Each year rolls around so fast, and with it comes the urge to make a whole new set of life-changing resolutions. This year, make a resolution you’ll want to stick to! Here are a few ideas to get you started: resolutions for cat owners that benefit the earth and its animals, as well as doing wonders for your own soul!
Resolutions that are good for your cat
These ideas are all about your pet. Making their life happier and healthier will have a positive impact on you too!
1. Schedule daily playtime
Set aside some time each day to dedicate to playtime. You know your cat best, so choose a time when they’re normally pretty active to start your bonding. This is because waking them up to play when they’re snoozing in the sun isn’t going to win you their love! Engage their interest with a trailing ribbon, or a toy mouse. You can try dimming the lights to let them ‘hunt’ and make them work for the big pounce! Crinkly, scrunched-up paper or wrappers can be great as balls to bat around the place too. This routine will become a favorite part of both of your days. So make that resolution and set your alarm to remind you. It doesn’t need to be long - five minutes is fine -, and improves your pet’s mental stimulation and physical activity rates!
2. Improve their diet
Take some time to check what’s in the food you’re giving your cat. Some foods from the lower end of the scale can be made up largely of ‘filler’ foods like grain. Higher-quality foods will start their ingredients list with a named protein source, such as fish, poultry, or meat. Resolving to make sure that your cat is getting a high-quality diet is an excellent step toward improving their quality of life, improving their energy levels, and avoiding health problems caused by sub-standard nutrition. Consider exploring a raw diet for your kitty; steering away from dry, overly processed foods, and incorporating nutritionally rich, raw foods into their meals. This shift can significantly enhance their health, vitality, and overall well-being. Try alternating wet and dry food too, so they can enjoy the variety, and you reap the benefits of both (wet = better hydration, dry = can be left out for longer on busy days). Your cat will thank you for the delicious and nutritious choices!
3. Keep them entertained
Cats may sleep a heck of a lot, but when they’re awake they love to be entertained. Indeed, mental stimulation can improve the temperament and behavior of ‘difficult’ kitties. One option for this is resolving to use puzzle-feeders, where they can enjoy working out how to access their food. This simulates the hunt, and drags out feeding time over a longer period, keeping them engaged and active. Another is allowing them access to a windowsill with a view. Anywhere they can see trees, lawns or any places that birds might frequent is a winner. If you hear their adorable ‘bird chirp’, you’ve nailed it! Or commit to installing a bird bath or feeder somewhere out of reach, so they can watch the comings and goings like you might watch your favorite show!
4. Commit to vet check-ups
You may very well be someone who has their annual (or more frequent) check-up on lock, is up-to-date with all flea and worm treatments, and knows your cat’s ideal weight/dietary requirements. In which case, keep it up! But for those among us who have been meaning to get around to it, make your resolution to make that call and set up an appointment for a check-up. Seek out a holistic vet or an animal nutritionist who can provide a more comprehensive approach to your cat's well-being. Ask the vet about any vaccinations, treatments, or diets they recommend, and tell them about anything different you’ve noticed in your cat’s activity levels, behavior, or temperament. Then make the follow-up appointment with reception on your way out, and stick to it! Preventative care is so, so, so much better (and cheaper) than fixing problems that have already arisen. Your cat's health deserves the best holistic care available.
5. Groom your cat
This could go hand-in-hand with playtime. Cats are very good at cleaning themselves and spend about 10% of their waking hours doing so. They do benefit from a little help, though, especially long-haired and older cats. Get yourself a good brush and incorporate grooming into your daily routine as your cat-focused resolution. This gets rid of excess fur and can reduce their incidence of hairballs (and the lovely coughing that precedes them!).
Good for all animals
These next few have a focus on animals in general, improving the lives of animals you may never see.
6. Purchase ethical animal products (you draw your line)
All animals have feelings and needs and can live either happy or miserable lives. If you’re not down to go vegan at this stage, why not resolve to only consume ethically sourced animal products? Purchase meats and fish from butchers and fishmongers who know where their stock comes from and can steer you away from intensively farmed meat. Look for labels that assure you of high standards of animal welfare, such as the dark green ones from the Animal Welfare Institute. Opt for free-range eggs. Grass-fed beef. These measures can cost a little extra, but they have a positive effect on animal welfare and on your spirit!
7. Donate time to an animal shelter or hospital
An absolute classic of a resolution, and one that’s easy to stick to. Do some research into animal charities in your area that you can help with. This may be cleaning or admin, or the holy grail: playing with kittens and puppies! Choose one day a week, fortnight, month from which you can spare a couple of hours to help out. It’s super simple to then make that a regular event, where you know the other volunteers and animals are relying on you, so you gotta keep going! Just imagine the good feels, knowing you’ve directly contributed to the improvement of a stray or abandoned animal’s life.
