It’s a new year, and like many of us, you’re probably already rethinking your New Year’s Resolution. But what about your cats? Were they part of your resolution? If not, it’s not too late to commit yourself to enhancing your cat’s life in 2020. Keeping cat resolutions are much easier than dropping that extra 20 pounds. Think of it as a way of thanking your cat for all the joy it brought you in 2019.Here are a few ideas for creating a 2020 resolution for your feline family members.
Regular Play Time
Playtime isn’t just for kittens. While it’s easier to regularly play with kittens, by the time your cat reaches adulthood, things tend to slow down dramatically in the play area. Your cat has probably gotten bored with most of its catnip-infused mice, and while empty boxes may still illicit a look-see, they’re no longer the magical marvelous rabbit hole they once were. Face it, your cat isn’t a kid anymore. But if you think your cat no longer needs the exercise and mental stimulation of play, you’re wrong.
Cats just wanna have fun.Your cat was built to hunt, and unless your house is mouse-ridden or you walk your cat regularly, your cat is probably not getting the benefits of the hunt: exercise, mental stimulation, and pure adrenaline-pumping fun. You can resolve this by setting aside 15 to 20 minutes a day to work your cat into a running, jumping, butt-wiggling frenzy with a laser pointer or a rod toy (my all-time favorite is Da Bird from GoCat). To make it even more crazy-making, play a recording of bird sounds during your play session. In no time, your cats will come running as soon as you turn on the soundtrack. Surface the kitten in your cat.
Plant a Cat Garden
We all know that cats love catnip, but you don’t have to stop there. Create a garden (indoor, balcony, or outdoor) just for your cat. In addition to adding a bit of beauty, this could easily become your cat’s favorite spot. Giving your cat its own garden may even keep it from munching on your houseplants.
Here’s a variety of cat-safe and cat-approved plants for your garden:
Catnip – Not much to say here. Plant seed or purchase potted plants from your local nursery or pet store. (Note: You’ll get a much better deal at the nursery.) Replace when it gets weedy.
Valerian – A tall, flowering perennial. In humans and cats, valerian is said to combat stress, anxiety, and other ailments. As a cat garden plant, it’s pretty, robust, and about 30 percent of cats enjoy nibbling on it.
Mint – Mint plants in the cat garden not only add interest, but can also serve as a source of mint for your cooking needs.
Lemon Balm – The wonderful lemon smell of this plant makes it a personal favorite. My cats sniff it from time to time, but I’ve never caught them eating it. That said, they seem to enjoy it. Don’t let the small size of nursery stock fool you; in no time, these plants will grow quite large.
Cat Grass – Pots of cat grass are available at most pet stores, but you’ll be better off purchasing pots of wheat grass from your grocery store. Are they the same thing? Pretty much. While the cat grass sold in pet stores may contain a variety of grasses, your cat isn’t likely to notice the difference. A pot of wheat grass from the grocery store is much cheaper.
Silver Vine – Silver Vine (Actinidia polygama), also known matatabi, is a species of kiwi fruit grown in the mountainous regions of Japan and China. It has an effect on cats that’s similar to catnip. Studies show that a larger percentage of cats respond to silver vine than catnip, so if you have a cat that doesn’t respond to catnip, give silver vine a try. That said, plants are almost impossible to find, but twigs, powdered silver vine fruit, and “super” catnip that’s a blend of catnip and silver vine are now carried by most pet stores and available from online sellers. I had a source for live plants, but the couple who ran the business retired. Hopefully, in the near future, live plants will become more available.
Spider plants – A common houseplant that cats enjoy playing with and eating.
Warning: Most lilies, including Peace and Easter lilies, are extremely dangerous to cats. Even a little ingested can send you racing to the emergency room. It’s best to remove all lilies from your home.
Toilet Train Your Cat
A toilet-trained cat is a joy. Of the many reasons for toilet-training your cat, my favorites is that your cat will no longer make contact with its waste. Reduce the time you spend cleaning up after your cat, save money by not having to buy litter, bags, and deodorizers, and reduce litter spread throughout your house. OK, to be fair, this one’s more for you than your cat. Double this up with another goal if you’re feeling guilty.
Build a Catio
Do you have a patio or porch you could enclose and deck out with cat goodies? An area in the yard that can accommodate a window box catio or a free-standing one? Consider building a catio in 2020, buying a kit, or hiring a handyperson to build one for you.
Catios provide a safe space for your cats to enjoy the outdoors, bird watch, and nap in the sun.
Leash-Train Your Cat
Open the world to your cat by training it to walk on leash. Want to get started? Check out the article, “Why Leash Train Your Cat” in the November 2019 issue of Bay Woof.
Adopt A Buddy for the Solo Cat
If you’re gone for long periods during the day, you might want to consider adopting a buddy for your cat. While not all cats are keen on sharing their space and their people, many thrive on the companionship of other cats. If you think your cat might benefit from a pal, consider adopting a cat from a shelter, cat café, or breeder.
Clifford Brooks works as a documentation manager in the enterprise software security sector. In his spare time, he writes horror fiction, cat books, and blog posts. His most recent books, The Zen of Cat Walking and Toilet Train Your Cat, Plain and Simple provide thorough information on training your cat. You can follow him on his cat-walking adventures and share in the joy of cat ownership at CliffordBrooks.com.
Main article photo by: Clifford Brooks