At the Moab BARKery we are not just all about dogs…we love cats too! We will often get asked if we only have dogs and the answer is no…we do have cats that kindly let us share their home with them. Through the years of living with these cats each one of them has taught us important lessons about how to be a great cat owner, which does take some love and effort. This three part series will talk about each cat’s individual needs and issues and what we have done to deal with them. I hope you can learn from some of our mistakes and use some of the helpful tips to live better with your cats.
This is Chicken (aka Chiquitita) and she is 6 years young and the alpha kitty in the household. When it comes to food Chicken is relatively picky and her weight has fluctuated from one end of the scale to the other her entire life. She lives with dogs that early on in their life liked to chase her, and true to her name she is not much of a fighter or a hunter for that matter. We have a bird feeder in our yard and her style of stalking is to sit under the bird feeder and meow at the birds or sauntering up to the feeder with her tail wagging, announcing her arrival. Chicken is also a cat that loves human attention, she likes to sleep on you and sit on you when ever she gets a chance whether that is while you are at the computer or in front of the TV.
What we have learned from Chicken is the importance of taking time out to show your cat affection. Cats like people, like to receive affection. Make sure you give your cat some one-on-one time each day, this can be spent holding them in your lap petting them, playing with them, really anything to positively interact with your cat, for us it is usually at bed time or while we are folding the laundry, which Chicken is also obsessed with.
Chicken is also provided with multiple spots in the house where only she can get to, not only to get away from the dogs (who have worked out know that kitty’s claws are sharp) but also to have a space of her own away from everything. It is important that cats have a space that is all their own, preferably up high as this gives them an opportunity to survey their entire environment and establish their place in the hierarchy of cats in the household. This spot can be anything from a cardboard box on a washer to a more permanent kitty condo. Chicken has a laundry basket with a small dog bed in it that lives in the top of our closet, that is where she sleeps and that is where she goes when she is frightened.
As for Chicken’s eating habits that has been a case of trial and error. When we first adopted Chicken from HSMV we started feeding her IAMS, she got fat but we continued to feed it to her because we thought it was good food. After purchasing the BARKery and doing a lot of research we found out that what we were feeding her was completely inappropriate, what we needed to be feeding her at minimum was a dry food without grain and at best a raw diet. Chicken will not eat the raw diet and we have tried several with her and so we settled on a diet of all canned food. She is a picky eater and so we have tried multiple canned varieties until we have managed to settle on multiple brands and flavor varieties that she will eat.
When you have a cat that is a picky eater it requires some effort on your part to ensure that there is variety in their diet. With Chicken we feed her a diet of purely wet food and we feed her three times a day, each time she gets a different flavor of can food so she does not get bored with her food. Her weight has been controlled by portion control, she eats what amounts to almost six ounces of wet food a day and now she is a svelte and healthy kitty.
Too many people over feed their cats or allow their cats to over feed themselves by leaving out heaping mounds of kibble and while it is not possible for everyone to feed their cats like we do, there are things you can do to help your cat stay trim and healthy. Stop free feeding your cats or if you have too, measure how much food you are putting in the bowl. Every bag of cat food has a feed ratio on it, read the label and only put out for the day the measured amount they are meant to get and measure it, don’t guess!
Feed your cat a better quality food. If you are going to feed your cat kibble ensure that it is grain-free and incorporate some wet food in to your cat’s diet. Cats do not have a natural drive to drink and they can not derive moisture from dry kibble and so this basically makes them chronically de-hydrated, that can lead to all kinds of health issues in cats.
Help their kidneys and livers out and give them a food that has moisture in it such as raw or canned diets, and feed them a quality canned food. Why would you pay $0.89 a can for grocery store canned foods that contain ingredients such as corn gluten, wheat gluten, meat meal (also known as mystery meat) when you could be buying a quality canned food that contains real ingredients for $0.93 a can. Is your cat worth $0.04 a can, I know mine is.
Anyone can be a cat owner. Anyone can be a good owner. But if you want to be a great cat owner, take these lessons that we have learned through sharing Chicken’s life and apply them to give your cat the best life possible. Not only will they be happier and healthier, but you will likely add years to your cat’s life like I know we have with Chicken.