Author: Canadian Living

Q: Is it really safe for cats to get "high" on catnip?

A: Here's one of the real advantages of being feline. You can get, like, totally, totally high, and it's...um...cool, cat. Totally fur out.

It's not as if cats drive, have to show up for work or are faced with huge personal decisions, such as how to invest their retirement savings. Mostly, cats have to decide if they'd rather nap in the chair or on the couch, play with the mousie toy or the little ball. And if those decisions must wait awhile, well, what difference does it make?

In short: Let your cat have all the Meowie-Zowie he wants. The fresher the better, so keep some growing in a protected place – protected from your cat that is – and snip off bits to slip into cat toys or rub on the cat tree.

Q: Do cats really need us? Can't they just take care of themselves?

A: Unquestionably, cats are easy keepers. But anyone who adopts a cat thinking that cats are like houseplants or pottery, only furrier, is in for a big surprise. Kittens and cats seek out and need attention and affection. They also need routine care to prevent a number of common ailments, from hairballs to ingrown toenails. And they need us to keep their litter box clean. (If we don't, they will refuse to use it -- with consequences no one will enjoy.)

To care for your cat well, you need a few basic supplies, a premium feline diet, a high level of preventive health care (vaccinations, parasite control, good oral hygiene) and a veterinarian you know well enough to ask the questions you need answers to if problems arise. Cats who take advantage of all nine lives and live them all as happy, healthy felines have owners who follow the mantra "Healthy pets see their vets for twice-yearly wellness visits."

But it's more than just supplies and vet visits. Cats love us and seek our company. They want and need to play with us, to snuggle with us, to bond with us. The idea of cats' being aloof is a myth. They just love us in feline ways, like teenagers, only hairier and they don't ask for the car.

Although cats do need our love and care, they are still low maintenance compared to a lot of other pets. Cats are wonderful pets for people who work long hours, people who aren't able to exercise a lot because of age, injury or lifestyle, and people who just want the easygoing companionship a cat can provide.

Cats are arguably the most easygoing and adaptable pets you can choose, but they do have their own special needs. Your responsibility is to protect your cat and provide her with the care and love she needs. In return, you'll have a beautiful, loving companion for many, many years. Your cat always keeps up her end of the bargain, so make sure you keep up yours.


Page 1 of 2 – Should you let Fluffy wander outside? Find out on page 2 if an indoor or outdoor lifestyle is best for you... and your pet.


Excerpted from Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet? by Marty Becker, DVM, and Gina Spadafori. Copyright 2006 by Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori. Excerpted by permission of Health Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

Q: Can a cat really be happy living completely inside?

A: Good, knowledgeable, well-intentioned people on both sides of this issue have strong opinions, that's for sure. Perhaps the best answer is this: Some cats can be happy living inside and some can't.

Anyone who has watched a cat track a grasshopper across the lawn or sleep in the sun on a warm patio would not be telling the truth if they didn't admit cats love exploring the outdoors. And many people believe that denying an animal access to the natural world is unnatural, even cruel.

On the other hand, cats who are free to roam annoy neighbours, kill furry little critters and birds, and generally don't live as long as indoor cats. They're hit by cars, crushed in automatic garage doors, killed by coyotes or loose dogs, poisoned either accidentally or sometimes intentionally and come in contact with many more infectious diseases courtesy of neighbour kitties, unvaccinated feral cats, and wild animals. More often than not, outdoor cats just disappear, leaving their owners to wonder forever about their fate. The truth is most of these cats don't end up in another home or lost; they end up dead.

When they're kept inside from kittenhood and provided with attention and lots of what zookeepers call "environment enrichment" (translation: toys, perches, scratching posts and climbing trees, food puzzles, and things to do), many cats live long and happy lives inside. This is especially true of cats who live in urban areas, where outside is simply not an option, and suburban cats whose environs are just too dangerous (and whose neighbours really don't want kitty pooping in their yard).

Converting a cat who has had free access to the outside to a total homebody can be very difficult, however, and many people give in to their cat's demands and open the door. 

The trend toward keeping cats indoors has been growing to the point now where many shelters, rescue groups and reputable breeders absolutely refuse to place a cat with anyone who won't promise to keep the animal inside.

As with any hot topic, compromises are possible. Cat fencing -- tall, nearly invisible nylon mesh mounted on a traditional wooden fence -- is widely available from a handful of manufacturers to keep your cat safe in your yard. Most people would never dream of simply letting their dog wander around the neighbourhood at will; they keep Fido in a fenced yard. Why not do the same for Fluffy?

Another option is to build a small, simple screened porch for your cat. (Again, there are some commercial products available that make it easy.)

If nothing else works for you and your cat, you can at least minimize the risk by keeping your pet in at night. It won't keep the peace with your neighbours, but it will minimize to a small extent some of the other risks to which your outdoor cat is exposed. To get him reliably coming inside before dark, feed him his yummiest meal at that time -- in the kitchen.

 
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Excerpted from Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet? by Marty Becker, DVM, and Gina Spadafori. Copyright 2006 by Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori. Excerpted by permission of Health Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

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