You’ll often hear pet owners say, “I’m a dog person” or “I’m a cat person”, but the reality is that both make great pets, and while the virtues of owning a dog are widely acknowledged, cats sometimes get a bum rap.
Cats – the laugh-a-minute pets
Cats often don’t get the credit they deserve as being loyal and loving pets. They’re sometimes seen as being aloof and solitary, but cats are actually quite social creatures. They can enjoy being in the company of a human family, and love to joke around. In fact, images and videos of cats are some of the most viewed content on the web, particularly those showing cats “acting the goat”. Cat owners know, that if you want a video to go viral, film a cat!
People are sometimes surprised to discover that cats can learn tricks, and in some cases, are even better at them than dogs. They’re naturally athletic and agile, and while a dog will run and jump to catch a ball, a cat will too, but also throw in some skilful acrobatics...
Looking for a cuddler?
If you’re looking for a lap-pet, you can’t go past a cat. Most cats love to be cuddled and stroked. There’s nothing more relaxing than to have a cat curled up in your lap, and listen to their rhythmic purring... It’s a great way to build the bond between you, and as with most pets, if you show them love you’ll get loads in return.
Cats can be less work than some other species
Don’t have the time or the ability to walk a dog? It’s not a problem with cats. While cats need regular exercise, games at home can help to provide it, as well as adequate space for them to roam. Their natural instincts as hunters will also contribute to the daily exercise quota.
Cats don’t need to be bathed as they are meticulous self-groomers. Brushing will help to keep their coats healthy, and reduce unwanted hair around the home, and it is usually necessary with long-haired breeds.
Also, cats don't require constant attention. After a while you’ll know what the right balance is, but you won’t need to wait on them hand and foot. They’re generally happy just being around you.
Could cats be the perfect pet?
Whether cats are the perfect pet is for you to judge, but if you have a cat, or you’re considering getting one, there are a number of things to bear in mind. The chances are that you could have your feline companion for a long time; with ongoing improvements in nutrition and advancements in medicine, it’s not uncommon for cats to live into their 20’s.
While they may indeed be lower maintenance than some other pets, they still require activity and exercise, and it’s important to get the mix right, as cats that are under-stimulated can become bored and stressed, especially indoor cats.
Life needs to be interesting, and active
Life for many indoor cats is monotonous, therefore they will need to be occupied. Toys and plenty of one-on-one time well help ward off boredom. In addition to games like fetch, and chasing laser pointers, some owners find the company of another cat can help to stimulate them and provide another playmate.
Lean and fit cats have a better chance at a long and healthy life. Overweight cats are susceptible to a number of diseases, including diabetes, respiratory and heart disease, and more.
The feline residence
We all need our own space, and this applies to cats too. Even if they can’t have their own room in your home, they should have their own space within it. Somewhere to put their bed, scratching post, and food and water bowls... a place where they can retreat. Litter-box location is important too. It shouldn’t be located with food and water, but it shouldn’t be hard to reach either. A large litter tray in a relatively private, but well-lit room is ideal.
When cleaning the litter, pay attention to what’s in it – or not in it. Blood, multiple trips resulting in only a little urine, vocalising while going, or an absence of anything other than urine, can all be signs that it’s time for trip to the vet.
A quality, balanced diet, is one of the most important things for a long and healthy life. It should be appropriate for your cat’s lifestyle and stage in life, with older cats for example, potentially requiring fewer calories.
Schedules for meals are a good idea, and typically two meals a day spaced by 8 – 12 hours, is appropriate. Leaving a bowl of food out all day can lead your cat to eat more than is needed, leading to unnecessary weight gain. Your vet can work out how much your cat should eat based on your cat’s overall health, size, and level of activity.
Resist the urge to feed a begging cat from your plate. It creates a bad habit, and many human foods are dangerous for cats, such as chocolate, nuts, raisins, onions, and garlic. Also, other foods such as milk, are not tolerated by some cats and can make them sick.
Make sure your cat always has access to fresh water. Many cats do not consume enough water, and encouraging them with water fountains, dripping taps, or by adding water to the dry cat food, can help.
Even if you keep your cat indoors only, cats are skilful escape artists. Microchips are a great form of permanent identification for cats, and they help reunite lost cats with their owners. Collars with the cat’s name and your phone number, can also be helpful in case they make a break for it.
Desexing has a positive impact on the life span of cats, and it also contributes to reduction of unpleasant behavioural issues such as marking or spraying.
Cats need clean teeth too!
It’s important to look after your cat’s mouth and teeth. Most cats over the age of three already have some degree of dental disease, and it can be painful and can prevent your cat from eating normally. Your vet can help you establish a home care routine for your cat, and regular check-ups by your vet will also be necessary.
Regular Vet Check-ups
Dental examinations aren’t the only reason cats need regular visits to the vet. Your vet will conduct a thorough examination of your cat from tip to tail. Even the most observant owner might not be able to identify some of early signs of illness, as cats can be masters of disguise, and this is one of the reasons regular vet visits are so important. Annual check-ups can help your cats live a long and healthy live.
When you understand a cat’s basic health and welfare needs, and you’ve established a comfortable routine together, you can raise a happy and healthy pet, and have a loving and harmonious relationship. If you have any questions about choosing a cat as a pet, or the care of cat, please get in touch with any of our hospitals.