Chris Kouwenhoven

Happiness =

The familiar and routine

There's a tiny tiger in every house cat. This little predator patrols his territory with a diligence and regularity that would win the admiration of any police squadron. Nothing escapes Kitty's scrutiny--a piece of furniture that is out of place, a vase of flowers that has just been placed on the table, a new pair of shoes in the closet. Kitty is equally aware of the human activities that occur in his home territory every day. He thrives on the familiar and finds comfort and security in being able to anticipate these events.

We may observe Kitty for only a small portion of our day, but nothing we do eludes his watchful gaze. Feeding, litterbox cleaning, grooming, playtime, and bedtime are all familiar events which your favorite feline will anticipate if they occur at approximately the same time or in the same sequence each day. Once Kitty gets used to your way of doing things, he'll be sure to remind you when its time for the next activity. If your alarm clock fails to go off, don't worry, Kitty will get you up--oops, it's Saturday! Kitty will also make sure you get to bed on time. Have you noticed how agitated he becomes when the familiar routine is broken? Next...what to do to make change easier for Kitty.

Change is sometimes necessary. You may have to move to a new residence or add a new pet or family member to your home. Your may want to start Kitty on a new food or change the location of his litterbox. To reduce Kitty's stress during this transitional period, keep the following guidelines in mind:

* Plan ahead. Give yourself enough time to make the change slowly. Have a goal in mind.

* Start small. Don't make a big change too suddenly or too many changes at once.Incorporate familiar things and events as much as possible.

* Take baby steps to reach your goal. Give Kitty lots of attention and praise so that he will view the change positively.

* Watch him for signs of stress, such as loss of appetite, over-grooming, or a change in litterbox habits.

A cozy bed

Providing your favorite feline with a safe place to nap, which is enclosed on at least three sides, will help to make him feel relaxed and secure. His ever safety-conscious feline instinct tells him to be constantly alert to dangers that might sneak up on him when he is sleeping. If the enclosure has a top, he'll feel even safer. Pet stores and pet supply catalogs carry an endless variety of beds, boxes, and hideaways from which you can choose. A simple homemade version can be made from a cardboard box, which is tipped on its side and lined with a soft pillow or blanket.

When transporting Kitty, always use a cat carrier. If it is padded with his favorite blanket, the familiar scent will help him to accept it. He should also have plenty of opportunities to explore the cat taxi before he has to be transported in it. Place it in a room where Kitty likes to hang out and remove the door, if possible. Put treats or favorite toys in it. Let him discover it on his own. Perhaps he will find the carrier suitable for his next catnap. Once he is used to it, a ride in the car or a trip to the vet won't be so scary because he is in his "home away from home".

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