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Ev’rybody wants to have a cat!

I set myself a challenge to update my website with at least one blog a month this year. Yes yes, I know, I’m a month (or two) late… But I promise I have a good reason.

These little boys have moved in with us. Tom has always wanted cats as he grew up with them, but I have absolutely no experience with them whatsoever. I am a huge animal lover and I’ve been vegetarian for 9 years but I’ve only ever had what I consider to be “prey” animals as pets. When I was little we had guinea pigs, hamsters, fish and water snails. We looked after the odd budgie and the occasional rabbit, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to get on with a couple of prowling, yowling predators roaming free around the house.

It’s safe to say we’ve been getting on pretty well. I’m an anxious cat myself, so I did a ton of reading before they came to live with us. They’re still kittens and I wanted to make sure that I knew a bit about how they should be cared for. I asked my cat-owning colleagues for advice and sifted through internet forums obsessively.

Everyone I spoke to seemed so blasé about it. Every evening I would read through websites, research cat food and lay awake thinking of potential hazards around the house. I fell asleep adding up potential costs and Tom had to remove the sheets of paper from my hands and turn off the light.
In preparation I worried for about 5 days straight and completely rearranged the downstairs of our house. The guinea pigs were moved into the living room, so we could shut the door and they could have some peace and quiet during the day, while my writing desk and armchair were moved into the dining room (giving us the space to move the sofas back into the window and make space for the pig house).

And then they arrived.

I sat on the floor and watched them sniff the room we’d put them in (everything said to introduce them to the house one room at a time, or they may get overwhelmed and hide) and my brain raced to translate the tiny snorts and abrupt changes in body language. Most of the advice I had received was centred around letting them do what they wanted, and most importantly letting them come to me when they wanted to (instead of showering them with constant affection cos SO FLUFFY).
So I was surprised when they padded softly over to me, a cross-legged nervous wreck, and clambered into my lap. Since that moment there has been a lot of affectionate cuddles, some pretty entertaining misjudged leaps between furniture/shelving and a huge amount of napping.

I think we’ve all heard of the benefits of spending time with animals when it comes to general happiness and wellbeing. Cute cat videos aren’t a thing for no reason. I found this article to be particularly interesting, and I have noticed some of these behaviours in myself in the last two weeks.

So here’s a little list of advice I’d now give to a friend who was adopting cats:
  • Plenty of toys – it’s a good way of bonding with your cats. I was nervous about them being unhappy, but just like children you need to get down on the floor and figure out which toys are their favourites.
  • Comfy places to sleep – I thought that my armchair would be a kitty favourite and I was right. We’ve put a cat bed behind it too, so if they feel like hiding they have somewhere comfortable to do it.
  • Try different food to see which they like best (if you don’t already know). Ours came with food recommendations from their previous owner, which really helped us when it came to figuring out what to buy next. We’ve gone for a combination of wet and dry food, and I’ve taken a note of what they love and what they’re not so fussed on.
  • Keep water as far away from litter tray as possible – one of the two cats prefers drinking straight from the tap, but the other was a trial-and-error process until we had moved the water bowl far enough away.
  • Scratch post – kittens love to scratch and cats in general need to maintain their claws. If you can afford one that’s big enough that they can sit on top of it as well as scratch it to pieces then I’d recommend it, as ours spend their waking hours sticking pretty close to it. It also provides more napping space.
  • Reading – Tom and I don’t need excuses to take more time to read, but cats are the perfect reading companions. They’re content to just be in the same room, doing their cat thing, while you get to read with company.
I still have so much to learn, but I can already see why people love cats as much as they do. I’ve never been 100% sure whether I was a cat or a dog person, and to be honest I don’t think I’m any wiser now! I think we have been particularly lucky with the cats we adopted, as they are very affectionate and sweet-natured, and I am glad I took the risk.

Are you an animal lover? Is your phone camera just pictures and videos of your pets being super cute? Asking for a friend. 🙂

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