How to Be a Good Cat Owner: 10 Ways to Improve
There’s a big difference between having a cat and being a good pet parent. Being a good cat owner is more than just putting out food and buying your cat a bed. So, whether you have a special feline in your life and want to know how to be the best, or you want to be prepared for a new addition to the family, we have some tips for you. Let’s get started!
1. Make Time for Them
Cats have a reputation for being aloof and antisocial, but it isn’t entirely well-earned. Of course, some personalities will be more independent than others, but all benefit from quality time with their owners. Social interaction and playtime are important for bonding, exercise, and mental stimulation, especially when they’re kittens 1.
Cats also benefit from being socialized at an early age, just like dogs. Exposure to new people, situations, and other animals will make them more confident, well-adjusted, and happier adults.
2. Organize Their Space
If you have a new cat, you can prepare its room before bringing it home. You can put everything it needs, like a bed, litter box, food, and toys. Utilize your vertical space by getting a cat tree, shelves, or window mounts so your cat can climb. Once your cat is more accustomed to its living environment, you can open up the room to the rest of the house.
3. Get a Scratching Post
Scratching is a natural behavior, just like climbing, and if you don’t provide a scratching post, they might target your favorite chair. Cats scratch to mark their territory and to care for their nails. Your cat and furniture will thank you for investing in a scratching post.
4. Purchase Fun Toys
Even if your cat is a couch potato that would rather nap in the sun, you need to buy some toys. Getting your cat moving reduces the risk of it developing conditions like arthritis, diabetes, and obesity 2. Exercise will also prevent your cat from becoming bored and allow them to express normal behaviors like stalking and pouncing.
Playtime is a great way to encourage exercise but remember, cats can also be finicky, so you might need to try different toys to see what they like the most. You could try rotating toys to keep them interested in playtime if they are easily bored.
5. Keep Their Litter Box Clean
This might seem obvious, but it makes a great deal of difference to your cat. It’s not the most pleasant of jobs, but it’s crucial; keeping your cat’s litter box clean is good for their health and makes it less likely that they will go to the bathroom in other, less appropriate places. Cats are also creatures of habit, so try not to switch out the litter type or scents once you find one they like.
6. Choose a Veterinarian
You will spend some time at the vet, even if your cat is perfectly healthy because you will need to attend routine exams and take them in for vaccinations. Establishing a good relationship with your vet is vital because you want to feel confident with the person who will be caring for your cat over the years!
If you’re unsure where to start, ask friends and family with pets which practice they are registered with. Once you’ve chosen a vet, schedule a wellness exam for your cat. Preventive care is always the best way to ensure your cat stays healthy and lives a long life.
7. Invest in High-Quality Food
Take your time to look at pet food reviews and ingredient lists. Look for brands approved by the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that contain meat as the first ingredient. You can also ask your veterinarian for recommendations. Your cat’s diet is incredibly important and vital to its growth, development, health, and happiness.
8. Spend Time Grooming Your Cat
Cats are clean, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely self-sufficient, so owners must lend a hand to keep their coats healthy. Grooming removes loose hair, dust, and dead skin and prevents matting and tangling; it can also improve their circulation. Some cats need more grooming than others, especially long haired breeds like Persians.
You can invest in a high-quality brush and nail clippers to groom your cat, but you can also get help from a professional groomer if your cat is reluctant to submit to a grooming routine. Your cat’s teeth will also need your attention; dental health is incredibly important for your cat’s overall health, and brushing your cat’s teeth regularly (at least twice a week) will save you and your cat from painful dental issues down the road.
9. Get to Know Your Cat
Cats sometimes get a bad reputation for not loving their owners as much as dogs. However, cats just have a different way of showing how they feel. Learn your cat’s love language to show them how much they mean to you. Interpreting its body language and vocal cues will also help if something ever goes wrong; if your cat is acting aggressively out of the blue, you will notice because you know the behavior is unusual.
10. You Can Actually Train Your Cat
You’d be forgiven for thinking cats can’t be trained, but that isn’t true. The key to training a cat is positive reinforcement, which means rewarding good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. Your cat will quickly learn that good behavior yields treats, cuddles, or playtime, and once they do, they are more likely to behave how you want.
Although cats are more independent than canines and often seem to follow their own rules, they need our help and love to stay happy and healthy. Whether they’re friendly, vocal, and energetic or reserved, lazy, and silent, they require more than food and shelter. Cat owners must spend time playing with their cats, grooming them, and keeping their environment clean to ensure they live long lives.
If you’ve never cared for a feline before, it may seem like there’s a lot to remember, but it doesn’t take long to establish a care routine with your pet. You may make a few mistakes along the way, but that’s okay; cats are more patient than humans, and you’ll be quickly forgiven.
Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock