In some circles, September is considered Happy Cat Month. Of course, you always try to make sure your cat is happy. But what can you do to emphasize your desire to bring her joy? Here are some ideas.
Fresh grass indoors. Your indoor cat doesn’t have an opportunity to chew on grass, but if she did, she would. Grass is good for feline digestion, aiding in regurgitating hairballs and other indigestibles. It even provides some nutrients. Indoor cats can be provided with their own bit of lawn in simple cardboard boxes, attractive wooden containers, or kits that come with a container, seeds, and soil. One possibility is Pet Greens Pet Grass, 100% certified organic cat grass 3-pack. It arrives ready-to-eat in three containers for $29.99 on amazon.com. Another choice is The Cat Ladies Cat Grass Kit, complete with rustic wood planter, organic seed, and soil for $28.90 on amazon.com.
The great outdoors. Obviously, you don’t want your indoor cat strolling around outside on her own, but some cats really appreciate being walked on a leash attached to a harness, even if they only like to go partway down the block. Of course, because she’s a cat, your pet is not going to immediately cotton to the idea of having a harness strapped around her middle. First you’ll want to leave it lying around so she can just sniff it and then work up gradually to having it adjusted onto her body with treats and warm praise. From there you can move to letting her walk around the house with it on and then eventually attaching the leash. If she ends up not enjoying it, that’s okay; at least you will have tried. And if she does like it, her short jaunts outdoors will prove to be wonderful environmental enrichment.
A wipe with a warm washcloth. Yes, some cats appreciate having a washcloth wetted with warm water wiped along the face and body. It doesn’t just soothe and smoothe. It also removes surface dust, dander, and loose hairs, getting your cat’s coat surprisingly clean. (But don’t do it if you find she doesn’t enjoy it.)
Massage. Your cat might get a lot out of a session with an animal massage practitioner. Massage is not like petting. Petting is usually light and stimulates the nervous system, which is partly why it can soon get a cat swatting at you. Massage, on the other hand, is slow, deliberate, and with moderate depth, which instead relaxes the nervous system. But massage is not only about relaxation. It can also relieve pain for a cat with arthritis or muscle strain. It can even help tamp down on aggressiveness stemming from anxiety.
Some animal massage therapists will come to your home. Just make sure to choose one who has received credentialing from the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage. That organization requires a minimum of 200 hours of hands-on training, not just watching videos of people conducting animal massage. Visit www.nbcaam.org.
Food puzzle. Boredom is the scourge of house cats’ existence. Indulge your pet’s prey drive by putting some of her daily meal allotment into a food puzzle. A good food puzzle requires feline strategy and focus that will help satisfy her urge to hunt for her meals. Options include balls that a cat has to chase and then bat around to release the food, multi-compartment games that she has to manipulate to find the goodies, contraptions that wobble like Weebles, and much more. Options to choose from abound on cat-centric sites as well as Amazon.
A room with a view: What? You don’t have a window perch yet? Cats love them, and they can easily be attached to the bottom of a windowsill even by the least handy among us. They allow your cat to doze in the sunlight or enjoy a close-up view of the outdoors, or perhaps catch a bit of a breeze (as long as you have the screen down so she doesn’t try to climb out). Better still: your pet will enjoy the vantage point of the elevated perch. Cats instinctively recognize anything off the ground as safe from potential predators. It speaks to their legacy as tree dwellers.
New toys. Like us, cats enjoy some novelty. Classic toys are always a hit, whether in the form of balls or stuffed animals. (They see blue and yellow better than other colors, so go for objects in those hues.) Other toys your cat will like being surprised with range from whack-a-mole style games to contraptions that will let her watch a marble make its way around a track. Downtime might be made more comforting with a stuffed toy that contains a sound maker mimicking a heartbeat.
Fresh catnip. For felines who react to catnip, it can provide great fun — a heady experience with high-spirited reactions followed by a very relaxed state after nibbling on or breathing in the stuff. You can purchase it already grown or get a kit, just like the kits for fresh grass described on page 4. Options include Bonnie Plants Store Catnip, live herb plants 4-pack in containers, for $22.66 on amazon.com; and SeedGems Paper Planter Catnip biodegradable grow kit with 100% biodegradable paper planter. It comes with a poly box liner and a grow pellet for $3.68 on ideastage.com. Dry catnip can be periodically placed in toys designed to hold it, attracting your cat to a ball or stuffed toy.