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Have a Happy Indoor Cat
Are you tired of your cat tangling with the neighbors’ pet? Or risking one of its nine lives romping in the street? Sick of paying vets for every ailment kittie brings home? Here’s how to keep your cat happy as a stay-at-home feline.
Begin by treating your cat just like any other member of the family — include it in everything that makes up your family routine. Serve it dinner as you sit down to eat; call it into the laundry room as you sort clothes, place a cuddler or basket near your TV chair in the evening, and so on. The more your cat adjusts to your routine, the happier it’ll be and the less work for you.
Make sure that your cat’s physical needs are met. Keep fresh clean water available at all times, and insure that a bit of dry cat food is always around for light snacking. Learn which cat litter your feline prefers, and be sure that its reasonably clean and inviting at all times. Provide cat posts and scratchers to allow your pet to stretch, exercise, maintain healthy claws, burn off energy, and reduce its boredom. Consider a climbing tree or other such ‘exercise equipment’. If your cat still has its claws, consider clipping them regularly for its comfort and the sake of your furnishings. Offer a variety of cozy, comfy places for naps, whether under a warm desk lamp, on top of a radiator, or in view of the flitting birds or scrambling squirrels outside. Note the best places for midday sun on carpet. Don’t want the cat sleeping on the bed? Wean it of the habit by setting a cuddler on the bed, and repeatedly returning your pet to the cuddler, until it learns to go to it on its own. Then begin moving the cuddler down the bed, and eventually off the bed.
Cater to your cat’s curiosity. Leave an occasional shopping bag, shipping box, bit of gift wrap or ribbon around for some inquisitive play. Catnip in a crumpled bag can provide an evening’s delight. Remember that cats often prefer confined spaces not much bigger than their body. Perhaps that lowest bookshelf or corner cabinet is the perfect hideaway. Don’t be afraid to leave closets doors ajar or bureau drawers open for spontaneous adventure.
Meet your cat’s psychological needs. Cats need words, and perhaps more importantly, tones, of encouragement. Don’t be timid about conversing with your cat. It will become ever more finely attuned to your moods, becoming a happier and friendlier pet in the process. As it becomes more responsive to your voice, you’ll find it easier to summon and better engaged with your daily life.
Cats are very physical creatures; their reputation for aloofness and independence is probably overstated. It’s surprising how many pet owners will instinctively wrestle, grapple or roll with a dog, yet remain reserved around a cat. Don’t be afraid to stroke, brush, pick up, hug, roll, squeeze, or tug your cat. Occasionally feed them treats by hand to get them used to your presence. The more physical contact your cat has with you, the more it’ll want.
And, finally, don’t forget playtime. Cats learn their place in animal hierarchy and how to hunt through playing. Set aside time for concerted play, and find those toys that will most intrigue your pet. Try laser pointers, fishing poles with dangling toys, caged balls holding bells, lengths of ribbon, bubble-wrap, fishnet, and even simple household items. My cat, for example, is especially fond of stick pen caps and small inexpensive holiday ornaments. Put a little effort into playing with your cat, and you’ll get a great payoff. You’ll have a happy homebody of a feline.
And, to make sure you remain a happy homebody too, pop over to rickzworld now and then.