Do you find yourself scrolling on your social medias or the internet only to find that you feel like you need to, yet again, purchase something else to improve the quality of life for your cat? Read on to find our views on this!
I’m no parent of a small human but if you take a first glance at the market geared towards parenting, you will find all sorts of information advising parents how to raise their children. Under diet and nutrition, you might find articles suggesting to feed your child organic foods only (www.parents.com). In relation to play, you may come across information stating that wooden toys are better than plastic (www.makeitwood.org). Research out there might say that children up to the age of 3 are best cared in home-based settings (www.psychologytoday.com).
"Will what you do or give ever be enough? At which point do you (and not just the market) start to make the decisions that you feel are best based on your own research?"
Much the same, the pet industry is loaded with what it recommends that you need for your pet. If you’ve never been the lucky guardian of a cat before you probably ran right to the internet to find out what you needed upon deciding that you were going to bring such a majestic & adorable creature home (see photo above). Every new pet parent does this, right? Suddenly, you find yourself in this rabbit hole of research only to become overwhelmed with what is best for your cat before you even bring him/her home! Heck, let’s be real. Even those who have been guardians of any cats previously are found sitting right next to Bugs Bunny chewing on carrots and skimming through article to article making comparison notes in order to filter the best choices (um, TOTALLY me... please tell me I'm not the only one here).
I’ve had cats since I was around 16 years old. Upon bringing Gibson home, I knew his basic needs. I figured he needed a litter box and mat, food and water bowls, some toys, a brush, nail clippers, a carrier, maybe a bed... what else could a cat need? The one thing I did have doubts about before bringing Gibson into our family was what I knew about best cat diet choices. I had SUCH a hard time with the loss of my previous cat, Miso, and I thought that if I gave my next cat a better diet that it would optimize the quality and length of his life. I ended up going online, of course, to find out the best ever food diets for a cat. I started on www.allaboutcats.com and compared a whole lot of cat food brands. Once I narrowed some options down, I'd read more articles about cat food ingredients which lead me to research articles about what cats need most - protein and moisture with lesser carbohydrates (www.vet.cornell.edu). Finally, I made the decision to put Gibson on a raw diet because it had everything that aligned with what was required in a cat food diet. I did my own research and made this decision based on what I found - I did not allow the market to rule my decision.
Being on social media has been such a fun journey for us. We've become surrounded by such a supportive community who understands and joins in on the love you have for your feline companion. We've had the opportunity to "meet" people from all over the world who love Gibson and in return we then get the privilege of loving their fur babes, too! Over the span of the year and a half that we've been on Instagram, I've also come to learn that I do not in fact know as much as I thought I knew about cats. Before Gibson, I've also never experienced taking a cat outside on a harness so learning about all the gear and the potential dangers so a whole new world had opened up to us when we found out that Gibson was as adventurous as he is. I also never really got into photography so that alone was something else - thankfully cat dad was able to train me in that area (see photo above for the some of MY photography - his training definitely helped).
Social media has easily become more of a positive thing for us but it's also presented all these new pieces of information causing me to think that I always need to give Gibson more (totally the market's intentions). I once had a friend say, "wow, he really is more than just a cat to you!". Of course he is! Though, because of everything I am exposed to now pertaining to strictly cats, I often find myself thinking (maybe too much?) about what Gibson needs next. I started to rethink my litter choices because I found that clay litter can cause intestinal blockages for cats and can also be a health hazard for humans (www.scientificamerican.com)! We are currently on Naturally Fresh Quick Clumping Cat Litter which is made up of 100% walnut shells - much better for the environment, my health and Gibson's health! I'm currently thinking about Pet Insurance (which is SO good to have). I've also seen others concerns the cleaning products you use. For example, there was talk that talk about Swiffer Wet Jets being bad for your cats (www.thesprucepets.com). I've heard on Instagram live sessions a vet talk about your cats need to hunt - that the reason they knock things down is because they're longing to hunt something as it's a natural instinct (and to buy these toys that feed that need). I could go on and on and on...
