We have an epidemic in our country. Approximately 2.7 million animals each year are euthanized. Additionally disturbing is that roughly 70% of all cats that enter shelters are euthanized.* These are troubling statistics. And, we have the power to change this!
People who get to know me and have known any of my pets have commented "You are so lucky with the personalities you have in the pets you have adopted." People, it's not luck. It's called loving them back to health! Let's be real here. Anytime we have someone new in our personal space, there is most often a getting used to each other phase - the personalities, habits, opinions, attitude... the list goes on. It is the same with our pets. We are the leader of the pack, and we set the tone for the expectations and how we treat them. Are we providing a clean and organized environment where they feel safe, secure, loved, comfortable, and are able to thrive? Do we talk with them? Do we engage with them?
In the case of Keiki the cat, she was an adult rescue and had previously been abused by her owner as he would launch her into the wall like a football when he was angry. It took some time to gain her trust and reassure her that she was safe, however time, love, a safe and secure environment, the right diet, a clean litter box, and nurturing will heal most wounds. Keiki emerged to be full of personality, vocal and very talkative. She also became a complete snuggler. If there was a lap, she would find it and be sleeping contently purring away in the lap of luxury. Her early years may not have been the most joyous, however her latter years were full of unconditional love, nurturing, and an environment where her wonderful personality was able to thrive.
Houston the cat, the current man in my life, is loads of personality. Found in very rough shape living on the lamb with a very large dog, Houston thinks on most days that he is part dog. I was determined to train my next cat how to go potty in the toilet and though it did take me a few months, Houston mastered going potty in the toilet. He has gone from a rogue and fierce independent little man to still possessing that tough side of him, but with a cuddly side too. I can be working on my laptop, and he'll climb up and head bump my arm indicating that he needs some cuddle time. And, then he'll curl up and purr away. Such is the life of a pampered King.
We have a questionnaire for all new applicants that apply to work with our DCDS Team. In our Feline section, here are a few of the questions we ask:
- There is a new cat we are caring for and the cat is incredibly stressed out. Upon entering the home, the cat begins to hiss and rear up in attack mode. What would you do?
- There are a variety of cat litters on the market ranging from clay based to pine to corn to flushable. What is your knowledge on cat litters? Why would you use a particular cat litter over another?
- What is the number one reason a cat will be stressed out?
Would you know the answers to any of these questions?
We are determined to help enable more people be able to adopt cats and dogs. However, we also need to help the humans with tips and tricks to lead successful lives at home with their pets.
So, let's get down to the basics and discuss what are the best tools to use to help you provide the best quality of life for your cats.
Cat Food Bowls
Cats generally prefer china, porcelain, or stainless steel. Houston the cat currently has white small porcelain and china bowls from Target and Crate and Barrel. We have a set of them, and basically each day, we swap out the bowls for new bowls. The dirty dishes go in the dish washer and are thoroughly cleaned on the next wash cycle. Keep in mind these are also actually the same types of bowls and plates we use for the humans. Keep it simple. The key is to make sure you are rotating the food and water bowls daily so they are clean. If you do opt for dedicated pet bowls, please be sure they are being washed daily. Additionally, stay away from plastic as a normal rule. The only time we use plastic is when we utilize his collapsible bpa free bowls when we are traveling.
I know we love the look of a water fountain, however here is my issue. The humans are usually pulled in to the idea of how wonderful a water fountain would be for my pet. However, unless you are willing to clean the water fountains every few days, please stay away from them. Do you know how there is the residue that accumulates at the bottom of the bowl and becomes rather slimy.... You feel it when you run your finger along the bottom... This happens quickly. It's called saliva and bacteria. Now, imagine the owner who fell into the marketing trap of wouldn't it be so wonderful if my cat(s) had a water fountain and they'll drink more water... BUT, the human never cleans it so really it is a nasty, slime infested, smelly water vessel that continues to circulate crappy water. Yummmm... that sounds super appealing. NOT! So, unless you are going to clean the water fountain regularly, just have a bowl or two out with water. And, please wash the water and food bowls daily. None of us would like to ever eat our food served on day old plates and bowls with food residue and slime on the bottom.
Hopefully the message is getting out that declawing cats is cruel and unusual punishment. Occasionally, I hear someone say they had their cat declawed to protect their furniture and I grimace in pain. The veterinarians we work with will not declaw a cat and recognize this is inhumane treatment.
Cats need to have a surface to scratch on. And, yes, cats can be trained to use the scratching post. My absolute favorite is a sisal covered post. Forget the carpet, the decorative luxurious faux fur covered surfaces, or the fashion corrugated cardboard surfaces. These are marketing to the human, not the cat. Most cats desire something they can really get their nails in to and scratch away on. Sisal is one of the absolute best coverings to promote scratching on. Additionally, I find that a pole type of surface is ideal. This enables your cat to tap into their inner wild cat tree climbing side. All of our cats have used this SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post successfully. Houston is quite long and lean and will sort of climb up stretching himself out on it. We highly recommend these scratching posts. They are a great investment and will last for quite a while. Additionally, if you rub some cat nip into the sides of it, your cat will be drawn to the post. If you are needing to redirect a cat who is using other surfaces, pick your cat up and bring him or her over to the new post. Take both of their front paws and mimic the scratching on the post. They'll usually take it from there.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PEOPLE, PLEASE SCOOP THE CAT LITTER! DAILY! YES! THAT MEANS AT LEAST ONCE EVERY DAY!
I'll be honest. When I started DCDS, it never dawned on me that the number one item we would need to purchase for cat owners is a litter scoop. In my coaching work with other businesses, they are also amazed at the number of people who just don't have a scoop. What happened?!! Did the cat litter marketing companies somehow convince people that a chemically scented cat litter meant that it's now acceptable to not scoop your cat's litter? Let's get real people. That chemically treated cat litter is toxic! It's toxic for you, toxic for your cat, toxic for your family, is dusty as hell, and is not doing you or your cat any favors in life. Get rid of it!
What about the crystals, the fake grass, the diamond encrusted gems that allow the pee to go to the bottom and you only need to change once per month. I'll tell you what. How about we'll provide the exact same setup for the humans. No flushing allowed, just pee and poo on the crystals. When you clean your cat's litter, you can clean the human pee and poo. I am guessing that the epidemic of not cleaning cat litter boxes daily would be cured within one week... or less!
There are only TWO litters I currently approve of. Both are biodegradable, healthy, plant based, no chemical scents and toxins, and one is even flushable.
- World's Best Cat Litter (corn based and flushable)
- Smart Cat Litter (grass based, very strong clumping)
Pets thrive in environments where they are talked to, engaged, petted, played with, and incorporated in daily life. When the humans are gone, people can forget how lonely and silent a home can become. We recommend to all of our members to have a radio or some sort of device with music playing. TV's are also an option, however put something that your pet will enjoy, not necessarily what you would watch. For example, Keiki loved when we would watch the movie Ratatouille. She would literally sit there between us engaged with the entire movie. We had multiple laughs and smiles over her interest in this particular movie. If playing music, we highly recommend easy listening music for reading or classical music for reading. This will be soothing, fill the home with a comforting sound, and provide comfort to our pets. In my home, we have the Amazon Echo that works wonderfully! We love the Echo and additionally, I am able to change up the music on my phone app if I want to play a different play list for our pets.
Our list will be updated on an ongoing basis, however I hope these tips are helpful in becoming a better pet owner and providing the very best quality of life for our furry companions. Please comment below if you have tips you would like to add or suggest.
Let's elevate the care for our pets to provide the best quality of life!