Come on, people, take some INITIATIVE!

OK folks, it’s time for a feline wake-up call.  Not like the mewing, purring, and cold nose in the ear that Drs. B and G get every morning ten minutes before the alarm goes off, but a mental wake-up call.  I’m tired of the human-canine-centric tone this blog has taken on, and I’m spending a few minutes before the family gets home adding a little feline point-of-view (and attitude—cats don’t do anything without a little attitude).

Cats are America’s most popular pet as far as the numbers go, but any veterinarian can tell you that we’re second-class citizens when it comes to health care, exercise, and other essentials that dogs take for granted.  You’ve taken us into your homes and hearts by the millions, but most of you still act like we’re just here to catch rats and don’t need any of the things you give those drooling canines you always let up on the couch.  It’s no wonder we scratch your furniture.  Well, this three-legged cat is here to tell you that cats are people too.  We have needs, and it’s time you know about them.

Lucky for you, there’s the Indoor Cat Initiative (ICI), a neat movement that aims to enrich the lives of indoor cats.  Their website says that “indoor enrichment is as important as an excellent diet and health care,” and I couldn’t agree more.  It’s finally becoming more and more clear to veterinarians, behaviorists, and others that many health problems that affect pet cats have multifactorial (that means “controlled by many factors,” dogs) causes, often including inactivity and stress.  How does a pet that sleeps 23 hours a day get stressed?  Look here and find a pretty comprehensive list—although they forgot finding the food bowl empty when I wake up at 5 am.  The ICI goes even further, and offers a number of ways you can make our lives more interesting, more active, and less stressful.  Let me tell you about what Sarabi, Delta and I trained OUR people to do here…

i-ClickWe’re indoor cats.  Here in the Phoenix suburbs, it’s just not safe to live any other way; we all run under the bed when our people start swapping stories about cats hit by cars, mauled by dogs, shot with pellet guns, poisoned by drinking antifreeze found below a leaky radiator, and even bitten by other cats.  It’s a jungle out there!  But just like all those kids you see in the brief moment between getting off the school bus and retiring to their Playstation in the air conditioning, indoor life makes us fat, pale, and boring.  So we taught our people to let us go outside with supervision.  We eat grass, chase bugs (Delta chases birds!), climb the fig tree, you name it, all while our people weed gardens, pick up dog poop (gross!) or whatever.  When our people are ready to let us back inside and give us a treat, we taught them to use a clicker to communicate that to us so we don’t miss out.

When we’re back inside, we have plenty of things to do.  I used to open folding closet doors for fun until our people bought a baby latch.  Now I just stand by the door and stare when I want our people to get our chasing toys out.  We have plenty of toys we can use on our own–fuzzy, feathery, rolling, crinkly, you name it.  And then we have plenty of furniture:  soft beds, a tall tree (I can climb to the top faster than the four-leggers), scratching posts and boxes, and all the stuff we let the people sit on, too.  Then there’s tweety vision when the people remember to fill the bird feeder outside our bench seat, and the occasional cricket that sneaks out of the reptile room at the end of the hall.  Sometimes I just sit there and stare at that door waiting for a bug…

So, as you can see, we’re very busy cats.  All this fun sure keeps us happy, and I like to think that it helps keep us healthy, too.  It takes a lot of effort to cram all that activity into three or four hours every day, but, given the opportunity, maybe your cat would, too.

And people think cats are lazy