5 Wishes on Your Cat’s Holiday List

Behavior, Cats

If your cat could talk, what would they ask for for Christmas? Dr. Preston is going to answer that question in this month’s blog post!

If you own a cat, you know they are very unique creatures with their own specific behaviors and needs. As a veterinarian and a life-long cat owner, I hear a lot of the same stories and grievances from clients, some of which I have experienced with my own pets. If your cat could talk, what would they ask from you? In the spirit of the season, here are some ideas that will give you a happier, healthier cat in your home.

Your cat wants to act like a predator

Cats are natural hunters, even though most cats nowadays live indoors. They still have that instinctual desire to chase prey, and finding toys or products that allow for that natural behavior provides a lot of enrichment for your cat. My favorite way to accomplish this is with a feeding toy, where kibble or treats can be placed inside a toy that they chase or bat around. This provides mental stimulation, allows them to hunt, and increases exercise.

Treat Ball Cat Toy Meal Dispensing Cat Toy

Make sure if you use one of these feeding toys that you are reserving a part of their daily meals, rather than giving them extra food. Other helpful items are laser pointers, or motorized toys that move either on their own or when touched. Some of these items might require you to devote 10-15 minutes of play time 1-2 times per day, but luckily most adult cats do not desire much more physical activity than that!

Your cat wants to scratch

Scratching is one of the most normal behaviors a cat can do, so we should never try to discourage this. Our goal instead is to give them better options so that they do not scratch in undesirable locations (such as our rug or furniture). Cats typically scratch where they sleep, or where they spend the most time. Because scratching is part of their normal stretching routine, we need to provide large, sturdy scratching posts that allow them to extend their front legs and will not fall over. A combination of horizontal and vertical scratching posts placed close to where they sleep is usually your best bet. Vertical scratching posts should be at least 3 feet tall for your average cat.

Cat Scratching Post

Your cat wants a BIG clean litter box

Make sure your cat’s litter box is at least 1.5 times the length of your cat, is scooped daily, and placed in a quiet location in the home away from disturbances.

High-Sided Litter Box

Your cat wants a stress-free trip to the vet

There are many options for cat carriers these days, so choosing a carrier that allows the cat to easily get in and out is best. This is to avoid dumping them out of the carrier at their appointment, and to avoid you being scratched or bitten while trying to get them back in. Carriers that allow the top to completely open, or that unzip along an entire side, are the easiest to maneuver in my experience. As an added bonus, consider the use of Feliway wipes, which are a calming feline pheromone product. A single wipe, used on the inside and outside of the carrier, can make the trip a little less stressful.

Necoichi Ultra Light Collapsible Cat Carrier Bag

Your cat would rather not know it is taking a medication

Unfortunately, many cats reach an age where they need to be on a daily medication. If you have reached this point, you likely know how unpleasant administering oral medications to a cat can be, leading to drooling, not eating, and hiding behavior. We have lots of options these days for compounding medications into better tasting formulations, but my secret weapon for my own cat is pureed cat treats, specifically Churu brand. Cats love them, and they do a great job masking the taste of bitter pills.

Churu Lickable Cat Treat packs

Hopefully this gave you some ideas on how to treat your cat this holiday season. Contact our office at 410-687-1111 with any questions about your pet. Happy Holidays!

– Dr. Heather Preston

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center provides medical and surgical care for cats and dogs at our animal hospital and veterinary clinic in Essex, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Our services include preventive wellness care exams, vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care. Our state-of-the-art veterinary offices are conveniently located near I-695 where we see pets from Towson, Honeygo, White Marsh, and other neighboring Baltimore areas.

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