Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Feb. 2, 2006)
Wild animals in our midst?
Lions, tigers, bears oh my! Back to nature is in the habit of discussing the
wild creatures of the wilderness, forests, woods and feeders, but we receive
letters from time to time requesting information on what to do with the wild
creatures that live in our homes.
|Photo by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
|This little Siamese
comfortably rests perched upon the back of a couch, perhaps dreaming
of a sunny vista from high atop a rocky ledge.
No, I dont mean those giant-sized Palmetto bugs, earwigs or silverfish.
Were talking about Bad Kitty and Naughty Dog.
Although scientists havent concluded exactly how long dogs have been
mans best friend we do know that it was probably around 100,000
The origin of cats, big and small, can be traced back approximately 50 million
years. It is estimated the ancestors of our domesticated cat arose around 10
million years ago. As long as these creatures remained outside our cave doors and
warmed themselves around our fire pits we seemed to live in some sort of balance
and harmony. Once our fires were moved indoors, so did our pets, and we had to face
the obvious problems of who does what, where and when.
It is instinctual for animals to be clean and to live in clean, unspoiled
quarters. Animals will groom themselves in the wild or groom one another. Its
when we take animals out of their natural habitat inside our homes problems
There are no trees to climb or holes to dig in the living room. There are no fresh
pools of water or scratching logs in the kitchen. If we want to cohabitate
peacefully we, in a sense, must think like the animal. What most often
happens is we expect the animal to think like we do and quickly we
become frustrated when we are rewarded with negative results.
Industry statistics state there 37.7 percent of households that have at least one
pet cat, and 43.5 percent of households have at least one dog. That translates to
90.5 million cats and 73.9 million dogs living in American homes. Ask the
statisticians how they came up with .5 cats and .9 dogs, but no matter how you look
at it thats a lot of dogs and cats.
It is estimated that Americans spent $35.9 billion last year on the pet industry.
It is also estimated that America euthanizes more than 10 million animals each
year. Thousands of these pets are homeless, but many are castoffs, unwanted animals
that have not adapted to our domesticated demands.
Consider your pets wilder side. What would she do if in the wild? Animals,
including humans, are very territorial, but animals cant build fences, put
locks on their doors or design laws to keep people out of their territory. Your dog
may not understand your reasoning for picking up the food bowl when theyre
not yet finished with the food inside that bowl. Your cat may not understand why
they must share one food bowl and one water bowl with two other cats.
Animals cant speak. We must follow their clues. If your cat is unexpectedly
soiling furniture and youre beside yourself, to the limit, packing
kittys belongings for the nearest shelter. Stop. Assess the situation. Is
kitty eating normally? Has there been a change in foods, litter or housemates? Have
you eliminated the possibility of health problems?
Animals associate pain with inanimate objects. If a cat has a urinary tract
infection, for example, they may associate that pain with the litter box and
absolutely refuse to use it. When my dog came home from having surgery my
veterinarian coached me that I would need two beds. One a throwaway bed and then
another new bed, for when her pain subsided, because she might associate her pain
with the first bed and refuse to use it. She did. After a couple of days shed
walk a wide berth around the first mat, as if to say youre not going
to get me this time.
A mistake many animal owners make is punishing an animal after a dastardly deed is
committed. Then the owner calls to the pet, Come here, Rusty. Im angry
with you. You tore up my garden. Im going to give you a swat for
Now hes thinking, Everytime I go to her she swats me. Think I will
avoid that pain and run in the opposite direction next time.
There are many books and informative Web sites to research your pets
particular problem. But dont overlook making a visit to your veterinarian and
asking for her advice. She may be able to offer suitable solutions, behavior
modification and medical treatment or perhaps recommend an expert that specializes
in your pets problem. Most problems can be dealt with facilitating humane
Imagine the view Rusty or Fluffy has on our world. Imagine a world where you have
to ask to go potty or worse you are left home alone for
hours on end with no where to relieve yourself but know if you do you will be
punished. Or imagine a dirty kitty litter box that you must share with your
roommates. Take a moment to view the world through their eyes.
If we rethink our situation and modify our behavior, our pets will respond to our
insight with appreciation and accord back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.