Children can form a loving relationship with the family cat that will enrich their lives in so many ways. A close bond between cat and child won’t happen by accident though. As the parent and responsible pet owner, you need to do your part to make sure your children know what to expect when living with a cat. You also need to be sure that the home environment is both kid-safe and cat-safe. Here are six important things children need to know about living with cats.
Cats are Not Toys
In a child’s eyes, a cute, fluffy cat may resemble that stuffed animal she plays with and takes to bed at night. They need to be taught that cats are not inanimate toys but living beings with daily needs that need to be met, including food, water, grooming and cleaning up after them. Children also need to understand that animals experience pain, fear, love and many other emotions, and need to be treated kindly at all times. Your kids might think it’s fun to put doll clothes on the cat and lug her around like a baby, but not all cats will like this. Forcing a cat to do things it finds frightening or objectionable will hinder bonding and may even lead to your cat avoiding the child at all costs.
Learn to Read the Cat’s Body Language
Understanding what the cat is trying to convey through body language is such an important thing for children to learn. As individual beings, cats have different likes and dislikes, and varying degrees of tolerance. What all cats have in common, however, is that they will give off warning signals before resorting to biting or scratching to get away when they’ve had enough petting or don’t want further interaction with you. Kids – and parents – just need to know what that tail, eyes, ears, whiskers and legs are “saying.” My article, How to Read the Body Language of Cats, will give you detailed information. Read More »
The other day, three friends posted the same video to my social media page. It was the cutest darn thing I’d seen a while, and it consisted of nothing more than two cats having what appeared to be a full-on conversation. There was plenty of subtle body language being passed between these two, but what really struck my fancy (and apparently 60 million other people’s fancy) was their vocalizations. Full of trills, purrs and squeaks, these cats were “getting it said,” and I wanted to know what they were saying. Let’s take a look at 5 common cat sounds, and what they mean.
Ah, the sweet, sweet sound of a cat’s purr. Snuggling your cat and listening to him purr is said to have therapeutic qualities; it elevates your mood while lowering your blood pressure. That’s a pretty potent combination! Purrs also help newborn kittens to survive. When a mother cat gives birth, she purrs during the process to help comfort herself and reassure her babies. And since the kittens are born deaf and blind, they cannot see or hear their mother – but they can feel the vibrations of her purr. These vibrations direct the kittens to their mother’s warmth and food. Read More »
Contrary to what those tired old stereotypes say (cats are aloof; cats want to be left alone; cats don’t bond with people, etc.), many felines are total love bugs. Many cats crave affection from humans and will return the love. However, because every cat is an individual, some will naturally be more affectionate than others. It depends on several factors. Some things simply can’t be changed, such as inborn personality traits and the way they were treated in the past by other humans before you. Luckily, a third factor – the things you do with and for your cat – can absolutely change the level of affection you get from them. It may take time, patience, understanding and determination, but improvements can be made. Here are some things you can do to develop a stronger bond with your cat and encourage them to be more affectionate.
Meet Their Basic Needs
This has to be the very first thing, because when you meet your cat’s needs they are happy. And a happy cat will naturally feel more affectionate toward the humans who are meeting her needs. See how it’s all one big circle? So make sure the litterbox is scooped daily and provide several types of scratching posts, an assortment of cat toys, access to fresh clean water, and a high quality food in the flavors your cat finds palatable.
It’s been 10 years, but I still remember the look a friend gave me after I expressed dismay that her “poor cats” were never allowed to go outside. At the time, all of my cats, past and present, had the freedom to go out as much as they wanted. I actually thought it was a bit unkind that my friend was depriving her cats of the outdoors, and when I said her cats could never be happy living indoors, that’s when I got “the look.” She vehemently disagreed, and it was clear we’d never see eye to eye.
A lot has changed since then. For starters, I now know that I was dead wrong about indoor-only cats not being happy. Secondly, I’ve changed my practice of allowing my cats unlimited access to the outdoors. It’s a personal decision we all have to make for our own cats. I just came to the conclusion that for me, the risks of allowing them outdoors outweighed the benefits. It’s been proven that indoor cats live longer and healthier lives, and I wanted my feline friends to be with me for as long as possible. However, I worried about their emotional state because I still struggled with the idea that indoor cats could be happy.
What I have found, after years of research and personal experience, is that some indoor cats will be just as happy as they could by having access to the outdoors, and some will not. There is no one size fits all answer; it really depends on several factors.
Cats are amazing creatures. They are graceful, elegant, somewhat moody and hilarious to watch sometimes. If you have any doubt about that, just look up “funny cat videos” on the internet and you’ll be giggling for hours (and yes, I speak from experience).
Have you ever watched a cat race across a yard and then jump halfway up the trunk of a tree before it begins climbing? How about watching a cat easily leap from the ground to the top of a fence? How do they do that? When you see them perform these amazing feats, you begin to understand how closely related your domestic house cat is to a big jungle cat.
Thanks to evolution and the way felines have adapted to their environment over the years, both jungle cats and house cats have extremely strong back legs and a great deal of flexibility. This is because their ancestors mostly lived in trees and had to leap out to catch their prey before climbing back up the tree with their meal. Imagine a leopard carrying an antelope carcass up a tree; he’d need to have really strong hind quarters.
When considering what a dog is willing to woof down, you can’t help but wonder if they actually taste what they eat. It doesn’t seem to matter to a dog whether it’s their favorite CANIDAE meal, a bug or an ice cube. My dogs will eat everything with gusto as if it had been prepared by a top chef. My cats hunt flies, spiders and other small creatures, and occasionally an overlooked dust bunny. The senses of dogs and cats are far superior to ours, but do they have taste buds, and can they really taste what they eat?
Taste buds play an ingenious role in human and animal survival and are designed to help keep us alive. Without the ability to distinguish between certain tastes it would be difficult to know which foods are safe to eat and which ones to avoid. Something that tastes bad usually means it could be harmful to swallow, and a good taste would be an indication it is safe to consume. All vertebrates have taste buds on their tongues, but how many a species has depends on which tastes they need to be able to detect to stay safe. Humans have about 10,000 taste buds, whereas dogs only have around 1,700 and cats have approximately 470. Because herbivores, like cows for example, dine on a large variety of plants, more taste buds are needed to help them tell if a plant is toxic or beneficial for them to eat.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.