Cats are one of the animal species that were domesticated more recently in the history of mankind; some people think that we haven’t domesticated them at all. They are animals of habit, independent, territorial, and inquisitive, masters of themselves and their environment.
Although the presence of cats is part of anyone’s daily scenery, that doesn’t mean that we know them so well as we know, for instance, dogs, and we can’t figure out their behavior as easily.
Here you have a few general observations about the care of these unique animals.
Wild cats usually eat 10 to 20 times a day, feeding off small preys. Also, they spend a good portion of their time seeking and hunting their victims. Extrapolating this to domestic cats, we should leave food at their disposal all day, and they will ration it themselves.
If we hide as well small bit of food around the house, they will simulate the search of food, and keep themselves entertained when they are alone.
It is advisable to offer them moist food often.
A cat’s drinking trough should be large, and filled to the brim if possible. It is best to have separate troughs for food and water.
They love running water, so the fountains for cats are a great choice for them to be able to drink water in motion and, incidentally, amuse themselves.
Litter boxes must be big enough for the cat to turn on itself, and have enough sand so they can dig without touching the bottom of the box.
You need to clean the box daily to remove feces and dirty sand. Once a week, you should also clean the litter box in depth.
The box must be placed in a quiet place where the cat is not bothered constantly. There should be as many litter boxes as cats, + 1. This way, we prevent eventual marking issues, or the cat evacuating where it should’nt (see “Cat Litter Box Training”, at Perfect Paws).
Cats need to scratch. It is a biological need. We must teach them from a very young age to do it in the right place, to prevent future problems.
The surgical removal of claws is illegal, and cruel for cats, as well as unnecessary.
Cats love heights. There are several theories on this matter, but the reason is still unclear. It is certain, however, that they like having high spots at their disposal, to rest and watch everything that happens.
Cats prefer to play during short time periods, and several times a day. Their favorite games are chasing moving objects, or catching them if they are attached to a string (more information at “Cat Toys”, by The Humane Society of the United States).
We must never play with cats using our hands or feet. If they see them as toys, they might claw even when we are not playing (see “Training your cat to never scratch your hands”).
There are a number of interactive toys that provide a good mental stimulation, and entertainment for cats when they are alone.
Every cat needs a place to hide without being bothered. Cats are very sensitive to stress, and most often show it by hiding. When they do hide, we must allow it, and never try to drive them out of their hiding place.
We should try to find out what caused this reaction, and solve the problem if possible to allow the cat to overcome its anxiety by itself. If necessary, ask a veterinarian about the most suitable treatment.
Further information in “Cats Hiding”, by Feliway.
All cats must be inured to carriers, but we must do that gradually, and appropriately.
A good option is having the carrier always open at home, and leaving inside treats and toys, instead of producing it only to take our cat to the vet, or on a trip.
For more details about cat carriers, check the article “Cats and Carriers”.