Four for Friday: Happy Cat Month, every day of the year!
Here we are at the end of September. Did you realize that it was Senior Pet Wellness Month AND Happy Cat Month? In addition, last week was National Dog Week. Sheesh, all this celebrating! Not to minimize the importance of senior pets (who are always a relevant topic), or undermine the fabulousness of the domestic canine (because really, every week should be National Dog Week, right?), but today we will be honoring the Happy Cat.
Here are FOUR ways to keep your cat happy (by no means an exhaustive list!):
1. Good veterinary care. Take your kitty to the veterinarian for regular checkups, including annual exams and bloodwork. Spaying/neutering, vaccination, microchipping, and dental care are all important parts of thorough, well-rounded feline veterinary care. Keep current with relevant preventative medications. Even all-indoor cats can host fleas, ear mites, heartworms, tapeworms, and more – especially if they live with other animals that go in and out of the house. Cats are extremely good at hiding illness, so it is especially important to stay ahead of the game and keep on top of their health as they age. As cats get older, their relationship with their veterinarian becomes all the more important.
2. Good mental and physical stimulation. Busy cats are happy cats, and just like humans, they tend to stay healthier at all stages of life. Some forms of stimulation are downright necessary – such as scratching posts and surfaces to help your cat remain limber and maintain its claws. But cats also love to play and hunt. Some cats really love to climb and owners have sometimes gone to great lengths to allow for this (check out this link to an unbelievable cat friendly house from Japan). Other cats are content with an empty box or a fabric tunnel.
Cats who love to hunt are often fond of prey toys – toys that require them to pounce, leap, swat, and chase. Catnip mice, feather toys, and laser pointers are examples. Hiding a cat’s food can also be a great form of both mental and physical stimulation as they search for pieces of kibble around the house. My cat, however, will sit for what seems like hours in front of the refrigerator waiting for the stray piece of kibble to emerge from where it was kicked. That probably doesn’t count as stimulation!
Training cats may seem farfetched, but many cats can be trained to do all sorts of things – if they are willing and in the mood! If you find this hard to believe, check out this cute YouTube video of Gregory Popovich and his Circus Cats. Training is a fun and novel activity to share with your cat, but there are two other very good reasons to consider training. First, when it’s done with patience and love it can strengthen the bond between the cat and its owner. And second, training requires mental work – which can be significantly more tiring than physical work. A mentally AND physically exercised kitty is a Happy Cat.
3. Good nutrition. Great strides have been made in animal nutrition. There are now a number of excellent diet lines available to pet owners. It’s important when choosing a brand of pet food to make an educated decision. First of all, consider the age of the cat. Kittens, adults and senior cats should be fed appropriate diets for optimum growth and optimum maintenance. The activity level of the cat is also important. Cats that don’t get a lot of exercise may benefit from an Indoor Cat diet, with a lower calorie count. If your cat has a medical condition there are many prescription diets available that can help ease the burden that disease and medication can place on the body. Keep in mind that quality pet food is rarely found at a low price in the supermarket aisle. The best foods will be found at the vet clinic or a reputable pet store.
4.Good company.Try to give your cat your undivided attention for some part of every day. Sitting with your cat, talking to your cat, grooming your cat, all provide health benefits – to both you and your pet! Most housecats are social creatures and are fairly easy to please. Cats can become attenuated to a social time at a certain hour of the day – which can often be easier to manage in a busy home. Maybe some lap time with your morning cup of coffee? Or some ear scratches between your favorite TV shows in the evening? If your lifestyle makes it difficult to provide regular one on one time with your cat, consider getting another cat to be a playmate. A furry friend will often go long ways towards making a cat happy.
It’s the last day of Happy Cat Month. But you still have time to celebrate with your cat! Get out there and buy a laser pointer. Set up a bird feeder outside the window. Get out that cat brush in the back of the drawer. Give your kitty some undivided attention today. After all, a Happy Cat helps to make a happy home.
photo: federico stevanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net