Wednesday, May 22, 2013

6 Basic Needs for Indoor Cats

Cats have needs, and I have noticed a lot of cat owners are completely unaware of this. Dog owners play fetch, take their dogs on walks, or let them run around in the back yard. Cats are expected to entertain themselves, usually stuck inside the house all day.


My cat, Drusilla (pictured on my "about me" post), is a 99% indoor cat. She comes outside only occasionally in the summer with me. We have been considering getting her a pen so she has a little bit more freedom, but she still won't be out in it without me around. She is my baby and I worry about her. To be honest, I don't think she would want to go outside without me anyway since she spends her whole day following me around and only goes near the door when she is waiting for me to come back in. She is far more clingy than the average cat.

Need # 6, Toys:


Most bad behavior shown by cats is a product of boredom.When Dru starts knocking things off the end tables, or attacking my feet, I know she needs to play. Cats need interactive toys that sate their desire to hunt. Indoor cats have very little opportunity to hunt and therefore you need to provide them with prey. Don't let yourself become the prey though, always use a toy. When Dru attacks my foot I immediately pull it away from her and find something more suitable for her to attack. I don't want her to get the impression that attacking people, even playfully, is ever okay. You have to be careful not to encourage bad behavior. Some people let their dogs jump on them during play and then yell at them for jumping on guests. This sends a mixed message and the pet will never be able to understand.

When you play with your cat, try to do so for at least a good 15 minutes at a time. Don't be afraid to tire them out. Panting a little after play is a GOOD thing!


Need #5, Litter Box:

Indoor cats need some place to do their business, and most have not been trained to use the toilet. If you don't plan on this training then you need a litter box. It is a good idea to have one more litter box than you have cats. So if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes. Depending on how often you clean the litter box you can get away with having only one for one cat. As long as you clean it every other day you should be fine, but multiple cats need multiple boxes. Choices encourage them to go in a box instead of using the rug.


Need #4, Scratching/Climbing post:


Cats need to scratch. If they have claws, they scratch to sharpen their claws, but even declawed cats never lose their need to scratch. I am personally very much against declawing and may get into that later on a different post. As long as your cat has suitable options for scratching, they can be trained to leave the furniture alone. Cats also like to climb so if your scratching post has a perch at the top your cat will probably enjoy climbing up there and watching the world from on high. Dru prefers to scratch vertical objects. Though we have a few horizontal scratch-able objects for her, she ignores them unless they are sprinkled with catnip.

Need # 3, A Bed:


The bed doesn't need to be fancy, but a cat needs its own comfy spot to sleep. Drusilla sleeps on me 90% of the time, but there is a particular drawer in my dresser that is slightly loose and she discovered she can open it. When she wants to sleep on her own she usually goes in there and we have a special blanket just for her. We also keep a large pillow bed in the closet for those nights it is just too hot to let her sleep all cuddled up on me. When I throw her on the pillow she usually gets the hint by the third or fourth time and settles down there.

Need #2, Food and Water Bowls:


Obviously cats need to eat and therefore need something to eat off of, but the type of bowl you use is important. Plastic dishes can cause feline acne. The plastic rubs their little chins and they get those black crusty spots. A glass or ceramic dish, shallow and wide, is best. Cats don't like to get their sensitive whiskers wet or messy.

Need #1, Personal Space:


 It is imperative that cats have a spot that is all their own for when they want to get away. Sometimes they just need some alone time, but there are also times when they need somewhere to hide out if you have company or are redecorating. Noises and changes can be stressful for cats, so they need a place to retreat to where they can feel safe. Drusilla uses her drawer, but lots of cats prefer someplace high up. Cats also enjoy windowsill perches where they can have some height and also a view of everything indoors and out around them.

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