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.
I have been told that my cats are spoiled. I suppose they are, but I don’t really consider that to be a bad thing. Spoiled human children often grow up to become snooty adults that no one wants to be around. Spoiled cats just live their cushy life and enjoy every minute of it. If a cat is able to convince a human that her purpose in life is to satisfy their every desire (no, of course I’m not talking about me), then rah rah for them! However, recently I’ve discovered that in regards to living that aforementioned cushy life, there are other cats who have it far, far better than mine.
Take, for example, the cats of Bob Walker and Frances Mooney. These nine felines definitely hit the cat lottery when they adopted this couple. The lucky kitties have the purrfect home (more on that in a minute). In fact, Bob and Frances call their home “The Cats’ House” because that’s exactly what they believe it to be.
Bob said “One day it finally came to us that we go off to work every day leaving the house to the animals. We realized that possession was nine-tenths of the law, that it was really their house so the least we could do was cater to their whims and desires and make it their house.”
They started with a simple catwalk and “one thing led to the next.” Ha ha! Before they knew it, they had 140 feet of elevated cat paths (the “Cat Highway”) throughout their home, with three different ways for the kitties to get up to the catwalk. One of their early inspirations for the catwalk came from a relative, who had a train track that went around the top of the room. Only instead of a train, Bob and Frances have cats zooming around overhead and through the walls to the next room.
You won’t find the word “catification” in any printed dictionary, and it’s even too new to be found in online dictionaries. I’m not positive, but I believe the term was coined by Jackson Galaxy, noted cat behaviorist and star of the popular Animal Planet show, My Cat From Hell. If you watch that show, you’ve probably heard Jackson tell the clueless humans “you’ve got to catify your house!” Jackson has also had a Catification Column on his website for at least a year, so if he didn’t create the term – and the concept – he’s certainly had a hand in making sure cat owners everywhere are familiar with it.
So what is this catification thing, exactly? “Catification is about creating feline-friendly environments that cater to a cat’s natural instincts to climb, perch, rest, play, and own their space,” says Jackson. To catify your home means to provide adequate places that satisfy your kitty’s natural desires to either be up high if he’s a “tree dweller” or “down low” if he’s a bush dweller.
Jackson’s Catification Column is written by Kate Benjamin of hauspanther.com, an online magazine for design-conscious cat people. It includes lots of terrific examples from cat peeps who have created feline-friendly environments in their own home, like the ultra cool kitty staircase pictured at right.
Although catification might seem to be all about the cat, it actually provides benefits to the human occupants as well. A happy cat is less likely to engage in undesirable behaviors, like making mincemeat out of your couch or carpeting. Which means that you get to have nicer things in your home and don’t feel the need to apologize to guests for your ratty décor (unless you happen to love ratty décor, wherein you wouldn’t be apologetic anyway.)
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