I was never a cat person, until I held Tippi.
A year and some change ago, the owners of my local bodega led me to the back of their stockroom, where four tiny kittens were running around and wrestling with each other with a zest for life I couldn't help but aspire to. I knelt down, and one of them shoved his head into my hand for pets. That was it, I had to take him.
I plopped his tiny body on the counter, and the owner kept his head down but his eyes to me "...this one's my favorite..." he said in Spanish. I disappointedly curled my lip and said it'd be alright if they would prefer he stay, but they gave me the blessing to take him. With that, I walked the 6 blocks home to my apartment with the dawning realization that I would have the purry baby I was holding in my jacket for the next 20 or so years of my life.
Totally worth it, even though I later found out he had fleas.
Now that it's been a little over a year with him taking over my home life, there are still some things I have to learn now that he has grown out of kittenhood- thankfully I also just learned about PetYen, which connects all sorts of different pet needs for folks in NYC. It's mostly for training, walking and pet sitting for dogs and cats, but MAN is it a fabulous resource. Through PetYen, I was able to nab a training session with Alexis, a dog and cat trainer in Brooklyn. I really wanted to train Tippi TO STOP BEGGING FOR FOOD OH MY GOD. Alexis sweetly walked me through everything, and now we have a few weeks of clicker training to go, but already he's sitting and waiting patiently instead of meowing and trying to paw at my plate when I'm in the middle of conversation. Thank you SO much, Alexis!!
Clicker training is actually quite easy to do once you get the hang of timing. Because you are using the clicker noise to indicate a behavior that you want, the noise will release feel-good endorphins through your cat's brain when that good behavior is rewarded with a treat. I was worried about getting the timing right, But Alexis put it perfectly: "If you think of the behavior you want like a photograph, think of the clicker as a camera shutter- so it's like you're 'taking a picture' of the achieved behavior". Once that cat butt hits the ground when you command him to sit, you click immediately.
So, here are the 3 things I learned from our session regarding apartment cat living that have already helped a great deal:
1. Indoor/Outdoor isn't always the best situation for apartment cats. The city is hairy- especially in Brooklyn where there are roves of feral cats that constantly have to fight to survive. If your pet is under-stimulated in your apartment, there are ways to get them mentally and physically occupied, including...
2. Treat and food-dispensing toys, like these! Alexis suggested we use these as an alternative to bowl feeding completely because they replicate hunting for food and keep kitties attentive. Plus it tires them out nicely when they're pushing the balls around the apartment with their noses.
3. Speaking of hunting, laser pointers (which I loved playing with) aren't really the best toy for cats because there is never the reward of catching the spot, it just tires them out and frustrates kitties. Instead, I love these colorful recycled plastic springs- which are by far Tippi's toy of choice. They roll, bounce and collapse when the kits play with 'em, plus, they look cool
Now that I've gotten to share my experience, I'm partnering with PetYen to raise money for The Mayor's Alliance for NYC Animals
For the next 200 people that follow @petyen4pets we will donate $1.00 to the Mayor's Alliance, which does amazing work empowering pet owners and eliminating Kill-shelters in NYC. ending at 6pm on 10/28/16.
Links provided by PetYen(thanks for supporting the sites that support De Lune)
Opinions are my own