Becoming A Cat Parent During the Pandemic
So Many Forever Homes!
Meow! It’s Laszlo again. Have you heard? Young adults (more specifically, millennials, as Mom says) are becoming cat parents right and left despite what’s currently going on in the world. They’re doing their research and looking for the best ways to welcome kitties into their forever homes. If mew are a millennial digging through the internet for tips on how to take care of a cat or two, Mom and I have put our heads together to make a brief guide for you on what kitties need most when we’re about to start our new lives in a strange, new place. We know everyone’s tight on funds right now, especially those starting out. Which is why the gesture of adopting a new pet during the pandemic means so much to us cats, and the humans who rescue us! For some life hacks and low cost ideas on how to give your cat their best life, read on!
Two Tails Are Better Than One! Seriously.
Okay, so that wasn’t intentionally a pun on some kitties in folklore that may or may not have two tails. I’m meowing about one of the best things most cats need to live a long, happy, and healthy life. A second feline companion. True, we cats are more independent than our barking counterparts, but we are also social creatures. In fact, it is very rare that a cat absolutely cannot get along with other cats for many reasons, and therefore must be an ‘only cat child’. This is okay, because every cat is different. But if you are seriously considering welcoming a feline friend into your life, you should definitely look into getting at least one more, via sibling adoption or another shelter or stray rescue. When pairing two cats to live together, keep this in mind:
- Two Toms (male cats) generally get along well, though one is likely to become the dominant male. In this case, you should let them work it out on their own, so long as they don’t become increasingly violent with each other.
- A Tom and a Queen (female cat) can live harmoniously. Just make sure BOTH of them are spayed and neutered so that unexpected breeding doesn’t happen.
- Two Queens can live together peaceably, but usually only if they are already bonded.
If a single cat is alone often, they get lonely, just like people do. With another cat around—even just the presence of one—both cats’ social needs are always met. They will be able to play with one another, which supports the stimulation cats need to stay active and healthy, as well as their emotional and mental wellbeing. Cats like their space, but need companionship just like dogs and humans to truly thrive. Even if you’re at home full-time and have more opportunities to play with your furry friend, social stimulation is just as important for a cat’s overall health as a good playing session. It’s not like we don’t appreciate all the love you give us, but there are just some things that only cats can do for each other that humans cannot always provide. It’s a cat thing.
Love, Lifestyle, and Basic Needs
If cats could do more than meow to communicate how we want to be treated by our adopted humans, we would certainly give you a MEOWthful. Of course, every cat LOVES to be pampered and spoiled by their human, however, there are several aspects to taking care of us that newbie cat parents should be aware of.
First, we’re going to need a good, balanced diet in order to thrive, and do what we do best—live, play, and give you those big kitten eyes to get what we want. Me and my cat brothers LOVE our raw food, especially since it is better for us! In case you’re new to my blogs or new to cat care in general, you can catch my (and my mom’s) advice on keeping cats fed and healthy in our blog series on food and nutrition.
Cats are climbers. Explorers. Curiosity seekers. Our wildcat ancestors run through our veins. We can make a big mess of your home with all the trouble we like to get into, so if new pet owners or those of you considering bringing a cat or two into your lives, investing in a quality cat condo is one solution. Fortunately, there are all kinds of cat trees or cat condos available at online pet retailers so you don’t have to risk making physical contact with others. I feel you, me and my feline brethren may be social creatures, but we definitely value our space. I’ve also heard of some pretty neat cat trees and cat condos made from easy-to-follow tutorials that are more budget-friendly. We cats especially enjoy the things you make for us, because they will smell like you! And that’s comforting.
We also do a lot of scratching, you know? Gotta keep those razor-sharp nails ready for action—er, I mean, friendly play. Furniture like sofas and tables feel really good to scratch, but we also enjoy scratchy pads and scratching posts. I’ve heard that some humans have learned how to build them from scratch (Well, I thought it was funny). There are lots of easy to make scratching posts on the web that any cat will love just as much! are all kinds of crafty ways to curb the temptation of clawing that nice, velvety armchair you’ve got.
Speaking of temptations, many cats enjoy that enticing herb called catnip. It comes loose in packages, stuffed in toys, and also in treats! If we don’t warm up to a scratching post or scratchy pad right away, a little bit of loose catnip sprinkled on may convince us to give it a try! There are all kinds of ways to satisfy our inner mischief goblins, which is important, because we need at least 15 minutes of play (with you!) every day to keep us ‘feline fine’ and looking good like we always do.
