Do you sometimes feel a disconnect between you and your cat? Are you unsure of what your cat is wanting from you or how to make your kitty happier? Here are some tips to help you have a better relationship with your cat and to make your kitty happier and more content.
Cats do not have many appeasement gestures as do dogs, humans, horses and other group animals. Group animals have many ways to work together to resolve tension without resorting to an emergency response of either fleeing, withdrawing or fighting. Cats do not know how to cooperatively resolve or diffuse stress. When a cat senses conflict, he or she will run or withdraw to avoid the source of stress, or the kitty will fight. Therefore, if a cat follows you or remains close to you seeking your attention, it is a true form of flattery! It is your job to bond with your cat. A cat will only become affectionate with you and seek your attention, wanting your companionship, if he or she likes you and trusts you. If you ignore your cat, your cat will not bond with you. If you reprimand or scold your cat, your cat will fear you, mistrust you and avoid you. If there is conflict between cats in a household, they will avoid each other or fight. Below are tips to ensure that you have a good relationship with your cat and that your kitty is happy and content.
Tips to Have a Happy Cat
- Separate food and water dishes. Cats like to drink in a separate location from where they eat. Use large ceramic bowls for water. Refill and refresh water at least once a day.
- Always have dry food available for your cat to nibble at his or her leisure. If you must restrict your cat’s food intake, many small frequent meals are preferred over two or three larger meals per day. Free-feeding will prevent a number of behavioral problems.
- Give wet food to your cat (avoid most grocery store brands and the ‘shredded’ meat variety). Wet food is healthier than dry food and gives needed water. The more water a cat drinks, the less likely the kitty will be prone to developing urinary tract infections.
- Get large open litter pans. A large shallow plastic sweater box or shallow storage box works very well. All store bought litter pans made for cats tend to be too small for an average-sized cat. Adding a hood or a lid will make the space even smaller and more claustrophobic. With standard litter boxes, it is very difficult for a kitty to turn around without having to step in soiled litter. Many cats scratch outside the litter box or on walls next to the box because the litter pan is too small. The smaller the pan, the dirtier it will get with every use. If there is more than one cat in the household, the litter box situation becomes more problematic. If one cat urinates or defecates in the pan, another cat has to step in soiled litter. It might just be easier and cleaner for the kitty to go on the carpet.
- Many cats prefer to defecate and urinate in separate litter pans. You may need more than one box for one cat. Litter boxes can be placed near each other or in different locations.
- Use clumping, unscented clay litter. Avoid corn litter, pine litter, perfumed litter, or non-clumping clay litter. No liners!
- Clean litter boxes at least two times a day.
- Litter boxes should be in relatively private locations, but not a hike or journey to get to for your cat.
- Play with your cat regularly. If you have a young cat, your cat will have boundless energy. Cats can be more active at night and at dawn or dusk. If you do not play with your cat with interactive toys such as string toys and feather wand toys, your cat will become bored, depressed, and restless. Your cat may then keep you up at night by meowing. Your cat may also attack your ankles or harass another cat or animal in the house. So schedule play sessions with your cat! It will be worthwhile for both of you.
- A cat can live up to twenty years, and even longer. A cat is truly a long term commitment. You are adopting a companion who is depending on you. Where will you be in 10, 15, or 20 years?
- Cats need their claws. They need to scratch. Cats scratch when they feel comfortable, happy, and anticipate something good. It is reassuring to them. Your cat may scratch in your presence because your presence is reassuring to your kitty. This is why your cat may scratch the rug or the furniture when you enter a room, before being fed, upon your returning home, or in the middle of a play session. Your cat is not being spiteful!
- Invest in sturdy, solid cat condos or cat trees. Cats prefer scratching on textured surfaces. Wood, sisal, coir, Berber and corrugated cardboard scratchers work well. Scratching pads and posts should be large and sturdy. A cat will not use a small, flimsy scratching post or a post that tips over. A scratching post should be placed in a desirable location where your cat will use it. Placing a condo in front of windows or in a social area where there is a nice landscape view of the room (from your cat’s perspective) are nice choices.
- Most cat toys are too large for cats. Many cats tend to like the end of the plastic pole the feather is on as opposed to the feather or the stuffed toy. Be sure to get toys with long poles if they are wand toys, and try to find toys that have small feathers or fake mice. You can also crumple paper for your kitty to chase. Tiny cat nip toys are enjoyable to most cats. If you have a wand toy your kitty doesn’t like, try removing the toy or feather at the end of the string so your kitty can chase the string itself. End play sessions with a few treats.
- Do not scold or reprimand a cat.
- A cat will bond with you and have less behavioral problems if s/he can sleep with you at night. If your cat does not sleep with you at night, your kitty will be less likely to bond with you and will tend to be less affectionate.
Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2011
Alana Stevenson can be contacted through her website AlanaStevenson.com. She provides consultations by phone and Skype.