September is Happy Cat Month, dedicated to finding ways to keep our feline friends happy, healthy and purring all year long.
In honor of Happy Cat Month, the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, has released a list of the top 10 ways cat owners can keep their pets happy:
1. Provide toys. One of the easiest ways to make a cat happy is with a new toy. Every cat has a preference as to what type of toy it likes best, and experimenting with different kinds will be fun for both you and your cat.
2. Train together. Cats are smart and can be trained to do fun tricks–the mental and physical stimulation is great for felines. Teaching your cat to sit, for example, is easy, and training your cat to sit on stools instead of counters will make you and your cat much happier. An added bonus is that training will strengthen the bond between you and your feline buddy.
3. Work for food. Feline obesity is a huge problem, and one way to combat it is to make cats work for their food. Food toys are available to channel a cat’s natural hunting instincts. The toy releases kibble in small amounts. Another option is to hide a cat’s food in different places so that they have to find it. Working for food makes a cat happy because it’s great physical and mental exercise.
4. Get your cat acclimated to the carrier. Many cat owners find that the worst part about taking their cat anywhere is getting it into the carrier. The time to work with your cat on making their carrier seem like a safe, secure and inviting place to be is prior to veterinary visits or family vacations – not when you’re ready to get into the car.
5. Visit the veterinarian. Healthy cats are happy cats. While some owners may dread a trip to the veterinarian with their cat, our practice is cat friendly and will gladly show leery owners how pleasant a trip to the veterinarian can be.
6. Microchip your cat. In addition to a collar and identification tag, owners should ask their veterinarian about microchipping their feline friend. If a cat ever escapes or gets lost, having this type of permanent ID will make a reunion between you and your pet much more likely.
7. Go outside (appropriately). Yes! There are ways owners can safely take their indoor cats outside to allow them to broaden their horizons. Cats can be walked on a leash with a harness or confined in a special outdoor area—always under supervision, of course—so they can periodically and safely experience the world outside their window.
8. Scratch the surface. Cats should have places they are allowed to stretch and care for their claws. Scratching is an important aspect of feline behavior. Providing a long and sturdy scratching post in a vertical, horizontal or angled position is a good way to keep your cat happy … and your sofa, too!
9. Provide preventive medications. No one likes fleas, ticks, mites or heartworms, especially your cat. Even if your cat is kept strictly indoors, they can still be attacked by these little creepy creatures. Talk with your veterinarian about the best preventive plan for your cat. A parasite-free cat is a happy cat—and preventive care will keep your family healthier, too.
10. Think about getting another cat. Cats are social animals, so you might want to consider visiting the shelter and adopting a best buddy for your current kitty. Cats love to play, and a playmate will make them happy—provided they are properly introduced and have the right places to eat, hide, play and go the bathroom. Visit the community animal shelter and see what feline friends they have to offer.
“Studies have shown that having a cat live with you can have many benefits for your health, both physical and mental, so why not give a little back to your favorite furry friend during Happy Cat Month,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of CATalyst Council. “Most cats just want a home with a comfy couch they can curl up on and a loving owner to stroke their fur and massage their head. During Happy Cat Month, CATalyst Council encourages people without a cat to consider adopting one from their local shelter. If you already have one, how about adding a play mate? Too many wonderful cats are sitting in shelters all over the country waiting for someone to give them a forever home. And last but not least, use some of these 10 tips to spoil your cat a little more than usual during this special month.”