Hello and welcome to Service Cats and Everything Feline. These articles aren’t intended to be an all inclusive Training manual but rather, Tips, Tricks, and Techniques used/developed by myself throughout my many years of animal training, cats in particular. We also try to answer questions about Everything Feline. You can send your questions or topic suggestions using our contact form here, leaving a comment below, or via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Always remember, successful Training is all about Repetition and Rewards. You can find links to all the articles in this series, including a brief description, from our menu, Training Tips and Everything Feline.
I believe all animals, especially cats, can live a more harmonious life with a little Training. A well adjusted and happy kitty doesn’t need to climb the curtains, scratch/tear up the furniture, or spend it’s life hiding. A little bit of Training and humans understanding the needs of their kitty will go a long way to keeping more cats in their forever homes, out of shelters and off the streets.
One of the questions I’m asked most often when talking about Service Cats is, Is there a particular breed or sex that is easier to Train? Another question is, I’ve had my cat for a couple of years. Is he/she too old to learn? The short answer to both of these questions is, ANY cat can be Trained at ANY age. All it takes is a little time, Repetition and Rewards. So, you’ve decided it’s time to add a new kitty to your household. Where do you start?
Step I: Self/Family/Housing Evaluation:
Make sure you and anyone else living in the home are ready for a furry family member. Whether this is your first pet or you’ve had them all your life doesn’t matter; each kitty/pet is unique. Make sure you have the time to devote to kitty. Contrary to popular belief, cats are very social creatures and crave the attention of their humans. If you aren’t prepared to share your life and home for the next 10 to 20 years (average) with a new kitty, get a stuffed animal or consider volunteering with a local rescue or shelter. Can you afford to feed kitty an appropriate diet and provide for his/her basic needs, litterbox, litter, toys, scratchers, etc.. I don’t believe money should be the deciding factor in pet ownership. But, I do believe that you should be able to supply for the basic needs of your pets barring emergencies and unforeseen life events. I don’t believe it’s okay to “dump” kitty when things go bad or times get tough.
Does your housing allow for cats/pets and are there any rules, fees or deposits required? NEVER give a pet as a surprise gift. Animals are living, breathing beings that require ongoing and almost constant care and attention. NEVER get a pet that you think you can “hide” from your landlord or anyone else for that matter. It’s not fair to the pet, or to responsible pet owners. Who is going to feed kitty daily and clean the litterbox; or in the case of a dog, take them for walks? Who will be responsible for getting kitty any needed medical care including yearly exams and required vaccinations? Do you have any rules you expect kitty to follow and are you prepared to Train kitty? Do you have any expectations from kitty? This list could go on and on, but, if after considering these things, you still want to add a kitty/pet to your home, move on to step 2.
Step II: Research:
Proper research will ensure a happy home for all inhabitants. The first question you should ask yourself is: Do I want a Kitten, Adult, or Older kitty? All life stages are wonderful. Be aware that kittens require the most Training and Patience. Older kitties may require more immediate and extensive medical care. However, kittens do require a series (3 multi sets and a rabies) of vaccinations, worming, and neutering by the age of 6 months. Will you be getting pet insurance? If so, there’s more research to do here. If you don’t already have a good veterinarian, it pays to do your due diligence and research the vets in your area. Some important questions you may want to ask: 1. Is the vet available for after hours emergencies? 2. Do they accept pet insurance or care credit? 3. Do they have an in house lab or is everything sent out? 4. Are there any specialists on staff? 5. Do they offer grooming/claw trims? 6. Do they offer boarding? 7. Do they offer discounts? We get a Service animal discount at our vet. It’s not much, but every little bit helps. 8. Is the vet open to alternative treatments/homeopathic medicine?
Now that the Vet research is done, you can concentrate on the fun part, the kitty itself. The first question here is: Do I want to buy a pure bred kitty or save a life and adopt an unwanted kitty? The second question is, What age kitty do I want? If adopting a kitten and you don’t already have a cat/kitten at home, you might consider adopting 2. Before visiting the shelter, rescue or breeders, you should do some research on cats and specific breeds. While you’re not likely to adopt a pure bred kitten from the local shelter, some traits can be pretty closely determined by looking at cats with similar coat colors, body types, and color patterns. Tabby is not a breed. However, with the internet, one can research the domestic short hair, domestic long hair, and domestic medium hair kitties most often found in shelters and rescues, as well as black cats, tuxedos, etc.. Cats with a tabby colored coat are generally considered more docile, with gingers/orange tabbies being the most easy going. There are exceptions to every rule, but having a little knowledge is always helpful.
