Rules Of Engagement For Cats

I think that if you took a survey, most people would say that cats are less work than dogs.  Not true! (At least if you want to have a happy, healthy cat) Cats have special needs too. Whether you have one cat or several, here are some important things you should know.

Cats are hunters by nature. So when it comes to feeding them, try to incorporate this natural instinct by putting food bowls throughout the house, and at different levels so that they are encouraged to jump or climb. You can also give your cat(s) food puzzle toys that will challenge him mentally, and physically.

The average cat needs about 200 ml of water each day. ( from drinking water, water in food, and water from nutrient metabolism.) Keep a fresh, clean supply at all times. Some cats (like my Uncle Ray’s) prefer water from a tall glass rather than a shallow bowl. Some cats like a flowing water source like a fountain, or faucet.  Extra water is especially important in our senior cats because of the high incidence of kidney disease.

Cats need clean litter boxes! The litter box should be large, and easily accessible. The rule of thumb is one box per cat PLUS one additional box.  They should be filled several inches deep with litter and scooped out daily. They should be completely emptied and cleaned with mild soap and water at least every other week.  It’s important to know how often your cat is using the litter box. Trust me, one day your veterinarian will need this information.

Cats need space. Especially in multicat households. Some cats are very social and enjoy being close to other pets, while others prefer to be alone.  Provide perches, trees, or cat condos so that they have alternatives, and escape routes. They also need areas in the house where they can rest peacefully. Cats sleep about 15 hours a day.

Not all cats get along. Introductions will go more smoothly if cats are brought together when they are young, or introduced in pairs (ie: similar ages, related) This allows the pair to interact together, decreasing the chance of annoying the other cats already living in the household.

Urine marking is a normal communication tool between cats. Marking provides information to cats, about cats. Of course this is an undesirable behavior in our homes! Spaying and neutering  decreases the incidence of marking by about 90%, but remember the more cats you have, the more likely they are to “communicate”.

Cats need to play and interact. Remember to teach your kitten appropriate play as this may affect how he plays as an adult. For example, don’t allow him to bite you, or play rough with you as a kitten. He’ll think this is ok when he’s an adult too! (Hello infection!) Provide a variety of toys that you can use to play with your cat, that cats can use to play with each other, and that they can use to play with on their own.

Get to know your breed. Realize that some breeds are more social, more vocal, need more grooming, etc.. Think about these things before bringing a cat home. I happen to adore Siamese cats. (specifically the wedge heads) I love how friendly they are, and how talkative they are. My husband prefers quieter cats. So when we finally get a cat, we’ll compromise. I’ll get my Siamese, and he’ll get earplugs!