I’ve had cats as pets for as long as I can remember and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that there’s a lot more to a cat than cuteness and fluffiness. They come in an array of shapes, sizes, colours and temperaments. Understanding temperament and character is key to the happiness of your contented cats.
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Cat’s have a reputation for being independent and loners but they also love company so if you’re out a lot get them a mate. They will play, nap, groom, go on adventures and just generally hang out together as all cool cats do.
But even if they have a pal (or two) they will still want to spend some time with their human friends. They like to be involved in everything even if it’s not convenient or in their best interest so try and fit in some ‘cat’ time during your day.
Not all cats are lap cats or like being picked up. It might be that they like to curl up near your feet, or sit next to you rather than on you. If this is the case don’t force your cat to change. For some cats just being in the same room as you is enough.
Our big ginger tom loves to join in my girls ‘play’. Sometimes it’s great and he’ll take part in the teddy bear tea party or soft toy school. Other times he’ll flop down on top of their latest lego creation, jigsaw or even worse their artwork! He also likes to come outside and us off every morning and will be there waiting with a furry kiss when we get back home. It’s become part of our school run ritual and the girls always look out of the car window, as we drive up to the house, looking for what their four legged ‘hello’.
Cats can be very protective when it comes to children. My cats always keep an eye on my girls, rotating where they sleep, with one of them always positioned at the top of the stairs as if on guard duty and the other two split between the girls rooms.
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But children need to know that a cat isn’t a toy it’s a member of the family and should be treated with respect. There is a big difference between a cat choosing to curl up and have a nap in the dolls pushchair and a child trying to stuff her cat in there. A contented cat is much more likely to interact with your children through choice if they are allowed to join in on their own terms.
Cats LOVE food, but unfortunately as far as they are concerned the grass is always greener and their love is often focussed on someone else’s plate … often yours (which can be very bad for them)!
It might sound obvious but don’t put food and water near to a cat litter tray … no cat want’s to eat next to their toilet!
It’s also a good idea to have their water in a different place to their food. Change the water daily, cat’s like fresh water, and if you can have a bowl upstairs in the bathroom as well (that is if you let your cats upstairs) . Don’t worry if your cats drink rainwater either … it’s totally normal, as is eating grass!
Try and keep an eye on how well your cats are eating and drinking. If it changes then it might be an indication of illness of injury. My ginger tom stopped eating his food which was very unlike him a while back. So I had a good look at him, checking in his mouth and fund a large lump behind his ear which turned out to be a painful abscess (common as a result cat fight wounds). The vet drained it and gave him a course of antibiotics which soon gave him his appetite back.
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If you are going to let your cat have treats never feed them tit bits from the table, from your plate, from the garden picnic, whilst your cooking etc … take it from me it only takes one treat and they will be hounding you for the rest of their days at that particular spot when ever food is around. Oh, and whilst I’m at it. Never leave meat, cheese, cake, bread, crisps … in fact any type of food out (apart from fruit and veg). They WILL take it and they WILL give it a darn good chomp!
There are too many cats and not enough homes so always neuter/spay your kitten or cat (get advice from your vet regarding the age for kittens). Then there are the fleas and worms.
Most cats get fleas and some cats are very sensitive to the flea bites so regular flea treatment is advisable to keep it under control and luckily these are easily available. The same goes for worm treatment.
There are also a few cat vaccines that you can have that protect your cat against ‘Feline infectious enteritis’, ‘Cat ‘flu’, ‘Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)’ and ‘Feline chlamydophilosis’. Check with your vet for further information.
But even with the right food, environment and medication; accidents and unforeseen illness can occur. And it can be expensive, so it’s worth considering being covered with a good cat insurance policy in case the unexpected happens.
Stress can also make a cat unwell so pay attention to any changes inside and outside the family home that may be disturbing them.
Signs that your cat isn’t a happy puss can include going off their food, drinking lesser or greater amounts of water, removing themselves from the family, trying to get your attention more than usual, not grooming themselves properly, being sensitive to touch, possibly growling. Abnormal behaviour is often a sign that something isn’t right so do get your puss checked out if they seem out of sorts and keep an eye on them as they head into old age particularly.
Most cats (there are always exceptions!) are fastidiously clean, spending large amounts of time licking and preening themselves into four legged splendour. If their coat starts to feel gritty and look shabby it may be a sign that something isn’t right.
Long haired cats need a little help with this especially during the warmer months when twigs, leaves, flowers, mud weeds insects (and sometimes poo!) can get matted into their fur. Actually the poo problem can occur all year round but luckily is an infrequent problem in my experience!
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Use a cat comb or brush to tease out the moulting fur and debris. It’s relaxing for both cat and owner and provides an opportunity to check nails, ears and general cat physique for any lumps, bumps and abnormalities … short haired cats are quite partial to a good brushing as well.
Be consistent with the way you communicate to your cat and set strong boundaries. They will soon start to understand the words, tones of voice and hand gestures used. Young cats/kittens are quicker to train as they have no previous handling. An older rescued/adopted cat may take a lot longer to play by your rules but they will get there. The key is patience and consistency.
Invest time in listening to the sounds your cats make. You’ll be surprised at just how different the mews and growls are and it will help you interpret what they are saying/wanting from you.
Include your children in any training and handling and get them to use the same commands and gestures as you. Make sure your children understand how to read your cats signals. Growling is NOT a cat inviting a child to play! It might seem obvious, but a child may not understand that the cute curled up growling kitty really doesn’t want to be woken up so it can come play schools.
Cats love to play and if you don’t provide them with entertainment they WILL go find adventure on their own. Young kittens love to climb … curtains, pot plants, chairs, sofa’s, legs … they’ll try most things so it’s worth cat proofing your house for the first year or two and maybe think of buying one of those really tall cat scratchers. It wants to be at least two levels high!
A long piece of string being dragged around the house or garden provides hours of fun. Pipecleaners and pompoms are another favourite in this house. One of my guys will play ‘fetch’ quite happily with his scrunched up pipe cleaner for a good half hour! I’ve also had cats in the past that love really small soft toys that they carry around like babies and snuggle up to at night. But as with all things an innocent toy can be dangerous for some cats. Accidents happen so it’s important to keep an eye on your cats toys and check them regularly for damage.
Boxes and paper bags are another cat favourite. They love climbing in them, sitting on them, diving into them. In fact kids and cats with boxes can be a whole afternoon of entertainment.
It’s often a bored cat that gets in trouble!
This is a Petplan sponsored post. All written words are my own.