Its about more than a few pets, food, and a litter box. When a cat loves you, you will find yourself with a friend who spends time next to you or on you, who gives you cat “kisses”, who greets you when you come home, who trusts you completely and accepts you and your two legged oddness. We have this very short list of starting points for you.
Creatures of Habit
Cats, like many people, are creatures of habit. They don’t want to be moved around. They want the same bed, dishes, and litter boxes in the same places. They want to be fed at consistent times. They develop expectations of you, and if you have a chaotic lifestyle, they can be upset by it. Consistency matters.
A cat who cannot trust you cannot love you. Trust is built by consistent kindness and attention. It is destroyed by punishment – cats do not ‘get’ punishment, it is just abuse to them. They will never make the connection between you swatting at them and their scratching the furniture. Trust is accepting that each cat is an individual, and that they don’t think or act like you, dogs, or anything else.
Nobody every fell in love with someone who fed them food they did not like. Yes, cats can be extraordinarily picky. Finding that combination of healthy food and appealing food can be a challenge. It is a challenge worth taking.
Litter and litter boxes can be another challenge. Momma cat will have taught her kits to use one. But in a new environment with different places, different litter, and different containers, it can be a challenge even for an older cat to get with the program. Take the time to understand your cat’s reactions. Some will be ok with an enclosed litter box, some not. Some may be ok with cheap dusty clay, others not so much. Try two litter boxes with different litter, experiment, and soon your cat and you will come to an agreement.
Cats love pets, massages, scritches behind the ears and under the chin, all of it. But always ask permission first. Some cats find a hand on them unexpectedly to be akin to an assault. Put out your hand in front of your cat, fingers rolled and tilted downward as if offering the back of your hand for inspection. Kitty will tilt her head down, communicating acceptance and welcome. Pet. After a while you may, with his or her permission, skip the formalities.
While cats may sleep as much as 16 hours a day, they need activity or they can become bored and even destructive. Get a wand, a red light, toy mice, catnip and catnip toys. Take some time to actively play with them. You don’t always need a toy. A pencil wiggled under a piece of paper can be just as much fun and adds variety. Be creative and play every day.
Cats should have their nails clipped when they start catching on things. Claw clipping when you aren’t familiar with the techniques and rules can be traumatic for you and your cat. Most vet clinics and groomers can give you by example how-to info. Or just have them do it ongoing.
Never have your cat’s claws removed. It is identical to having part of your fingers cut off. It is just as bad for a cat.
Cats come in all different kinds of coats. Some are going to need a visit to a pro groomer, and some will do just fine with you and one or two different brushes and a comb. If your cat has fur, brush regularly. Cats clean their fur every day by licking it. Loose hair is often ingested. Lots of loose hair can lead to hairballs. Stepping in a soggy hairball or finding one puked up on your pillow can happen. Prevent surprises: brush frequently. It also prevents matting. And cats love a good brushing, especially if it comes with a treat.
Cats love treats. Most, but not all, treats are what we call junk food, made for taste and texture appeal only. A few have nutrients and added vitamins and minerals, making them a better choice. Don’t overdo it; make treats special. They can be disruptive to a cat’s diet and digestion.
But what is a treat? If you open a can of tuna, pour the tuna water in a saucer and give it to your cat for a healthy and tasty treat.