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No one adopts, rescues or purchases a cat with the hope that the kitty will misbehave, destroy the house or hide under the bed. Whenever you enter into a relationship with a cat you have expectations about sharing a wonderful life together. So what goes wrong? Well, all-too-often we’re the ones who mess things up. We’re quick to blame the cat but we don’t follow through on our part of the bargain. So here’s a little reminder list of ten things you shouldn’t forget:
1. Your Cat is a Social Creature
Cats benefit from companionship. There has been so much misinformation out there about cats being solitary animals. Cats hunt alone because they go after small prey but they benefit from being with other animals. New cat introductions are tricky because you have to take into account the cat’s territorial nature but if done right, you can provide a wonderful companion for your cat, in most cases.
2. Create an Appealing Litter Box Set-up
Pay attention to what your cat needs when it comes to the proper set-up. It’s not about what’s convenient for YOU, it’s about what’s convenient and appealing for your cat. The type of box, the type of litter, the location of the box and how often you clean it are all important factors in a successful litter box set-up.
3. Scratching is Normal
Cats have a natural need to scratch and it’s actually a very beneficial behavior physically and emotionally. Many new cat parents assume the behavior is just the way a cat sharpens his claws but it’s more complex than that. Take the time to learn about the importance of the behavior so you won’t be misled into having your cat declawed. Provide a tall, sturdy scratching post that’s covered in a rough texture and you’ll be well on your way to training your cat to scratch in appropriate places.
4. Environmental Enrichment
Many behavior problems can be avoided if you increase environmental enrichment so your cat can have sensory stimulation. Cats have amazing senses, are natural hunters and thrive on stimulation in their surroundings. Environmental enrichment involves opportunities to engage in interactive playtime, solo playtime, discovery, vertical territory, security and comfort. A cat who sleeps all day, rolls off the sofa to waddle into the kitchen for food and then waddles back to the sofa isn’t getting adequate environmental enrichment.
5. Every Behavior Serves a Purpose
Whether you approve of a particular behavior or not, everything your cat does serves a function or else he wouldn’t repeat it. Cats don’t willfully misbehave out of spite, anger or stupidity. Your cat isn’t sitting around at night thinking of ways to irritate you. If you don’t like a behavior, figure out the reason why the cat feels the need to do it (in other words, what’s the pay-off) and then provide a better option. Look at behavior from a positive approach in order to set the cat up to succeed. This method of training will strengthen the bond you share with your cat and will help you better understand what he needs.