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Norwich Bulletin - 1/28/2007

Each Cat Is Special

I have done columns on harmony in the home with multiple cats (or cats and dogs) but I have never touched on the importance of making each cat feel as important as all the other cats. Even if it is difficult because of the number of cats one may have, each feline needs to have undivided attention for at least a few minutes each day.

If a cat watches “favorite cats” getting all the attention and never gets singled out as the “special cat of the day,” you could end up with behavior problems, or a cat who becomes lethargic and no longer an active part of the household. In extreme cases, outside cats could leave or become ill, So it is essential to relate the word “fair” to your multipet household.

Start with dispelling the belief that cats don’t need anything outside of each other because they will entertain each other throughout the day. That is true to some extent, but cats need additional forms of entertainment to keep them active and healthy. For instance, if you have nice big windows and indoor cats, keep those bird feeders full so the cats can enjoy bird watching. Or have an aquarium with colorful fish that will keep cats interested in things of an aquatic nature (just make sure you have a top for that fish tank).

Lots of toys: balls, bags, boxes, catnip mice and other store bought toys will certainly keep cats busy. My cats love it when I empty a cardboard box. No matter how little or how big, they all take turns playing or sleeping in the new box for a couple of days. Then I simply throw the box away until another one comes along and we start all over again.

Interactive toys, such as teasers, fishing poles and lasers, are great for you to give cats something to chase while also spending time with them. And scratching posts and cat furniture provide somewhere to scratch, climb and nap in. And don’t forego the cat DVD’s and think they are silly. My cats love to watch the mice, squirrels, fish, birds and butterflies. We have about ten different ones and once a week, we put on of them on for them on a continuous play during the day. Once a week is perfect so they don’t get bored and it is always new.

Cats will play with each other and themselves. Our Aby Faith has always chased her tail and continues to do so to this day as an adult. Our cat magic has taught many of our other cats the joy of playing with water, whether in the sink, bathtub or water bowl.

Another important factor to making each cat feel special is to provide lots of places a cat can go for alone time. We have beds in some of the strangest places and our cats all have made their choices as to which basket or bed is right for them. We also have the cat safe fenced in back yard which provides tree space, houses and steps for a cat to find private space.

Harmony in the home (as well as finances) is the key to the number of cats an owner can care for. It may be that five cats are the limit, or twenty-five. It depends on the cats and the owners’ diligence in making each one special. A family of five is better equipped to take care of twenty-five cats than a single person as far as time goes for each cat.

It is also really important to be able to accept the fact that sometimes a new cat will not fit into your group. We have had to place cats we thought would work out find with our brood, just to find out that once they were comfortable in our home, their aggression to the other cats became painfully obvious. In this case we have had to make the decision to find the newcomer a more appropriate home. Not all people and not all cats are equipped to be a multicat household and that’s okay.

There has to be that brief time every day when each cat knows it is special and loved. Parker is my bathroom cat. No matter where he is in the middle of the night, if I go to the bathroom, Parker is right there for his alone time! No other cats are allowed to come into the bathroom with me. Parker will stay while I shower and dry my hair, happy just to be the only cat in the room with me.

My husband and I have television cats, computer cats and bedroom cats. When we leave or come home we always take the time to pet and talk to our two outside cats. Even though they don’t want to come into the house, they do want to know they are special too.

Taking the time to give each cat a hug a day will help your feline family feel loved and create harmony in your home.

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