So you finally want to take the next step and have a little addition to your family! Congratulations, welcome to cat parent(hood)! You now have a furbaby! OR maybe you’ve had a cat for a while but they just don’t seem to be that happy or behaving the way you would hope. Here are some SMARTY TIPS to improve your cat parent techniques:
Visit the Veterinarian
This may not make your kitty the happiest but it’s essential for proper cat care. As a cat parent, your kitty will need their check-ups and be kept up to date with vaccines. Find a veterinarian that you trust and works with you. It’s important to have regular visits to the vet to assess the overall health of your cat. As a cat parent, trust your instincts. You are their advocate and if you know they’re not feeling well, prompt action can prevent behavior and health problems in the future.
As a cat parent, getting your cat spayed or neutered is extremely important! By spaying or neutering, you’ll directly help control the pet homelessness crisis. If you didn’t already know, millions of healthy cats are being euthanized in the United States each year simply because there aren’t enough homes to go around. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters from kitten season that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering your pet. There are also medical and behavioral benefits to spaying and neutering your kitties. If you need assistance, there are programs available like Friends of Animals, that help provide this service at a lower cost. Just like choosing the right doctor for yourself, you want to choose the right one for your feline.
Create a Comfortable Space
We all know cats are creatures of comfort and love to claim their spot in the house. As a cat parent, make sure they have locations in the house they feel safe and secure in. Be mindful of where to place their furniture to make sure they are most comfortable. Kitties love to look outside; or even venture outside if they’re brave enough. Set up a perch by a window and for added stimulation, consider putting a bird feeder near the window to attract some entertainment. They will love the new sights and will notice the thoughtfulness. Consider a window hammock if you are short on space for a cat tower. As a cat parent, be creative and find simple, smart solutions; like setting up a soft blanket on top of the couch can do wonders.
Let Their Purrsonality Shine
All cats have their individual personalities, just like people. Get to know your cat and what their likes are to help you become a better cat parent. Try a variety of toys to see which they like best and enjoy some playtime together. It is important for cats to be stimulated enough or they may start misbehaving in other ways out of boredom. If your cat is more aloof, get to know them on their level. If they tend to hide under the furniture frequently, be patient with them and try to coax them with treats or something they like (the infamous red dot). It’s crucial for you two to develop a bond and a trust, so do what it takes until you reach it.
Invest in a Cat Scratcher
At the end of the day, your cat is still an animal with animal instincts. They need to have some exercise and an outlet for their scratching urges. Your curtains and furniture will thank you! It’s innate for cats to want to scratch and stretch; and a scratching post is a great way for cats to fulfill that need. There are many cat scratch posts out there, find one that fits your aesthetic and your feline’s needs. If there’s a problem area for scratching, try moving the cat scratcher nearby. Cats will likely prefer the scratcher over your favorite chair, expensive couch, or rug!
Cats are trainable!
Yes, believe it or not, cats are in fact trainable. As a cat parent, the best way is through positive reinforcement. You would be surprised at how much your kitty is capable of learning. Try not to punish them for bad behavior but instead reward them for behavior you want to see more of, think of Pavlov’s theory of conditioning. Your cat care wizardry may not have them doing backflips, but don’t fret! If you’re having trouble with unwanted behaviors, like scratching the furniture, make sure you have enough cat friendly furniture, like a scratch post or two, to give them that outlet as mentioned before.
There are also No Scratch Sprays that you can use to help deter your cat from particular areas. If you’ve exhausted all your ideas, then certainly have a discussion with your veterinarian about some simple solutions to redirect their behavior. There are cat behaviorists that can help resolve cat behavior problems as well. Do your research and see what would be a right fit for you and your pet. If you’re looking to have the smartest cat on the block, then check out cat school trainings. Like I said, you’d be surprised at what cats can learn.
Cats are very clean animals by nature and they must have a tidy litterbox to be a happy camper. As a cat parent, a cat litter box for each kitty is a must and having one extra is highly recommended. A simple daily spot clean or sprucing is ideal. Your cat will love you furrever! Just like litter boxes, there are many kitty litter options out there that make it very easy to scoop and even flush any cat waste down the toilet. The location of the litter box is also important to consider. Placing the litter box in a low traffic area to give ample privacy is ideal. If your cat is giving you any behavior problems, I would start with the litter box!
You Are What You Eat
There are a lot of options on the market for cat food but I urge you to do your research. Ask friends or family members if they have a trusted brands they use or have a discussion with your vet. An easy cat care tip is simply to read the ingredients list. Many of these commercialized cat food brands use harmful preservatives like BHA (butylated hydroxyanisol), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), and ethoxyquin or filler ingredients like chicken by-product or meat meal. As consumers, we need to be mindful where we are spending our money and what our pets are eating. Choosing a high-quality food that includes nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats is very important for your cat’s overall health. Keep an eye out for cat food approved by AAFCO, and again, talk with your veterinarian about healthy options for your feline. Make sure your kitty has access to clean, fresh water daily. If your cat happens to be a little bougie, they may even enjoy a water fountain or bottled cat water. Your options are endless.
Socialize With Your Cat
Carve out some time in your daily schedule to have some play time. It is so impawtant for cats to have enough stimulation to be happy, healthy, and so they don’t always get those 3AM zoomies around the house. Make it a fun experience, give them some treats, play with their favorite cat toys; think of it as a kitty happy hour. We all need a little down time every now and again. It is so good for your cat’s overall well-being to know they are loved and valued as a member of the family. It’s easy to forget, but cats have needs too!
As we know, kitties love to be clean. Although they are quite independent, sometimes they need a little help grooming too. As a cat parent, take time to brush your cat and trim their nails. Grooming definitely cuts down on the cat fur in the house, which is also good if you have allergies. Grooming also affords you some one on one quality time to further develop your bond and trust. Investing in a good tools like a cat brush is necessary. There are many options, so figure out what type of brush your cat prefers like soft bristles or more of a wirey brush.
Lastly, Keep Your Paws Off Their Claws. Declawing cats is inhumane! If your plan is to declaw your cat, please reconsider getting this animal or getting one that is already declawed from your local rescue. If you’re concerned about scratching furniture or people, there are better alternatives, like keeping their nails short or even putting caps over their claws, (they also look pretty swanky). Trimming your cat’s nails can be tricky but your vet is a great resource. They have technicians that can quickly and easily trim their nails for you, or there are tutorials of how to properly trim your cat’s nails. This definitely helps keep scratches on furniture to a minimum as well.
As much you think you can socialize with your cat, you’re not an actual cat (sorry to be the bearer of bad news). Most cats are truly happier living with other cat companions. Cats who remain with one of their littermates, or a similarly aged companion, tend to be happier and healthier throughout their life; and in turn, a better pet to you and your family. As a cat parent, if you want to improve your cat’s happiness, consider having more than one cat (if you’re in a position of doing so). If that is not in the cards, then just be mindful about extended periods of time your cat will be left alone. Maybe even consider getting a kitty camera to keep an eye and communicate with them throughout the day. Some video monitors even give out treats for added stimulation. After all, we don’t want them becoming more anti-social than they already are…
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