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Feline Friday: Happy Cat Month

Kisa

"Get spiffed up for Happy Cat Month!" Copr. Maria Magnus

The CATalyst Council declared September to be Happy Cat Month, dedicated to finding ways to keep kitty companions happy, healthy and purring all year long. They suggest these top 10 ways cat owners can promote feline happiness–and I’ve added a few additional links for detailed how-to, further info or just play furry fun. Enjoy! Oh, and please feel free to add your own tips to the list (I have *s*).

1.        Visit the veterinarian. Healthy cats are happy cats. Many owners dread vet trips with cats, even though a good number now work hard to be cat friendly or have doctors who specialize in cats. Sterilizing your cat helps keeps cats healthy by preventing behavior problems and some types of cancer.  Here are reasons why cats hate the vet and how you can change that purr-ception.

2.       Microchip your cat. In addition to a collar and identification tag, owners should ask their veterinarian about microchipping their feline friend. If a cat ever escapes or gets lost, having this type of permanent ID will make a reunion between cat and owner much more likely. I’ve blogged about lost pets before . Learn more about pet ID in this puppies article (works for cats, too!).

seren scratching 1

Seren's office chair shows her artistry.

3.       Go outside (appropriately). Yes!  There are ways owners can safely take their cats outside to allow them to broaden their horizons. Teach your cats how to walk on a leash so they can periodically and safely experience the world outside their windows.

4.       Scratch the surface. Cats need to scratch for physical and emotional health.  Figure out what your cat likes to scratch–vertical, horizontal or angled position–and what kind of surface, and provide it. Giving legal scratch options keeps the furniture safe.

5.       Provide preventive medications. No one likes fleas, ticks, mites or heartworms, especially your cat. Even indoor cats are at risk. Magical-Dawg goes outside and can bring creepy crawlies inside to Seren-kitty so she gets prevention just like he does.

6.       Train together. Cats can be trained to do fun tricks just like dogs, and the mental and physical stimulation is great for felines. Clicker training can boost the confidence of shy cats, too. Teaching your cat to sit, for example, is easy, and training your cat to sit on stools instead of counters will make you and your cat much happier. Training also helps you connect and strengthens your bond with the cat–she’ll finally believe YOU are smart when you can communicate with her!

7.       Work for food. Feline obesity is a huge problem in this country, and one way to combat it is for owners to make their cats work for their food. I love offering cats their meals inside puzzle toys or hiding it around the house on small bowls to stimulate kitty’s innate hunting instinct. That keeps the cat’s brain exercised, too.

8.       Get your cat acclimated to the carrier. Many cat owners find that the worst part about taking their cats anywhere is getting cats into their carriers. Owners should work with their cat on making their carrier a safe, secure, and inviting place to be prior to veterinary visits or family vacations.  Visit www.catalystcouncil.org to view Cats and Carriers: Friends not Foes for tips on how to get cats to love their carriers. You can also find tips in this article about ways owners HISS OFF their cats (and how to avoid that!).

9.       Provide prey toys. One of the easiest ways to make a cat happy is with a new prey toy. Cats love to play and turn wads of paper into pretend prey so you can give kitty “cheap thrills” to keep her happy. Here are some tips how to get the prey-play kitty games going!  And one of my previous blogs included some very kewl kitty toys.

10.   Think about getting another cat. Cats are social animals, and owners should consider adopting two cats or kittens at once to keep them company. Just be sure to properly introduce your newcomer cats to resident felines.  Here are tips how to care for your new kitten–and you can also always refer to Complete Kitten Care for even more help including proper introduction tips!

During Happy Cat Month, CATalyst Council encourages people to adopt a kitty–or to spoil the cats you already love with these tips. And just for fun, channel your “inner kitty” and answer this question–

Do cats have ESP? Can your cats see ghosts? Why do cats STARE for hours at a time at stuff you can’t see? The ASK AMY below attempts to answer the question but–all kitties are different so what do your cats tell you? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

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About amyshojai

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant, award winning author, and spokesperson to the pet industry.

18 responses »

  1. I miss my cats dearly. I grew allergic and got really bad sinus infections, etc. Doctor told me in 2007 I had to find homes for them or things would just get worse. I did find good homes, but I still carry a lot of guilt. Anyway, I do enjoy my mom’s cats when I visit. She’s got one that’s a thief – he’ll carry off anything you leave laying around. I do have a question: why do cats play with mice so hard instead of just killing them? My cat growing up never bit into a mouse – she just treated it like a toy.

    Reply
    • Stacy, so sorry you had to give up your cats. Sadly, the dander STAYS in the house for years even after the cats leave so that doctor advice isn’t always the “fix” they predict. You have to rely on the expert’s advice, though. *sigh* And today they’ve discovered a couple of cat breeds that produce low to no allergen so that’s an option (check the Norwegian Forest Cat *s*).

      Great question for a future Ask Amy re” the cat playing with mice (or other prey).

