As 2020 turned the world upside down with a pandemic, I am most certainly eager to welcome 2021 with open arms. While nobody has an idea what the future holds (the New Year might just be a prank after all), what I can control is the present.

The changing of calendar year gives off a feeling of a fresh start. Along with some personal life goals, I would very much like to be a better cat parent so here are my New Year’s resolution.

Home sweet home

Since the safest place for our pets is inside our home, I want to keep my cat’s environment comfortable and at the same mentally stimulating. If you have multiple cats like me, having many options available is key. Comfy beds, shelves in varying heights, hidey holes, and perching spots will help them keep their mojo, as cats can be quite territorial.

I will keep a regular schedule to wash and clean their beddings, since cats sleep around 16 hours a day. They will be very pleased to always have fresh and clean things to lounge on.

I have learned to embrace minimalism for my own space, so that also helps keep personal things away that may be damaged by my cats. Truth be told, I have a cat who likes to mark things with pee, even if he’s been neutered and cleared by the vet, so I am very mindful about bringing things into our space.

Caring for pets requires a lot of tidying up, so it also helps that I don’t need too many things that will end up gathering dust or fur. Every furniture is easy to clean, and provides value to me and my cats. Plus points if they are multipurpose!

With that said, I vow to keep our home and most especially their litter boxes clean. Some cats may tend to hold their poop and pee if the ones available are already soiled.

A clean and tidy home with happy cats is a daily goal. I know I am a bit of a maximalist with 16 cats, but I can proudly invite and tell Marie Kondo that my cats spark joy and that we appreciate what we have in our home.

In the pink of health

Health always comes first, and the pandemic made me appreciate good health. I vow to keep myself physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy so that I may be able to care for cats I’m 100% responsible for.

With regards to the cats’ health, I prioritize their food. The best food I can afford, I give to my cats. I’m very strict about giving them both dry and wet food so that they may enjoy the benefits of both. Maintaining their health also requires regular deworming and keeping parasites away. In the event that a cat is not feeling well, I vow to be vigilant and to contact our veterinarian immediately to give the appropriate care and treatment.

Nothing else can make me as anxious as having a sick cat – and then there’s the issue of vet bills. I vow to be more prepared and set aside a little each month for emergency cases and for their dental fund. Cats, like humans, need dental care as well, and I have proven time and time again that this can burn quite a sizable hole in our wallets. It might be easier to anticipate and accept that this is a part of life. If I’m prepared, then I will be more relaxed in tackling any medical issues that may arise.

Power of time

While I find myself rushing to fulfill basic cat care tasks like feeding and cleaning, I must remember that enrichment such as spending time with my cats is just as essential. Sometimes just sitting with them and being with them already adds value. You know, just to hang out. I get to rest, remember to breathe and just enjoy time with them. Observing them in silence allows me to check if there are any changes in their personalities and habits that may be a sign of something wrong health-wise.

To double the power of time, grooming them does more than keep their fur smooth and pretty. Brushing their fur is an opportunity to strengthen our bond and at the same time increase blood flow and natural oil distribution. This is also an opportunity to examine lumps, bumps, or anything unusual to uncover medical problems early. Brushing gets rid of excess fur and reduces the incidence of them hacking out a hairball. I need to be extra mindful about brushing forbidden areas, though, like the tummy which might end grooming time on a bad note.

Another thing I woud like to carve out more time for is play. Play is a physical activity, so my fur-babies and I can benefit from moving about and having a fun interaction. This also expends any built-up energy. It also helps bust boredom, which may cause behavioral issues.

Playtime is a beautiful bonding activity among me and the cats. My favorites are fishing pole-type toys that I can wave as if they’re prey so that they can practice their hunting skills. Alternating between fast and slow motions really excites them and works out my arms at the same time. Win-win!

Follow suit

Cats being cats have so much to teach humans. They are ever present and unplagued by the past or future.

I would like to apply their curious, inquisitive nature to educate myself about them and shamelessly ask my vet questions.

Cats adapt to change if done slowly and steadily. They’re very honest and they ask for what they want. They stay true to their nature. They don’t need approval and express themselves with abandon. If they are tired, they sleep. They know that rest is as valuable as action. To them, life is simple.

I would like to be a spoiled cat in the next life, but until then, I vow to emulate my cats’ sense of being so that I may become a better human a way better cat parent.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s January-February 2021 issue.

You might want to read:
– Here’s how you can help cats and dogs cope with separation anxiety
– Cats with round faces and big eyes might look cute, but you can’t tell what they’re feeling – new research
– Of dogs, cats, bats, men and coronaviruses