8. Go with cruelty-free products
Lots of companies these days are aware of the feeling of their consumers, so are opting to go cruelty-free in their production methods. This means no animal testing in laboratories or anywhere! The easiest and best way to check if a product meets these standards is to look for the leaping bunny symbol. This year, resolve to vote with your wallet, and only buy cosmetics, household products and personal products that are certified as cruelty-free.
9. Donate money to conservation
As easy as setting up an automatic payment, donating money is perfect when you don’t have time to give up regularly, or if you want to give to an organization not in your hometown. There are thousands of charities all over the US, and worldwide, that are dedicated to helping the situation of animals in all sorts of ways. This register can help you to choose a charity that is right for you and your ethics. Be warned, you’ll want to pick more than one!
10. Become an animal-foster
To make a direct impact on the lives and survival of cats and dogs in your town, make your resolution to become a foster-parent. You can find pathways online, like this call-to-action from NYC, or sign up at your local shelter or animal hospital. You will likely need to prove your suitability to foster animals in your home, and remember to ask your existing cat first, but it is a really rewarding way to give back. Depending on your work hours and homelife, you could foster adult or baby animals, cats or dogs. If you have a sociable animal or animals at home, this can be really helpful in socializing the fosters into becoming great candidates for forever homes. Sadly, a lot of shelters don’t have the room or resources to take care of every animal surrendered to them so by fostering, you’re helping the helpers, as well as the animals themselves!
Good for the earth
These last bunch focuses on the planet and environment - clean, green and cool!
11. Second hand clothing
Fast fashion is one of the more wasteful ways we are living in the modern world. People tend to buy cheap clothes that won’t last, then throw away and repeat. This uses a whole lot of raw materials, as well as water reserves, and fossil fuels for transportation costs. And have you seen the plastic that comes with shipments of pallets of clothes? Wooooow! The alternative is thrift-stores, second-hand stores, charity stores. Whatever you call them, they’re a great place to refresh your wardrobe with something unique, while not contributing to the fast fashion industry and its pillaging of the planet. Make a resolution to purchase nothing new for a year, or six months if that’s out of reach. Even just checking the thrift stores on your way to the mall may mean you find what you’re looking for there instead.
12. Go vegan (or reduce meat consumption)
You knew this one was coming! The farming of animals for beef and dairy is a big contributor to carbon and methane emissions. The global demand for these products also encourages deforestation in areas such as the Amazon rainforest. If everyone cut back even a little on their meat and dairy consumption, this couldn’t help but have a positive impact on the planet. Resolve to start with meat-free Mondays or, if you’re already vegetarian, research how to rely less on eggs and dairy, while still maintaining a complete and balanced diet.
13. Reduce your reliance on single-use items
This is another great resolution that I love. It can be difficult to avoid plastic in all its forms, and some companies seem hellbent on providing you with ridiculous amounts of plastic packaging and wrapping. But, and this is a big but, you can make an excellent start by getting yourself a starter-kit! Here is a bunch of zero-waste kits you can buy, or take inspiration from. You get such a feeling of pride when you know you’ve avoided the use of even one plastic spoon, straw, cup or bottle. Imagine how great it would be to have everything on hand to be able to refuse all kinds of single-use items. And here’s an app you can download that lets you know all the places you can refill your water bottle (and how to become a refill station, for businesses). PS: remember that a set of chopsticks or a fork from home thrown into your bag is an even more sustainable choice than buying new, expressly for the purpose!
14. Stand for something (protest, petition, plan, pick-up, plant)
This resolution is your call-to-action. I know I’ve felt sometimes like I just wanted to do something practical to help. Like I wanted to be doing… just… more! This is the time when you do that. Attend an environmental protest, sign a petition for a cause you believe in, organize an event, do a beach clean or make a tree-planting happen. These are just a few ways you can take proactive steps to look after our planet! The world is all about this kind of activism at the moment, so take advantage of the zeitgeist and get involved. Resolve to attend one event a month, or rally a group of friends to get a clean-up or planting happening. After all, as the saying goes: ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ Doing something, however small, is better than just thinking about it!
15. Reduce your transport footprint
Something I find fascinating are the new e-bikes. These are essentially part motor-powered bikes that improve your activity levels as well as being more gentle on the planet. Your resolution could be to invest in one of these, or a good ol’ 100% human-powered bike. Or use public transport more often, reducing the number of cars on the roads, and thereby the emissions created by them. There are plenty of ways to limit the carbon footprint of your daily commute (ahem, walking), so get creative on where you can cut back. Roller-blades, skateboards, heck, even wheelie shoes will all get you where you need to go with no nasty emissions fouling up the atmosphere from it!
It’s easy to stick to a promise when you can see and feel the positive impact it’s having. And all of these will end up being more fun for you as well, promise! New Year’s resolutions for cat lovers are just the best, as they involve little-to-no self-denial, and are a means to help others instead. Oh, and they frequently involve cats. Who could resist? This year, go green, go kind, and go kitty-cat crazy, with my full endorsement! Happy New Year, my fellow ailurophiles!