Whether it’s their incredible intelligence, inquisitive nature or display of love and affection, sharing your life with a cat can be a rewarding and lifelong experience. A relationship with a cat cannot be compared to a dog or horse or bird, as they are an entirely different being altogether. They are truly the most mysterious of species – what is it about these majestic creatures that attracts us? Their beauty? Their intelligence? Their agility and grace?Or is it their incredible purring that can calm any being? Cats are one of the most misunderstood animals on this planet. Their independent and strong nature is adored by many, but rejected by some. And does the cat really care? Not really! The cat knows who they are and are happy with that.
1. The true essence of cats
Once worshipped as gods in ancient Egypt, it is not difficult to see why these divine creatures are the most popular animal companion in the world. Their intelligence, wisdom, affection and funny antics fill your heart for years to come. A cat will expect trust, respect and love. Once you have earned those things, a cat will give you loyalty, love and respect tenfold in return. What I love the most about cats is they will not compromise who they are for anyone. They stay true to themselves, always. That does not mean they love you any less; they know that in order to love and support you, they need to fulfil themselves first. Now isn’t that something we could all learn for ourselves? A cat will keep you in high integrity, they see beyond the physical and see you for your true self. If you should sway from your best path, you can count on a cat to make you accountable and do the right thing.
So now that you understand the essence of cats a little better, let’s see if you can meet the needs of a cat.
2. A Cat is different to other types of pets?
It’s no surprise that cats are dominating the world – from Facebook to Youtube, cats are lighting up our lives with their love and sense of adventure. Nothing is sweeter than the cuddles and loud purring of a cat on your lap or in your bed. Their calm, meditative state will settle even the most stressed of people. However, a cat does have different needs to other animals. They are independent, highly intelligent and self-assured in every way. Whilst cats like their own space and enjoy solitude, they do like your company – whether they are sleeping in their favourite bed or atop your desk, they love having you there. In the scheme of things cats are less maintenance than a dog – a cat will physically clean themselves and need minimal grooming unless a long-haired cat. If you have a cat that requires a kitty litter, then that will be at least a daily to twice daily ritual. A cat can amuse themselves, whether its watching the world go by or making their own playful games, however it does not mean they don’t want quality time with you. If you have a busy lifestyle, make time for your cat each day. They still need quality time with you.
3. Cats have a touch of wild.
Despite cats living with humans for the past few hundred years, they have maintained their wild side. There are many different breeds and types of cat, choosing the right cat to suit you will take some research and effort on your part. If you are purchasing a cat, please go to registered breeders or adopt from a shelter. There are many cats in shelters just waiting to find a forever home. Could you be their saviour and lifelong friend?
If you have adopted a ‘stray cat’ one who you have been feeding and encouraging to come to you, you need to make the decision whether you will commit to the cat completely or not. It is unfair to provide only half the care that a cat needs just for your pleasure. If it is clear that the cat belongs to someone in your neighbourhood, feeding the cat will not help their health or wellbeing. Cats may have been domesticated, but they still have their wild instincts. They sleep up to 15 hours a day to conserve energy for hunting prey, which is usually done at night, making them mostly nocturnal. Your cat will call out to others to state its territory, and also when they need something from you. Be prepared to be occasionally disturbed during the night, or early hours of the morning. They need remove the outer covering of their claws to keep them sharp, (for prey, protection and quick getaways) so providing a scratchy pole is a must; or they will use what is available and that could be your furniture. Getting to know these unique characteristics about your cat is getting to know your future best friend.
