Emma’s Passion Project: Cat Behavior

Cat in a Box

I got this charming email recently:

My name is Emma and I am in 6th grade. I am doing a Passion Project, and cats are my passion. I need to ask an expert some questions on cat behavior. I hope you have time to answer my questions. My cat is Angel and she is 17! Thank you very much for helping me.

Cat in a Box
This cat is cozy in a box

Why does a cat like to curl up in a cardboard box when she has a nice fluffy bed?

Cats are quirky creatures who each have their own personal taste in what makes them happy. A cardboard box is a dark cozy place — it feels safe, like a nice hiding place, so might appeal more to a cat who enjoys her privacy and the feeling of security you get from being less out in the open.

Do cats get bored of the same brand of cat food? Do they ever get bored of homemade cat food?

Often just the opposite is true — cats are creatures of habit and usually do not like change or variety. Cats actually can get really stuck on one flavor and one brand of cat food. Rather than getting bored by the same taste and texture at every meal, they sort of get addicted to it and will refuse anything that is different — just because it is different! This is why I always recommend that people get a variety of flavors and ingredients in canned cat food. Homemade cat food is a whole different story since you cannot safely make your cat’s food because it will lack taurine which is essential to a cat’s health, as well as not having the proper amount of fat (which is good for cats) and calcium. You can give snacks of real food and I don’t think any cat gets sick of surprise treats!

Why do some vets say we need to brush a cat’s teeth, when cats didn’t do that in the wild? Is there something they can eat that takes care of their teeth?

Please go to my website TheCatBible.com to read the blogs and Q&As about how dry cat food is bad for cats in many ways, but especially because it makes their teeth dirtier, not cleaner.  Dry cat food is sprayed with fats and flavor enhancers and can leave a residue on their teeth, just the way eating corn chips does on our teeth! In the wild, crunching on the bones, feathers and fur of birds and mice keeps a cat’s teeth clean — at home you can use a small kitty toothbrush with cat-friendly toothpaste or a dental cleaning pad that you wrap around your finger and rub on your cat’s teeth and gums.

Is it OK if my cat eats catnip every day? We have some in our yard.

Eating catnip is a nice healthy touch for the digestive tract — like eating our salad every day — but you can buy little pots of wheat grass and other cat-friendly grasses that will grow on a windowsill and the cat can munch on when she feels like it. Not all cats respond to the “get happy, get crazy” effects of catnip, which is always dried before it is used in toys and treats. I don’t actually know if the fresh catnip has the same effect as when it is dried, but it certainly cannot do any harm

Good luck to you, Emma. I hope you get a gold star on your Passion Project on cats and cat behavior, and go on to include animals in whatever you wind up doing in life! Hugs & kisses to Angel — 17 is a great age to be. I urge you to get her off any dry food immediately to keep her healthy for many more years. “Kitty crack” is my name for any dry food — and my website and book The Cat Bible explain very clearly why this is true.

–Tracie Hotchner

photo credit: Peter aka anemoneprojectors – camera busted! via photopin cc