Pet and Parent Bonding: Training, Toys, and Treats For Your Cat
Learning the ropes
Imagine you just became the newest member of an established family in a foreign country. You don’t speak the language or know how to act. This is how it is for your new cat. She really wants to know what to do, or not do, so she can get past the formalities and down to the important business of having fun. Showing her the ground rules is one of the most caring things you can do for her, because a cat who knows her roles and knows how to behave is happier and safer. You and your family will have more fun with her too. It’s all part of building a better bond.
Thinking inside the box
For obvious reasons, litter training should be number one on your agenda. Choose from several types of litter boxes, from basic to covered, to automatic. As for litter, it’s a matter of your and your cat’s preferences. Traditionally made from clay, litter now comes in many varieties, including soft paper for sensitive paws, silica for better odor control, and even corn- and wheat-based, flushable litters that are environmentally friendly. If your adopted cat is litter trained, she may express a preference or need a little adjustment to her new facilities. A novice will be happy with whatever you supply.
A cat needs privacy, so make sure the litter box is in a quiet, undisturbed place, far from her food. It’s also a good rule of thumb to have one box per cat. If your cat isn’t trained, place her in the box after each meal. Expect accidents at first. If you just put the waste in the box, she’ll get the idea and eventually do it herself. If your cat suddenly becomes untrained, there may be two reasons: she may object to a recent switch in type of litter, or your fastidious feline might want you to change her litter more often. Cats are naturally very clean pets and training shouldn’t take too long or be difficult.
Have claws, will scratch and climb
Training your cat means redirecting her natural instincts into acceptable outlets. She’s not going to stop scratching, climbing, stalking and pouncing because those activities are part of her nature. So it’s up to you to show her where and when these activities are acceptable. Toys that let your cat act on her instincts will keep her happy and active, and also keep her from getting into your favorite possessions, which will keep you happy.
When people see a cat scratch they often think she’s sharpening her claws. Actually, cats have little glands between their paws and scratching lets them leave their scent on things. It’s their way of laying claim to their territory. Clawing may also be her way of shedding old nail sheath. Either way, place plenty of scratching posts and toys around the house for your cat to claim. You can spray them with catnip to make them irresistible to your cat, while you use a deterrent spray to mark your couch and other tempting objects as “paws off!” Cats also love to climb, perch and find private little nooks to lurk. Indulge yours with a perch that has a platform, rooms, or preferably both. Place it near a window or treat your cat to a sheepskin window perch. She’ll spend contented hours there, surveying her surroundings. Cat furniture should be covered in carpet or rope, perfect for climbing and clawing.
It’s always playtime for cats
We’ve talked about what needs to be done for your cat, but let’s talk a little about what she brings into your life. Fun! When we become Pet Parents, our pets often bring out the kid in us. What can you give her in return? Toys and treats!
Toys let your cat exercise her natural playfulness, release energy and reduce stress. They can also help strengthen the bond between the two of you. Balls she can bat at the end of a pole or string that you hold give the two of you a chance to play together. Since cats may swallow string and elastic bands, toys with these features should be played with only when you can keep a close eye on her, and should be stored away when not being used. Your feline will also love an assortment of toys she can stalk and pounce on. Give her a toy mouse and she’ll act like she caught the real thing. Or for a real safari, set an erratic movement toy loose and stand back while your cat transforms into a hunter.
For even more fun, get a few toys filled with catnip. Start with one to find out how your cat is affected by this safe, non-addictive hallucinogen. About 80% of adult cats react to its irresistible properties. The tendency to like or ignore catnip is inherited, and some cats are actually immune to its influence.
Toys, like cats, come in all sizes and colors. Luckily, it’s just as much fun shopping for toys as it is giving them. Can’t pick just one? Try giving your cat a few at a time then switch them out each week to keep her interested and content. If you want help picking out the perfect toy for your pet, ask a fun-loving PetSmart associate.
Tasty cat treats
Your cat will appreciate an occasional treat, and she’ll love you for giving it to her. A favorite is cat grass, which you can grow yourself in a pot and let your feline graze. Crunchy treats are tasty and help clean her teeth, which small soft and chew treats make great rewards for good behavior. Hairball-formula treats make it easy to trick your cat into taking her medicine. Choose nutritionally complete treats to help supplement your cat’s healthy diet. And keep your treating occasional—too much can upset her tummy.