ears and tail up, but not rigid. A cat in this state may also purr. But if you notice a straight tail, tail wagging or swishing, a tense body, or (certainly) hissing and spitting, it’s often a pretty clear warning sign that something very tense and unpleasant is about to go down. As you gradually introduce each new experience, reward good kitty behavior with a favorite treat (like Cloud Star Tuna Buddy Biscuits), a fun toy, an upbeat voice, petting, and/or extra playtime.

As a dog owner, I used to think that dog and cat treats and toys were basically interchangeable. Over time I learned that this is definitely not the case. Cats and kittens have different nutritional and socialization needs than dogs and puppies — so generally, I look for products that specifically say “for cats” on the package. If you’re ever in doubt, ask anyone on our Two Bostons team for assistance!