Seven tips for a happy cat
Your cat means the world to you and you’ll obviously want her to be happy. So why not let her do the kinds of things she was made for: like climbing, jumping and, of course, hunting – even though it might just be for a make-believe mouse. A cat needs lots of space, especially if she cannot go outside. So make sure she has a good place – preferably as high as possible – from where she can survey her territory.
Cats are natural athletes, with climbing, jumping and running being an intrinsic part of their DNA. It’s therefore important that your cat can “stretch its legs”, especially if she has few or no opportunities to go outside. Scratching or clawing is also part of a cat’s natural behaviour – so if you value your furniture make sure you provide a good scratch post!
Cats like occupying high vantage points, such as the top of a high cupboard. It enables them to survey their territory and allows them to avoid children, dogs and anything else they’d rather not have to deal with. Windowsills and balconies offering a view outside are also firm favourites of cats; they are ideal places from which to watch the birds and keep an eye on the neighbours. And if you have several cats make sure there are enough places for them all!
Despite being domesticated, our cats are still predators at heart. Your own lethargic moggy is also a hunter, even though she might never have seen a mouse in her life! Cats that can go outside are able to satisfy their natural instinct to hunt, while indoor cats can play the hunter with the aid of a cat teaser. And every once in a while make it more challenging for your cat by giving her kibbles in a feedball, rather than simply on a plate.
Cats can manage perfectly well by themselves, but at times every cat also needs companionship. The kind of company depends on the cat. While some are quite happy to cavort with other cats, others need a lot of attention from their owner. And some cats aren’t at all interested in being constantly cuddled, but are instead quite content to just lie next to you.
5. A clean litter box (or two)
Many people love cats, but very few people feel the same way about the cat’s litter box. Your cat, on the other hand, sets great store in having a clean loo! And the more cats you have, the more litter boxes you should make available! As a rule of thumb the number of litter boxes should equal the number of cats, plus one. To enable the cat to turn easily inside it, make sure the box is big enough (at least 1.5 times the size of your cat). Provide a five-centimetre layer of grit so the cat can do the necessary digging. Position the litter box in a quiet, accessible, dry and wind-free place and last, but certainly not least, clean it every day!
Even the most social of cats will appreciate some privacy from time to time, so make sure you give your cat plenty of opportunities to temporarily withdraw. And if you have several cats it’s crucial that they are not forced to be constantly in each other's company. Cats like to be able to keep their distance from one another, particularly if they don’t get on.
7. Healthy lifestyle
We people like to say “a healthy mind in a healthy body” and the same is certainly true for cats. So make sure your cat has a healthy diet and gets enough exercise. Don’t let your feline friend become overweight; it will put undue stress on her joints and increase the likelihood of diseases such as diabetes, for example. Cats are masters in concealing pain; they will suffer in silence and you’ll only notice when they can no longer tolerate it. That’s why it’s a good idea to have your cat examined by a vet once a year for “hidden defects”, particularly if your cat is not as young as she once was.