As a cat owner, maybe you already know that cats—well, most of them—don’t like change. They like being in comfortable and familiar spaces, and anything new gives them anxiety. However, at some points in your life, you would probably have to move homes. When this happens, it is crucial that you prepare your cat for the relocation so it will be a stress-free move for him:
Before the Move
- Give your cat the opportunity to be familiar with his carrier so he won’t make a fuss when you put him in it on the actual moving day. Leave it open and place a bed for your cat in it. You may also leave a few treats in it in order to entice your cat inside the carrier. Gradually introduce the habit of feeding your cat inside his carrier. For instance, you may start by placing his food dish near the carrier at first and slowly work your way inside.
- While you’re packing, enclose your cat inside a quiet room far from all the noise and activity, which could possibly make him anxious. It might also be be a good idea to get him familiar with your moving boxes.
- Even while you’re busy with all the packing, try not to change your cat’s routine too much. Keep to his regular feeding and playing schedule. Give him the same amount of attention. You can use a feeder with a timer functionality to make sure that he eats at regular times.
On the Day of the Move
- Moving day is a busy day, and your family members and the moving crew will be going in and out of the house. To prevent your cat from getting anxious and dashing outside during this busy time, you can enclose him in a small, quiet space such as a bathroom with his bed, litter box, water, and food. Make sure you put a sign informing everyone to keep the door shut and to be silent as they pass that area to ensure that he really stays inside.
- While you are traveling, your cat is sure to get very anxious and scared. However, try to resist opening his carrier in order to comfort him as he might dash out. You should only open his carrier when you arrive at your destination.
After the Move
- Take your cat right away to a relatively quiet room inside your new house. Set up his food and water containers as well as his bed and litter box. Make this his home base for a few days while you and your family are busy unpacking. Keeping him in this quiet space for a few days will allow him to get used to the new environment gradually.
- When you are done with the unpacking and you and your family are mostly settled in your new house, begin to introduce your cat to your new home. Supervise him closely while he is exploring this unfamiliar environment.
You should make the relocation as stress-free as possible for your pet. Otherwise, you risk having your cat meow constantly and loudly, cry, hide, show aggression, and even attempt to escape from his new habitat.
Meow for now… Kristian
No one knows exactly why cats suffer from separation anxiety, defined as the general dislike for being left alone. What is known, however, is that it is triggered when the owner is away, is about to go away, or is separated from him. It can also happen if kitty cat is separated from another pet (not necessarily another cat) that he shares a strong bond with.
Owners can determine if their beloved felines really have separation anxiety by checking for the following signs:
- Extreme attachment to owner such that he follows the owner across rooms.
- Distress as owner prepares to leave home, also called pre-departure anxiety.
- Vocalisation of distress (moaning, meowing, and crying) after owner leaves.
- The affected cat becomes too anxious to consume food when left on his own.
- Inappropriate elimination of faeces and urine. Since anxiety is a source of stress, and stress causes recurrent cystitis to develop, it’s important for owners to check for the development of the disorder for as long as separation anxiety is still an issue with their pets. Owners can check for recurrent cystitis by checking if the cat urinates too little and too often, and if he urinates outside the litter tray.
- Vomiting when the owner is away.
- Excessive grooming (What begins as displacement behaviour eventually leads to compulsive grooming if left unchecked.)
- Demonstration of destructive behaviour among certain afflicted cats. Door edges are clawed and scratched as a way of trying to escape confinement.
- Excessive greeting behaviour.
How should owners deal with feline separation anxiety?
Enrich His Environment
To ensure that kitty’s behaviour isn’t because of underlying physical issues, an owner’s best course of action is to first seek a veterinarian’s opinion. If no medical issues are found, enriching the environment of the cat should help minimise the severity of the problem.
Ways to Enrich a Cat’s Environment
- Positioning climbing frames in such a way that kitty can see what the outside world looks like.
- Scratching posts
- Bird feeders that are visible from one window that kitty can access.
- Mobile toys that have catnip.
- Placing that day’s kibble ration inside a food toy.
