Everyone who meets me in person remarks on what a nice, well-behaved cat I am. And that is no accident. My human worked hard, sometimes pushing aside her own instinctual (but wrong) impulses, to bring out the best in me. But bringing out the best in your own cat doesn’t have to be a big deal. Most of you aren’t going to be flying your kitty cross country to do meet and greets, or perform in instructional videos. You just want your cat to live her life to the fullest, whatever that means to her. Here are some tips that I hope you will find helpful.
Take note of your cat’s strongest personality traits and talents
Like people, cats are all different characters, and they are better at some things than others. Is your cat naturally friendly or shy? Curious or timid? Is she smart? Food motivated? What are her favorite toys? The better you know your cat, the more you can offer her the kind of enrichment that will benefit her.
Create a home environment that is stimulating to your cat
Once you understand what motivates your cat — the things she enjoys doing, the things she dislikes, her favorite spots — you can make your home, well, homier for her. This includes figuring out why she does the things that you don’t like. For example, is she leaping up on the China cabinet? This tells you a few things: 1) she likes getting up in high places, 2) she may also like the attention, if you have a strong reaction every time she does it, and 3) that particular spot is attractive to her for some reason that may be in addition to it being up high. Once you figure out her motivations, you can go about creating an alternate, safer (and maybe even more appealing) way for her to get satisfaction.
Create fun routines you can share with your cat
Cats find comfort in routines, whether they are bedtime rituals, wake up routines, or just certain ways you feed her. Start with these — they are things you do regularly anyway, and if you do them the same way every time, your cat will be happy about it. But don’t stop there — create other fun routines that you do the same way, and preferably at the same time, every day with your cat. Playtime. Training time. Modeling sessions (okay, the last one is just me). Let what you’ve already learned about your cat’s personality direct you. Even having a napping routine, where you and your cat catch an afternoon snooze together, can be a welcome ritual.
Don’t be afraid to introduce new things to your cat
Conversely, your cat doesn’t have to fear the new and novel. When you do introduce something new to your cat, whether it’s a sofa, a new cat tree, or harness and leash training, 1) make sure the cat knows she’s in charge of the experience, 2) don’t try to force or encourage her beyond her limits, and 3) reward her generously with her favorite things (whether it’s treats, toys, or something else) for the experience. Over time, she will become braver and more well adjusted.
Have regular health checkups for your cat
You may think it’s strange, mentioning physical health in a post about cat behavior, but it’s not. An unwell cat is not having her best life. And if you have been following the above tips, you will know your cat well enough to know when something is off. But usually, when it gets to the point where you notice, whatever is ailing her has been around for a while. Regular checkups may catch things earlier than you can do on your own, especially when your cat reaches middle age and beyond. (Think seven-plus years.) If your cat loathes going to the vet to the extent that it stresses her out a lot, see if you can have a home vet look her over. And there are ways to do basic health checks on her yourself in the meantime. You should do the latter periodically on a regular basis.
I hope you got something out of my tips! If you have more questions or suggestions about bringing out the best in your cat, let me know in the comments.
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