It’s time to celebrate our furry Kitty friends again folks; International Cat Day is on 8th August. Those of you who know me as clients at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre, know that I have a cat of my own and am a massive fan of all things Feline – even when they bring me in “presents”!
Hunting is one of your cats strongest instincts, and some choose to share their bounty with their favourite humans as a way of saying “you’re ok, fur-less one, and in order to show I love you, here’s a little pressie”. There’s not an awful lot you can do to curb this natural behaviour, but you can attach a bell to their collar to warn any nearby potential prey of their whereabouts; this might decrease the number of times you receive such gifts.
Now don’t shoot me down, but I’ve just had a thought: if you’re a little short on your step count (and let’s face it, we’re all slaves to our Fitbit devices aren’t we?!), then chasing around after a bedraggled mouse that your cat has graciously deposited on your living room floor is a great way to boost their number and let you hit your target! Just don’t tell your puss that I said this, else they’ll be ramping up their hunting efforts, and use the excuse that it’s for your benefit!!
Clever humans harness this innate skill that their cats possess, especially those who keep chickens and other animals requiring grains as feed. These types of feed attract Rats and Mice, but with one of nature’s finest hunters around, their numbers can be kept nice and low J. Good Kitty!
You can indulge in a spot of hunting playtime with your beloved feline too; they love those toys on strings! Not only is it great fun to watch them dart about as you dangle the “prey” this way and that, it satisfies this natural urge within them. The fun to be had is a fab way to de-stress for you, and helps to strengthen the bond between you and your cat, too: win-win.
Another natural behaviour of cats is to scratch, and they do it for a couple of perfectly good reasons. Firstly, it keeps their claws in good condition by sharpening them (for aforementioned hunting) and keeps the claws length at its optimal length. It also provides a means of marking out their territory to other moggies in the vicinity; a sort of cat graffiti/cat tagging, if you will.
First-time cat owners can often get caught out by this behaviour, and get rudely awoken to its presence by having their sofa or wooden kitchen cupboard doors scratched. Nothing is going to stop this behaviour, so the best way to avoid stress (and I mean for yourself – your cat won’t give a monkeys!) is to provide them with something that they CAN scratch. There are loads of scratch posts on the market, in varying shapes and sizes; some even have multiple posts to give kitty a choice, and you’ll often find that they will soon have a favourite. If you’re someone who has a knack for crafting/making things, then why not show puss how much you love them by making a bespoke post for them? All you’ll need is some sturdy sisal rope and something to wrap it around, pet-safe adhesive, and a base to stand it all on :-). I actually made a scratch post on one of the legs of my kitchen table because I was fed up of it being used as one. If you can’t beat them then join them!!
Thankfully, the second reason cats scratch (to mark territory) doesn’t normally extend into the other form of territory marking, spraying, inside the house! Spraying tends to occur if your male cat hasn’t been neutered, so it’s a fairly straight-forward fix, and one that the SLVC team do day-in-day-out. Owners of tomcats often say to us that their furry chap seems a lot happier when there’re no bits dangling around anymore, and that’s because hormone levels aren’t raging; everything is so much more chilled and mellow. Another situation where it’s win-win, with the added bonus that there aren’t going to be any unwanted litters of kittens from your households male cat!
Talking of hormones, if you have recently adopted or bought a cat and they are taking a while to settle in and displaying some unwanted behaviours, then there are products available to help them. These usually take the form of a plug-in device or spray that can be used around the house, and they mimic scents that your puss will find comforting. If you need any support or advice regarding your feline family member, then don’t forget that the Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre team is always there for you; simply drop in, or give us a buzz, and we’ll help you out :-).
Cats are brilliant in so many ways. They are the ultimate “lazy” pet: they don’t need walking, they can toilet themselves indoors on a litter tray or outdoors, and they don’t need a garden to exercise in. Cost-wise they are fairly cheap to feed – unless you fancy forking out (no pun intended) on fresh chicken and gourmet tinned food, and they are easily looked after by friends and family if you need to go away from home for whatever reason.
So, if you’re already a kitty convert, get celebrating your cats’ celebratory day! If you haven’t yet got a puss of your own, why not take the leap? We work with some great pet rescues here at SLVC, including dedicated cat rescue, Lina’s. For more information, either get in touch with us or go to their website; type in Lina’s Cat Rescue and it’ll come up in the search engines.
Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy 🙂