The CATalyst Council is a self-described "national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats." A mission it apparently takes seriously enough to do what most organizations do: designate a month out of the year for bringing their message to the fore.
Which is really just a smart PR push — and one that happens to work pretty well. Otherwise, why put up with the kind of cheek bloggers like me are likely to sass them with? I mean, a whole month of "happy cat-dom" is just about as smarmy as a big purple dinosaur. But then I’ve taken to wearing black and frowning a lot, so you’ll have to forgive my bad attitude as of late (I’m sure it’s just temporary).
But back to the good news: "Happy Cat Month" is undoubtedly a smart and effective way to sell better cat care. All those press releases and the inevitable social media campaign serves to remind all of us that cats deserve more attention than we sometimes give them (this is certainly true relative to what our American dogs currently enjoy). And who among us can’t get behind better cat care? (Barney smarminess notwithstanding.)
In case you haven’t yet received your reminder to care for your feline in the manner to which all our cats should be accustomed, here’s a great list composed by the great people at the CATalyst Council to help us on our way:
10 Tips on Making Cats Happy
1. Visit the veterinarian. Healthy cats are happy cats. While some owners may dread a trip to the veterinarian with their cat, many veterinary practices are cat friendly or have doctors who specialize in cats and will gladly show leery owners how pleasant a trip to the veterinarian can be. If a cat has not yet been spayed or neutered, this is an important step to keeping a cat healthy since it will help prevent aggression and decrease the risk of cancer.
2. Microchip your cat. In addition to a collar and identification tag, owners should ask their veterinarian about microchipping their feline friend. If a cat ever escapes or gets lost, having this type of permanent ID will make a reunion between cat and owner much more likely.
3. Go outside (appropriately). Yes! There are ways owners can safely take their cats outside to allow them to broaden their horizons. Cats can be walked on a leash with a harness or confined in a special outdoor area — always under supervision, of course — so they can periodically and safely experience the world outside their windows.
*Dr. K’s note: Reference my cats’ outdoor enclosure attached to my house via cat door installed in a window.
4. Scratch the surface. Cats should have places they are allowed to stretch and care for their claws. Scratching is an important aspect of feline behavior. Providing a long and sturdy scratching post in a vertical, horizontal or angled position is a good way to keep your cat happy … and your sofa, too!
5. Provide preventive medications. No one likes fleas, ticks, mites or heartworms, especially your cat. Even if an owner’s cat is strictly indoors they can still be attacked by these little creepy creatures. Owners should speak with their veterinarians about the best preventive plan for their cats. A parasite-free cat is a happy cat — and will keep your family healthier, too.
6. Train together. Cats are smart and can be trained to do fun tricks just like dogs, and the mental and physical stimulation is great for felines. Teaching your cat to sit, for example, is easy, and training your cat to sit on stools instead of counters will make you and your cat much happier. An added bonus is that training will strengthen the relationship between owner and cat, which will certainly make a cat happy.
7. Work for food. Feline obesity is a huge problem in this country, and one way to combat it is for owners to make their cats work for their food. Food toys are available to channel a cat’s natural hunting drive and release kibble in small amounts. Another option is to hide a cat’s food in different places so that they have to find it. Working for food makes a cat happy because it’s great physical and mental exercise.
8. Get your cat acclimated to the carrier. Many cat owners find that the worst part about taking their cats anywhere is getting cats into their carriers. Owners should work with their cat on making their carrier a safe, secure, and inviting place to be prior to veterinary visits or family vacations. When the time comes, the cat will be happy to get into the carrier and go off on an adventure. Visit catalystcouncil.org to view Cats and Carriers: Friends not Foes for tips on how to get cats to love their carriers.
9. Provide prey toys. One of the easiest ways to make a cat happy is with a new prey toy. Cats are natural hunters and love chasing, pouncing, leaping, swatting and stalking prey, even when it’s not the real thing. There are many types of prey toys available on the market; with a little creativity, owners can even make their own out of common household items.
10. Think about getting another cat. Cats are social animals, and owners should consider getting another cat to keep their current kitty company. Cats love to play, and a playmate will make them happy — provided they are properly introduced and have the right places to eat, hide, play and go the bathroom. Visit your community animal shelter and see what feline friends they have to offer.
*Dr. K’s note: I SO agree. I think having a sole kitten is almost cruel. The need someone to play intensely with (lest your hands suffer the brunt of their boredom).
Cats are wonderful creatures and are easy to make happy. Most cats just want a home with a comfy couch they can stretch out on and a loving owner to scratch them behind their ears. During Happy Cat Month, CATalyst Council encourages people without a cat to consider adopting one from their local shelter, and encourages people with cats to use some of these 10 tips to spoil their cats a little more than usual.
Any more tips you’d like to offer by way of making our cats happy? Give them up below and I promise I won’t invoke purple dinosaurs for the remainder of my time on this blog. ;-)
PS: My tip would involve lasers; lots of them. My cats love the laser light show I’ve installed in their indoor enclave. (Too bad my pictures of said feline experience look straight out of a Pink Floyd laser light show from the ‘80s and can’t possibly capture the feline happiness that results.)
Dr. Patty Khuly