4. Ideal cat environment
What quality of life are you offering your cat? There is debate whether a cat should be exclusively indoors or outdoors, however keeping your cat predominantly indoors prevents accidents, roaming, and saves native wildlife from being hunted. If you live in an apartment, you can train your cat to walk on a harness and take them out for fresh air and time in the garden. If you have a backyard or courtyard you can build a cat enclosure where your cat can relax and enjoy the outdoors without harming any wildlife or meeting other predators. Another option is covering your outdoor area in mesh so your cat may go outside whenever it pleases. It may seem extreme, but it protects your cat, protects other animals and gives you peace of mind. As solitary animals, cats do not live in packs like dogs or humans. It is often not viable to have more than one cat in a household, if you want to keep the peace. Most cats prefer solitude, and too many cats in a household is a challenge for territory, food, and family. It can be very distressing for your cat. Two cats can work if from the same litter, or have grown up with each other, but there is never a guarantee.
Cats naturally love to be up high; predators watch from above before hunting their next prey. Your cat will be happy to sit on your bench tops, tables and shelves. Don’t be surprised to find your cat enjoying the sunshine in your kitchen sink or on the stovetop – it looks like a great spot to me too! Remember it is part of who they are, and what they need for their happiness.
If you would like to be able to ask your cat what they need and are they happy – Learn to communicate in their language
5. Time and commitment
Did you know that cats live up to 20 years? Ask yourself – where do you see yourself in 20 years time? Are you still living where you are now? Are you married with children? Have you moved to a new country? Is your cat there with you? Cats may be less maintenance in care than a dog, however they still need love and attention and time from you. You will need to consider all situations and how your cat will be affected in the decisions you make, right from that first day you bring your cat home.
6. Cats need plenty of stimulation
Oh the fun & joy of playing with a cat! From playing with fishing toys, little balls, playing fetch (some cats do!), and stalking each other are just some of the ways you can keep your cat stimulated and healthy. Cats conserve energy for hunting prey, which is why they sleep 15 hours of the day. But as your cat is fed by you, and does not need to hunt, their instincts are still there and they will need to let those instincts loose. They will keep you entertained for hours with their acrobatics and funny antics. Don’t give up trying to get your cat interested – when one game doesn’t work, try another! Chances are there will be at least one game that your cat will love. As mentioned earlier, cats enjoy observing and watching the world go by outside. Stimulation is not just exercise – as highly intelligent beings they need mental enrichment as well. Providing places near the window sill or tall cat scratchers near glass doors allows your cat to observe. Training your cat to wear a harness will make a world of difference to your cat. Don’t rush the process – get your cat used to wearing a harness, taking it off and putting it on until they are comfortable and forget they are wearing it. Not only will your cat enjoy the walks, so will you.
7. What a cat needs for health and wellbeing
What type of diet will you feed your cat? Cats are predominantly carnivores; they need meat more than dogs with very little fruit, vegetables, and carbohydrates. You can feed your cat fresh raw beef, turkey, chicken, rabbit, duck or kangaroo meat. If you are converting your cat over to a raw food diet, try starting with 1 or 2 varieties of meat first, and persist for a few days. Cats are suspicious eaters – they may not try it the first time round. But as the days go by, they will get hungry and be tempted to give it a go. Cats will need extra supplementation with a raw food diet, using a high quality micronutrient supplement with Omega oil to ensure they get all vitamins and minerals.
Your cat will need regular checks at the vet to maintain their health and wellbeing. Vaccinations should be done within the first year of your cat’s life, however after this you may use a titre blood test to check for antibodies every 3 years. If your cat maintains the antibodies, it won’t need yearly vaccinations. It is highly recommended to purchase pet insurance for your cat – vet bills can get quite expensive and you must be financially prepared to cover any unexpected costs for your cat.
To neuter or not to neuter? Looking at the bigger picture, it is wise to neuter your cat whether they are indoor or outdoor. Overpopulation affects our native wildlife, there will be many stray kittens on the streets without veterinary care and it will help stop the cycle of unwanted animals in shelters.
So with all that said you now have a clearer idea on what it will take to look after a cat. These highly intelligent beings will fill your life with love, laughter and happiness for many years to come. Are you up for it? Once you have had a cat there is no going back, you will see!
Learn to speak in fluent cat