Caring for Cats: The Best Advice from a Lifelong Cat Owner

Cats make perfect pets. The majestic creatures offer the best of all worlds: they’re adorably soft and cuddly but also playful, hysterical little jerks.

Caring for cats seems simple, but they need far more than a litter box and some food. They require love and attention like a dog and a commitment like any living being.

Caring for Cats: 21 Tips from a Lifelong Cat Lover

As an adult, I’ve owned five cats. My oldest, whom I adopted when I was 25, is 16 and thriving. I also had cats throughout my childhood. I love them more than anything

Today, I’m sharing my favorite tips for sharing your home with a feline friend and helping them live a long, healthy, happy life.

Each Cat is Unique

First, you must understand that your cat is a unique individual. Each has its own personality, quirks, likes, and dislikes.

Although the items on this list work for many cats, they won’t work for all of them. Some will refuse cuddles no matter how early you start, while others will not leave you alone.

To get along with your cat, you must respect their individuality. Try the things on the list, but adapt if they don’t work. Don’t force a cat.

Create a Routine

Most cats thrive on structure and routine. The happiest cats have routines they can depend on.

Feed them at the same time each day. Have a dedicated playtime and treat time. Your cat will feel secure knowing when everything will happen.

Teach Them Early

It’s even harder to teach old cats new tricks than dogs. However, kittens are far more open to learning.

If you want your cat to be comfortable with something, you must start doing it when they are a kitten. Get them used to being held, getting their teeth brushed, going for walks, or getting their butts shaved.

Do it regularly while they’re kittens; it will be much easier to continue when they’re adults.

Give Them a Chase

Cats love chasing things, but they also love being chased – when they know it’s all in good fun.

Play chase with your cat. Incorporate a little hide-and-seek. Run around the house with them, and when you “get them,” give them all the cuddles.

My cats ask me to chase them, and sometimes, they start the game themselves by hiding and jumping out at me.

If you build a trusting relationship with your cat, they will love playing chase with you.

A Cat Stroller

We never take our cats for outdoor walks but use the stroller daily. Our cat loves it.

It’s his safe space that follows him from room to room. We bring it to the bedroom at night, the office during the day, and the living room for cozy evenings together.

Now that he’s older and can’t run as well, we use the stroller to recreate the chase game. He jumps in and calls me, and I’ll run the stroller around the house.

He still gets the feeling of being chased, but it’s easier on his joints.

And Cup Holder

We built a cupholder for our cat’s stroller, so he always has access to water.

We used a plastic cup holder made for fishing, a hook, and some wire to create something that would easily attach to the stroller’s side.

Now, he has the water he loves with him 24/7.

How They Communicate

Cats constantly communicate with us, but unfortunately, most of us don’t know how to listen.

Many cats communicate visually. Think of them like bees, dancing to show their friends where the food source is. Cats create their own language with motion. They show by doing, which doesn’t always make sense to us.

My cat goes to a particular room when he wants to cuddle and a different room when he wants to play. He’ll go to the pantry door when he wants to be chased.

Pay attention when your cat repeats the same motions repeatedly or goes to a specific area of the house. He’s probably telling you what he wants – you can figure out what it is if you pay attention.

Drink Water

Cats don’t drink as much water as they should, so many develop chronic kidney disease. As owners, we must do everything we can to entice them to drink.

Fountains encourage them to drink because the running water seems fresh. They love drinking from a faucet that’s left open.

My cats demand my water cup, assuming that it’s the best water in the house since it’s what I’m drinking. I let them have it.

Wet Food

In the wild, cats get most of their water from their food. To help maintain kidney function, recreate that with wet food.

Mix warm water with the wet food to encourage them to drink even more. 

Crime and Punishment

Cats do what they want when they want, and they don’t care what you have to say about it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t train them, at least a little.

However, cats don’t do well with discipline. A harsh “No” means nothing to them. Instead, consider giving them a time-out if they are misbehaving. They won’t enjoy being left alone and, after a while, will learn that the naughty behavior gets them ignored.

If your cat is doing something dangerous, squirt them with a tiny splash of water from a spray bottle. Use this sparingly and only as a last resort – you don’t want your cat to associate you with the evil water.

