Crazy Cat Lady’s Guide on How to Keep a Cat
I am a crazy cat lady. Okay, okay I only have two cats, but I am obsessed with their care and behavior. I’ve been a veterinary technician for 10 years and it has only increased my love for kitties. Cats are complex little critters. Some people think of them as small dogs and some people think of them as aloof and unaffectionate. But really, they are their own little, independent spirits. Not everyone immediately understands all of their behaviors and what to do about them if they are undesirable. Let’s go over a couple of the most common reasons that keeping your cat may not work out. Maybe we can find some solutions on how to keep a cat in your home where you want her to be.
How to Keep a Cat Step 1: Potty Training Your Cat
One of the most common reasons people get rid of their cats is inappropriate urination, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship with your little kitty friend. After ruling out a medical reason, such as a urinary tract infection, it might be time to look at your cat’s litterbox a little more closely.
Although cats like enclosed spaces, a litter box with a lid trap in bad odors. Use an open litter box with unscented litter. What smells good to us, doesn’t necessarily smell good to your feline friend. Speaking of scooping, it should be done at least once a day to keep your cat happy and using that box. You should keep one litter box per cat plus one extra in the house. This gives your cat plenty of places that they can go without competing for space with another cat. Even if you only have one cat you should have two litter boxes. It will keep each litter box a little cleaner between scooping.
What if you use all your litterbox tricks still aren’t working? Then it is time to retrain your cat to use the litter box. This takes some time, but it really can be effective and can be one of the most important steps to keep your cat.
- Get yourself a large dog kennel with only enough room to keep a litterbox, a bed, and food and water bowls.
- Keep your cat in the kennel for several days to a week, making sure to clean that litterbox at least once a day.
- Upgrade your kitty quarters to a bathroom or any other small tiled room. Keep your cat in that room for several days to a week.
- Then you can move your cat to a bedroom sized room. Carpet is okay for this step.
- If all has gone well and your cat continues to use the litter box reliably through this process, you can let your feline friend free.
It is important to clean the area that your kitty has been urinating on. If it smells like urine, it will be harder to keep your cat from falling into old habits. Use an enzymatic cleaner for getting that urine smell out.
How to Keep a Cat Step 2: Solving the Scratching Problem
Another common reason to find another home for your cat is scratching up your carpet and furniture. Some people’s first reaction is to go get their kitty declawed. Let me urge you to stop and think about that first response.
First, let’s discuss what declawing actually is. The procedure removes the third phalanx, also known as the toe bone. There are three main techniques using sterilized nail trimmers (guillotine method), a scalpel blade, or a laser to remove the toe and the nail. No matter the procedure used, it is still a surgical procedure with the risk of complications.
The most common complications are bleeding, claw regrowth, and the surgical site opening before it is fully healed. This can cause lameness and a slow healing process. The larger your cat is the more likely there will be complications. Think about it this way: the more weight on your cat’s feet, the more pressure there is and therefore it is more likely to have excessive bleeding and a higher chance that the surgical site will reopen.
There are other alternatives to declawing. Keep the nails short by trimming them regularly. Another option is nail caps. You simply trim your cat’s nails, apply glue to the inside of the nail cap, and place on the nail. They can last for about a month. You could also train your cat not to scratch by following the following steps.
- Start by redirecting your cat’s attention every time she tries to scratch inappropriately. Use a toy to catch her attention.
- Make the scratching post a desirable object. Start by using treats every time you see your kitty using the post. If your cat responds well to catnip, you could try sprinkling a little bit of dried catnip onto the post to avoid giving too many treats. There are also pheromone sprays and wall plug-ins to encourage the use of the scratching post.
- Place tinfoil or tape on the items that are being scratched inappropriately to deter the behavior.
- Use a scratching post made of sisal or cardboard. You don’t want to have a similar material as your couch. Some cats prefer something to scratch on vertically, while others prefer scratching horizontally. Provide both types of scratching surfaces until you know what your kitty prefers.
A combination of all three approaches usually is the most effective. You can use the nail caps while you are teaching your cat the scratching post is the place to be.
When is it appropriate to declaw? If it will prevent the cat from being euthanized, becoming an outdoor cat or having to be rehomed, sometimes it is the right decision. It may be worth the risk of surgery to save a cat’s life.
There are some challenges to being a cat companion but hopefully, I have given you some ideas on how to keep a cat and make those challenges a little easier. Cats are great additions to a home and a family. If you are like me, then you think a home is not a home without a cat.