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It's Training Cats and Dogs! - Naomi Rotenberg, Praiseworthy Pets EPISODE 3, 14th September 2021
Cat Enrichment Case Study: Piglet and Penny
00:00:00 00:10:02

Cat Enrichment Case Study: Piglet and Penny

What does it take to develop an enrichment plan that works? This week, Naomi takes you through developing an enrichment plan. She spends some time taking you through a case study of Piglet the cat and Penny the dog and how enrichment helped them to learn to coexist.

In this episode we discuss:

Our cast of characters: Piglet and Penny

Penny is a 9-year-old, submissive dog with a lot of fears and quirks. She's successfully lived with other cats with no prior problems.

Piggy was a shelter cat, described as calm and a “lovebug” who was suffering from a previous injury. Once healed, his aggression towards Penny started.

They needed to be separated at all times.

Enrichment Plan Design: First Steps

Identifying the behaviors to focus on

  • Piggy would stalk, sniff and then bite Penny’s legs and tail
  • Penny responded very poorly to this

When did this happen?

  • Evening time when humans were not paying direct attention to Piglet or Penny

Why was it happening?

  • What physical needs were the behaviors related to?
  • Play: Piggy is a very active cat with lots of energy
  • Attention seeking: negative attention from humans after aggression towards Penny
  • What physical needs were the behaviors not related to?
  • Defensive behavior: Penny was actively avoidant of Piggy. There should be no need for Piggy to act defensively

Enrichment Plan Design: Goals

Goal 1: channel the undesired behavior in situations we have more control over 

  • Get Piggy to practice stalking, crouching and biting
  • Wand play with Da Bird at scheduled times
  • “Kitty bowling” – tossing pieces of kibble down the hall for the cat to chase and eat.
  • Cat’s Meow or other automated movement toys. 

Goal 2: get the physical need met as a result of other "acceptable" behaviors (or for free)

  • give Piggy attention and movement around the space with a fuzzy thing to bite
  • attention and food for calm behaviors on the couch during that time
  • having multiple stuffed toys out for spontaneous exploration, parallel play

Goal 3: needs to be easy to fit into a busy day

What worked?

Da Bird: adjusted technique and timing. Already using Da bird but offered it preemptively rather than a response. He jumped, scratched, and climbed on furniture during play – but his humans were OK with those "extra" behaviors.

Stuffed toys always in the living room: both Piggy and Penny now play near each other with separate toys.

Reinforcing any non-biting/stalking Penny behaviors: this led to relaxation on either side of the rug or couch with no problems.

What didn’t work as well?

Kitty bowling: not an option because Piggy ate primarily wet food (and he has a weight problem)

Buying any more toys: they already had plenty

Who’s in this episode?

Naomi Rotenberg



Resource Links

Go Cat Feather Toys: Da Bird

Cat’sMeow Motorized Toy