Plastic’s Scary Appeal

Every cat I’ve ever had is obsessed with plastic. They chew it and sometimes attempt to rip little chunks off they can eat.

Plastic isn’t good for cats, so keep anything wrapped in plastic safely stored away from their reach. Part of caring for cats is ensuring they don’t get into the dangerous things lying around the house. 

Don’t Declaw

Declawing is a cruel practice. It’s akin to amputating a human’s finger at the first joint. Despite this knowledge, some folks still insist on declawing. 

If you value your furniture over a cat’s wellness, you shouldn’t get a cat. 

Talk to Them

Cats don’t speak English, but they do like the sound of your voice.

Talk to your cat. Tell them you love them as you scratch their heads. Let them know when it’s bedtime, dinner time, and treat time. They learn to understand a few words, even if they don’t care.

Vet Care

Some folks think cats are so low maintenance that they don’t require vet care. That’s not true. Caring for cats includes caring for their medical needs.

You should take your cat to the vet at least annually to get them vaccinated and ensure they’re still living their healthiest cat lives. When they become senior cats, the visits should increase to twice yearly to check their kidney function.

My senior kitty is in stage 2 chronic kidney disease, so he sees the vet every four months. This way, we can catch any changes early and shift his treatment plan however needed.

Throwing Up

Everyone assumes cats always throw up, and it’s perfectly normal.

I did.

It wasn’t until I saw a cat specialist vet that I learned the truth: a healthy cat shouldn’t throw up all the time. Many cats suffer from IBS, which causes vomiting.

If your cat throws up a lot, see your vet. Medical intervention can make them a lot happier.

On Keeping House Plants

Plants and cats can coexist, but you must tread carefully. Some beautiful houseplants are deadly to cats, but they don’t know the difference. They will happily chew on lily leaves, unknowingly ingesting the horrific toxin.

If you want to have cats and plants, only get cat-safe houseplants. Your cats still might chew the leaves, which could make them sick, so keep them out of reach as much as possible.

Use Gravy Instead of Water

At some point, you’ll have to give your precious baby medication. Cats don’t take pills well, so the best way to get them their vital medicine is to crush it, mix it with water, and force it into their mouth with a syringe.

Use gravy instead of water. Gravy will hide the pill’s taste better and offer more sustenance to ensure your cat keeps it down.

Decorating No-Nos

Cats don’t know when things are bad for them. Some will eat anything that looks fun, even if it’s dangerous.

Many cats obsess over the stringy, shiny glitz of Christmas tinsel. A friend’s cat ate those fake spiderwebs people put up for Halloween, causing blockage and twisting in his intestines. 

Keep your cat in mind when decorating for the holidays to avoid emergency vet bills.

Keep them Inside

Cats may enjoy being outside, but it’s dangerous for them and the local wildlife.

The outside abounds with dangers, from cars to birds of prey, coyotes to feral cats. An indoor cat’s average lifespan is 10-15 years, while indoor/outdoor cats have an average life span of 2-5 years. You could shorten your cat’s life by a decade if you let them roam wild.

Outdoor cats also slaughter millions of birds, lizards, and rodents, impacting the local ecosystem.

If you want to let your cat experience the outdoors, take them for walks with a harness or build a catio, a safe space where they can enjoy the outside but can’t interact with it.

Chase the Treats

Your cat deserves a treat, but you can make treat time more fun by tapping into their hunter instinct. Get hard treats and slide them across the floor. Your cat will delight in chasing and pouncing at them. He will feel like a lion hunting prey on the Serengeti as he stalks the treats across the floor.

As a bonus, you get to watch them run around chasing the treats, which provides hours of delightful entertainment. 

Love Them

A common complaint (mostly from non-cat owners) about cats is that they’re too independent and aloof. People want a companion – a pet that will love them and want to be with them.

Cats provide that – but only if you give them the love and security they need.

Cat owners get what they put into it. If you treat your cat like an independent roommate, barely paying it any attention, that’s what it will become.

But if you love your cat and give her constant playtime, attention, and love, she will be your best friend and most loving companion. 

Author: Melanie Allen

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Pursuing Your Passions, Travel, Wellness, Hobbies, Finance, Gaming, Happiness

Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation and is a certified happiness life coach. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life. 

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