If At First You Don’t Succeed…

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Try something else! The general explanation of stupidity is just doing something over and over again while expecting different results, right? Well, when it comes to our pets, we just have to try not to be stupid.

For example, my oldest cat, Fuego, is ten years old. We adopted him from the Humane Society when he was six. The previous family who owned him said that he scratched up the carpet too much, and that was why they got rid of him! “Humph,” I recall scoffing, “They probably just didn’t give him a scratching post!”

We did, of course. In fact, we bought him one with a toy attached, and my husband built one, too. While he enjoyed rubbing up against both of these, he never used them for scratching. He just dug so deeply that the former wouldn’t hold for him—and he just never even tried the latter, though our four-year-old cat, Sky, loves to scratch on it. (It’s also a cute cubby house; I posted about how to make one before.)

So he used the carpet.

The joke was on me, right? And ironically, no matter what I did—spraying the carpet with bitter apple, adding catnip to the scratching post, putting a post directly over the spot he scratched (even though it was in the middle of the floor!)—he continued to scratch. Sure, I kept trying new things—they just didn’t work. Though it did get on my nerves a bit, our carpet is tough and can pretty much handle it—so we didn’t worry about it too much.

But then, my mother sent us the cheap scratching box that she’d purchased for their cat, who also didn’t use it. It’s just a flat, cardboard-based box with corrugated fiberboard in it—something I wouldn’t have thought to buy. After all, it’s really cheap, and sort of boring, so why would a cat enjoy it?

Fuego loves it.

He’s sitting on it right now, even as I type, after he just used it to scratch again. Why? I have no idea. Maybe he likes the scratchy cardboard instead of the softer carpet. Maybe it’s the texture, or the cooler paper-based material, or its long, narrow shape. I think it has a bit of catnip in it, too—though that never really worked before. Whatever it is, it just goes to show that there is always something else out there that a cat might enjoy a bit more—even if it seems unlikely.

Whether it’s toys (all of our cats prefer different things—from feathers to laser pointers, fake mice to real crickets that make their way into the basement during the summer months!) or food or treats or a darn scratching post, your cat is like you: he or she has a unique personality and unique interests. It may take a little trial and error, but if you keep trying new things, you’re bound to find something that he or she loves.

And he or she will love YOU even more for finding it!