New Year’s Resolutions for Cat Caregivers
Happy New Year! Did you make any resolutions? Many people do, with the most common being things such as to eat healthier, exercise more, quit smoking, save more money, and so on. Although New Year’s resolutions are sometimes hard to keep, they can also be a good way to bring attention to some aspect of your life that does need improvement.
If you’ve been thinking about whether to make any New Year’s resolutions and you share your life with a cat, here are some suggestions that are easy and very beneficial to your pet.
Resolution #1: Get up-to-date on Veterinary Care
If you’ve been receiving reminders from the veterinary clinic that your cat is overdue for an annual exam, this is the time to get that taken care of so you can get any vaccinations done and also catch potential health issues before they become bigger problems. Cats are very good at hiding pain and illness and that’s why it’s crucial to maintain routine veterinary care even if your kitty looks perfectly healthy.
Resolution #2: Maintain a Good Cleaning Schedule
Let’s start with the litter box. Once you have the litter box set up properly. Get on a schedule of scooping it at least twice a day and thoroughly washing the box as often as necessary. Depending on the type of litter you use, the box should be emptied and washed on a regular basis. With scoopable litter, wash the box once or twice a month. With traditional clay litter, the box will need to be emptied and washed weekly.
The new year is also a good time to pay attention to other items that may not be getting cleaned often enough, such as the cat’s water and food bowls. Water bowls should be emptied, washed, and refilled with fresh water every day. Water can taste stale if left in the bowl for days, and bacteria can form as well. When it comes to the food bowl, make sure it’s washed before refilling with fresh food. If you free-feed and have been refilling the food without washing the bowl first, resolve to clean it every day. If you use a pet placemat at the feeding station, make it habit to clean that daily as well.
A resolution to clean more should also extend to the cat’s bedding, carrier, cat trees, perches, and shelving as well. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding washing or cleaning bedding. Carriers should be cleaned and routinely inspected to ensure they’re in good shape. Cat trees, perches, and shelving should be vacuumed and frequently checked to make sure nothing is coming loose or in need of repair.
Resolution #3: Groom Your Cat on a Regular Basis
Even if your cat has short hair that never mats, it’s beneficial to brush their coat frequently. Brushing removes dead hair (which may help cut down on hairballs), increases circulation, distributes oils, and if done gently, is very pleasurable to cats. If you haven’t done it before or if your cat has been less than cooperative, start slowly by getting a soft brush and just doing a few gentle strokes. Be ready with a treat to offer your cat immediately. Gradually work up to being able to do more strokes with the brush but always end on a positive note – don’t test your cat’s patience.
Grooming should include nail trimming, teeth brushing, and ear cleaning. If you’re unable to do nail trimming, have your veterinarian or a groomer maintain your cat’s nails because if they aren’t trimmed regularly, they can actually grow so long they curl back into the paw pad. If your cat won’t tolerate teeth brushing, talk to your veterinarian about alternative products such as dental sprays. Check your cat’s ears often for signs of debris or redness.
Resolution #4: Maintain Healthy Nutrition
So many cats are overweight and that can lead to multiple health issues. If your kitty is carrying extra baggage, it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian. Find out how much weight your cat needs to lose and how much food should be fed each day. Weight loss for cats must be done very slowly to prevent serious liver issues. Your veterinarian can help you determine the daily portion. If you’re worried your cat will complain about being restricted when it comes to food, try incorporating puzzle feeders into the mealtime routine. These food-dispensing toys are fun for cats and they encourage slow eating.
Resolution #5: More Playtime
This is an easy one. Engage in interactive play sessions with your cat at least twice a day. Two 15-minute sessions each day is beneficial to your cat physically and mentally. If your cat isn’t very mobile or is overweight, customize playtime to fit your cat’s activity ability. Resolve to have more fun in 2020!
Certified Cat Behavior Consultant & Best-Selling Author
Pam Johnson-Bennett is a certified cat behavior consultant and best-selling author of 8 books on cat behavior. She starred in the Animal Planet series Psycho Kitty, seen in Canada and the UK. She was a vice president of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and founded their cat division. She has served on an advisory board for the American Humane Association as well as other animal welfare organizations.
Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting, having started her career in 1982. Some of her books have been used as textbooks for behavior courses and she has influenced many practicing in the field today. Her book, Think Like a Cat, has been referred to as the cat bible.
Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, located in Tennessee. She lives with her husband, two children, a rescued cat, and a rescued dog.