How To Have A Happy Cat
Here are a couple of cat issues that your cantankerous cat lady regards as important. My views are strong, and may not be to your liking. Whatever your opinion, please tell me in the “comments” section below.
How do you feel about declawing?
Let’s jump right into this discussion. How do you feel about declawing? Oh, yes, folks who get their babies declawed have their reasons for doing so. I’ve listed a couple below:
1) Your cat won’t ruin the furniture or the rugs
2) Your small children or other pets are protected from being scratched
3) The cat can’t catch birds
Are there any other reasons to perform this invasive procedure? I think not. If #1 or #2 are your reasons, perhaps after you read this article you will rethink your position. Would you remove the fingernails and toenails of your human babies? No? Then why would you inflict this painful procedure on an innocent cat? Both the surgery and the recovery are painful. There are 25 countries who have made claw removal illegal because they consider it inhumane and abusive.
Yes, there is reason #3. Without claws, cats have a hard time catching birds. I have to agree that this is the one behavior of cats that I do not appreciate. However, they are hard-wired to kill birds — they can’t help it. They are like the avid fisherman who has to get his line in the water to see if he can catch a fish. This behavior often seems to be hard-wired into the human. They must fish, just as your cat must catch birds.
However, with patient and persistent repetition, you can get the idea across to the cat that you don’t like him to kill birds. It’s one case where we must police the cat’s actions whenever possible. I’ve managed some success in teaching my cats that birds are a no-no, though there are occasional slip-ups. I simply do my best to teach the cat to moderate its behavior, and then accept the outcome.
What are the procedures for declawing?
The removal procedure is done in one of two ways. Either the nails are removed, or the tendons are cut, leaving the nails intact. In this second method, besides cutting the tendons, the vet also removes the first toe. Though there is a faster recovery time and the process is less invasive, it is still painful, and leads to possible arthritis.
In the nail-removal procedure, basically the cat’s toes are amputated at the first joint. As your cat walks on his toes, his way of moving is altered, and can cause backaches.
Removal of the claws also removes the cat’s main means of defense and his most important tool for catching rats, mice, snakes, and other vermin. This nail removal can alter your cat’s behavior, understandably. Because it hurts to scratch in his litter box, he may find corners of the house to use instead of his box. Also, he knows who took him to the vet that did this horrendous thing to him. Don’t be surprised if he starts biting you. He is confused, frightened, hurting, and his absolute trust in you has been damaged because of this traumatic experience.
There is a much better way to take care of his claws. Buy a pair of clippers from your vet, and clip those nails regularly. Or, make “cat mitts” of soft cloth that cover those claws.
Do you want to save your furniture or your rug?
Keep one or two good scratching posts in the house for him to use. My cats always used them with great enthusiasm. When the posts got too battered, I replaced them. The carpet ones are nice, but I prefer sisal, because it seems to last longer. The one pictured is a nice sisal post from Amazon.
(Please note: As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Are you concerned that your cat will scratch your baby? Come on — the cat recognizes that the infant is a small version of you. If you are worried about cat-infant contact, keep the cat in a room where he doesn’t have access to the baby unless you are present. On the other hand, at times a cat will “adopt” the baby, assuming the role of nurse to his “sibling.”
One reason cats scratch children is because the parent does not teach the child to respect the cat. The animal is not a stuffed toy. He is another being, entrusted to your care. Too often I have seen children being allowed to mistreat an animal or harass it, just because they have never been taught how to behave toward this creature. They learn cruelty toward small animals because they are allowed to behave, unknowingly in a cruel way. Teach your children, parents!
Should you let your cat outdoors?
Another way to have a happy cat is to allow him outside, if he is hell-bent on escaping to the Big World. Letting him out also gives him the opportunity to sharpen his claws on trees or posts. My house has 4 x 4 posts supporting a deck roof in front of the house.
One of these is well-marked from my cat’s efforts to saw it down with his claws.