- Lots of little balls! Ones with bells, feathers, catnip-filled, there are all kinds we enjoy, and you’re bound to find them even in your dollar store! They don’t have to be fancy to bring us joy and drive us crazy chasing them everywhere. Just make sure any ball we find to play with is not too big or too small. A golf ball is the ideal size.
- Feather wands! Cats are built for leaping and jumping, because our spines are extremely flexible! If you dangle something a few feet in the air, you bet we’ll spring up to get it. Just watch your hands! Feather wands are also fairly easy to find in stores or online, but there are plenty of DIYs (Do-It-Yourself) to guide you in making one yourself if you’re low on dough.
- Laser pointers—AKA The Evil Red Dot! We kitties can become OBSESSED with capturing the elusive red dot, so while we do enjoy playing with one, prolonged dot chasing is not a good idea, because we get very frustrated not being able to catch it or when it suddenly disappears. How. HOW? Is it sorcery? But seriously, use moderation in playing with your cat using a laser pointer. Give them frequent breaks and don’t tease them too long.
In addition to lots of play and interactive spaces, it’s important to give us our privacy when we need it, such as when we have to do our ‘business’. You may think that for one cat, a single litter box is enough (or if you have two cats, as I highly recommend, two litter boxes). You humans always appreciate having access to a restroom when you need one, but you can probably ‘hold it’ better than we can. Therefore, there are likely to be a lot less accidents for you to deal with if there is at least one extra litter box than the number of cats you have, just in case your cat needs to relieve themself immediately. For example, there are three of us cat bros living together, so we have four litter boxes.
The extra litter box should ideally be placed in an area your cat frequents so that they aren’t necessarily running from one end of the home to the other (and possibly tripping their humans in the process. You know, because being around your feet constantly is a mischievous pastime). Having three litter boxes around to compensate for two cats may seem a bit cumbersome, but trust me, it’s better than cleaning up after us where it’s not ideal. We cats don’t like leaving surprises for you either...it’s so embarrassing.
Cat-Proofing Your Home
We cats may not have thumbs (how am I typing this? I don’t know!) but that doesn’t mean we can’t get into trouble around the house! Cats are very curious and are born explorers, but we don’t always understand what is dangerous for us and what is safe. This is why Mom wants me to tell new pet parents of younger generations how to cat-proof their homes. A safe cat is a happy cat!
While some cats may leave potentially dangerous household items alone, it is better to be safe than sorry. Here are the most important things to remember when proofing your living space before it becomes ours, too:
- Are you a plant lover? It’s a good idea to look up which plants that are safe for cats and which ones are toxic or fatal if we try to munch on them.
- Choking hazards. I’ll admit it—small things like rubber bands, bobby-pins, needles, and paper clips are the most fun to play with and chew on. We cats can’t help but be mesmerized by shiny and stringy objects, because they look like strange bugs. And what cat doesn’t like to pounce on bugs? However, Mom says these types of things are harmful if a cat—or human—swallows them. So for the love of cats everywhere, please keep anything small out of paw’s reach. We are persistent.
- Cleaning supplies. If possible, you should make the switch to non-toxic and eco-friendly cleaning products. I think we can all agree that cleanliness is next to catliness, but keeping your home clean under a cat’s rule also means not letting us near the stuff you use to clean it. Some of that regular cleaning stuff smells really good to cats, but is also very toxic to a cat’s lungs and overall immune system. Even if a cat walks across that stain remover you sprayed after one of our little ‘accidents’—it happens, we’re not perfect—the chemicals could be harmful to the sensitive skin on our toe beans. And when we wash up, we may end up licking and ingesting the residue from our paws and fur. Try putting us in another room for a short while when you’re using toxic cleaning products and ventilate the area if the product suggests it.
- Some non-toxic dish soaps are safe to use around cats under supervision, but no cleaner or kind of soap should ever be eaten by a cat!
- There are all kinds of non-toxic and eco-friendly cleaning supplies made to be safer for you, your cat, and the environment! You can even make DIY non-toxic and environmentally friendly cleaners with some household ingredients that are just as effective, if you’re looking to save money.
We hope this guide was helpful in answering your questions and curiosities about what it takes to live with a cat and become their best friend. Above all else, just thinking about what your cats need and how to make them happy will keep you on the right track to finding answers for new questions. Your feline friends will always appreciate the care you show them, even if they have odd ways of showing it. Thank you for being here, and we wish you and your future kitties well during these crazy times.