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Looking toward the new year, cat advocate and educator Stephanie Merlin shared her reflections on elevating cat wellbeing in 2024. We can all do our parts to make it a better year for cats and their humans so we enjoy life together even more. 

Merlin’s work through The Fulfilled Feline is helping people understand cats, recognizing they’re “sensitive beings who are often misunderstood.” But she’s also advocating for people who love and care for cats after over a decade of volunteering in shelter environments at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

From there, she earned certification as a Feline Behavior Specialist and Fear Free Professional. And she has two happy, fulfilled kitties at home, Juniper and Jules, adopted in January 2021. (They’re on the cover looking very happy.)

So, how can we help our cats have a better 2024? Here are Merlin’s seven reflections as shared on Instagram.

Reflections on Improving Cat Wellbeing 

“As we embark on a new year, it’s crucial to reflect on ways to elevate the overall wellbeing of our cherished feline companions. 🌍🐱” Merlin shared. “In 2024, let us collectively contribute to a paradigm of excellence in feline care. 🌐🐾”

Reflection 1: Value a Cat’s Emotions

Cat lovers know felines are complex creatures with an endless array of expressions. For example, we recently shared a story about research that identified cats make at least 276 facial expressions, mostly related to friendly expressions. But about 18% are ambiguous. Cats are often mysterious but not “aloof,” as the stereotypes have long suggested. They have so many emotions.

We love that Merlin’s number one reflection is about valuing a feline’s emotions. 

Reflection 2: Stronger Bonds with Empathy and Understanding

A top reason cats are returned to shelters is for unwanted behavioral issues, including how they interact with other pets. However, people often expect a quick fix and don’t have realistic expectations about changing those behaviors. Often, it takes trying to see things from the cat’s point of view: empathy. 

Empathy helps make stronger bonds between cats and people, leading to trust and mutual respect with fewer frustrations. Hey, people sure could use an endless supply of empathy this year too!

Reflection 3: Recognizing a Cat’s Autonomy

It’s not often you see the word “autonomy” in relation to pets or animals in general. Have most people thought about a cat’s autonomy, individuality, or need for emotional wellbeing? Maybe not, and certainly not enough. However, it could make for much healthier relationships with cats. 

“A cat’s demeanor shouldn’t be molded to fit our expectations. They’re not obligated to be affectionate or lap cats,” the Fulfilled Feline shared previously.

Reflection 4: Enriching Life for Cats

Those who follow Cole and Marmalade know we love enriching our cat’s lives daily. Merlin affirms this is not merely excess luxury but required, a vital way to help care for cats. We instantly agreed! Let’s keep finding creative ways to make life for cats more fun, which is endless fun for us, too.

Reflection 5: Oppose Exploiting Cats

Over the last year, we were thrilled to finally see the Big Cat Public Safety Act pass and get signed into law by the President. It took a long time, but it will finally help stop the exploitation and suffering of Big Cats. In the new year, fewer Big Cats will be exploited for entertainment like they used to be.

Similarly, Merlin advocates for opposing the exploitation of all cats in entertainment in instances where they are suffering, feel unsafe, or uncomfortable.

Reflection 6: Compassionate Care

When in a vet’s office, shelter, or rescue, most cats are on high alert and stressed from all the unusual sights and sounds. We’ve previously shared the idea of using music therapy and holistic approaches to help reduce stress. Cat cafés are another great way to keep cats out of cages which helps them feel comfortable and lets their true purrsonalities shine.

In the New Year, we can encourage ways to reduce stress and help cats feel more comfortable, which in return helps us. That brings us to The Fulfilled Feline’s seventh reflection.

Reflection 7: Caring for Rescuers

As we’ve seen so many times, rescue work can be emotionally exhausting. Despite an individual’s best efforts, one person can’t save them all. Everyone needs to take time to care for themselves so they don’t get burned out. Likewise, we need to be aware that compassion fatigue and trauma are big challenges. Let’s be gentle and supportive of one another as we work to do what we can individually. Remember, every action, big or small, matters.

You can see more reflections and insights at the Fulfilled Feline on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks for all you do for cats and people, Stephanie Merlin CFTBS FFCP and Happy Mew Year! May it be happy and fulfilling for all of us.

You can see, comment, and share her story on Instagram.

 The Fulfilled Feline, Jupiter and Jules, Stephanie Merlin CFTBS FFCP, feline behavior specialist, Orlando, Reflections on improving cat wellbeing in the New Year, number 8

 

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