- Leaving the TV or radio on.
- Environmental pheromone therapy products can help in reducing anxiety, particularly when used along with any natural supplement that’s available in the market.
Change Normal Routine before Departure
Owners can also make sure that the time surrounding departure is not that stressful for their pet cats by changing their normal routine. One change that should work is ignoring kitty before leaving and upon coming home. The removal of attention causes stress. Therefore, full focus on kitty by the owner as long as the latter is present actually causes the problem to worsen instead of helping to make the feline feel secure.
When to Consult the Vet
If none of the above work, or if the anxiety persists, owners should consult with the veterinarian again. Special medication for his condition or behavioural therapy may be recommended for kitty cat, depending on what the veterinarian thinks is more appropriate. For the latter solution, the owner may be referred to an animal behaviourist he knows can handle that pet’s case.
Meow for now… Kristian
Our feline friends are just as likely to suffer from dental diseases as their humans. In fact, dental disease is one of the most common health problems affecting cats. It can cause not only mouth and tooth pain but can also lead to more serious issues like kidney problems and heart conditions.
When to Start a Good Dental Habit
So when is the right time to start thinking about dental care for cats? Most animal health experts would tell you that the earlier you start, the better. A practically nonexistent toothbrushing routine is said to be the cause of gum and tooth disease even in small animals like cats, and if you wait until they’re much older, the problem may have already started without you even being aware of it. Thus, it is best to start brushing their teeth at a young age.
There’s another advantage to introducing your kittens to regular dental habits at an an early stage in their life: this allows them to get used to the process, so they won’t be that intimidated anymore with what will have been a normal, everyday routine to them.
It helps if you take note of the following tips that will make the process of everyday brushing easier for you and your feline friend.
Regular Brushing Schedule
Get your kitten used to having his mouth and teeth gently handled on a regular basis. You can brush a fingertip applicator across his teeth so he can get used to the feel and taste of being brushed. But note that you should never brush milk teeth. When he is teething, your cat will have sore gums, and brushing his teeth at this stage will only teach him to think that brushing is painful. Have your kitten checked by your veterinarian first, and when your vet gives you the go signal, that’s when you start on your kitten’s brushing routine.
Orient yourself with a variety of toothbrushing styles that you can use on cats and choose the style that your kitten is most comfortable with. Also, make sure that you use a toothpaste made specially for cats as the made-for-humans kind can prove toxic to them.
Regular Visit to Your Vet
Get your cat’s teeth regularly checked by your veterinarian. These dental checkups should occur every six to twelve months, although your cat will need to undergo more frequent and more thorough examinations if he ever develops dental disease.
Consider His Diet
Consider your kitten’s everyday diet as what he puts into his mouth and chews is just as important as maintaining a regular brushing routine. Dental chews and specially formulated dry food diets will also help to prevent gum and tooth disease.
Look Out for Danger Signs of Dental Disease
Look out for danger signs of dental disease, some of which will include drooling, tartar, bad breath, red gums, and an inability or a refusal to eat. But take note that cats can also be great pretenders—that is, they can show no indications of dental disease even when they’re already in great pain. This again reiterates the importance of regular visits to your veterinarian.
In order to prevent serious dental health issues in your kitten, it is crucial that you practice the habit of checking him regularly for any untoward changes or indications of problems. Be vigilant, as your cat won’t be able to tell you if he’s in a lot of pain or is feeling unwell.
Meow for now… Kristian
If you wish to make sure that your kitten gets just the right amount of exercise, there are a few things you need to know about. You need to know why kitty needs to get moving every now and then, the right amount of workout time kitty needs, as well as the right way to play with your feline companion.
Why Kitty Needs Exercise
Your pet, in general, needs to be active. By being active, his body weight stays at a healthy level, his muscles are always strong and toned, and his mind stays active and alert for anything. In addition, exercise is a fun way to bond with him.
