Thursday, December 28, 2006

Cats Don't Like Change: Not Even a Little

I’ve learned the hard way that cats don’t like change, not even small ones! I hope sharing my experiences will help other cat owners avoid the mistakes I made when making change with my cats.

When I moved halfway across the country with my gray Siamese/Tabby mix cat, Milita, I desired to be the best owner I could possibly be for her. I was feeding her what I thought was a good diet – Cat Chow Indoor Formula. However, I quickly made friends with a woman in my graduate program who informed me this diet wasn’t the healthiest choice for my beloved cat. So, I decided to switch her food from Cat Chow to California Natural.

What I didn’t know at the time is how to introduce the new food properly. I simply dumped the remaining Cat Chow into its bag and filled Milita’s bowl with California Natural food. Later that day, Milita vomited on the carpet. I was worried so I consulted a friend and seasoned cat owner regarding what to do next. She informed me that in order to introduce a new cat food, I needed to mix the Cat Chow and California Natural for several days, progressively raising the portion of California Natural to Cat Chow until Milita was eating a purely California Natural diet.

Another change Milita had to endure was wearing a collar. Before I moved with Milita halfway across the country, she had been an outdoor cat where our neighbors all knew whose cat she was. Thus, there didn’t seem to be a need for her to wear a collar before the move. After the move, however, I knew she needed to wear one. We now lived in a city rather than a rural area and the neighbors would not know if Milita was my cat or a stray without a collar and identification tags.

Surprisingly, Milita adapted to this change very well. About a year after I put her first collar on her, the safety clasp broke, forcing me to buy her a new collar. I went to the store and picked out a collar that would look good against her gray fur.

I went home and put this new collar on her only to discover she was terrified of it! She kept running around the house as if something were chasing her. She cowered under the table in fear, but I couldn’t understand why she was acting this way. Later, around 3AM Milita woke me up, petrified. While I didn’t understand why she was so scared, I took the new collar off her. She spent the rest of the night in my bed, not moving an inch.

I figured it would be a good idea to let her have a day of rest before I tried putting the new collar on her again. When I attempted to put her new collar on a second time, she immediately ran under the table, petrified again! It dawned on me then, that the bell sounded differently than her first bell had sounded. The new collar had a bell that sounded like my other cat, Carmine’s, who constantly loves to tease Milita by chasing her around the house. Once I figured this out, I was able to change her collar to one that sounded similar to the first bell collar she had.

Recently, I noticed Carmine’s, my orange tabby cat, collar was fraying. When I made a trip to Target, I bought him a new collar. The bell on this new collar was different than his old one, but somehow I figured Carmine wouldn’t matter. Carmine’s a pretty laid back cat, so I didn’t think this small change would trouble him.

Wrong! He minded a lot. When I put the new collar on him, he kept shaking his head and trying to remove the collar. Eventually, he just pouted and looked annoyed and grumpy. From the previous experience with Milita, I knew there was no point in trying to force him to wear this new collar. So, I had to get him a new collar that sounded similar to his old one.

It’s amazing how our cats mimic their owners. Like humans, cats don’t like change, not even small ones. If you’re thinking about changing something in your cat’s life, it is best to implement the change slowly and gradually to help your cat adjust to the change.

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