Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Not that you need any advice

I started to make a kitty suggestion on Dina's facebook page, and then it turned into two, and they got a little long, and next thing you know, I'd exceeded the unspoken facebook wall page comment length protocol. So, instead of politely making it shorter, I just hauled the whole job lot over here.

Handy tip #1: with kittens, start trimming their nails now, while they are young and little. Do it ALL the time, like daily or even more often, with lots of cuddling and treats. Don't trim a lot, just teensy snips. You don't even have to actually trim them every time, just hold their paws and touch their claws with the trimmer. Make a life-long habit of trimming their claws. The more you do it, especially while they are young, the easier it is. If you can take care of their claws with regular, gentle trimming, the whole scratching question becomes a non-issue. Chris trims all four of our cats' and our dog's claws (if you do the math, that's a lotta claws).

Handy tip #2: Get a good, big, carpeted cat-tree and put it in a choice spot (near a window maybe, or in a part of the house where they can see who's coming and going, but feel unobserved....). Don't skimp on the cat tree. Get them something sturdy with lots of surfaces to lounge on and jump to and from and lots of scratching area. Play with them there. Pet them there. Give them treats there if they like treats. They will shred that instead of your furniture. You'll still end up with a shredded thing in your house, but at least this way you planned it. Generally they mostly shred from the bottom, so you may be able to buy some time by putting the tree behind something so at least the bottom half is obscured from view.

Handy tip #3: Don't play with them with your hands. Always use a toy or wear gloves. Otherwise, your hands are toys and even to the gentlest cat, play means claw use.

Handy tip #4: I hated this tip when I first read it, but it really does seem to be a good idea: multiple cats means one litterbox per cat, plus one. We are doing okay without the +1, but no matter how often you clean it, they really do seem to like to have their own territory.

Handy tip #5: I read this in some Cat Obsession magazine years ago, I'm sorry I can't give the originator of this tip credit...unknown tipster advised that you give your cat a bear hug every day, tight enough that they get the air squeezed out of them for a teeny moment. Especially indoor cats, this really does help them stay mellow.

Handy tip #6: Young adult cats can be pretty obnoxious. Their hunting play gets pretty serious and you are their favorite playmate. Kinda like dogs and humans, it's not the most pleasant time to live with them. Personally I ignore them during this phase. And then they grow to be comfortable, lazy companions. I know there are people who say that they want a lively playful cat, but you can't turn on and off the Play switch on a cat like you can on a computer or a dog. And they are naturally active at night. So, if you want someone to play with, be prepared to play when they want to.

Handy tip #7: You may have heard some fantastic tales about cats who will play fetch. It's true! Our family has had two cats who were committed fetchers and a couple who would indulge their humans when they were in the mood. My sister figured out the formula for bringing latent fetchery to the fore. She started by whenever she fed her kitten, Pebbles, she would say "Pebbles! Here Pebbles!" Even if Pebbles was already right there. Gradually over time Pebbles got to where she would come when called, just from habit. Pebbles also liked to carry her little toys around in her mouth. Sister called Pebbles while she was carrying the toy and Pebbles just trotted over. Sister took the toy and threw it, Pebbles went after it, picked it, and came when called again. In Pebbles's case that was all it took. She caught on and played every day with anyone. My mom had a cat who loved fetch so much he would drop slimey little scraps of paper into my mom's hand in the middle of the night while she was asleep, trying to get her to play. Many cats just aren't into it. And there's that whole middle range of the spectrum who can be encouraged to play along.

Handy tip #8: Let go. Let cat.

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