“Happy Cats are Healthy Cats”

Lynn Baer, DVM, Cat Specialist, shares her top tips for cat owners to ensure well adjusted, happy cats.  Lynn says, “happy cats are healthy cats and happy cats make owners happier and healthier, too”.

  Tip #1) Recognize the fact that indoor only cats have no choices of their own in life

They are completely reliant on what we offer them.  We choose their litter box size, shape, location and litter substrate. We choose where they are fed, what they are fed out of, and what foods they are offered.  We choose their toys, their beds, their bowls, and everything within their lives.  Cats have few choices of their own.   They would be happier given more choices of their own and once owners understand that and begin to expand their options, cats would remain healthier and happier. 

Tip #2) Bring the outdoors in 

Cats are held captive within four walls for their entire lives.  Open the blinds, open the windows, grow grass, bring leaves and branches in for them to smell. Again for owners to be more aware of the fact that their cats have never walked on grass or soil, experienced changes in temperature, smelled different smells, or had the ability to walk around the block to explore new surroundings.  Owners should evaluate every opportunity to enhance their indoors cat’s lives by bringing new things into the home.  Build catios, window units or other alternative opportunities for cats to experience the outdoors.  At a minimum place window seats around the house (off the ground), build vertical spaces for them to climb, train them to walk on leashes, erect cat proof fences, etc.

 Tip #3) Play, play, play and more play

Indoor cats are bored, depressed and inactive.  Owners don’t generally play with their cats daily.  Cats need exercise, mental stimulation and fun.  Having a basket of toys for cats is not enough.  Owners should actively engage with their pets by using wand toys, laser lights, throwing blankets over furniture to create tents, rotating toys daily.  Adding silvervine, catnip, and valerian to their arsenal of toys will give cats new experiences.  Using foraging toys for food rewards, making cats hunt for some of their food all help to stimulate their body and mind.

Tip #4) Lots of scratch posts – both vertical and horizontal for cats to scratch on. 

I am completely opposed to declawing (having never performed one in my entire career).   Scratching is a form of communication and also gives cats the ability to stretch their muscles.  It is important they have great areas and substrates to scratch on.  It makes them happy.

 Tip #5)  Seek out cat only veterinarians

Don’t allow a veterinarian who declaws to treat your cat.  Take your cat to a vet at least once a year for a good physical exam and blood work.  Cats are notorious for hiding pain and illness and if an owner thinks their cat is sick, they are likely very sick.  Pay attention to any changes (no matter how small) and seek veterinary care immediately.  Age is not a disease and many owners ignore signs of illness as due to advanced aging.  That is not in a cat’s best interest.  Owners need to advocate on behalf of their pets and insure good medical care.  Seek second opinions.  Good veterinarians encourage owners to do so and are never offended by it. 

 Tip #6) Cats need wet food more than dry

Wet food is lower in calories and higher in protein and moisture.  It is extremely important to feed cats at least 5-6 times daily.  Don’t feed one brand or diet only.  Variety is the spice of life and cats are used to eating birds, squirrels, rats, mice, chipmunks, bugs, etc.  One diet or one brand is not normal.  Either is feeding once or twice a day.

 Source:  The Purrington Post

Editors Note:  Find many of the toys, scratchers, outdoor enclosures and cat furniture mentioned in this article right here.

Share

It’s all about Me-owww! Techniques Cats Use To Win Our Attention

It’s 11:00PM.  You’re up against a deadline to finish a report for work.   You’ve just belted down a strong cup of coffee and you’re on the home stretch.   One more section to go and you’re done!  Hmmm, you think to yourself, the cats have been amazingly quiet.

Just as you touch your keypad, something distracts you out of the corner of your eye.  You glance over your shoulder.  There they are – both of them – perched atop your side desk, staring at you.  Their stare isn’t just any casual gaze.  Their eyes are large, round, intense and compelling, their stare unwavering.  You know what they want – your undivided attention!

IMG_1625

What is it about cats that drive you to stop whatever you’re doing, and attend to their every whim?

Cats are intelligent creatures.   Once they figure you out (which doesn’t take very long), you’re putty in their little paws.  They know exactly what to do and they do it.  If you make the fatal mistake of catering to them the first time, they will repeat the process again and again, and you’re hooked.

Here are just a few of the many techniques employed by the cats in my household (or, should I say, theirs).

