The Cat Trouble Shooter

There’s nothing more endearing than a kitten. Many an owner has started out being seduced by two cat-saucer eyes. Only to get home and find out that being a good cat owner includes some real work – and some challenges. But all is not lost, brave cat lover. Follow our new cat trouble-shooter, and you will be basking in the love and glory of successful cat ownership in no time.

Cats & Children
Showing children how to treat your cat properly will ensure a safe, pleasant environment for your cat and is a great way to teach children responsibility too. Ensure children know how to pick up a cat. Show them acceptable ways to play with the cat (and not to tease the cat or pull on ears or tails). Remember, always watch your children around your cat.

Other Pets
It’s important to socialize your cat with the people and pets that frequent your home. But don’t expect every introduction to go smoothly. Other pets, in particular, may take offense to sharing their domain with a new member of the family. Plus, your affection may be seen as a precious commodity, and one which older pets may not readily wish to share.

Discipline
The best time to untrain bad behaviors is the moment they start. Here are some general discipline tips for cat owners:

  • Respond immediately to the bad behavior. You can use sudden noises, such as clapping or hissing, to surprise your cat and discourage the behavior.
  • Remove temptation, by keeping breakable objects in cabinets, and food in containers.
  • Remember that cats don’t respond to many of the dominance discipline techniques to which dogs do. Cats are not pack animals.

Cat Proof
The best way to prevent misbehaviors from your new family member is to remove temptations. Plus it can make for a safer environment too. Here are some suggestions:

  • For your cat’s safety, make sure to lock up or otherwise make the following inaccessible: Medicines, cleaning agents, string, opened metal cans, rodent traps and easily swallowed items like buttons.
  • Shut the bathroom door when you run water in a bathtub.
  • Always close toilet lids.
  • Ensure the fireplace is tightly screened.
  • Secure unscreened windows. And make sure screens are tightly secured.
  • Close all garage and appliance doors, as cats often seek out the warmth of a clothes dryer or a car engine for naps.
  • Replace your car’s antifreeze with a nontoxic brand. Cats love the sweet taste of antifreeze, and a mere teaspoon can cause their kidneys to fail.

Scratching
If you’re a first time cat owner, you might be surprised by your cat’s scratching tendencies. But scratching is one your cat’s strongest instincts. If your cat has claws, expect her to scratch. The trick, of course, is to convince her to scratch her scratching post, and not your furniture or curtains. Here are some tips:

  • Place your cat’s scratching post near her sleeping spot. Or if she’s already scratching something else, place it near that spot.
  • Whenever you see your cat scratching something she shouldn’t, tell her “no” firmly, carry her to her post and place her claws on the post.
  • To discourage inappropriate scratching when you’re not home, try rubbing strongly scented furniture polish on your furniture.

Exercise
If you haven’t already noticed it, your cat requires regular physical and intellectual stimulation. Plus, routine exercise promotes better health and helps prevent obesity. Help your cat get her exercise with simple games like attaching a sock to a piece of string. Start by letting her bat at it with her paw, then gradually raise the stakes and have her chase the sock around the house. Also, consider buying a cat apartment so she uses her muscles to climb and explore.

Commitment
Taking a cat into your home is a big commitment, but one we’re sure you’re up to. Remember, your cat relies on you for not just shelter and sustenance, but for leadership, affection and interaction. It can be challenging for many owners, but with persistent affection, proper discipline and thoughtful health care, the rewards of a healthy, loving cat are priceless.