I’ve always tried to keep things simple in life, whether it has to do with my schedule, my work, what I spend time on, and what I take care of. I find that I am more calm and less stressed, in general, if I try to keep it simple. I think the same strategies apply when you’re caring for multiple cats. Things can get pretty darned hectic and involved.
Without thinking about it, I find myself setting things up a certain way so that I can keep it streamlined and simple when it comes to the care of the cats. Here are five examples of what I mean. It probably helps that I may have just a tad of compulsive-behavior tendencies (maybe!).
1. Establish a feeding routine
I remember things better if I do them at the same time, in the same way, every day. Perhaps this is a bit compulsive, but it works for me. So, my six cats get fed once in the morning (usually soon after I get up) and once at night (usually around 5 to 6 p.m.). With six cats and varying needs, you can imagine that the details get complicated. And they can, especially when certain cats need particular care. I’m not particularly strong with details, so I set things up to make everything work smoothly (maybe this is why people mistakenly believe that I am so organized!).
Two tabby cats sitting near empty bowl by Shutterstock.com’>
I feed the cats in the basement laundry room so that they don’t mill all over the kitchen waiting for me to dole out the food. Everyone gets a little blop of canned food in the morning, and some cats get different things mixed in that blop. (Rama, for example, gets the most stuff in his food, since he’s had many sarcomas removed and gets some immune boosting supplements.)
So, I take care of everyone else first. I’ve trained Norton and Zorro to eat in their carriers, and I’ve trained Rama to go into the bathroom and wait while I mix up his food (otherwise, he would eat everyone’s special mixtures). Cats can learn very fast, so if you have multiple cats, figure out a routine that works best for you and show your cats how to adapt to it.
I also take care of stuff right away, in regard to feeding, so that the details of this stuff don’t bother me later. Right after the cats have eaten, I wash all their bowls and set them to dry. I also clean all the boxes right after feeding is done. Routines like this may seem hardcore (and I used to think that they were), but I’ve learned that they help me free up space in the rest of life to relax, to get to other important stuff, and to not worry about what I have or haven’t done for the cats yet.
2. Have a box-cleaning routine
My box-cleaning routine is pretty simple. All the boxes are in the same place, a quiet, out-of-the-way area in the basement. I clean them once or twice daily — immediately after feeding time in the morning and one other time during the day. I have bags nearby for the collection of litter. I use a biodegradable brand that I love. It is expensive up front, but it’s not in the long run, because I have to use so little of it and it clumps nicely. I have learned that I waste less litter if I am good about cleaning the boxes regularly.
3. Clean up stuff when you first see it
If I spot a hairball or throw up, I make myself clean it up right away. Then I don’t have to keep seeing it and keep wondering when I’m going to do something about it. It does help me simplify my life.
5 cat like family members by Shutterstock.com’>
4. Plan ahead to keep food and med supply flowing
Running out of stuff really disrupts my life, especially with six cats. I’m quite far from the nearest place that sells the things I like, so I try to make sure I am always ahead with all cat supplies I need — food, litter, and any meds or supplements.
Along these lines, I take advantage of the veterinarian’s ability to remind me of certain things that I will need to schedule in the future. If they have the ability to send me a postcard reminder or an email or a phone reminder of some checkup date, it simplifies my life a great deal.
5. Consolidate vet visits
This seems obvious, and I do this for preplanned visits to the vet (such as yearly exams). Similarly, if one cat needs something and another cat might need something checked, I’ll take them both. For example, I recently had to take Rama for a lump removal. I was also on the fence about whether to do blood work for Kieran, after I learned he had a pellet in his abdominal wall. I decided to just take Kieran and do the blood work (part of my hesitation was fear over what I might find). It simplified my life to take both cats at the same time, since I likely would have taken Kieran in the future, anyway.
Some vets will even give you a discount for bringing in multiple cats. My new Vermont vet did so, when I brought my cats in for their annual exams.
I’m always looking for ways to keep life simple. How do you streamline your life with your cats? Let me know in the comments!
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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.