6. Increase Vertical Territory
This can be as simple as placing cat trees near windows or you can really take advantage of unused wall space and install cat shelves, cat skywalks, and wall-mounted stairways. There are many companies online that sell shelves and walkways for you to design a vertical world for your cat. Just be sure the pieces are sturdy and that you space them well so a cat doesn’t have to make a giant leap from one wall perch to another. It’s also important that you not create a dead end perch where a cat could be ambushed by another cat. Always have more than one on/off ramp.
7. Be Consistent and Predictable
Cats take comfort in familiarity and having a predictable schedule. Maintain consistency in when your cat is fed, when the litter box is changed, your interaction with your cat, playtime, and so on. Understandably, changes in life happen but they can be made far less stressful if you ease your cat through them.
Be consistent in your training as well. Make sure all family members are on the same page so your cat doesn’t receive mixed messages.
8. Understand Your Cat’s Need to Scratch
Scratching isn’t done to be destructive and it isn’t done just to sharpen claws. A cat’s instinct to scratch serves many functions. In addition to keeping the claws healthy, scratching is used for visual and olfactory marking, stretching, and also as a way to discharge emotions. Don’t attempt to train your cat not to scratch, and certainly don’t even consider the inhumane act of declawing. Instead, provide your cat with scratching posts that meet his needs (tall, sturdy, covered in a rough material) and then place those posts in areas where he wants to scratch. For a cat who likes to scratch horizontally, invest in corrugated scratching pads.
Place scratching posts in socially significant areas of the home as well as at perimeters such as near entry doors.
9. Don’t Neglect Veterinary Care
Cats are very good at hiding signs of pain and illness. Don’t skip annual wellness checks, and if your cat is a senior or geriatric kitty, increase the number to twice-yearly exams.
Pay attention to changes in your cat’s behavior because that could be a red flag signifying there’s a medical problem.
If you’re reluctant to take your cat to the veterinarian because of the stress of getting him in the carrier and traveling to the clinic, take time to help your cat feel more at ease with the process. Leave the carrier out all the time and periodically place treats nearby. Work up to feeding your cat near, and eventually inside the carrier. Here’s more information on getting your cat comfortable with being in a carrier.
10. Pay Attention to What Your Cat is Saying
People end up getting scratched or bitten by cats because they often discount body language signals. Your cat is a master of communication and his body language speaks volumes when it comes to whether he wants to engage with you or whether he wants to be left alone. Learn more about body language and work on your approach and handling techniques so your cat will develop more trust. The more you “listen” to your cat and give him the choice of whether to engage or avoid, the stronger the bond of trust will be.
Need More Information?
For more information on cat behavior and training, refer to the books by best-selling author Pam Johnson-Bennett. Her books are available at bookstores everywhere and through your favorite online retail site. For your convenience, we have included a link to Amazon.