Creatures of habit!
Cats know their environment through their nose... they have an olfactory organ on the roof of their nose that captures and holds smell. This organ is also called the Jacobson Organ also found in snakes. Cats use this extraordinary sense of smell to see the world... which is why SMELL is the habit you need to most understand about your cat.
It is why your cat rubs against you and objects. It is why cats will notice changes such as new furniture, strong odors, scented litter. This sense of smell creates marking behavior, causes cats to be stressed and perhaps most importantly can cause behaviors that we humans cannot tolerate. Living with cats is living with a different species... while we ask a lot of these little predators to compromise their view of the world and live in ours, we need to understand their view of the world as it makes it much more pleasant to have them in ours!
Scent is the most important one to understand. Look at where you have their food and most importantly their litter box, the kind of litter you use, the placement and the type of box. One way to help with introductions of new people, pets, is to exchange scent. A simple way to do this is to exchange scents with a towel, shirt, etc allowing the cat to incorporate the new smells into their world.
So, when we say cats are creatures of habit... we have to recognize our own. While we can change ours with knowledge and awareness of how we impact the life of our cat(s) the cat can only respond as it sees the world. Sometimes a simple awareness of a change in perfume can change the reaction our cat has to us.
There are excellent books and articles on feline behavior, one written by a fellow Bengal cat enthusiast, Marilyn Krieger the "Cat Coach" Marilyn has an excellent book available as well... tell her Libbie sent you!
Litter box control
I did not want to mask odor... I wanted to eliminate them at the source.
- Use of black light to find stains that can no longer be seen. Areas will glow blue where there are odor causing spots. Clean the area and then recheck.
- Cleaners that eliminates the odor. Find and use an enzymatic cleaner that literally eat the urine. Be sure to use these cleaners as instructed. Make a spray of the product to have on hand to spray any areas as needed.
- In carpeted areas a steam carpet cleaner can actually set the odors. The best thing to use on carpeted areas is a good old scrub brush and an extractor. Adding additional cleaners can neutralize the effectiveness of the protein based enzymatic cleaner so be sure to follow instructions carefully.
- Place baking soda on areas that have been cleaned and dried. Just sprinkle it on and let it sit for an hour then vacuum it up.
- There are many scented sprays that can be spritzed around in the air, but the best at adding a fresh natural scent was a home made combination of: 1 cup dried lavender, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp cinnamon and the 1 tsp baking soda. Sprinkle this mixture on carpeting and area and let sit for 20 minutes then vacuum. There are many such recipes on line.
- Clean those litter boxes. Dump that litter. (an interesting side note: The new raw diet used had an added side benefit of reduced litter box issue and low or no odor!)
- Use an electric air purifier. There are some with washable filters that can be reused. Check out all the different types and read what you are comfortable with using.
Obviously, cleaning the litter boxes was very important and keeping the area free of dust. Some of the older plastic litter boxes, though cleaned and really scrubbed would still hold some odor. Replace these.
Note: I use a simple clay litter due to the dumping and cleaning of many boxes for the inside cats. However, with a smaller number of boxes, you might want to check out the other types of litter offered. The ones that seem to test well, are Feline Pine and World's Best Cat Litter. Any changes in litter MUST be done slowly. This is a whole different study and one that can be researched on line.
I will add some of the recommended odor controls. If you have some to add, please do so.
Just Rite Odor Remover, was recommended on a cat fancier's list for ALL out odor remover!
CARE AND FEEDING
Cats... how to care for them? There is a joke in the cat fancy that goes like this:
"You take care of dog. Feed it. Brush it. Play with it. Love it. And the dog looks to you as if you are god. You take care of a cat. Feed it. Brush it. Play with it. Love it. And the cat looks to you as if it is god."
If you remember that a dog has an alpha system of relationship, that is in the pack YOU are the pack leader... but the cats are not pack animals, so they do NOT look to you as their leader! If you remember this, you will be properly humbled with the actual reality of life... "It's not about you." Perhaps that is one of the reasons I appreciate cats so much... they are a constant teaching that to give for the sake of giving is enough. But, I digress.
How to care for your cat.
- Coat care
- Insect control, vaccines, etc.
Let's begin with Shelter.
There is a lot of controversy over "indoor versus outdoor". Should a cat be allowed to go outside? Should it be an indoor only animal? What are the pros and cons?
I do not want to get into the debate here as both sides have legitimate points of view and in part it depends on where YOU live. If you are in a densely populated area then the question is answered. Indoor only If you live in an area where you can go on walks, etc and depending on the individual cat's personality... then leash walking might be an option. If you have a backyard or screened patio then building a safe haven outside is an option. But to open the door and allow a cat outside is to open the door to a shorter life. A good article to read on this debate is here. In general the consensus is that an indoor cat has a much longer life expectancy than an outdoor.
So, how to make for a safe INTERESTING environment for your cat. There is a wealth of information on line and a little research will find a plethora of material. Some of this can be overwhelming, so where does one BEGIN.
- Scratching posts are a must. I will go into more detail on this in the Habits section.
- scratching posts should be tall. Tall enough for a full body stretch.
- located by door ways, sleeping areas, and by furniture
- Climbing trees / Poles
- tall with shelves
- hiding holes
- in wood or sisal wrapped (no carpeting which feels like furniture!)
- Rule of thumb: 1 more litter box than number of cats.
- If covered, make escape door in back of litter box.
- Safe, secure, private area for cat to use.
- Should be in an area where other animals/pets/children cannot scare the cat.
- If you are moving a litter box from one location to another, do so slowly over days if not weeks.
- Many types available: much discussion about which is best.
- Dust free/or 99.9%
- Scented in general NOT recommended.
- DO NOT change from one type of litter to another quickly.
- Many types available: much discussion about which is best.
- Food and food dishes
- Glass and stainless steel are best.
- Place in area with easy access for cat, difficult for others to intrude.
- Do not change food brands or types quickly. With cats, think slow and gradual.
- Fountains are GREAT toys, oh yeah... they do drink from them as well
- Glass or stainless steel
- Always accessible
Check for updates as A-Kerr's has tested toys and making them available for YOU soon! You can get the latest Cat-Go-Round Wheel from us now!
- Rolling, bouncing, furry, anything becomes a toy!
- Fishing pole type toys
- YOU are the best toy possible