September is Happy Cat Month! (Part 4)

The whole month of September is all about CATS!

Week 1 we talked about vet visits, food, water, and a little something called “hunt, stalk, kill, eat, clean sleep.”

If you missed it, you can read the blog here: https://jessicalfisher.com/september-is-happy-cat-month-part-1/

Week 2 we talked about playtime, supervised outdoor time, how having 2 cats are better than 1, and the importance of understanding that a cat is not human.

If you missed it, you can read the blog here: https://jessicalfisher.com/september-is-happy-cat-month-part-2/

Week 3 (last week) we talked about over-vaccination, vaccinosis, and flea & tick medications.

If you missed it, you can read the blog here: https://jessicalfisher.com/september-is-happy-cat-month-part-3/

This week, we will continue and wrap up the conversation on raising a happy, healthy cat!

VERTICLE SPACE & SCRATCHING POSTS

Verticle space is so very important to our cats, whether you have a single cat, a multi-cat household, or a bi-petual household.

One way to maximize space for your cats to play, nap, and get self-care time is to create climbing surfaces where your cats can scratch and play. Having a safe space away from other cats, humans, and other animals in the home is crucial for our cats.

Kitty condos and cat trees are easy and affordable ways to incorporate verticle space for your cat. There are different types of scratchers available on condos and trees for our cats and I generally recommend the sisal posts for optimal scratching. It is important to know that different cats may prefer different scratching surfaces.

In my cat room, for example, I have cardboard scratchers, sisal posts as well as plush rugs. I have one cat who prefers the plush rugs for scratching, while another prefers the cardboard scratchers, another prefers the carpet on the cat trees, and the 4th prefers the sisal.

Incorporating scratching posts that are verticle is very important, as your cat will naturally want to reach up to stretch and scratch at the same time. This is an important part of maintaining musculoskeletal health. The act of reaching up and retracting the claws stretches and engages the forelimbs and shoulders, keeping them fit.

You can also purchase or make shelving for a cat climbing wall. I love this idea and have plans (very soon!) to create this in my cat room. It is very important that if you choose to set up a climbing wall for your cat(s) that you take great care to choose shelving that is long enough and wide enough to keep your cat comfortable, as well as taking great care in how you mount the shelves. They not only need to be attached to the wall in a manner that is structurally sound and can handle the weight of your cat jumping on them, but also that they are placed in a manner that it is easy to move between them … and that there is always more than one escape route, which is incredibly important if you have a multi-cat household.

Remember that height gives cats a sense of comfort and security, which is ingrained in them from their wild ancestors, climbing up trees. Being up high gives them a vantage point that allows them to survey everything around them and to be up away from potential dangers.

LITTER BOXES

I could do a whole series just on litter boxes, so I’ll try to sum things up in a clear and concise way this post.

Tips:

– Have at least 1 more litterbox than the number of cats (ie: 4 cats need a minimum of 5 litter boxes)
– Spread out the litter boxes (multi-level houses, even more than one spot in a room)
– Choose a litter that is as close to natural as possible with no fragrances
– Keep the litter box clean! Scoop multiple times a day, empty the box, clean, and replace with fresh litter every 2 weeks
– Don’t use litter robots – you need to know who is doing what and how often
– All choices you make must be approved by your cat

Choosing a litter box

– Ideally twice as long as your cat
– Plastic boxes are popular but need to be replaced annually as plastic holds bacteria
– Some cats prefer low sides, some don’t mind high sides. Older cats will definitely need a lower profile entrance.
– Never use a covered box as it traps in the odors and cat’s don’t like that

Litterbox placement

– Never place litter boxes near food or water
– Place them around the house whenever possible
– Do not place them in areas with high traffic
– Do not place them in closed-off areas, such as a closet
– Do not place them near the washer or dryer as the noise can be scary
– Do place them in areas that are well ventilated
– Do place them in areas that have multiple exits, especially if you have more than one pet

Choosing a litter

– #1 rule is to use what your cat likes, they are the deciding factor
– The more natural, the better – I like using grass-based at the moment.
– Do NOT use clay-based litter, they contain known carcinogens
– Know that cats are very clean animals and clean themselves often, so they will ingest litter because they clean it off of themselves, so make sure you trust it!
– Do not use any litter with fragrances
– Pellet litter is wonderful if your cat will use it. I only have 1 who will use it, which is why we are using a grass-based litter

If your cat is not using the litter box properly, that is a topic for another post, but we can certainly cover the topic, as it is a very multi-faceted question.

TALK WITH YOUR CATS

The overarching theme of this whole month has been to honor your cat as the separate and quite wonderful species they are! Part of honoring them is to speak with them. I talk to my cats every single day, many times. Do I expect to hear English words coming out of their mouth? No.

But their actions, their behaviors, their body language is certainly something I can tune in to and I highly recommend you do this with your cats as well. No one knows your cat as an individual like you do, which is why every little detail is so important. All of my cats have different ways of communicating with me and I embrace that. It may not always be in a manner I appreciate, but I know they are doing the best they can with what they have available to them at the moment.

I hope this month-long cat tip extravaganza was helpful. If there are topics that you’d like to discuss in more detail, please let me know.

For now, make sure to give that cat of yours some extra special love!