5 things I wish I knew before I got a cat…
Before owning a cat, I was armed with all the misconceptions- they’re anti-social beings who only come out on their terms, they’re not loyal, they’re not affectionate, and they love to be groomed. Few of these turned out to be true for the fluff ball we brought home, but we have picked up on some quirks and preferences, that aren’t as often talked about, and I wish our vet had told us when we first brought our kitten home.
1. Wash your cat’s litter box once a month
I thought this one would be a no brainer, but google tells me otherwise. Scooping your cats litter once a day, and replacing it once a month is not enough. I repeat, this is a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, there is literal excrement in there- it has to be washed, scrubbed and disinfected.
You clean your own toilet at least once a month, right? (If you don’t, there’s another post for you). So your pets toilet should be no exception. I empty out the litter, run it under hot water, spray it with a semi-natural disinfecting spray, rinse again (however ‘natural’ they are, it’s probably not very natural for our pets), and dry. It takes maybe 15 minutes out of my day, on the first weekend of every month, and is better for our health- and our cats.
2. Make sure your pets food bowl is big enough
I recently learned about this thing called whisker stress, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about it, from any vet or pet resource, in the 2 years I’ve had my cat. Whisker stress (or whisker fatigue) is basically caused from incorrectly sized bowls. Their whiskers, which are highly sensitive, rub on the sides of the bowl and cause them stress and allegedly, pain.
Now, I’ve seen articles claiming this is all a marketing ploy for more expensive dishes, as well as reputable sources vouching for the condition. My thought is: if it doesn’t do them any harm, then why not try it? Don’t buy a $150 elevated food dish- but look for alternative options, like plates. (Our kitty is more than happy with a small, flat $2 IKEA plate)
3. Get the right type of bowl for your breed of cat
It’s ideal for your cat to eat and drink out of a raised bowl, both for digestion and above mentioned whisker probs- but flat faced breeds face an additional problem. Not only do their bowls need to be raised, they should also be slightly angled and tilted forward.
4. Start brushing your kitty in time for the winter
If you have a long haired cat, chances are their fur gets longer in the winter months- and more prone to knotting. Get a head start on their winter coat with daily brushing, to help regulate hairballs as well.
I use a furminator for long haired cats, but try to be fairly gentle because that thing is rough. If they do end up with a few knots, use baby nail scissors to get them out, that aren’t sharp enough to cut (just in case).
5. Understand what your cat is trying to tell you
It might seem like your cat does a whole lot of nonsensical shouting, than productive communication, but there are a few telltale signs to look out for in your cats behaviour. There’s the obvious purring, a sign of a happy kitty, or a raised back for a cat on the defensive.
What about more unusual behaviour, like standing on their back to legs and waving their arms at you? This is our cats way of trying to get our attention and play with her. Pay attention to their water and food intake, as well as litter use. This is a great way to tell you something is wrong, when they can’t.