From vomiting to weight loss to overcoming fear of the vet, I have learned a lot about my cats in 2013. This knowledge has led to some positive changes in the way I care for them, but in reality there is always room for improvement. Here are five New Year’s resolutions that will ensure my cats’ 2014 is as awesome as a pair of freshly washed black pants lying in a sun puddle.
1. Figure out what they like to eat — and stick to it
Ever since I found out the kibble I was feeding my cats was the feline equivalent of McDonald’s, I’ve been struggling to find a healthy alternative that they actually like. They each have certain dietary requirements, of course, because otherwise it would be too easy. Bubba Lee Kinsey is a moderately overweight senior, and Phoenix is a borderline-obese, five-year-old calico who is prone to vomiting, hairballs, and narcissism.
I seem to have recently hit the jackpot with Royal Canin. My vet recommended it, and the blends for seniors and weight loss both went over well with the cats; that is, they ate it without complaint and did not scream at me for more wet food every time I walked in the kitchen. My main goal for this year is to keep my cats’ diet consistent and not cave when they act as though they have not been fed in days when I know it has only been a few hours.
2. Clean their litter boxes daily
Last year, after trying seemingly every natural cat litter on the market, I discovered Arm & Hammer Essentials, an all-natural, corn-based litter that eliminates odors, clumps tightly, and jives with my kitties’ pooping preferences. Win!
But I still fall short on one of the most basic litter-box requirements: keeping the damn things clean. I am not going to lie — if I am super busy, sometimes I will let their boxes go for a couple of days (or more), ignoring them with the kind of willful diligence normally reserved for the mess in my car or the alarming number of Jolly Rancher wrappers in my desk drawer. This isn’t good for me, and it’s especially not good for the cats. In 2014, I vow to do better.
3. Plan more playtime
In 2013, life got busy. In between my full-time job at the cube farm and my freelance gigs that I do for the love, I managed to squeeze in yoga, time with my boyfriend, family, and friends, and a couple of awesome vacations. But in one area, I lagged behind — I was at home less often, so I spent less time playing with my cats.
I have no excuses. I know exactly how important regular play is to a cat’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Fortunately, a number of life changes in the new year will allow me to be at home with my cats more often, giving me the chance to grab that feather toy and play FUN MURDER GAMES with my little house tigers.
4. Put down the phone
Like seemingly everyone else, I’m addicted to my smartphone. I check it for texts, Facebook notifications, emails — basically whatever it takes to get that little signal light blinking and massaging the reward center of my brain. I know I need to put the phone down and live in the moment and all that jazz, but first I just need to finish reading this blog.
The good thing about cats: They force me to put the phone down by headbutting it out of my hands. This year, instead of getting annoyed, I’m going to embrace the opportunity to enjoy kitty snuggles and purrs every time my cats suggest it — at least as long as the activity they’re interrupting is Facebook stalking and not, say, dinner or making out.
5. Keep regular vet appointments
My cats are vaccinated, and I always take them to the vet when I have a cause for concern, such as Phoenix’s frequent vomiting or Bubba’s burgeoning arthritis. But their fear and hatred of everything an appointment entails — from getting in the kitty carrier to riding in the car to waiting in the office to actually interacting with the vet, who might as well be Lord Voldemort — makes keeping regular checkups rather unappealing, especially when all seems to be well.
But I have learned that these visits are actually vital to keeping minor health concerns (particularly dental) from becoming severe, painful, and potentially life threatening. This is especially true for senior cats like Bubba Lee Kinsey. In 2014, I will take my kitties to every vet appointment, even if the cats and I cry the whole way there and back.
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More by Angela Lutz:
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About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.