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Cat-Friendly Resolutions for 2011

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Since they are such an important part of my life, my cats are the focal point of my plans for the New Year. Their health, happiness, and well-being is always foremost in my mind, as it should be, but I need to practice time management in order to give more time to my cats, while at the same time not neglecting my work.

1. When in Doubt, Call the Vet

Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy
I haven't yet erred by being cautious, and I will continue my resolve to seek veterinary counsel whenever I have doubts about the health conditions of any of my cats. They depend on me for their health care, and I won't ever let them down.

Bubba, pictured here, took many trips to the vet during his life, especially during the last two years of his life. They were either routine followup appointments for his hyperthyroidism, or wild emergency trips, but each of them was necessary.

My own criteria for When to Call the Vet is a sound one, and I'll continue to follow it.

2. Make our Home Safe for my Cats

Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Cat-proofing a home is not a one-time event, but should become an automatic habit, to be practiced daily. Too often in the past year, I have found a rubber band lying on the floor, or a sharp knife left carelessly on the counter or in the sink, as I did just yesterday. I'll practice what I preach and put my Habits to Practice for a Cat-Safe Home to use every day, and insist that the other human members of our home do likewise.

In addition to making our home safe from harmful *things*, I'll take steps to assure that each cat has a "safe place" for refuge and quiet, where he or she can retreat when necessary.

3. Feed Them the Best Cat Food I Can Afford

Photo Credit: Courtesy PriceGrabber
I know that food is an important key to the continued good health of my cats, and I will not stint on it. We are very fortunate to have a household income that allows me to feed my cats the very best foods. I've learned to read cat food labels, and I am ruthless at scorning commercial foods that are less than perfect. If finances should change, I'll practice judicious compromises in my cats' food as a last resort.

4. Accept That They Are Cats

Photo Credit: © Kim McCullough

Cats are at their very best when they are just being cats. They are each unique individuals and I will accept the fact that Billy is a "man's cat;" and Joey is shy and needs lots of encouragement. Jenny, now that she is my indoor kitty, is having a rough time at being accepted; and Jaspurr, alpha cat that he is, and Jenny's nemesis, has an entirely different personality than any of his housemates. That's the way it should be, and they accept me as the one who provides their sustenance and as many purrs as she can elicit.

That's not to say that I won't continue to carefully integrate Jenny into the family, in the hopes that she and Jaspurr will eventually coexist peacefully.

5. Set High Priority on Litter Box Maintenance

Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Litter box maintenance is a never-ending chore, and I've left the brunt of it for my son to handle, which he usually does quite capably and willingly. Since Jenny has moved in permanently, I have been mostly responsible for cleaning her personal litter box, kept in the master bathroom. In recent weeks, I've been lax about scooping daily, which is unforgivable. Jenny deserves better than that. I'm going to make it a point to scoop her poop daily, and check the pad in her Breeze Litter System tray at least every other day, so Jenny won't be forced to tiptoe in a soiled box. I'll also start helping Lance more frequently with the boy's boxes, using my Litter Box Maintenance Tutorial as a guideline.

6. Keep Their Drinking Water Fresh

Cat-It  Drinking Fountain
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy
My cats have one each of the most popular automated water fountains, but I still catch them sometimes drinking out of the sink. This year we'll add another automated fountain downstairs so they'll have fresh water available everywhere they happen to be.

We'll be more careful about cleaning them too, and replacing worn motors when necessary.

7. Take Time Every Day to Play With my Cats

Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Cats are habitual creatures and love to have a playtime set aside every day at the same time. I'll rearrange my busy schedule to make sure that I'm included in that play. Play time is bonding time, just as much as lap and cuddle time, and the cats look forward to it.

It's probably a good time to invest in another Da Bird, too. They particularly like the lifelike flight of that toy, and it's a good way for me to be involved in their play.

8. Give Them Toys to Challenge Their Abilities

Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Our cats are all extremely inquisitive. Billy, especially, seems to have superior intellect. He sits quietly in a corner and watches and observes everything that goes on around him, earning him the title of "little watcher cat." Billy was especially quick to figure out the maze presented by the Peek-a-Prize Toy Box. I'll be on the lookout this year for similar toys that will challenge his intellect and abilities.

9. Learn More About Clicker Training for Cats

Although I have a pretty good idea how clicker training works, and have read the "bible" on Clicker Training for Cats,my hands-on practice with it has been confined to the first "click-treat" session, which the cats readily learned and enjoyed. This year, I resolve to set aside time several days a week, even if it is only five or ten minutes. I'll start with Jenny, because she's a clever little girl and enjoys any attention I can give her.

10. Make Cuddling a Daily Event

Jennifur, my Former Outdoor Lap Cat
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

I need a daily cuddling session with each of my cats. My cats need it too, even if a couple of them don't quite "get it" yet. I'll try the Scoop and Snuggle technique, described by Colleen Patrick, and we'll all make cuddling a daily practice.

Jenny is a good candidate, because she loves to snuggle close, but only on her own terms. That's okay. I'll settle for what I can get. Billy still is a holdout though.

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