10 Things Not to Do to Your Cat
Hopefully no-one deliberately makes life stressful for their cat. But not everything that stresses a cat is obvious. Indeed, for the caring cat guardian who wants their fur-friend to lead the best life possible, it’s as well to know what NOT to do so at to avoid accidental distress.
Some things are more obvious than others, but here at 10 things not to do to your cat because it makes them unhappy, causes unnecessary discomfort, or makes life more difficult for you. This isn’t a comprehensive list, and indeed, if you have suggestions then please share them by leaving a comment.
#1: Punish your Cat
The cat jumps on the kitchen counter and you yell at her.
Oh no! What you just did was teach the cat not to jump on the counter when you’re there. She’s still every bit as likely to pop up when you’re at work.
Cats link punishment to the person, rather than the action, so there’s a strong chance of damaging the bond between cat and guardian without actually solving the problem. Worse than this, yelling at the cat is a great source of stress. And what do cats do when they’re stressed? Pee in the wrong places! No great.
Instead, use other strategies to prevent bad habits and if it’s essential to punish (for the cat’s own safety) use an “Act of God” such as stacked up tin cans that will tumble down when the cat jumps on the counter.
#2: Not Microchip your Cat
OK, your cat stays strictly inside, so why does she need a chip?
To answer this, imagine it’s a cold, wet winter’s night. While you bring the groceries in from the car, the cat slips out of the door and into the darkness. Because she’s never been outdoors before, she has no idea where she is. Any chance of retracing the scent on her paws is washed away by the rain. This cat is going to get lost….
Now imagine she’s picked up and sent to a shelter. She has no microchip. It’s up to you to find her. However, with a chip it’s a simple matter to scan her, look up the number in the register, and the shelter to give you a call.
#3: Share Litter Trays
If you have more than one cat, then don’t expect them to share trays. Cats are very private about their toileting and some even pre-fur a separate tray for solid and liquid. Sharing a tray with another cat means compromising on strong territorial markers such as scent and for all but the most chilled cats this means stress.
In addition, keep those trays clean. No-one wants to use a dirty toilet, especially a cat. The result could be a cat that poops outside the box as a dirty protest. If your schedule makes it hard to poop scoop and refresh a couple of times a day, then consider an automatic, self-cleaning litter tray.
Cats need plenty of mental stimulation, and for an indoor cat it’s up to you to provide it. Just because cats like to sleep, doesn’t mean they don’t want to be amused. Think of them like sprinters, who like brief spurts of activity punctuated by rest and recovery.
Get into the habit of playing with your cat for a few minutes, two or three times a day. Provide places where they can perch, such as a tall cat tower to look through a window and watch the world go by. Leave the TV on while you’re out, tuned to a wildlife channel. Provide toys, especially those containing catnip, and rotate them round so there’s always something fresh and interesting to catch kitty’s attention.
#5: Declaw your Cat
This involves amputating the top of each toe. Take a look at your fingers. Now imagine how painful and difficult life would be if you had the end of each finger to the top joint amputated.
Please, just don’t declaw your cat.
If you have a scratching and clawing problem in the house, then address it by other means. This includes providing plenty of mental stimulation, and giving the cat plenty of opportunities to scratch in an appropriate way.
To do this decide if you cat prefers to scratch horizontal or vertical surface, and chose scratch posts with the same orientation. Make sure the posts are tall and sturdy, so the cat can really reach up and rake down. Provide several posts, and place them at key locations such as entrances and exits, and next to the cat’s bed.
#6: Overfeed your Cat
Carrying too much weight shortens your cat’s life. There’s a strong link between obesity and diabetes in cats, plus problems such as joint disease, liver problems, and heart troubles.
Don’t overindulge your cat, and consider using activity or puzzle feeders to get them moving around and provide mental stimulation.
#7: Leave your Cat Entire
Even indoor cats should be desexed. There are lots of reasons for this, not least of which is if they did escape (and cats looking for a mate can be very resourceful) they could add to the cat population problem by reproducing. Also, those raging hormones make the cat more likely to get into a fight, which in turn could lead to picking up a serious disease such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Other reasons to act include the unpleasant smell of Tom cat urine, and their increased likelihood of spraying to territory mark. It saves the females the stress of coming into heat every three weeks, and it eliminates the risk of a serious womb infection called a pyometra.
#8: Ignore Dental Health
Dental disease is frighteningly common, even from the age of 2 – 3 years. By ignoring dental health you risk the cat needing an anesthetic in later life, when their body is least able to cope.
Instead, start brushing your cat’s teeth or consider alternatives such as food or water additives, dental hygiene diets, or chews with a beneficial cleaning action.
#9: Not Insure the Cat
Should your cat become ill, avoid making treatment options for your cat based on what you can afford, but rather on what’s best for the cat. When you insure your pet, you are freed from the confines of what you have in the bank, and can decide on therapy based on professional recommendation.
#10: Back a Cat into a Corner
Most cases of aggression in the cat are the result of the cat feeling anxious, stressed, or trapped. Cats want to avoid confrontation, but if backed into a corner with no escape root, then they are liable to lash out in order to protect themselves.
Know this basic fact about cat psychology and always leave an escape route for your cat so she can quit the room if she so wishes.
So there we have it, 10 tips to avoid so that both you and your cat stand a great chance of living in purr-fect harmony for many years to come. Do you have suggestions to add? Please leave a comment.
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