June 1 marks one year of living with my furry child, my companion, my cat Luna. The last year has been a journey and learning experience about caring for another living being. The light and joy she brings to my life is incomparable, and I try my best at every turn to provide her with the same level of happiness and comfort. As a cat that stays (mostly) inside, Luna has special needs. The energy and appetite of a baby cat living in a small apartment are both equally enormous, and I have made it my priority to make sure she thrives. Here’s how:
Domestic felines are descendants of wild cats. And my legs, arms and sometimes face can vouch for this: our furry little friends still house the residual instincts to stalk and hunt. Channeling this energy into play is so important because Luna cannot leave the apartment freely to roam within nature like an outside cat is able to. My hands usually feel the brunt of Luna’s playfulness if I don’t distract her with strings, rubber bouncy balls, feathers or her personal favorite — mouse on a stick. The goal is to get her running around the apartment and jumping onto the furniture. When she’s panting and tired, I know we’ve had a successful play session, and all her aggressive big cat energy has been spent.
A stereotypical American housecat is overweight and sleeps 23 hours a day. Allowing this to happen, however, could be damaging to a kitty’s health. As an indoor-cat owner, I found it hard to stop Luna from overeating. Refusals to feed my spoiled cat every hour on the hour were met with yelling and resentment. When I started noticing that she was gaining weight, I realized enabling her excessive food intake wasn’t the right thing to do. I now feed my cat two handfuls of indoor formula cat food three times a day. It was tough love at first, but this has proved the most effective in keeping her weight under control, which ostensibly lessens her chances of liver disease, diabetes and yes — cat obesity.
Because Luna is the only cat in my apartment, I try to make sure she doesn’t become bored in my absence. Boredom in cats can manifest destructively around the house. I have come home to my apartment to find frayed pieces of couch and things knocked off countertops. To help curb Luna’s boredom, I keep my TV on at low volume or play music from my computer. This way, she can feel like there’s always a presence surrounding her. I also make sure all blinds to windows are open before I leave. If anything exciting happens or a squirrel decides to climb up a tree, she can watch to her heart’s content. Leaving a few toys in accessible places has also proven effective in keeping my cat productively occupied while she waits for me to come home.
Keeping an indoor cat happy and healthy requires time, patience and a lot of trial and error. Being a pet parent for a cat with unique needs is extremely rewarding and has helped me to grow into a more responsible person. As Luna is only one year old, we have so much more time together. Maybe one day, I’ll open the door of my future house to let her be outside with her wild instincts. However, for now, she stays close by my side as the cutest and best-listening friend that I have.