At the close of each year, I write down a list of ambitious resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more and shop more wisely. More kale and less pie. More time spent in a kickboxing class and less time stretched out on the sofa. More money spent on healthy groceries and less doled out for sugary lattes.
Who am I trying to kid? When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, my batting average is much higher for those that enable me to bring out the best in my BFF: best feline friend, Casey.
So, stop beating yourself up attempting to achieve impossible resolutions and start focusing on resolving to make 2016 the year for YOUR cat. Felines are not shy about declaring what they want. I know my orange tabby certainly makes it clear when he wants to eat, wants to be petted and wants me to fluff up the throw blanket so he can catnap on the couch.
Here are 10 New Year’s Resolutions that may pump up the purr in your cat.
1. Oust the odor from the litter box.
No cat wants a stinky bathroom. And, thanks to a new generation of litters and litter boxes, we humans have run out of excuses when it comes to maintaining clean litter boxes. So here’s the scoop: scoop daily. Your cat will be less apt to leave you a “deposit” on your pillow.
2. Make vet visits less scary.
The veterinary clinic doesn’t need to be a house of horror for your cat. One way to make the clinic less frightening is to make the necessary annual exams more feline-friendly. Bring a thick towel and place it on the stainless steel exam table to provide more comfort — and less slipping — for your cat. Schedule appointments during quiet times, when possible, and consider taking your cat to a feline-only practice void of any canine glares or growls.
3. Schedule daily playtime with your cat.
Spending five to 10 minutes a day in purposeful play with your cat goes a long way toward curbing the destructive behavior often sparked by boredom. Casey revels in having me toss a paper wad down the hallway or wiggling a feather wand toy like an orchestra conductor for him to stalk, leap and pounce. Playtime gets your cat mentally stimulated while slipping in some exercise.
4. Introduce your cat to carriers and harnesses.
While most cats spend the majority of time indoors, they do need to travel by car for vet visits and need safe access to the outdoors. Position a cat carrier in an area of your home where your cat spends a lot of time. Toss in treats to condition your cat to go in and out of the opened carrier. Then close the carrier for a few seconds with your cat inside and gradually increase the time he spends inside it. This approach conditions your cat to regard the carrier as a safe refuge. Do the same with a harness and leash – allow your cat to investigate these items before fitting them on him. Eventually, the two of you can enjoy safe exploration of the outdoors.
5. Avoid fat cat syndrome.
Overweight or obese cats are at greater risk for a host of health conditions, including arthritis and diabetes, so strive to keep your cat at a healthy weight. Cats fare best when they are served two or three meals a day and not allowed to graze all day from a bowl overflowing with kibble. And once a week, tap your cat’s inner hunter by hiding pieces of his food for one meal in a room to sniff and find.
6. Factor your cat’s needs into your family budget.
On average, the annual cost for food, litter, toys, veterinary care, grooming supplies and other items is about $600 — and that does not include emergency veterinary fees. Consider purchasing pet insurance or setting up a savings account specifically for your cat’s care that you contribute to monthly.
7. Cater to your cat with functional furnishings.
Most cats spend their lives indoors. Fortunately, there is a feline décor movement underfoot that includes providing catios (think enclosed patios for cats), cat trees (like jungle gyms for felines) and staggered, sturdy shelves that allow cats to walk and nest on walls.
8. Let your cat be a nosy Nellie.
Position a cat scratching post or deck out a window sill with a comfy perch so your cat can watch what’s going on in the neighborhood and “stalk” birds and squirrels separated only by a window pane.
9. Love your cat, but without being such a big ‘ol human about it.
Cats are not fans of bear hugs or rapid head pats. Show genuine affection by treating your relaxed cat to a therapeutic head to tail body massage. And instead of chasing after your cat to hoist him on your lap, try letting him come to you. The best way is to sit still and allow him the time to circle and get in the right position before plopping down on your lap.
10. Engage in cat chat.
Cats are far more vocal in their wants and needs than dogs. Some breeds, like the Siamese, even have reputations for being terrific talkers. Invest the time to decipher your cat’s different vocalizations and try mimicking those sounds. Even if you don’t make sense, your cat may appreciate your efforts to converse.
Got a favorite New Year’s resolution you like to share with cat lovers? Share it here. May you and your cat enjoy a meow-va-lous 2016 from Casey and me!