Feline Resolutions

Want to know the secret to truly achieving your New Year’s resolutions? Set goals for your BFF: best feline friend.

When you shift your focus on your cat, you may find you are more motivated to set and meet goals in the new year. This strategy has worked purr-fectly for me to the benefit of my indoor cats: Casey, a young adventurous orange tabby; and Mikey, a sweet, shy senior who sports a shiny all-black coat.

Here are four attainable resolutions that, if met, can do wonders to improve your cat’s physical health and mental well-being:

  • Kitty, meet Dr. Cat. Try these tactics to make veterinary visits for your cat more welcoming. Transport your cat in a carrier with openings on top and in the front to make inside-the-carrier examinations possible for anxious or frightened felines. Bring a thick towel and place it on the stainless steel exam table to provide your cat with more stability and comfort. The towel has boosted Mikey’s confidence during exams. Book appointments during quiet times whenever possible and consider taking your cat to a feline-only practice if he is fearful of dogs.
  • Introduce the clicker. Pump up playtime and boost your cat’s confidence by teaching him a new trick or two using the clicker technique. Casey loves to perform in my pet behavior and pet first aid classes for students, so I met last year’s resolution by teaching him how to do a circle on cue. This year’s clicker goal is to teach Casey how to sit up on his hind feet. The clicker marks the wanted behavior, followed by a small treat. Try it! Your cat may like it!
  • Think “fang” shui. Our cats spend more time in our homes than we do and deserve some feline functional furnishings. You don’t have to break the budget or turn your home décor into a catty look. Consider treating your cat to a cat tree (jungle gyms for cats), a catio (enclosed patios for cats) or a feline superhighway (a series of sturdy shelves on a wall for your cat to navigate). Make use of your vertical space as cats love to survey their surroundings from a safe, high perch. Casey and Mikey love looking down on our doggy trio from their perches.
  • Prevent your cat from becoming a chowhound. Cats with excess pounds are at greater risk for a myriad of conditions, including arthritis and diabetes. Resolve to keep your cat at a healthy weight by measuring out a daily portion and dividing it into several meals throughout the day. Skip the bowl all together or at least once or twice a week. Place the meal portion in a food puzzle or treat ball for your cat to stalk, swat and bat around to release the kibble. And heap on the calorie-free affection!

We surveyed our feline friends on Facebook and they offer these additional New Year’s Resolutions for consideration:

  • Meagan King, of Park Cities Pet Sitter in Dallas, TX: This company earned Business of the Year honors by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), but isn’t resting on its laurels. All staff members will undergo feline enrichment training in 2018. “We hope to better educate ourselves, our staff and others on how to better interact with cats under our care,” says King.
  • Christina Marie Gray of Oceanside, CA: “My resolution for Mojo, my 19-year-old cat, is to not forget that he likes to play! He loves to swipe at yarn dangling in front of me and is still quite fierce!”
  • Scott T. Henning, a professional pet sitter in Highland Park, IL: His diabetic cat, Ralph is 18 years old. The resolution for this year? “Giving him what he loves: chin rubs and the opportunity to lie on all the dog beds in our house,” says Henning.
  • AJ Hurtado of Dallas: “I allowed Pepe to gain a little too much weight this year. His ideal weight is 10.5 pounds and he is 11.3 pounds. So, I resolve to feed him high-quality wet food only, cut back on the treats, and take him out on more walks when the weather is good. He loves to walk on a leash.”
  • Susana Galeas Gonzalez of Allen, TX: She recently adopted Lola, a 5-month-old tiger-striped kitten. “Our goal is to provide her with her forever home among our senior dogs, Zoe and Hank. We love our little girl so much,” she says.

May you and your cat enjoy a meow-va-lous 2018!

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior, Debbie Martin, LVT