Put in Time with Cats

Most cat behavior concerns, aka "My Cat From Hell" cases, come from a lack of interaction.

The morning that Summer ran into the bathroom mirror was when I realized she needed to get out more. I was standing there, brushing my teeth and she was racing around like a maniac, then without warning, she leapt from behind, cleared the bathroom sink and wham! Went head on into the mirror. Undaunted – and head apparently undented – she jumped down and continued to race through the house, like she had been doing for several days.

Many people who live with cats don’t realize how much interaction and daily stimulation they need. They are not really low maintenance pets, and the fact that many of them will sleep all day is deceiving. Yes, cats sleep nearly twice as much as we humans do as a rule, but unless you are interacting with your cat and playing with her on a daily basis, some of it is boredom. And a cat like Summer, who is an active breed (Somali), and who is used to going out, is not going to sleep the day away. She is going to burn off all that restless energy in one way or another.

Often, young cats who don’t get enough attention get in trouble with their human companions. Like children of neglectful parents, they act out, cause trouble and become delinquents. I’ve seen it several times on episodes of Jackson Galaxy’s “My Cat From Hell” — a cat is supposedly “crazy” and “out of control,” then Jackson comes in and teaches the cat’s people to play with him, and uses training sessions to get the cat to behave better. And what a surprise, it works! It works because the cat was starved for companionship and enrichment.

It has been a slow month here, with no local or semi-local cat shows for Summer, and no fun trips to pet conferences. She has been stuck at home and bored. I’ve taken her to the pet store a couple of times, but that’s about it. Mostly I’ve been glued to my desk working on a couple of new projects for my publishing company, along with my regular assignments and blogging. The new fishing pole-style toy that Summer got recently has been sitting on top of a cabinet, unused. We’re both in a rut, and I’m just lucky that she hasn’t started knocking things over or trying to dash out of the house or any of the other annoying behaviors neglected cats do.

This is a reminder, to myself as much as to you, that cats need a little action and stimulation, no matter their age, and no matter how lazy they seem. Pull out the toys or the catnip. Does your cat enjoy brushing? Do it. Can you turn giving treats into a training or play session? Toss the treats across the room and let your cats chase after them, or teach them to sit up for a treat. Pull out the wand toy daily. If your cat longs for the outdoors but you want to keep him safe, harness and leash train him – then take him out several times a week. Schedule “cat time” into your daily life. It’s enrichment for you too.

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