The Amount of Exercise Time a Cat Needs
It’s important that a cat engage in a few sessions of physical activity each day, with each session lasting for up to 15 minutes. Fortunately, with kittens and young cats, they will usually invite you to play; and if they won’t invite you to play, they will look for their own sources of entertainment.
But as they grow older, they can be quite tougher to play with. The same is true if they have become overweight. This is because both overweight and older cats do not have enough endurance for long periods of play.
This does not mean that older and overweight kitties alike will no longer benefit from playtime and exercise. To ensure this, a number of short activities need to be done several times in a day. In the case of the overweight kitties in particular, you should start with a few sessions each day, with each section lasting only a few minutes. To gain the most benefit from this activity, determine activities the kitty likes and formulate variations of that activity. In no time, you will notice that he will spend more time playing with you.
Playing with Your Kitty
The best games to play with your kitty are those which stimulate his or her hunting instincts. One amazing example of a game that stimulates hunting instincts is the playing of a tiny remote-controlled toy mouse. When using this toy, make sure to mimic a mouse’s movements as best as you can.
Aside from playing with a toy mouse, your beloved feline can also play with a feather toy, a decent bird replica. If you have chosen this kind of toy, make sure to move the string or stick to mimic the way a wounded bird moves.
The third toy you can use for mock-hunting is a length of yarn or thick ribbon. Wiggling it on the floor is more than enough to get the pet to play with it.
Want something you can use even from far away? Get a laser pointer! To many felines, the tiny dot is a small bug, so they will never stop chasing it as long as it moves. While very easy to use, take care not to point the dot straight to his eyes or at heights that may be dangerous to him, to others, and important objects.
As demonstrated in a popular “kitty collection” game on Android, there are many other toys you can use for games with your pet. Boxes, balls, scratching posts, and cat trees are decent options you can also consider in addition to the above. There’s no need to make an elaborate home setup, but you can opt to have one made for you if you have enough space or have at least six cats living with you.
Meow for now… Kristian
Because cats aren’t as social as dogs, many people believe that they are less trainable compared to the latter. But that isn’t the case. They do respond to training—just in a different way.
So how do you go about training your cat?
Start him young.
This is the best stage to start training them as they don’t have that many “life experiences” yet. This is also a great time to begin training as they are not as hard-set when it comes to their habits. For this reason, it’s safe to say that this is the stage when you should introduce them to new situations. When doing so, act in a matter-of-fact manner as this will encourage them to be fearless when facing similar situations in the future.
Make an effort to understand him.
When training your kitten, the first thing you need to do is to get a good idea of who and what he is. Unlike dogs, cats are more independent; thus, they aren’t inclined to be as needy for attention and praise as dogs. However, they might not be that easy to motivate. For this reason, you need to have a lot of patience and creativity in training them. Rewarding your kitten with a lot of special treats that he is sure to appreciate is a good tactic you might want to employ.
Say his name.
Get him familiar with his own name as early as possible. For instance, when you’re feeding or lovingly petting him, you could call his name in a gentle manner. However, you should never yell out your pet’s name when you are angry with them. This way, he learns to associate his name with positive things and will come running to you whenever you call his name.
Let him scratch!
Cats in general feel a natural urge to scratch, so you shouldn’t suppress what comes ingrained to them. But so that they don’t destroy your precious furniture, it might be a good idea to provide your kitten with his own personal scratching post. Guide his paws along the post (you might even put catnip on it to encourage him), and in time, he will learn to do this on his own.
Clean his litter box regularly.
One common complaint many cat owners have is that their pets don’t use their litter boxes. But as a pet owner yourself, you might want to consider your cat’s point of view as to why he doesn’t like using his box. For instance, it might be unclean or in an inconvenient location. Make it a habit to remove dirty litter at least once a day and keep his box in an area of the house that is free from dirt, noise, and human traffic. If you give your cat more reasons to use his litter box, you will have an easier time training him to use it regularly.
There’s another reason why you must train your cats while they’re still young: this is one of the best ways to build up the bond between you and your pet while the latter is growing up. So make sure to dedicate time and energy to do all the above tips as necessary!
Meow for now… Kristian