  • The Stare Down. It works every time.  It elicits a response something like, “Hey cutie, what is it?  What do you want?”  Bingo!
  • The Wait. They wait patiently in the kitchen until they see a human approach.  From that point forward, it’s a steady litany of me-owwws, some extremely lengthy and desperate.  They don’t let up until you put the food bowls down, with their dinner just the way they like it.  Success!
  • The Hit and Run. You’re reading a magazine on the couch, your collection of magazines neatly stacked in front of you on the coffee table.  Out of the blue streaks a wild cat, leaping onto the stack, scattering them halfway across the room.   You slap down the magazine and get up to fix the mess.  The me-owwws start, with longing looks towards the kitchen. Mission accomplished!
  • The Toy Closet Vigil. My cats know where I stash their wand and laser toys.  If I am within an ear shot of “the” closet, they assemble like soldiers in front of it.  If I start to walk past them, they begin lightly scratching on the closet door, elevating to full, obnoxious scratching, however long it takes.  Fifteen minutes later, after a decent play session, they nonchalantly saunter away while I’m still waving the toy, collapse on the floor, and casually survey the room as if to say, “You can put that thing away now…I’ll let you know when I’m ready to play again.”
  • The Heart Stopper. This works something like the Hit and Run, only you’re lucky to survive.  In the middle of the night, you’re experiencing a deep REM sleep.   Your feline 757 lands with a thundering thud on the bed, skipping to the end of the runway, heading directly into your face.   Not only do you wake up with heart palpitations, you wake up to a set of wild, black pupils staring into yours.   After convincing yourself it’s not a nightmare, you desperately try to fall back asleep.  That’s when they repeat.  You get up.  They me-owww, you follow them, tripping down the stairs into the kitchen.  This is a win-win (for the cat, not for the two of you)!

If you haven’t yet experienced any of the above, it’s probably because you have cats that have employed other techniques that have proven successful, or else you’ve just adopted a cat today who hasn’t yet figured you out.  Don’t worry – he’ll have you “trained” by the end of the week, and you won’t even know it!

Share

Do you have a harmonious multiple cat household?

Black and white cats appear to be kissing.

Current statistics on U.S. cat-owning households (there are about 90 million today) show that nearly one half (49%) of these households own more than one cat. (source:  Armandhammer.com)  Those multiple cat households must have somehow figured out how to achieve feline harmony in their homes.

Basically, the way to a peaceful feline home is to make sure that there are enough resources and space for your cats.   If your cats know they have options on where they can eat, sleep, play, and use the litter box, all the better.    If all of your cats have only one option, that’s an ideal setting for territorial disputes and added stress among them.  We have a few pointers on how to create and maintain harmony in your cat household.

The initial introduction of cats to each other should be gradual and stress free.  If possible, keep the new cat in a separate living quarters in your home, with their food, litter box and toys.  Your “incumbent cats” will know about the new cat, but not have the stress of direct contact.  After a couple of days, gradually allow your “incumbent” cats to approach the new cat, keeping their contacts short and sweet.  After a few more days, you will have achieved a successful introduction.

Our strongest recommendation:  invest in vertical play spaces.   Cat trees, shelves and window perches are ideal solutions for giving your cats privacy in an off-the-ground location.  Cats like height, so it’s an ideal solution.

Your cats needs outlets for exercising and scratching.  Leave plenty of scratching devices around your home.  Whether they are horizontal, vertical or slanted pads, they will protect your furniture as well as your sanity!

Allow each of your cats a separate food bowl .  If you have common water bowls, have several in different areas.  A water fountain designed for multiple cats is a great way of managing this, just make sure to keep the fountain and the water it holds clean and fresh.

Keep as many litter boxes in your home as the number of cats.  One of the worst problems can arise when cats have the use the same box.    Territorial issues may arise, causing them to “spray” the litter box, which signals to the other cats to stay away.    No one needs to have cats depositing in undesignated areas of the house.  Once that “out of box” behavior starts, it’s hard to stop it.

Finally, monitor your cats’ interactions.  It’s better to observe body language and catch an early warning signal so that you can diffuse any tension and avoid an out-an-out battle.   One great technique for diffusing attention is to pull out a wand toy that immediately draws their attention away from one another and on the moving object (the toy on the wand).

Congratulations on your multiple cat household.  May you and they live harmoniously over all of their nine lives!

Share
Peek N Prize Toy Box at MyThreeCats.com

What types of environmental enhancements do you offer your cat?

Caring for cats properly involves much more than simply furnishing food, water and a litter box. Environmental enrichment, such as toys, food puzzles, perches, and even hiding places, can really change the quality of life for almost any cat.

The Winn Feline Foundation recently took a look at this issue in a group of shelter cats on their blog. Environmental enrichment in shelter cats is an excerpt from a study which provided a food puzzle to a stable group of shelter cats and examined their reaction to the puzzle and their interactions surrounding the object. The study concluded:

“a stimulating item that can be shared by all individuals in a stable group, such as a puzzle feeder of appropriate size, can play an important role in promoting positive social interactions among cats and improving their welfare.”

Certainly, in shelter cats, this is an important study. It underlines the need for more than just basic care in the lives of these animals and the fact that this enrichment is easily achievable. After all, the ultimate goal is to give these cats the best chance for adoption. Cats that are comfortable in their environment and confident will show it in their behavior. And confident behavior is much more “adoptable” than a cat that is hiding in his cage or, worse yet, acting in aggressive manner out of fear.

However, this study also can be extended to those of us who keep multi-cat households. I have three cats and frequently see two or more of my cats interacting with the toys and puzzles at once. In fact, it seems as though if one cat shows interest, it generates interest in the other cats as well.  

Many environmental enhancement toys, cat furniture and other items can be found at www.MyThreeCats.com, the experts in optimum care care and well being.

Share