Equal time this column for cats! We addressed dogs last time.
Cats are a bit harder, because they are much more used to being alone, and doing things on their own terms. Still, you can do some good beyond the basic needs of shelter, food and water.
Cats like to investigate, crawl into things, and sniff and lick something new. Most will chase something small that moves. So with that in mind:
- Play with a “fishing pole” toy, and have your cat chase the bait
- Throw a small ball of paper or tin foil
- Invest in a couple toys with balls inside they can bat around
- Anything crinkly – paper bags make a really cheap toy!
- Regular veterinary care – even cats who are “always inside” should be vaccinated. Their isolation actually makes them more prone to illness, since they never develop any immunity to different germs. And just in case they are ever provoked and bite someone, proof a rabies vaccine may prevent a quarantine situation
- Spay or neuter your cat – females in heat can be cute, but also really annoying with their crying and rolling around….and intact males will continually spray to mark territory – not something you want to smell in your house
- Teach long haired cats to be handled and groomed at an early age – brushing and combing will decrease the likelihood of mats, as well as give the cat some individual one on one attention
- Cats like to be high – A cat tree is good for them to climb up on, but shelves or other additions for them to climb up high on walls are appreciated!
- if your cat goes outdoors, remember to say thank you for the treasre’s they bring home – he’s bringing that mouse as a present to you
- On the other hand, if they go out and have a tendency to bring back something alive a lot, lock the cat door. Snakes and chipmunks are not fun to find in the house
- Catnip – in a toy, scattered on the floor, it’s a nature kitty high
- Laser pointers…chase that dot!
- Keep clean litter boxes, and enough litter boxes in the house. The general rule is one litter box per cat, plus one extra. Cats can be very fastidious, and if a box is dirty, they may choose another spot in the house other than their box to use as a toilet.
- Speaking of toilets, some cats will learn to use a toilet, and that’s one less litter box to have around
- Oh, and litter boxes should be in a private place…. I’ve seen them built into cabinetry; mine are end the end of the hall in the laundry room where there’s not a lot of traffic, or downstairs in a basement. Put boxes in places convenient to where your cat hangs out, to encourage their use.
- Scratching posts for cats who need a place to scratch, like this cat post
- A cat grass kit to solve that natural chewing on grass habit
- Buy high quality food – it is easier for them to digest and formulated for optimum health. Really cheap food has fillers, salt, sugar, and lots of dye.
- Once in a while, a bit of canned food can be a treat. I personally do not make it the bulk of my cats’ diet.
- Provide a place they can call their own – a cat bed or cat cave appeals to their hiding instincts
- put up a shelf in a window – a snooze in the sun is great, and also nature TV outside the window in the form of birds and other critters
- Even your indoor cat can go outside on a harness and leash. Many cats will learn to go for a walk this way.
- Cat proof the house – cats are notoriously nosy, and will get into almost anything, as well as lick to taste things. Keep cleaners behind doors, and put any house plants that may be poisoness or toxic out of reach.
- Try a cat video on TV or your computer, or a loop of fish swimming, birds and squirrels for entertainment inside.
- As with dogs, nothing better than curling up for a nap, if your cat likes to sit or sleep with you.