You might like the appearance of the smushed face long haired Persian, but it’s a lot of work keeping that fur mat free. The same goes for all long haired cats. The smushed face can also be the cause of many medical issues, especially if the breeder isn’t/wasn’t responsible. The adorable blue eyed pointed cats are often quite chatty and demanding. Make sure you have the time to devote to grooming. Even short haired cats require some grooming. And, don’t think you’ll be off the hook with a hairless cat. They require more grooming than any furred cat on the planet. Regardless of kitty’s grooming needs, think of this as a time to bond with kitty. You’ll also need to learn to clip kitty’s claws, or be prepared to take them to the groomer or vet a couple of times a month. We’ll be posting a claw clipping “how to” along with a video, in a future article. We’ll also be covering cat breeds, traits, and behaviors in future articles.
You should also do a little research on diet. Cats are obligate carnivores (an animal that feeds primarily/exclusively on animal matter because it is biologically essential for survival). In case you didn’t understand the definition, that means they must have meat in order to survive. I don’t care how cute kitty stew sounds, cats don’t need carrots, peas, or potatoes. And, you’ll never see a kitty baking up kibble in the wild. Kibble is the absolute worst thing you could ever feed any cat. I’m a huge proponent of a species appropriate raw diet, but there are decent wet/canned foods for those who aren’t ready to commit to raw. If you’re interested in feeding raw, you can check out our raw feeding articles here: Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5, and Pt. 6. We will be covering more about appropriate diets and raw feeding in future articles, so if you have any questions or concerns we don’t address in these articles, let us know. We will also cover other pet foods and feeds in future articles.
Another topic for research is kitty litter and litter boxes. Who knew you’d need to put so much thought into where kitty did their business? Generally speaking, a cats sense of smell is much greater than ours. As such, cats hate scented litter. All those lavender scented, clean fresh, etc., are made for humans and can be the cause of litterbox mishaps. If you’re cleaning kitty’s litterbox daily, the smell shouldn’t be an issue. There is no such thing as a litter that doesn’t track, so just get used to it and buy a good sweeper/broom. Most people and cats do well with clumping litters. Cleaning is easy and most textures are accepted by kitty. We prefer the more natural litters that can easily pass through kitty’s system if ingested, such as wheat or corn. The grass litter works well, but is too lightweight for larger/heavier kitties. A lot of people still use clay litters. I don’t like them. They smell and clump like cement. If ingested, it doesn’t pass through kitty easily, and will continue to absorb liquid. Cats don’t drink enough as it is, why add to the problem.
As for litter boxes, you may go through several before finally finding the right one. If adopting a kitten, you will probably need what I call a starter box. A small sided square pan that the kitten can get into and out of easily. I’ve used oblong cake pans, and plastic shoe boxes with great ease in the past. This can be replaced by a regular litterbox when kitty is about 6 months old and can easily get into and out of a regular litterbox. I like covered high sided litterboxes, but they must be cleaned regularly because the smell is trapped inside. Remember, cats can smell much better than humans and are very clean by nature. Nothing will cause a cat to refuse to use their litterbox quicker than a filthy smelly box. Our favorite litterbox is the Litter Robot automatic system. You can see our original review here. It is well worth the cost if you can afford it. If I could, I would gladly buy a second. The cats love it as much as I do. It’s always clean no matter the time of day or what else may be going on. We will cover more about litterboxes in part 2 of this article.
Now that the research has been done, it’s time to move on to the next step. We’ll cover that in part 2 of this article. Kitten season is fast approaching, and we’d like to see those kittens in responsible loving forever homes. Let us know in the comments below if you’re thinking about adding a new kitty to your home any time soon. And remember, you can send us you questions and/or topic suggestions via our contact page or email anytime. We look forward to learning what’s on your mind.
Till the next time…………………………………………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Mommy A (Audra High)