Whether you become a cat's companion because they chose you during a leisurely walk, a visit to a shelter when they jumped into your arms, or because you carefully selected a breeder to find the Bengal or Norwegian cat of your dreams, the question is: How can you be sure that you are a good human companion for the cat?
When Milord jumped onto the back of a veterinary friend in the midst of examining a dog with osteoarthritis, my friend swore that she would never have cats at home. At 75-years-old, she didn’t think it was sensible, especially for a cat which may live more than 17 years.
But Milord, like all cats, does what he wants! He fell in love with her, and – let's be honest – their love at first sight was mutual. So, my friend got herself organized and gave Milord a couple of humans as ‘cat parents.’ He stays with them when she goes on vacation or is out of town for the weekend. They are his second family and will take care of Milord, the day his owner is no longer there for him.
Sharing a cat is a responsible and loving act because often, when faced with a 15- to 20-year commitment, some septuagenarians deprive themselves of the pleasure of living in good company with a cat.
Preventive medicine, the key to his health
Milord was already an adult when he met Jacqueline. He already had proper identification (a microchip), and had been neutered, vaccinated and treated for internal and external parasites. When adopting or buying a kitten, these steps must be completed as soon as possible for the well-being of the cat. Neutering a cat whilst it is young (at about 4 months of age) is a prudent, responsible act because it can help avoid the problems that entire cats may have. It also greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors.
To keep the cat happy and healthy, effective and regular parasite treatment is recommended. Parasites like ticks and fleas can transmit serious diseases. Some can potentially cause disease not only in cats, but also in humans.
To be very prudent, as a friend was with Massi - a beautiful Egyptian Mau cat, you can buy insurance that covers the annual check-up, as well as accidents or health issues. This provides peace of mind in the event of the unexpected.
Respecting the nature of cats
What is essential on an everyday basis is to understand how cats behave in order to take the best care of them. Cats are not selfish – some can even be altruistic – but they are fundamentally autonomous and independent; in particular, they appreciate being able to come and go freely, especially in an apartment.
Don’t close doors (even to the bathroom, especially if their litter box is there!), so that they can roam as they see fit. A closed door is an insult to them. So, show good manners to them because, by allowing the energy to flow freely in the home, thanks to them, you will be much better off.
Despite their independence of movement and their often strong character, the way they snack at any time of day or night (cats have 10 to 16 very small snacks every 24 hours, mainly for urinary health) means that cats need snack packs, cans of puree and bags of kibbles – and to do so with affection. They love to be talked to and some even respond!
A little care for little corners!
Cats also rely on their owners to maintain their litter boxes regularly and meticulously. Yes, litter boxes take time – even for just one cat – to ensure that, at any time, a clean and neat litter box is available. This is because cats are affected by moisture from the soiled litter under their pads. If they could (and some do!), they would flush the toilet each time they defecate.
As a responsible pet owner, for the well-being of your cat, change all the litter and clean the litter box thoroughly every week – and make sure to put the litter boxes in places that are accessible 24/7 and certain to be peaceful; Not in the hallway or the middle of the kitchen.
Finally, in order to live in full harmony with cats, owners should allow and even encourage them to climb on cupboards, shelves, and all those observation posts that they like so much. Think about placing the cat tower next to a bay window (be careful not to leave it open, if upstairs).
Place small blankets around the house (scented with valerian to make them even more pleasant) so they can take "catnaps" everywhere, at their leisure. This allows them to take 15 minutes to recharge in their fantasy dream world, especially when you offer them a new toy – sometimes as simple as a cardboard box or as sophisticated as a food puzzle. Working their muscles and brain cells – now that's a healthy activity!
Becoming the responsible owner of a happy cat is a true gift of shared, long-term happiness!