Being a cat owner isn't as easy as it may seem. Many people adopt a cat because they don't feel they have the time or energy for a dog, but most cats actually require quite a bit of attention and activity to stay happy. Just as with any other family member, if you have a cat in the house, you really need to put in the effort to take care of them.
While cats usually do their own thing and aren't necessarily as obedient as dogs, they can, in fact, be trained to do certain things and avoid certain behaviors. Adopting a cat is work, but if you know what you're doing, it doesn't have to be very hard. Whether you're looking to bring a furry friend into your life or learn more about how to take care of your cat, these 30 life hacks are sure to help.
Give them a two-syllable name
While giving your cat a name like Princess Rainbow Fluffypants can be awesome, you probably also want to have a nickname that you'll actually use to call them. Cats tend to only respond to shorter names, so stick to one or two syllables, preferably ending in an "ee" sound. For Princess Rainbow Fluffypants, for example, you could go with "Fluffy."
Invest in a scratching post
In order to save your furniture from your cat's claws, make sure you have a solid scratching post. Cats use scratching as a means of keeping their claws shorter, and a scratching post is good place to redirect them when they start scratching anything they're not supposed to.
Use green tea or baking soda to reduce litter box odor
Litter boxes can really stink up a room, particularly if you have more than one cat. If the litter you're using isn't cutting it, consider adding just a little bit of baking soda to the bottom of the litter pan or some dried green tea leaves to help reduce the smell.
Give your cat a treat after playing with a laser pointer
Laser pointers are popular as cat toys, but cats are natural hunters and can get frustrated and filled with pent-up energy in a game where they never catch their prey. To end a game of chase with the laser, give your cat a treat to give them a sense of accomplishment and a job well done.
Give your cat some climbing space
Contrary to popular belief, most cats need to stay active. A great way to keep your indoor cat active, particularly if you live in a smaller home, is to put up some shelves or towers for them to climb. Cats also appreciate having the higher ground, particularly if they're the territorial type.
Put a box on your desk when working
Many a cat owner can attest that cats love getting in the way when you're trying to do some work at your desk. If you find that your cat has a propensity to sit on your book or keyboard or in front of your monitor as you attempt to use it, place an open box on your desk big enough for your cat. If there's one thing cats love more than sitting on keyboards, it's sitting in boxes.
The best toys are simple household items
Just as cats tend to love boxes more than the toys that come in them, they love many other simple objects around the house. You can go ahead and buy some great cat toys, but many cats will find great joy in playing with items such as empty toilet paper rolls, crumpled receipts, straws and socks.
Trim your cat's claws or get them claw covers
Many cat owners seem to not worry about this, but it's a good idea to lend your cat a hand with claw care. Learn to trim your cat's claws or, if that's too much, buy claw covers (they come in multiple colors!) that a vet or groomer can help you learn to put on. Whatever you do, however, don't declaw your cats. Akin to amputating someone's fingers at the first knuckle, it's extremely cruel and illegal in many countries outside the United States.
Touch their paws
Most cats will give you a hard time when it comes to trimming their claws or putting on claw covers. Touch and play with their paws as much as you can when they're in a relaxed mood or cuddling with you. This will keep them from associating you touching their paws with you trying to trim their claws, so they'll be less likely to resist once you do try to.
Put food on a plate if your cat eats too fast
If your cat scarfs down food at meal time, that's not a good thing. Eating too quickly can cause your cat to throw it all back up. Put their food on a shallow plate so that your cat will take longer to eat. This also has the added benefit of preventing "whisker stress," which occurs when a cat's whiskers rub against the sides of their food bowl too much.
Give your cat running water
Cats need hydration, and the best way to get them to drink water isn't by putting it out in a bowl. This is because cats can't see still water very well but can hear running water, so your best bet is to buy a pet water fountain.
Keep your cat's food bowl away from the water
Another way to encourage your cat to drink more water is make sure that you place their food bowl away from their water bowl. In the wild, cats don't like to eat their prey near water as it can pollute it. They're also less likely to drink water if there's a delicious snack right next to it.
Try to vary feeding times
This is particularly relevant to morning feedings. If you feed your cats at the same time every day, they will learn to expect food at that exact time and make sure to let you know. In fact, if you feed your cat after waking up every day, many will try to train you by waking you up earlier and earlier every morning. Make it so that your cats are fed when you're ready to feed them to prevent them hassling you beforehand.
Try to stick to wet food as much as possible
In order to keep your cat as healthy as possible, try to stick to wet food. Cats who eat only dry food are more likely to have health complications such as diabetes and dehydration. These foods also tend to contain high levels of carbohydrates, which aren't good for cats. At the very least, try to give your cat both - with the dry food ideally being grain-free - in order to make sure they're getting the best nutrition possible.
Keep dry food in a plastic jug or cereal container
If you do feed your cat any dry food, keep it in a cereal container or a plastic jug with a lid. Not only will this make it easier to pour out into your cat's food bowl, but it'll also keep the dry food from going stale.
