Cats are cute and cuddly, but they can also be difficult to care for, especially if they are kept indoors most of the time. Felines are natural hunters who become bored easily, so they are naturally inquisitive. This can lead to issues such as when they decide to scale your curtains in order to get a better view of your living room. Take it from me: I have had enough broken vases and glasses, chewed boxes, and clawed Styrofoam cooler boxes to know what I am talking about.
Many factors must be considered by owners when deciding whether to provide their cats with an indoor-only or indoor-outdoor lifestyle. These include safety, mental and physical health, parasite or disease exposure, and wildlife depredation.
When you understand a cat’s basic needs, you can raise a healthy pet and live in harmony with them. Some of your cat’s most basic needs will be security, comfort, and lots of love. But he will have some material requirements as well.
Clare McHugh gives us tips in her article “10 ways to Keep Your Cat Healthy”.
1. Brushing your cat on a daily basis is basic care.
Cats spend so much time grooming themselves that some owners may be unaware that brushing can help their pet by removing loose hair. McHugh tells us that brushing or combing your cat on a daily basis will help reduce the formation of hairballs in the digestive tract.
2. It’s a ‘no-no’ to eat too much dry food!
Cats, unlike dogs, cannot be vegetarians for long periods of time. McHugh cites the statement of Los Angeles veterinarian Jeff Werber (who also owns eight cats) who says cats rely on meat as the foundation of their diets, and the main meal of the day should always be meat. Werber claims that they have seen cats develop Type 2 diabetes and become obese as a result of eating too much dry food.
3. Take notice of your pet’s thirst.
According to McHugh, felines get thirstier than dogs. They must get the majority of their water from food. Something a cat might eat in the wild, such as a mouse, is about 70 per cent (%) water, whereas canned food is 78 per cent (%) water. She says dry food contains only 5 per cent (%) to 10 per cent (%) water. McHugh tells us to give our cat constant access to fresh water, and we will certainly notice that cats drink more when they eat more dry food. Elderly and nursing cats, she says, are more vulnerable to dehydration than others, so keep an eye out for symptoms like sunken eyes, lethargy, and panting.
4. Provide a sufficient number of litter boxes.
According to Werber, it is ideal to have one litter box for each kitty, plus an extra. Cats dislike crowded toilets. When performing these functions, the animal is in a vulnerable position. They want to be able to see around them. McHugh says that Werber tells us, your pet may be reluctant to use a box with a cover for the same reason.
5. Don’t assume you understand a cat pees outside the box.
Nothing irritates a cat owner more than when kitty refuses to use the litter box and instead pees elsewhere in the house. There could be several reasons, according to Werber. However, he advises excluding the most obvious possibility first: a possible health or medical reason. Your cat could be suffering from a urinary infection. So have your cat checked out by a veterinarian. Another reason is (which is the most often one), she or he might be simply marking his/her territory.
6. Train your cat to scratch in the appropriate location.
Teach your cat to use a scratching post instead of damaging your furniture. McHugh cites Werber’s statement that many owners make the mistake of not realizing they need to give the scratching post appeal. Werber recommends placing it in the center of the room to begin. The vet recommends that you sprinkle catnip on the post when you first bring it home. After you have gotten your pet used to it, you can gradually move it to a less busy location and skip the catnip.
7. Your cat should be sterilized (spayed or neutered).
Spaying and neutering can help keep your cat safe because unfixed male cats fight, putting themselves at risk of disease transmission through bites and scratches. Female cats are not much better off if they are not fixed. Female cats can become pregnant as young as four months old, and mating and giving birth to multiple litters of kittens can be extremely stressful for them—not to mention the stress owners experience when their cats go into heat, says Werber.
8. Keep all safe when travelling with your pet.
Even if your cat appears to be more comfortable unrestrained, have her/him buckled up in a car. The driver may get distracted with the cat if it was not restrained and in the case of an accident, a cat can become a dangerous projectile. McHugh quotes Werber as saying, “Never, ever leave your cat alone in a parked car.” Even in cooler weather, and even with the windows slightly opened, your pet may quickly feel uncomfortable being alone in a car, and a cat can die in a warm car in minutes.
9. Choose a cat-friendly veterinarian.
According to McHugh, it is best if the vet clinic has separate waiting areas for cats and dogs. Not all cats are comfortable waiting in an area where dogs are present, and vice versa.
10. Allow them to flaunt their affection!
Cats have their own distinct ways of expressing affection for their humans. Werber tells us to ‘gracefully accept’ whatever your cat brings home to you. Even if it is a little gross! Your pet will also express his or her affection for you by head bumping, purring, or kneading you with his or her paws.
These are simply the fundamentals. It is a full-time job to keep our feline friends healthy, safe, and happy! But we know it’s worth every effort to repay the love our cats show us on a daily basis. Your cat will reward you with companionship and joy for the care you provide.
About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist. She is a solo parent for 16 years now because she is wife to a desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.