’Tis the season for gratitude. It can be hard, given all that 2020 has thrown at us, but sometimes it’s healthy to take a step back and be thankful for all we have. As cat parents, we are thankful for Kitty’s snuggles, antics and companionship.
But, are our cats thankful for us?
“We have this stigma that cats have this chronic, disgruntled, loathing internal mindset toward people,” says Shadi Ireifej, DVM DACVS, Chief Medical Officer of Vettriage. “It’s not true. On a fundamental level, they need us.”
So, even though our cats may not be able to verbalize how grateful they are for you over a heaping Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings, know that they are. Dr. Ireifej provides some reasons why.
We’ve domesticated cats, but they are still hunters at heart. Because we love them, we want to help them be the best indoor versions of themselves.
“We show them we understand this behavior by finding toys,” Dr. Ireifej says. “It causes the cat to be intrigued on a biological and evolutionary level where they can pretend to hunt something.”
Think fish wands, crinkle balls, catnip toys and electric mice. Sometimes, like a toddler, Kitty will be more excited by the box. Don’t think they’re ungrateful for the toy — know they are simply super thankful for the packaging.
“Cats will use it to hide and scope out the environment … you’re giving them the tools to express themselves on a feline scale and go back to their evolutionary roots,” Dr. Ireifej says.
Not only do we feed our cats (and sometimes invest in fun feeders that allow them to use their natural instincts), we ensure they stay hydrated. It’s an important task. Keeping a cat hydrated allows their kidneys to get rid of toxins, prevents UTIs and keeps the rest of their bodies functioning properly.
But some kitties won’t sip out of any old bowl. Cat parents with picky drinkers will go to great lengths to find something else that works. In Dr. Ireifej’s experience, a water fountain often works.
“If you can imagine, again, going back to their biological roots, a large cat like a lion or tiger is going to find ways of drinking water outside in running or a still body of water,” he says. “By creating unique methods for cats to have an interest in drinking water and promoting what they would have done out in the wild, we purchase these cat water fountains and it allows them to maintain hydration.”
Part of that is because pet parents are doing more to ensure cats are getting regular wellness check-ups, vaccinations and will invest in high-quality care should a cat get sick.
“We are showing how much we care about them,” Dr. Ireifej says. “People are looking for more experts in a specific field of veterinary medicine. They’re looking for state-of-the-art hospitals.”
If nothing else, we love our cats.
“The human provides them with food, water and emotional stimulation,” Dr. Ireifej says. “They may show us they are thankful with head butting, purring.”
Even if the little lion is a hider, they’re grateful that their human is there.
“The bond is huge,” Dr. Ireifej says. “Cats recognize that. It’s hard to have a loving household without the human part.”
Featured Image: Dean Mitchell/Getty Images
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