Use vinegar and baking soda to clean up accidents
Instead of using cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals, go for a more natural, homemade solution when dealing with accidents. Mix one and a half cups of warm water with a half a cup of white vinegar and douse the spot with it, leaving it to soak for a few minutes in order to kill bacteria. Once this spot has dried, sprinkle it with baking soda and leave it for 30 minutes to an hour so that the baking soda will soak up any bad smells before vacuuming.
Grow your own catnip
If your cat loves catnip, consider growing your own. About half of cats are affected by this member of the mint family, which serves as a sedative when consumed and a stimulator when smelled. Catnip-loving cats tend to roll around and get hyperactive in response to the plant, and having it in your home will make your kitty very happy. Just make sure your cat doesn't eat a large amount, as this may cause vomiting or diarrhea.
Place aluminum foil or masking tape on a surface to keep your cat off
If you have a stubborn cat that won't stop climbing into the baby's crib or sitting on the kitchen table, you have to make it so that they won't want to do so anymore. Cover the surface in some aluminum foil, and you'll find that your cat quite detests the sound when it jumps on top of it. If you put some masking tape down with the sticky side up, it'll stick to your cat's feet as they walk all over it, which will help them learn to avoid it.
Remove cat hair with duct tape
Sometimes grooming isn't enough, and you'll still find your stuff covered in cat hair. To remove the cat hair, especially from furniture, place duct tape over it. When you remove the duct tape, the hair will come up with it.
Play with your cat right before bed time
If you have a kitty that gets very active and playful at night when you're trying to sleep, try tiring them out before going to bed. You should try to spend at least 10 minutes a day keeping your cat active, and a good rule of thumb is to get them up to a point where they start panting.
Train your cat with treats
One of the many common misconceptions about cats is that they cannot be trained. While not as easily as trained as dogs, cats can indeed be taught certain behaviors with the promise of treats. For example, if you want to teach your cat to high-five you, you need to get a clicker and click it every time you have their paw touch yours, after which you give them a treat. After a while, you can start doing this without the clicker and eventually, your cat will start to high five you just from hearing a specific command or seeing you hold out your hand, no treats needed.
Prevent shedding with frequent brushing
If you have a cat that sheds a lot, you'll often find your clothes, furniture and floor covered in fur. One fantastic way of preventing this is by frequently brushing your cat to get the fur out ahead of time. There are also certain pet grooming tools specifically for deshedding that can help.
Buy an air filter
Having a cat in the house can mean more odors, dander and allergens in the air, especially if you have more than one. Keep an air filter or purifier running in the home and it'll remove quite a bit of airborne dander and dust. Not only will this make your home smell better, but it'll make the air more breathable too, especially if you have any friends or family with allergies.
Have a litter box per cat, plus one
If you have multiple cats and enough room in your home, it's highly recommended that you have one litter box for every cat, as well as an extra litter box. Many cats don't like sharing litter boxes, and even if they don't mind, it's still good to have extras in case one is occupied, full, or otherwise inaccessible.
Leave your cat carrier out
Many people have trouble getting their cats into their carrier, which is understandable if any time your cat goes into a carrier, it's to go to the vet. Try to break this association by leaving your carrier open in the house for a week or two. Your cat will sniff it, lie inside it, and all around get used to it and not immediately associate it with a long car ride or going to get a shot.
Get clumping litter
Cleaning out your litter box can be painstaking and messy. A litter that clumps will make scooping easier, however, as it'll be obvious where you need to scoop and whether you've gotten it all.
Take your time introducing other pets
If you're bringing a cat into a home with other pets or another pet into a home that already has a cat, don't just put them together and hope everything works out. Cats tend to be very territorial, and they also need time to adjust to a new environment. A new cat should be kept in a smaller space such as a bedroom or bathroom for at least the first few days. Slowly introduce them - first letting them smell each other, then eat on opposite sides of a door, then short play times together, etc. - and you'll help them acclimate better.
Use a pheromone diffuser
Cats are often easily stressed by change. If you're adopting a new cat, moving homes or even bringing more pets into the house, buying a pheromone diffuser can really help your cat adjust to the new environment. The diffuser will emit an odorless vapor that's meant to imitate feline facial pheromones, thus calming your cat down.
Buy pet insurance
People tend to think they don't need pet insurance until they do. If your cat gets sick and you don't have any insurance, the costs are likely to be much higher than if you had paid monthly to keep them covered. Shop around to see which company and insurance plan is best for you. Many companies have started to provide pet insurance as an employee benefit, so check with your work as well.
Two is better than one
Cats may seem like solitary animals, but most of them crave companionship. It's a good idea to get two cats, especially if you're out of the house during the day. Not only will your cat be less lonely, but they're also less likely to get destructive if they have someone to play with during the day. If you already have a full-grown cat, it's a good idea to get a kitten. Otherwise, your best bet is to adopt two littermates when choosing your new furry family member.
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