If prevention is the best medicine (and it is, by the way), setting appropriate house rules for your cat will help both of you live happily ever after. Here are a few feline fundamentals.

  • Many grumpy, biting adult cats would have grown up gentle and loving if they’d had better early socialization.
    • If your kitten gets feisty during play, ignore him and make it a calmer experience next time.
  • Cats are genuine predators. The normal instincts to stalk and maim must never be directed toward humans.
    • Start early with remote hunt and pounce games. Casting a furry mouse toy with a child’s fishing pole or just walking around with feathers tied to a 2-foot string on your ankle will cause great excitement.
    • Never allow aggressive play directly involving hands or feet.
  • You can walk away from a naughty kitty who tries to bite or interrupt her with a quick blast from a compressed air can.
    • No bopping on the nose, please. Physical punishment ramps up the aggression causing cats to associate hostility with hands.
    • It’s very important to reward calm behavior with petting and quiet praise.
  • Beneath the smooth veneer of some beloved cats beats the heart of a thief.
    • Investigating the home is normal but counter surfing and garbage raiding are risky.
    • Don’t attract your cat to your kitchen counters by leaving food out.
    • Some feline felons are known to hoard treasures like pilfered rubber bands and other trinkets.
    • We are most concerned about kitties who conceal their ill gotten gains in their stomachs and intestines.
  • Prevent access to forbidden items by picking up your clothes and doodads and stowing them in child proofed cabinets.
    • Provide better alternatives for the curious cat. A floor-to-ceiling cat tree with hidey holes and hanging toys is more fun to investigate than your laundry basket anyway.
    • Hide your kitty’s toys so you can “rotate” them daily.
    • Avoid toys that resemble things your cat would love to consume. No discarded clothing items or shoes, please.
  • Wool chewing cats do well with tightly stitched wool toys; rubber band eaters can enjoy a Kitty Kong with rubber whiskers.
    • Wheat grass, lettuce, small dog chew toys, slightly moistened rawhide chews, catnip, or a kitty herb garden are all healthy alternatives.
    • Make toys irresistible by smearing them with meat, cheese spread, or fish oil.
  • Some marauding cats need barriers to their success.
    • Discourage scratching, pooping, and other forms of desecration to parts of your home with a motion activated compressed air can called Ssscat (www.ssscat.com), an upside down carpet runner, or an Invisible Fence Shield (505- 265-4007).
    • Success is almost assured if booby traps are in place before a new cat enters your life.
  • Potential furniture wreckers, while in a class by themselves, can be preempted with sisal covered scratching posts and upright fireplace logs.
    • Booby trap the real estate surrounding the good furniture.
    • Remember that a punished cat is a sneaky cat.
    • Reward your kitty when you catch him not actively destroying your home.
    • Play hard and play often.