Of course, at times there are reasons why you don’t want to let him out, and some of them are quite valid. It depends on where you live. If you live in a big city, the number of dangers the cat might face may outweigh catering to his desire to escape your living quarters. In this case, you can try teaching him to accept a leash. Good luck! With some cats it works, and others will never accept a leash. Even a collar can be dangerous, but in a settled area, you often have to put one on him so you can attach his rabies or ID tags. If you insist that he wear one, make it one of those break-free collars that will come off if he gets it caught on something.
It is true that there are many dangers for the cat who ventures outside. There are lots of cars, and he won’t fit between the tires and the pavement. I once knew of a cat who got under the car’s hood, and was killed when the owner, not knowing the cat was there, started the engine.
Outside, he is more exposed to illnesses or toxic substances. If you are going to let him out, make sure his vaccinations are all up-to-date. If he goes missing, have the neighbors check their out-buildings in case he got locked in one of them. Besides vaccinations, get him checked regularly for fleas, ticks, or worms. To keep him closer to home and to avoid the danger of fights with other cats, have the cat neutered or spayed. This is one surgical procedure I am in favor of — after all, I have been spayed and have suffered no ill effects.
By spaying or neutering, you are acting responsibly by reducing the number of kittens that will come into the world, unwanted, and perhaps facing the fate of being returned to Cat Heaven as soon as they are born. It is more humane, I believe, to spay or neuter your animal.
Some cats do not want out. Therefore, keep them in and keep them happy. Play with them regularly, to insure they get sufficient exercise. Other cats are determined to leave the house, and find many ways to sneak through the open door. I believe these cats should be allowed to go out if your home is in a less-populated area. Install a cat door and establish hours when it will be open. My cats were allowed out after breakfast. I fed them supper around 4:00 pm, so they came home for their meal and then were in for the night.
How can you keep your cat inside and happy?
Some cat owners feel it necessary to protect the cat from the dangers of the outside world, and, in truth, the cat has a better chance of living a long life if you keep him in. However, if you do so, I feel there are things you need to do to keep your cat happy with confinement. I have two friends who keep their cats in, but also do a number of things to keep the animal active and contented.
First of all, they have really bonded with their cats. The animals get lots of attention, so they know they are part of the family. The cats have a variety of toys to play with, and new ones are introduced from time to time. They also get their quota of catnip. They have a carpet-covered structure that is quite tall, with “caves” and places to scratch and climb.
The owners just recently acquired a new young cat, and they periodically put him in his carrier and take him to a friend’s house. Here the cat gets the chance to meet a new person, and during the visit, he has a new space to explore.
In one of their homes, they had a screened porch so the cats could at least enjoy the smells and the sight of the outdoors. One house provided them with walls they could climb because of a pattern of vertical boards on the wall. Somewhere the owners found a food dish that was formed in a labyrinth, so the cat had to winkle his food out of the passageways. Thus, meal-time was almost like going on a hunt.
Their cats went for car rides, which they learned to enjoy. My friend said she felt it really important to have more than one animal if they were to be kept inside. These people always have two cats. Thus, the cats have a companion who shares their fine quarters. With such caring attendants, they are content to stay inside.
My personal “take” on the indoor-outdoor dilemma
Ask yourself: Are you keeping your cat in out of concern for his safety or for more selfish reasons? If you live in a place that is more rural, let your cat run free! Of course, you might worry about him at times when he is out, but think of the cat and make him a happy, contented feline. Centuries ago, his ancestors were wild animals. Perhaps some of that wildness is still in his DNA. Be willing to accept that something bad could happen to him, but if his life is much happier because he has freedom, give him freedom!
Unless I lived in a place where the cat’s absence from home could be extremely dangerous to him, I have always let my cats out. Their happiness was too important to me to do otherwise. It might have to do with my own attitude of desiring freedom and space to roam. I don’t want my freedom curtailed, so am happy to give my cat the same consideration.
If you wish to know how to have a happy cat, perhaps these ideas will give you some food for thought. Please let me know your feelings about the subject. Share with my readers. If you want to research more thoroughly, there are many good articles online addressing these subjects. Love that critter, keep him safe, but keep him happy, too.