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Cat in the House
2011.01.22.
It is widely known that cats have much fewer expectations towards their future owners than a dog. They don’t need a huge garden and three-hour walks everyday (for one of which we need to get up early in the morning, blear-eyed and grumpy), and we don’t need to take them to school to teach them that slippers are not the adequate food for them. However, we are wrong if we believe that when adopting a cat we need to consider only the issues of the litter box, food and water bowls and some bed. I’d suggest all the future cat owners to consider right before the adoption how their families and homes will be affected by the peaceful (or sometimes stormy) cohabitation. The following article addresses those who share my view and prefer keeping the cats only indoor – I am neither for hosting the cat in the garden, nor am I good at it.

So if we consider how to handle some possible allergies, if we can forgive that sweet little hairy prankster that sometimes they draw music sheets on our hand – part of the game – and if we feel ready for handle that our cat might sometimes break out in an unforeseeably long aria, we shall start preparing our home for the newcomer.

First of all, yes!, cats jump up ANYWHERE up to 2 meters height, particularly if they still have all their four legs, though we shouldn’t underrate the abilities of a three-legged cat, either and think that they would have any problem with conquering the kitchen counter. Thus, we should get used to putting away knives, we shouldn’t leave the raw meat that we have prepared for cooking on the counter and we shall put the china kit in a safe place, too, before it would end up in sad pieces as a result of a cat attack. Furthermore, we shall say farewell to such “spontaneous” romantic programs like covering our double bed with rose petals and encircling it with small candles.



Cat Accessories and Life in an Apartment

An ardent pet owner might be inclined to rush straight to the nearest pet shop with a van. However, I wouldn’t suggest doing so, as one might leave three times more money than needed. Until we learn the kitty’s habits (and it should take at best 2-3 days) we will need only a carrier basket in which we can take them home, bowls for water and food, and a litter box (and in case of a long haired cat a heavy-duty comb shall be essential, too). Buy the first portion of food and litter but moderate yourself at the kitty furniture and toy department. We shall first try home-made toys to see for what the little furry dumpling goes. Find out which they like more: a tinfoil crinkled into pellet (i.e. some small rustling toys) or an object swinging at the end of a string. Then we can return to the pet shop and choose a toy mouse or a ribbon but don’t buy up the whole toy supply before having met the cat.

When we have purchased and found the place of everything we can start fearing of what the kitty would do to our home. Well, they certainly will do something – and here the issue of training is very important. First of all you have to know that in case of cats it is super-true that we would want to post-discipline our cat in vain. Mind that 3 hours after having committed the “crime”, they won’t have any idea why you are angry with them. We shall follow them in the first few days observing their activities and warn them immediately if they do something that we don’t want to be repeated in the future again. The problem of house-training shall not rise in 99% of the cases of cats elder than 2 months. Young kitties are trained house by their moms or we have to do that (but it is not a too difficult task), and if we adopt an elder cat we have to show them only once where their litter box is to be found. The reason for this is that cats require very high-level hygiene. They will mess at another place only when they find their litter too dirty. So when we don’t clean the litter box well, it is your own fault if your cat urinates more gladly into your clean bed-linen…



Furniture and Equipment

You might make some efforts to make your kitty more compatible to our curtains and leather sofa but you must mind that it can happen to the most obedient kitty that their claws get hooked up in the mentioned accessories by chance. If you notice that your cat prefers sitting in the window, make some room for them by drawing the curtains aside, thus you can minimize the possibility either that the cat would make any harm to it when hopping on or off. In case you have a sofa of some delicate material, you should start liking the idea of a nice bed blanket to protect it. Observe how often and how fast your pet strolls on top of your furniture and find another place for the easily movable fragile objects, if it is necessary. You must know that a cat never destroys anything just because it is “funny”. If they start scratching the bed leg, they need a scratching post (tip: you might make your own post by reeling a string tightly on a piece of table leg). If they start dropping objects from shelves without any visible reasons, you must know that they do it to make you pay attention to them, i.e. they are simply bored and would like to play, of course, with us.



Cat Security

The apartment is the kitty’s empire – so if we want to be really cool and loving owners, we shouldn’t keep them back from practicing their power. It is enough to break their habit of climbing up on the kitchen counter as it might be a dangerous place for them, and to teach them that they shouldn’t rush out of the opening door when we are trying to make our way into the house with all the eight bags we are holding. As cats are always looking for the highest point from where they can scan their empire the best, we shall make them free way to all the pitches (e.g. we shouldn’t put all the vases on the top of the wardrobe).
You are free to take or refuse the advices regarding open windows. Some say that cats are not such idiot to jump out of the window, but they should take into account that they are animals driven by their instincts so we shouldn’t expect them to ignore birds flying above even if their tummy is full. I wouldn’t even mention that they can slip off the moulding by chance if they suddenly get frightened. In case we can’t give up keeping the window open, we shall equip the window with an insect screen or a cat protect mesh, so that we can relax when sleeping or going away from home, leaving our kitties in safety.



Discipline Methods (uh, sure…)

When we have finished 4 books on how to treat a cat, we shall forget at least half of those we have read. If you don’t want your family and neighbours to consider you to be an idiot, note that we achieve nothing by shouting and we shall also short out such means of discipline from our arsenal like water pistol as nine times out of ten we succeed no more than soaking the parquet while our cats are simply laughing at us delirious with joy over their wickedness. But how can we achieve anything with a cat? I have 17 years of experience and I can tell you that even though there aren’t many methods to use, it is still not a hopeless mission.

1. The “mind your behavior” method. – When our cat does something bad, put them in the bathroom and explain why they should think over what they have done. Close the door and leave them alone for an hour. Effect: relax a little – and they won’t be wicked again for some days.

2. Dropping dinner – might sound cruel but it works. In case of serial wickedness it is useful to drop the tidbits for 1-2 days and give our cat some water and dry food only for dinner. Effect: the kitty, being resentful for some time, soon becomes visibly more gentle and they would suddenly do anything to please us as they are aware of the fact they we are the ones who provide them the food.

3. Physical discipline – don’t use it too often as our aim is not to terrify our cat. We shall adopt this method principally when they have committed something dangerous to themselves, like crawling on the kitchen counter when the gas burner is on, jumping up on the hot convector or fleeing out of the house.

4. The “let’s wash the hair” method. We shall use it only when the kid is unbearably bad or did something really really wrong (especially several times or for a long time).We shall grab the kitten caught red-handed and bring them to the bathroom – accompanied by long and round oaths – turn on the cold water and, minding the ears, wash the kitty’s hair. The whole should take only 3-4 seconds – its effect must last for long time. We shall keep this magic weapon for the perfect time, don’t use it too often or otherwise it might lose its power of discipline.

And finally…

Each and every pet is a separate individual, thus we shall try to observe the reason why our cat does certain actions, and we shall do a deal. Of course, first of all we have to notice and accept that by adopting such a wonderful, self-conscious, graceful and incredibly beautiful animal we agree to care for the member of an only semi-domesticated species, the primary aim of who is not to serve us but to assert their own will. So we might bring out the best of our relationship with our cats if we consider them as members of our family and not as a furry accessory to our homes.

Ági







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