Harnessing the Beast – Animal Training, Conditioning and the all too Boring Life of the Demesticated Animal


This is Squirt, a 4 year old DSH I have owned him since he was only a few months old, he is odd to say the least, but he comes from a somewhat odd back ground.

Squirt came from the same place I got both my dog Ben and my horse Mac, once he was weaned he didn’t have much socialization with other cats (other than his mother) because the only other cat in the household wanted to kill him (ah awkward families they exist in the animal kingdom too!). But Squirt did however find a life long friend in my dog Ben (living there too at the time). Ben is not a small dog, but somehow he knew Squirt was just a baby, and they used to play, sometime Ben would have Squirt totally in his mouth. Most times we actually had to save Ben from Squirt as he would climb up his legs and chew on his face.

When Squirt was nearing his second birthday he started using laundry baskets in loo of his litter box and I spotted some blood in the urine one day. This merited a trip to the vet, at which time he was diagnosed with Feline Cystitis. The treatment? Basically get back to nature. (and don’t leave any litter box like things around!) Basically by the vet’s explanation and the veterinary literature he provided, the disease is one that is caused by the stereotypical lifestyle of the domestic cat. Low level of activity, not hunting/eating meat etc.

So I didn’t want to consider letting him roam outside, as in our area (either by car, or wild animal) cats rarely last long, I unfortunately had to learn that the hard way. So how could I simulate a cat’s natural state the best way I could to alleviate his symptom?

It’s something I was already doing with my horses, I just needed a way to transfer that to Squirt. The vet recommended a urinary tract health kibble and wet food to help with symptoms as well but suggested a change in lifestyle as well.

So basically more outdoor time and play. That’s it. Basically he got sick because of domestic life, who else can relate!

Most house pets, and humans with sedentary lifestyles, as well as those who do not have enough diversity or fulfillment in their day-to-day lives, will see the consequences in there over all health. This includes mental as well as physical health.

The way I look at it is when we choose to purchase an animal, we are taking responsibility for their well-being, mind, body and soul. That’s a pretty big deal when you think about it…

All living beings have  needs, and desires, they vary greatly, but we all have them in one way or another. The take home message? Don’t neglect the basics, the little things in life that make it all worth while, and don’t forget the our furry friends also need to feel fulfilled and have diverse and interesting lives!



Here is a list of activities and lifestyle changes that help Squirt manage his symptoms, and if done in time could have prevented them all together…

  • Balanced diet, including wet and dry food.
  • Multiple, large littler boxes around the house. (Cats can be choosy)
  • Regular time spend outside (walking on leash if preferred)
  • Lots of places to run and climb (inside and out. Ex. window ledges, etc)
  • Regular play time (lure toys, jiggle balls etc)
  • Varied schedule to keep things interesting

Here is a list of something that can keep you (a human) healthy and happy too!

  • Balanced diet
  • Regular time spend doing a hobby
  • Regular time spent face to face with loved ones (Despite the name, FaceTime does not count!!)
  • Sufficient sleep every night
  • Leave stress at the door (worrying about the day ahead, or a big event coming up doesn’t change anything. Check it at the door, and leave it alone. Tomorrow is a new day!)
  • Regular physical exercise (whether it’s a walk in the park, or a marathon, just get your feet moving!)

Pretty simple stuff, but it’s highly neglected!


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