10 ways to be a better cat owner
- by DR Roxanne Jones
Studies have shown that owning a cat can improve your mental and even your physical wellbeing - but what about your little fluff-ball? Make sure the benefits are mutual by being the best possible kitty owner you can be. It’ll take your kitty’s life from ‘meh’ to meow-velous!
Keep her litter box clean
If you don't like removing the soiled bit of litter from your kitty's box, imagine how she feels having to do her business around it. But she relies on you to help her stay clean and comfortable, and a dirty litter box could cause her to eliminate elsewhere in your home. Take a minute each day to remove the soiled bits and top up as necessary. Change all the litter at least once a week, and be sure to give the box a good clean at the same time. As a rule of paw, you should have one litter box per kitty in the house, and one extra.
Get to know his 'normal'
It's not always easy to know when your pet is ill, especially when it comes to cats. Spending time with your cat, keeping an eye on their skin, fur, eyes and teeth, and generally noting their disposition will help you know when they're ill. Take your kitty for all his regular check-ups and vaccinations, and always be safe rather than sorry: if you have an inkling your kitty may be unwell, take him to the vet. Cats are so little, and some illnesses can have serious effects fast.
Play with your cat
Cats not only love to play, but they need it to stay happy and stimulated. While it’s true that you can’t really throw a ball for them, you can roll a ping pong ball along the floor! Cats love interacting with their humans, so even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, make sure you play with your kitty. It will really enrich her life. Balls, laser pointers and catnip toys are all great additions to play time.
Create a stimulating environment for her
Some outdoor cats are free to explore and readily find stimulation. But for indoor cats and those less likely to roam, make sure they have plenty of mental stimulation at home. Great items for stimulation include cat scratching posts, hidden treat toys, boxes and other items that they can climb, scratch, bat around and hide in.
Any cat lover will tell you that kitties love affection, and the more affection you show them, the more they’ll show you. Stroke, cuddle and play with your furbaby, particularly when they come looking for it. Some cats are more aloof than others, but all of them enjoy a little loving from time to time. Don’t hold back!
Keep his water fresh
The easiest of all: make sure your cat always has plenty of water available, and change it daily. Dehydrated cats can suffer from constipation and other health complications. Do you want to drink old, dirty water? Neither does your cat!
Get her a playmate
Almost all animals are happier when they have an animal companion. Having two cats isn’t really much more work than having one, and they’ll thank you for it. Cats are social creatures and having a friend to play with can make them happier and more stimulated, while staving off boredom.
Feed him the right food
Different cats have different dietary needs. For example, some cats are susceptible to bladder stones or hairballs, while others may need to slim down or have their allergies managed. There’s food to meet and manage all these requirements. The better the quality of your cat’s food, the better his health is likely to be. A ‘junk food’ diet of supermarket food can lead to a range of health problems. Be wary of overfeeding, and remember that treats should be healthy, too!
Read more: 10 healthy human foods for cats
Have them sterilised
Statistics show that a particularly prolific unsterilised male cat can father as many as 420,000 kittens in five years. That’s a horrifying number of animals potentially left homeless. A female cat can give birth to 100 kittens in her lifetime. Sterilising your animals is the most responsible thing you can do as an owner, and will also go a long way towards helping prevent roaming, fighting and certain diseases.
Never put them through unnecessary suffering
Declawing cats is inhumane - it would be like someone cutting off your fingers at the last knuckle. An overweight cat will struggle to jump and climb, and is also likely to live a shorter life. Don’t ignore new lumps or bumps. Be very careful when restricting your cat’s food to lose weight - it can have deadly consequences. And, when in doubt, always consult your vet. There are no silly question.s A cat’s health can turn on a dime, so never take a chance.
Love, cuddle and care for your cat as best you can, and you’ll be rewarded with a lifetime - or nine lifetimes! - of love and affection in return.
Disclaimer: Always consult your vet for professional advice. The Zuki.co.za blog is provided as an educational tool and should not be used to diagnose illness or treat an animal.