Give your feline family member a few extra snuggles, a couple extra shakes of catnip on her cat tree and an extra treat or two.
We have seven suggestions and ways to respect your cat.
Pet your cat the “right” way. If you’ve ever pet a cat the “wrong” way, chances are you have the war wounds to show for it. Cats prefer to be stroked around their head, neck and ears. Few cats like belly rubs. A cat’s belly is one of her most vulnerable places so if you have a cat who lets you rub her belly, consider yourself loved, and lucky. Pay attention to your cat’s body language when you’re petting her, she will give definite signs when your attention has become unwelcome.
Keep a clean litter box. Cats are fastidious. If their litter box is not kept clean they may have litter box avoidance issues; this is one of the main reasons cats are surrendered to shelters. Scoop the litter box daily. Find a litter box your cat likes – some cats like covered boxes, others don’t. The rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat; some cat owners keep an additional litter box, just in case.
Cats have a natural instinct to scratch. They may be indiscriminate scratchers – your couch, the carpet, the door jamb. You can definitely “train” your cat to scratch appropriate items like a scratching post. If your cat is scratching the furniture, put a scratching post next to it and when your cat starts to scratch the couch, gently put his paws onto the scratching post. Praise him when he scratches the post. Give him treats when he scratches the post.
Try out several types of scratching posts. Some cats prefer vertical posts, others like horizontal posts. Try sisal rope posts, corrugated cardboard styles, carpeted posts or even an actual tree limb or log. Find the type of scratcher your cat likes and place them around the house.
Indoor cats need to pounce, hunt and climb. Indoor cats also need to breathe fresh air. If you don’t have space to build a catio, open a window and let the fresh air in. You may want to reinforce the screen in the window to prevent your cat from falling out. Give your cats feather toys, catnip mice or other toys that let them give into their instinctual need to chase and pounce.
Don’t worry if your cat climbs to the top of the bookcase or refrigerator. Cats love heights and many prefer to watch the world from above. Look for puzzle toys you can put food or treats into and hide. Your cat will be motivated to find the hidden treats and wrestle with the toy to release the treat.
Cats are masters of disguise when it comes to their health. Schedule an annual check up at your veterinarian for your feline friends. An annual check up will give you and your vet a baseline for your cat’s overall health – his teeth, his weight and his bloodwork results. If you notice your cat is not acting like himself, you will want to call your veterinarian and let him or her know and decide whether he needs an appointment.
Don’t overfeed; this is easy to do when your cat ages and isn’t as active as he once was. Your vet will let you know if your cat is a healthy weight and how to safely cut back on his food.
Cats also need continual access to clean water. Make sure there is a water bowl, but keep in mind that many cats like to drink from running water. Turn on the tap and let him drink from there or invest in a waterbowl that has circulating water.
Cats are creatures of habit. I truly don’t know how my cats can tell time, but they will start bumping around my legs about five minutes before their dinner time. If I stand up they will try to herd me toward the food bowls. If you live in an area of the country that has Daylight Saving Time, you will want to slowly ease your cat into the new dinner time because your pets are impacted by the time change, just as you are.
When you feed your cats, don’t feed them so their backs are to the door. This is a vulnerable position for them. Put their dishes so they can get behind them and see the doors. If you have a picky eater, you may want to put his or her dish on an elevated area so she can eat alone.
If you treat your cat with respect you can rest assured that your cat will give you love and affection. Contrary to popular belief, cats DO like their humans and they DO crave attention and affection. Yes, they may crave attention and affection on their own terms, but when your cat snuggles into your lap or “allows” you to pick her up, you’ll know you’ve earned his respect as well!
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