If you read my post last week, “15 Tips to Make Your Home Cat-Friendly”, then you know that cats are a lot of work! They have strong likes and dislikes, and won’t accept any substitutes. But this week I wanted to show the opposite side of the coin. Some things that we think cats need they really do not. I don’t know how these misconceptions were started, but today we’re going to set them straight.
Let’s begin, shall we?
1. Cat Bed
Most cats don’t want a cat bed. Instead, they prefer to share the bed or the sofa with you. Sometimes Fluffy will sleep on the carpet. Incredibly, you might even find her snoozing on a wood table. This makes no sense to us humans — tables are hard! Then again, such is the enigma of the cat.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t buy a bed; it just might be a waste of money to do so.
Everyone knows cats love catnip, but no one knows why. (Believe me, I’ve researched it). We have a vague idea that it has something to do with pheromones, but that’s all we know. And until we know more about this substance we are giving our cats, I would urge restraint. I don’t have any studies to back this up, but common sense says that you don’t need to soak every toy in catnip, don’t need to pass out catnip to Fluffy every day, etc. All I’m saying is this: let catnip be an occasional treat, not a daily staple.
3. Hiding places
For the post I wrote last week, I did some research, and in my reading, I discovered a disturbing trend. Many sites recommend that you give your cat a hiding place. Why would you want your cat to hide? I thought. Cats only hide when they are scared.
Indeed, if your cat spends most of her time under the bed or hidden in the closet, then you have a problem on your hands. This type of cat certainly doesn’t need more hiding places! You must challenge this type of cat, or else she will never improve. Gradually block off her hiding spots. Next you can build up her confidence by supplying high perches and a vigorous playtime. Finally, give her a few new places to hide in the form of cat cubes or cat tents; place them in busy rooms, such as the kitchen or the living room.
The goal is this: your cat will feel the need to hide less. And when she does hide, it will only be for a short time while she builds up her confidence. Then, she re-emerges, ready to engage the world once more!
4. A Friend
Does Fluffy need a companion? Another cat to keep her from getting lonely while the humans are off at work or school? The answer might surprise you: she probably does not. Although some cats suffer from separation anxiety, most do not, and certainly not to the extent that dogs do. Granted, some cats are more social than others; but in general, cats are independent creatures. They don’t mind being alone from 9 to 5. That’s when they sleep anyway. If you give Fluffy attention in the morning before you leave for work, and if you provide her with some more attention in the evening before you go to sleep, then she will probably be content. Working long hours or having to travel often are exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, cats don’t need a friend.
In fact, bringing another cat home frequently leads to fights and increased stress for Fluffy. Yes, 2 cats can learn to get along, but it will take extra work on your part. Cats are territorial by nature, so sharing isn’t easy for them. It must be taught.
Basically, if you want to get another cat, that’s fine. But be honest with yourself; you probably want another cat more than Fluffy does.
Most adult cats do like milk, but it doesn’t like them. The majority of felines lose the ability to digest the sugars in milk as they grow up. Once kittens are weaned off their mother’s milk, their bodies stop producing the enzyme needed to digest milk. So milk can actually give cats stomach aches, bloating and diarrhea.
6. Cat Door
If your kitty is an indoor-outdoor cat, then a cat door is the perfect solution! Right? Well, not quite. Cat doors cause felines a lot of anxiety. As previously mentioned, cats are territorial creatures. Furthermore, anything can come through a cat door — another cat could slip inside, as could a possum or a little dog, and a big dog could jam his head through. In short, cats hate cat doors because any invader could come barging in at any time. And I’m sure humans aren’t excited by the idea of entering the kitchen for a midnight snack… and spotting a possum on the linoleum!
Perhaps a cat door is a necessary evil for households with indoor-outdoor cats. Or perhaps not. If a member of your family is home often, then consider having him (or her) just open the door for the cat. In an ideal world, that’s exactly what you would do.
7. Outdoor Access
Now, this is a controversial topic among cat lovers, so I’ll try to handle this delicately. Many people believe that cats need to be allowed outside. Allowing them the freedom to explore makes cats happy, they say. Respectfully, I disagree. The outdoors is fraught with dangers — cars, dogs, coyotes, other cats, diseases, parasites, and more. I prefer to keep my cat indoors, where she won’t get hurt.
This is almost like the classic ‘freedom vs safety’ debate that many adult children must hash out with their aging parents.
“Dad, I don’t think you should drive anymore. It’s not safe.”
“How dare you! I’m not giving up my freedom!”
Fortunately, with cats, there is a way to satisfy both requirements. You can keep Fluffy both happy and safe. Not letting her roam free will keep her safe. As for keeping her happy, you can do 1 of 3 things (or all 3, if possible):
1. You can take your cat on walks. Yes, this is actually possible. No, it’s not easy to leash train your cat, but the results will be incredibly rewarding for the both of you.
2. You can build a cat-safe enclosure in your backyard.
3. You can enrich her indoor environment. For example, you could build her a cat super highway. You could play with her every day, or let her try out new toys and food. Try rearranging the furniture and letting her explore her “new” environment.
So why not give it a try? My indoor-only cat, Queen Autumn the 1st, couldn’t be happier.
That said, I have many friends and relatives who let their cats outside. And while I don’t agree with their decision, I respect it. After all, in the end, every one of us is doing the exact same thing: trying our best to make our cats happy.
So until next time: stay fuzzy, my friends!
You might also like to read the twin sister to this post — “15 Tips to Make Your Home Cat-Friendly”. Enjoy!