Happy Meow Year! As we finally move into 2021, what New Year's Resolutions can we make with our cats, to support them and ensure a happy cat household the whole year long?
Resolution 1: Keep to a routine
2020 was a year of change for everyone, including our cats. An international survey undertaken by FELIWAY during the pandemic showed that 20% of owners felt that lockdown had been stressful for their cats, likely due to the changes in household routines that we've all had to make.
However, our cats don't like change! It's important for them that everything stays the same in their environment, and they can get anxious if furniture is moved around the house, or new people visit.
So if your routine has changed - or you'd like to start the New Year with a new routine - be sure to make any changes with your pet in mind! Whether you will be leaving the house more, or generally changing your day-to-day routine, be sure to make any big changes gradually - and be consistent! Try to keep activities such as kitty mealtimes, playtimes and fuss times at the same time every day, to help your pet feel in control!
Resolution 2: Spend more time together
Build in some together time with your kitty to really strengthen your bond! Cats are most active and playful early in the morning, or in the evening; you may have seen them having a 'mad moment' at these times, running around the house, so this is a good time to play a game with them and use up all of that energy!
After your cat has used up that energy, sitting down in the evening to relax and unwind and give your pet some fuss is a great way to support your relationship. Build in some cosy time to sit and relax together; as well as being very enjoyable, this time together will strengthen the bond between you.
Resolution 3: Make sure your cat has plenty of exercise
We know that our furry friends like lots of cat naps - it's in their DNA! But exercise is important for our pets' physical and mental health too; you can help your kitty stay fit and healthy by playing games with them.
Schedule in about 15 minutes for each play session; cats can get bored quickly, so a couple of short sessions each day will be more productive than one longer session. Play games that allow your cat to use their natural hunting instincts, like chasing a toy mouse on the end of a string or a laser light - but always make sure the play session ends in a reward.
Try to ring the changes a little with the toys to avoid your cat getting bored; but you don't need to spend a lot of money doing this! Cats love exploring cardboard boxes, or try hiding some treats around the house or in empty egg boxes for them to find. They will enjoy the challenge just as much!
Resolution 4: Learn to speak cat!
Being able to spot when your cat is feeling anxious, is fearful, or is in a playful mood, and being able to respond accordingly will strengthen the bond between you.
How well do you understand your cat's body language? Did you know that if your cat is very alert, they will hold their tail upright, with a little kink at the end? But, unlike a dog who wags its tail to welcome you, if a cat wags its tail from side to side, they may be getting ready to pounce!
Want to know how well you can speak cat? Take our Cat Body Language test, to find out!
Resolution 5: Don't forget FELIWAY!
Make FELIWAY Optimum a New Year's resolution for your cat! FELIWAY Optimum is the best FELIWAY solution to help solve all common signs of stress for enhanced serenity, and helps to support your cat through any stress or anxiety that may occur throughout the year.
Resolution 6: Healthcare handling
Is your cat happy for you to brush them and touch them? If not, this resolution may be for you. Cats instinctively know to groom themselves and keep themselves in top shape, but there will be times when you need to help them out. Time spent brushing or stroking them, also allows you to check your cat over for any injuries, or lumps and bumps you may need to get checked out by a vet.
To get started with a healthcare resolution:
Make sure you schedule in grooming sessions when your cat is relaxed, perhaps after eating or play sessions. Keep these sessions short to start with, by slowly introducing a brush to their coat, then gradually stroking their fur gently; if your cat has short hair, you will probably only need to brush their coat once a week; if you have a long-haired cat, this should be done more frequently. Regular gentle brushing will help remove dirt, spread the natural oils through their coat, help to prevent tangles and keep their skin clean and irritant-free.
If you have an outdoor cat, you may find that their nails will be kept in good shape with all the climbing and scratching they do outside, but you still need to keep an eye on them for any injuries. Remember that all cats need a sturdy scratching post where they can extend their claws and scratch on a regular basis; this will also prevent them from scratching your furniture!
There will be times when you need to trim your pet's nails, so the earlier you start to handle your cat's legs and feet, the easier it will be when you start to trim. Get your cat used to having their feet and legs touched; rub your hand up and down their legs, and gently press each individual claw. Make sure you give them lots of praise and treats to make it a positive association, then when you start clipping they will be more comfortable with you holding them.
However, be careful to never clip their whiskers! Cats have sensory carpal whiskers close to their feet which help them when they are hunting and prowling in long grass - and these should never be trimmed.
In the wild cats don't have to worry about dental hygiene as their diet keeps their teeth clean, but cats living in our homes can develop a build of plaque and tartar on their teeth. As for us, toothbrushing is the best way to maintain a healthy mouth. Toothbrushing may seem daunting, but with training, over time your cat can learn to accept toothbrushing sessions (ideally a few times a week).
Grooming sessions and teeth brushing should be fun for the both of you, so be sure to schedule them when both you and your cat are relaxed, but do not try to force your cat to accept grooming as this will only discourage them from coming close to you.
Resolution 7: Schedule in regular visits to the vet
Did you know that cats age more rapidly during the first two years of their life, and in their first year, they will reach the equivalent of 15 human years? However, the rate of a cat's development slows down after their second year of life (when they are equivalent to 24 human years old). A cat's breed will also affect their age development, but a good rule of thumb is that every 4 cat's years is equivalent to 1 human year.
Therefore, it's important that they have regular health checks by your vet to ensure they are staying healthy as they get older, and that any problems can be spotted early and treated. Also, check your cat regularly when grooming (Resolution 6) and let your vet know if anything changes, for example, if they don't want to play, or if they are hiding or sleeping more than usual.
Resolution 8: Limit the treats!
Treats are great for training and rewarding your kitty, but particularly as they get older, you will need to help them keep to a healthy weight, and this may mean limiting the kitty treats you give them. Instead of kitty treats, try using some of their food (from their daily allowance) as a reward when you are playing with them and when they respond positively, or using food in a play puzzle to keep them active.
Resolution 9: Check their resources regularly
Cats like their home comforts, including a comfy bed, perches to climb onto, hiding spots, and a safe place to retreat to where they can relax undisturbed. Make sure these are maintained and that your pet still has good access to them at all times.
Don't expect them to share their resources with other cats in your home - keep their food bowls away from their litter tray and you will have a purrfectly happy kitty through the New Year!