Cats – their basic husbandry and care
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Cats – their basic husbandry and care

Cats
General

The old saying is that cats do not have owners they have servants or staff. Whilst this may seem true for many of our feline friends, there are still some basic husbandry rules that we need to keep in place. Having our cats feel safe, loved and well looked after is paramount to their well-being.

In this Pets4Homes article, we look at 8 tips to help keep your cat happy and contented. As a cat owner (or servant) you want the very best for them so these tips cover their very basic needs, they may hopefully inspire you to try more advanced approaches in the care of your kitty!

Grooming

Every cat will groom itself, normally they will sit there with their back to you completely ignoring you whilst they wash. This can seem to go on forever! Because cats spend so much time grooming themselves and make themselves look pretty, they generally don’t need a bath from their owners. What they may need is a good brush or comb through their coat.

This is especially important in long-haired cats, especially cat breeds such as a Persian where mats in the coat can easily form. As owners, we should always make sure our cats are mat free and this is a basic husbandry task. The earlier that this is started, the less likely it is you will have a scratched hand, or the brush may be destroyed.

Sleeping

If you see your cat sleeping, don’t be surprised! Cats can sleep up to 16 hours a day, which is a crazy thought. As an owner, you should always ensure they have somewhere comfortable to sleep. Some cat owners prefer their feline friends not to venture into the bedroom to sleep on a bed, and if this is the case alternative soft and warm places should be made.

This doesn’t mean to say the cat will sleep in that area, they may choose to sleep in a completely inappropriate place. Giving them the choice is the main point here. If you use a cat igloo they may prefer it as it is nice and safe. Find out what works well for your cat and give it a try.

Eating

Cats can be fickle creatures and as a basic care rule for them, they should be given a commercial cat food that contains all the nutrients they need. One of the most important nutrients is something called taurine. This is an amino acid that cats need to remain healthy. It is also something they cannot synthesise themselves, so it is added to food.

Another thing to be aware of is that although your cat may have just killed something in the garden and try to eat it, the food that you present to them they may turn their nose up at. Always trying to have a backup for food with a cat, even if it’s a tin of drained tuna. If a cat stops eating, especially if they feel ill, it is notoriously hard to get them to have an appetite again.

Litter boxes

If you have a cat that uses a litter box be aware that there are some rules surrounding them. The rules aren’t written in stone, more written by the cat's response to the litter box. If they have a perfectly good box but choose to toilet elsewhere then there could be a problem with the box.

It could be in the wrong position, too high for them to climb into (meaning the sides and an arthritic cat may feel discomfort using it), or it could offer no privacy. Try moving it to a certain area where the cats can see out of whilst they are toileting and watch for any enemies! If it does seem high and you have an arthritic cat, try using one with lower sides.

Cat litter

It’s not just a litter box that needs to be just right, as part of your care for your cat, the litter itself needs to be the correct type for your cat to be comfortable in. It may sound strange, but some cats prefer certain litter, some prefer an earth-based litter, whilst some like wooden pellets.

There can be many reasons for this, it could be the smell the litter has, as most are given a scent to help mask smells, which may be fine for humans, but not for cats noses. It can also be the cat doesn’t like walking on certain litter because it is uncomfortable on their feet.

Work out what works best for your cat, and then the general rule is trying to stick to it - your cat will be much happier.

Scratching posts

Cats naturally want to scratch, not themselves but items around them. They are not doing it to be destructive and as an owner, you should be aware of this. What they are doing is marking their territory with scent glands that are on their feet. If you provide them with a scratch post to do this on it will help save any furniture.

Sometimes they need a bit of encouragement not to scratch the furniture, but what they are doing is making hotspots in their area – basically an invisible fence of cat pheromones!

Neutering

Female cats can produce an amazing number of kittens during a lifetime, which is why as a responsible pet owner if you do not wish to breed from them, you should have them spayed. The same goes for tomcats, they can father cats all over the neighbourhood if they are let loose!

Again, having them neutered is a responsible thing to do, it also stops them wanting to wander, and reduces them spraying urine to mark the territory.

We hope you have picked up an idea or two for things you can try with your cat, especially if they are getting fussy about a certain scenario. Understanding cats behaviour is subject all by itself, and many vets cannot explain some of the things cats do and why they do it.

It is always worth remembering that you know your cat better than anyone else, so if something doesn’t seem right it probably isn’t.

If you have any worries about your cat, their health, or their behaviour, please speak to your own veterinary practice for more advice and information.

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