Photo of @sheldonthebengal on Instagram
No matter how indifferent and unfeeling we cats may seem, there’s actually a lot going on inside our minds. We’re pretty sensitive creatures and tend to respond rather quickly to stimuli—whether it’s a positive or negative one. Then, we remember the experience and act accordingly the next time we find ourselves in the same situation. That’s why we love doing tricks, because we know we’ll get rewarded by delicious treats. That’s also why we hate being coaxed to go inside our crates, because we know we’ll either be taken to the vet or on a long trip—both of which are very stressful.
All cats are individuals and we all have slightly different needs, but we’re all prone to developing anxiety, depression and even fear of humans, if we’re not treated right. And, I know you love your little fur ball, human, because you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to make things right. So, for the sake of my fellow felines, I’m going to tell you humans the 11 things you should never, EVER do to your cat if you want them to live long, happy and healthy lives (and also love you forever).
- NEVER LEAVE YOUR INDOOR CAT OUTDOORS UNSUPERVISED
The outdoors can be a very dangerous place for an indoor cat. Their curiosity and innocence can easily put them in harm’s way and get them seriously injured. They may chase a squirrel or a bird and get hit by a speeding vehicle or worse, get into a fight with a feral cat or a wild animal—many diseases, such as rabies and FIV or Feline immunodeficiency virus, can be transmitted through animal bites.
- NEVER EXPOSE THEM TO SECONDHAND SMOKE
If you are a smoker, it’s very important to never expose your cat to secondhand smoke. It causes numerous health problems in humans and it can easily affect your cat’s health, too. Cats that are exposed to secondhand smoke can develop feline lymphoma, which is a malignant cancer of the lymphatic system, among other diseases.
- NEVER TOSS YOUR CAT!
NEVER throw your cat! It’s an extremely harmful act that can traumatize them for life. Not only can it seriously injure your cat and possibly fracture and immobilize parts of their body, it can damage them mentally as well. Treating animals with the gentleness and respect that they all deserve is very important.
- NEVER PUNISH YOUR CAT
Always be mindful of how you discipline your cat. We felines don’t take very well to being punished or being shown “tough love”. You can try to see things from your cat’s point of view, instead of punishing them right away. We cats are not bad animals that act out just for the fun of it—there’s a system to our madness. For example, if your cat is always jumping on the kitchen counter, maybe they don’t have enough vertical space. You can try mounting wall shelves on the kitchen walls near the counter. Guide them there and give them a treat. Soon enough, your cat will learn that the kitchen counter is off limits, but the wall shelves are okay—it’s a win-win situation.
As well, if it takes you a while to realize that your cat has done something naughty, they probably do not remember doing something wrong in the first place. If you punish your cat then, it just seems unfair to them.
If you want to teach your cat something, positive reinforcement is a much better option. Reward your cat with their favorite cat treat whenever they display positive behavior and ignore them whenever they misbehave.
- NEVER LEAVE THEM IN COMPLETE DARKNESS
It’s never a good idea to intentionally leave your cat in complete darkness, especially for an extended period of time. Although we cats can see in the dark, we cannot see in total darkness. So, being left alone in a room with absolutely no light can actually mess with our heads and make us feel anxious, scared and helpless.
- NEVER KEEP YOUR CAT FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD
It’s good to allow your cat access to the outside world, but of course, all their outdoor adventures should be done under your watchful eye. You can take them outside for daily walks or even build them an enclosed patio. But, if you haven’t leash trained your cat yet and building a catio is currently not an option, you can simply leave the window blinds open so your cat can get a nice view of the outside world, it’s like cat TV!
- NEVER DECLAW YOUR CAT
Declawing might sound like a harmless procedure where your cat’s nails get permanently clipped, but it’s a lot more brutal than that. Declawing is a surgical procedure where your cat’s claws is removed by amputating the last bone of every single one of your cat’s toes. If performed on a human, it would be cutting their fingers off at the top joint.
If you’re having issues with your cat’s scratching, there are plenty of other ways to go about it. You can invest in scratching pads, scratching posts and cat trees. If your cat is still scratching more than they should, you can opt for cat claw covers. It’s a more humane way of preventing your cat from using their claws on furniture and unlike declawing, it doesn’t cause long term pain or complications.
- NEVER FORGET TO CLEAN THEIR WATER BOWL
You might think dumping out your cat’s old water and filling it with new water is enough, but it’s actually not. Bacteria and molds can accumulate in their water bowl and can even make them ill. So, it’s very important to always scrub their water bowl clean before filling it with fresh, clean water.
- NEVER PULL YOUR CAT’S TAIL
Pulling on your cat’s tail too hard can damage your cat’s nerves and spinal cord, which can lead weakness or paralysis of their hind legs. Since their tail muscles also help in controlling urination and defecation, it can also lead to kidney problems, urinary incontinence and defecation issues.
- NEVER HOLD YOUR CAT WHILE DRIVING
Holding your cat while driving is very dangerous and can easily cause you to get into an accident. The same goes for allowing your cat to freely roam inside your cat while it is in motion. Always keep your cat inside their crate, buckled in the backseat while you drive.
- NEVER MEDICATE YOUR CAT UNLESS NECESSARY
Using medication on your cat should be a last resort. Just like in humans, medicine can take a toll on your cat’s health in the long run and should never be your go-to for any problem. Some veterinarians won’t think twice to recommend anti-depressant medications as a solution for changes in your cat’s behavior—something that can be caused by many other things. Who knows? Maybe your cat is just asking for some extra TLC.