      Reply
  2. I didn’t know there was an official cat month! I swear my cat sees ghosts….they both stare at the walls and Shady even meows at nothing. 🙂

    Reply
  3. People often forget that cats are very sensitive to movement, too. As for hearing, my cat used to stake out one of the bathrooms and I couldn’t figure out why, until I happened to catch the little scratching noises… mice in the walls. Dang things get up under the house at just about every change in the season and I have to go to war with them for fear they’ll chew up the wiring. Thankfully they don’t get inside the actual house anymore, now that we sealed a couple of drain gaps – but not before they ruined a few good pairs of coconut wood chopsticks. Simba may listen for them, but she seems to have decided she’s retired and doesn’t hunt much of anything anymore.

    Now, one of the cats we had growing up (the very same that was dropped off to us already declawed) was… let’s say “special”. Black and white with huge, owl-like eyes, and quite possibly the weirdest cat I have ever known – and given cats are pretty weird to begin with, that’s saying something. LOL But this cat would sit in the hallway and stare at the same point on the wall for hours on end. The other cat didn’t do this. None of the other cats have ever done this. She would also stare at the TV for hours when it was off. Eventually we just started referring to this behavior as “contacting the mother ship”, because we never found a way to explain it. But then, this was the same cat who would roll around on shoes in fits of ecstasy, and whenever she had to hurl, seemed to insist on climbing onto the highest piece of furniture she could get to so she could make a mess of as big a range as possible. She was a special child.

    As for prey toys, Simba’s favorites were always the little fur-covered mice toys that rattle when you shake them. Though for the longest time I was trying to figure out why they all ended up smashed, because I never stepped on any of them. Then one day I tossed her a new one, and within a few minutes heard this sickening crunch as she bit through the middle – she was “killing” her toy before she played with it. Used to be she preferred the grey ones, in particular one she had chewed the tail off of, and red ones came in close second (insert your favorite Star Trek redshirt joke here). Now that she’s starting to lose more of her vision, however, I’ve noticed she’s started favoring the yellow ones, I suspect because it’s easier for her to see the lighter color against the carpet. Anubis, now his favorites all involve fluffy rabbit fur. We bought a plain rabbit scrap from the craft store, and recently I stuffed one with paper and sewed it into a little pillow shape. He picks it up in his teeth and tosses it all over the place so he can catch it in his paws.

    Reply
    • Gawdamighty, Karyl, you’re killing me here! LOL! “Special child” indeed!

      We’ve got some of those wall-mice (or bugs or monster chewing the drywall) and Seren ignores it–I think to drive me crazy.

      Ya do what’s needed to keep them happy. Or else they’d sleep on your face. *s* Ack…’scuse me, hairball. (ahem)

      Reply
      • Yeah I have the advantage that Simba lived her first 8 years as a barn cat. Not that she actually hunts them now, just stares at the noise.

        Simba already sleeps on my head when I’m sick, does that count? LOL She seems to think taking care of me includes sleeping on my pillow with her butt on my head, and occasionally licking my hair.

        Reply
  4. Terrific post and blog, Amy!

    On a somewhat related note, do you have any recommendations on preventative flea/tick medications? My American bull dog is allergic to tics and our vet recommended the small tubes of ointment, which are applied to the dog’s back. Are they the best option in your view?

    Reply
  5. Absolutely great and very informative post. Many cat lovers under estimate the importance of environmental stimulation. My cat loves his cat fountain and the fresh green grass pots around the house and ofcourse playtime!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, Seren loves her TWO water fountains (blog later on cats and water *s*). For an old kitty she also enjoys playtime, especially tormenting the dog, LOL!

      Reply
  6. So cute! I wish my cat had ESP. Unfortunately, her latest quirk appears to be a reversion to kitten-hood, with me as mamma cat. It’s got to the point that she now won’t even jump up for her food (where it sits out of reach of the dog). Instead, she sits and waves her paws in the air and cries for me to pick her up. When I do, she’ll eat about three biscuits then jump down, and the game starts again. I even had her checked out at the vet when we were there recently for her vaccinations, to be sure she had no hip problems. Nope, HRH just likes being carried to her food. I can’t quite figure out how to change that behaviour.

    Reply
    • LOL Naomi, she’s got you trained! And each time you hold out…hold out…hold out…OH ALL RIGHT! and give in, you teach her that the longer she pesters, the better chance she has of getting her way. It’s the attention probably more than anything.

      Good for you getting her checked. My cat has started to show some arthritic changes and cats often hide such things. For Seren, I just added “step stools” in form of boxes or even a short step ladder so she can get up and down easily without my help. I also put a food bowl beside the bathroom sink and she can hop onto the toilet seat to reach the vanity to eat/drink.

      Reply
      • And the worst thing is it’s only me. She doesn’t do the same to Mr B. We got her from a rescue shelter a year ago, where she had been surrendered as a stray. She was only nine months old and had already had a litter of kittens (and another one terminated). Because I work from home she bonded with me, and now follows me everywhere. EVERYWHERE. But I think I like your idea of the little step-up stool. I tried starving her into submission by not picking her up, but then she just ate the dog food!

        Reply

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