A few weeks ago we fostered a little kitten we called Moo. I was pleased with how well she got along in our house, but I realized that I needed to study cat behavior and make sure I was doing right by our own cat, Tic Tac. Time to revisit behaviorist Dr. Pam Johnson-Bennett’s books and not just the fun essays in Hiss and Tell.
I’m currently reading Starting from Scratch: How to Correct Your Adult Cats Behavior Problems at Any Age. I highly recommend this book, even if you don’t have major issues, as it will give you insight as to why cats do things and how you can make their life even better.
The first thing I realized was that we’d never really looked at the vertical living space in our house. No wonder Tic Tac is on the furniture and counters — he’s not bound by horizontal living. As luck would have it, shortly after I read about making vertical living spaces for your cat, Costco got in a shipment of three-level cat trees at a great price.
Sometimes I’m a slow learner. I will admit to “putting” Tic Tac on the cat tree as soon as we brought it in the house. As I watched him throw himself off, I kicked myself for my mistake. We quickly came to our senses, placed the tree near a window, left the blinds open, and threw one of my dirty nightshirts on the first shelf. It took a few days but we saw the t-shirt flattened and eventually caught Tic Tac lounging. We would have been happy if he only used that first shelf, but after a few weeks he began to use all levels.
During Moo’s stay we had a couple of minor litter box issues, such as going in the secondary container where the box sits – oh, and some major litter flinging. Just like you feel vulnerable with your pants down, cats too are looking for clear views to make sure they are not caught with a surprise attack. So as much as we humans want to put the litter box in a corner, a closet, or under the sink in the back bathroom, it may not work for your house and your cat. For us, the master bathroom works, but it got back to normal once I took the hood off the litter box. Reading further, I see that I might need to start doing an extra daily scooping – currently Charlie does it once a day.
I think the next thing we’ll tackle is Tic Tac’s furniture scratching. Declawing is out of the question. I mean really, taking off the first joint of each toe – cruel! We may need to buy stock in Sticky Paws because two of his favorite scratching pieces are the back of the couch and the box spring of our bed. Also, I think this is going to be a bit tricky as our dog Ruby factors into it.
September is Happy Cat Month promoted by the CATalyst Council. I’m looking forward to exploring their website even more. But the best and first thing you can do to make a cat happy is to head to your local shelter and ADOPT one (or more). Wake County Animal Center (WCAC) has been overflowing with cats and kittens for several months. Below see Mr. Picklesworth’s television debut. He’s a big boy who loves to be loved and get scritches behind his ears. He’s also treat motivated … a great opportunity for someone to do some cat clicker training.