If you are as engaged as we are on Instagram, you may end up seeing and interacting with lots of other personal and business accounts, joining Instagram live sessions, collaborating & joining in on fun challenges, etc. all of which might directly and even indirectly reflect the decisions you make when creating this safe, fulfilling and engaging life for your cat(s). At the end of the day, lists ALWAYS help me. Here's what I've come up with (in order of importance) that helps me to see that I am, in fact, giving Gibson enough:
1. HEALTH - this is very important. The health of your cat is a big deal!
- Food: We've done extensive research in choosing the diet that gives him the protein and moisture he needs. He's also got whisker relief bowls to ease the strain on his whiskers as he eats (and drinks).
- Water: Gibson currently has 3 access points to water: his water fountain (see our review here), a whisker relief water bowl, and a bowl that's located higher up (as cats like high up spaces).
- Exercise: Weather depending, we go outside daily in the AM & PM for physical activity. We also throw his spring toys around and he plays fetch. Occasionally, we will run around the apartment to play "tag" as well, ha! He's also got a cat tunnel that he loves. We've also "catafied" our tiny apartment to allow him to climb up higher spaces.
- Teeth: Gibson is on a raw diet and the bone is good for his teeth. We also put a very small amount of kelp in his dinner for his teeth as well. Finally, I brush his teeth daily. You can see his routine here just 1 minute and 34 seconds into the clip.
- Grooming: We clip his claws and brush his fur coat. To see in detail, check this video.
- Annual Vet Appointments: We visit out vet annually for a checkup & an update of any shots needed.
- Pet Insurance (pending decision): We really need to get on this and make a decision about which insurance we plan to go with but we know the importance of having this and will act.
2. LOVE - this certainly deserves it's own category!
- There is NO shortage of love at our household. The amount of love we have for Gibson is unending. I tell and show him I love him all the time because he is so deserving of it!
3. EVERY DAY NEEDS - these are things that are simply required (but did noit yet
mention in another category) in any house with a cat.
- Scratch Post: he has one for every day use and a more compact one for travel.
- Litter Box: he actually has FOUR. SO not necessary, but we got sent an automated litter box to review (check here to read) and then he has his other enclosed litter box which we had. We also have one better suited for his traveling needs in the car and another for single person trips in the winter (foldable).
- TREATS: Gibson has 4 single ingredient dry treats, 2 raw snack options which we rotate between, and a "chip" or "popcorn" type snack we sometimes give to him (Churus). He's got enough, already!
4. ENGAGEMENT - also very important! These days, people are recognizing more
and more that cats really need this piece in their daily life!
- Cat Training: Gibson is clicker trained and he goes to "Cat School" daily.
- Toys: Gibson has an unending amount of toys, yet his favourite remains to be his springies. We'd love to get some food puzzles to challenge him more!
- Cat "TV": The window is a cat's version of TV (but also, some cats will enjoy birds and fun interactive episodes of cartoon fish swimming around on the big screen).
- Homemade Toys: You don't always have to spend the money! Take out a box or crumble up a piece of paper. Cats love this!
5. OTHER - this is things that really aren't necessary but just adds to the quality of this
- Outdoor Gear: Since we go beyond the house, Gibson needs outdoor gear. We have WAY too many harnesses and leash sets, ID tags, lights for night walks, fleeces/snood/winter jacket for colder temperatures, cooling bandana/USB fan/cooling pad for hotter temperatures, a pet tent for shade, life jacket for water sports (we haven't gotten there quite yet), booster seat for the car, bike basket... and more. He's got way more than he needs to make going beyond the house possible.
I will say that I am very grateful for all that I've learnt being an active member of Instagram. There's nothing wrong with social media influence if you pair it with your own research and don't allow yourself to get out of control with all that you think you need for your fur child. If you are feeling overwhelmed at times because you feel like you might not be giving your cat enough, MAKE A LIST. The categories may look slightly different for you but this list of what they do have will ultimately enable you to visualize that you actually, most likely, give them MORE than enough. It will also allow you to place a better focus on the more important things that you can focus on to make a better life for your cat. In anything we do in life there's always room for improvement!
At the end of the day what's critical is that your cat is that they're properly fed, loved, and overall well cared for. If ever you are finding it overwhelming to see everything that people are doing and look at all they have for their cats... then just leave Instagram for a bit and spend some time doing your own research without social media distractions. Find a balance in all you do and just know: you're doing PAWESOME at being a cat parent!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read. I'd love to hear your thoughts on your experiences with how social media impacts you and your decisions! Feel free to message me on Instagram, email me, or drop a comment below (just note that I cannot comment back but always read what you write).
xx Sarah & Gibson