Keeping Cats Happy

Cats are lively, vibrant creatures who are very sensitive to their surroundings and the moods and attitudes of their people. A happy, well exercised cat is a wonderful companion. As with many things, paying attention to your cat's needs will not only add to both of your pleasures, but will also help prevent misbehavior.

Two of my angel kitties – Missy and Trikki – were absolute angels at home, but the poor vets and techs who met them wouldn't know it because while there they were total hellions. By planning ahead, and visualizing a positive outcome both for the drive and the actual visit itself, we got through it without needing an entire suit made of Kevlar. Okay we cheated and used falconer's gloves sometimes!

Some cat behavior is more immediately obvious, for example an inside cat being upset over seeing a cat in his yard. However, there are situations such as a sudden change from purring to biting that are perplexing to say the least. All aggression whether seemingly misdirected or redirected, is as a result of a perceived threat. When we get kitties from the shelter/pound, we don't always know their history. This can pose a challenge because in some cases, if the cat was hurt or otherwise threatened as a kitten, he may have learned that reacting in an aggressive manner would end the harassment. Even though he is now in a loving home, he might still react based on fear as that is instinctive to him.

 Why do cats scratch?

Scratching is not only pleasurable, it is also necessary for cats as it helps shed old layers from their claws to expose new sharper ones. When cats are outside, they scratch trees and stretch while they are doing so. Scratching is just as enjoyable an activity for indoor cats, and as it conditions their claws, scratching is beneficial for them. In addition, when cats scratch they leave behind their scent in that area. This is another form of marking behavior that is very natural to a cat.

Is your kitty bored? Getting into mischief? Overweight?

It is important for cats to have a stimulating environment to stay happy and healthy. We, as caregivers, can provide this by implementing some of the following tips.