If you are reading this, we are confident that your cat is more than just a pet to you. He, she, or they are family. And just like us, you want the best for your family, whether it’s a child, a cat, or a mother-in-law. Here you will find 37 tips to help you on your way to a happy, healthy cat. Most of these tips you’ll be able to implement right away.
Environment and fun
1. Expand your cat’s vertical territory
Cats are natural climbers. Being on elevation helps them hide from larger predators, stalk on their prey, and overview a greater distance. Indoor cats may also crave the ability to sleep or sit on elevations, like cat trees, shelves, window perches, and even on top of refrigerators. If you have other pets, or kids who disturb your cat frequently, an elevation may provide him with an escape. Try to create more than one high place for your cat. Make sure the spots offer security for your cat and a great view, either an overview of your living room or an outdoor view.
2. Don’t expect your cat to not scratch
Scratching is a natural process that helps your cat lose old nails, stretch muscles, and mark territory. It’s a physiological need for your cat, like eating and sleeping. Cat owners often complain about their pets not using a scratching post. Where is the scratching post located? Over there in the other room? No, your cat does not want it over there. He wants it right here. Your cat needs to scratch, and he needs to do it in a precise location: as already mentioned, it’s about territory marking. Place scratching posts in front, on top of, or right next to places where your cat is scratching already. Not only this will save your furniture, but it will also make your cat’s life more enjoyable.
3. Provide a cat tree
Or better yet, get a bunch of them. A cat tree is an excellent addition to any cat household and serves multiple purposes. A cat tree provides a feeling of security for your cat, expands his vertical territory, and also serves as a scratching post. It’s like a cat version of the Swiss Army knife. A cat tree can provide an instant solution for many cat behavior problems—you buy, assemble, and place it—or you can go for a do-it-yourself alternative. It takes time (think about all the DIY projects you started and finished in a year) and requires some skills, but it saves money and gives you more flexibility. One great choice is to place a manufactured cat tree and then install shelves on the wall above and next to it so that you expand your cat’s reach.
4. Provide your cat a place to hide
Cats love to be able to see what’s going on while remaining invisible themselves. This is one of the reasons why a simple cardboard box gives your cat so much joy. In the wild, hideouts help cats remain invisible to both their prey and larger predators. Indoor cats also crave the ability to move around in partial obscurity.
Create several hideouts so your cat can cross your living room by running from one refuge to another, or let the cat enjoy sitting on the top cat tree shelf while partially hidden. Boxes, pop up cat cubes (or children’s play tents), plants, cat trees, tunnels, or even ordinary furniture all make good hideouts. For example, move your sofa a bit away from the wall so your cat can fit behind it, place a large indoor plant in front of your cat’s favorite napping spot, or place an empty cardboard box on its side in the middle of the room.
5. Provide an alternative to everything
Cats live in a changing world, yet they do not appreciate changes at all. They’re similar to us. In just the same way you feel good having a plan “B” thought out, your cat will also feel more secure if he has more than one choice in case one of them suddenly disappears. Most importantly, you need to place drinking water in as many locations as you can provide, and more than one litter box, scratching post, and food bowl (if your cat is being free-fed).
If you have one cat, he will benefit from freedom of choice, whereas if you have more, alternatives will reduce the necessity for them to compete over resources. Cats are recognized as social creatures, but they’re still territorial. It’s widespread for a cat to eliminate on the carpet because the other cat has claimed the room where the only litter box resides. An alternative litter box in the carpeted room would have saved this hassle. It becomes even worse if the second cat can’t access food or water.
6. Reconsider the location of the litter box
Incorrect litter box placement often leads to elimination problems in cats. Still, your cat will benefit from a good litter box location even if he has no visible problems with it. Think of visiting a large museum yourself. You need to go, but the only toilet is in the basement. You still go, but you are upset. Now, think about your cat. It’s not only about saving your carpet, but it’s also about the ease of life, the courage it takes to go through a hallway claimed by your other cat, and the pain it gives to a senior cat with arthritis to climb the stairs several times every day.
Good cat litter box locations are:
- Close to rooms where your cat hangs out
- In places that give advance notice of anyone approaching
- Away from food and water
- Away from scary objects
- Distributed evenly throughout the house
- In any room where your cat is already soiling.
7. Create a food hunt for your indoor cat
Hunting is not only a natural cat behavior, but it’s also actually who your cat is—a hunter. Every day, a wild cat would spend a ton of his time and, most importantly, his energy acquiring food. What happens if this energy is not put to use? It accumulates and bursts out at the most inappropriate moments in some form of misbehavior, like aggression, excessive vocalization, or troubling your sleep. To get rid of this energy, you can play with your cat every day and organize a food hunt right in your home.
You can provide an indoor food hunt in several ways. The easiest is to roll food kibbles or treats along the floor and let your cat jump on them. Just give only one treat at a time and allow your cat to finish it before rolling out another one.
But you can also be more creative and hide small portions of food throughout the house. In this case, you can also use canned or raw food, but make sure your cat knows where to look for it, as it should be consumed within 30 to 60 minutes after serving. If you want to stimulate your cat’s mind, even more, you can buy or make him a puzzle feeder.
IMPORTANT: Subtract what you feed during a food hunt from your cat’s daily food intake. You don’t want an obese animal; you want to improve his life.
8. Provide an outdoor view
An outdoor view is very interesting for indoor cats, as they see birds flying, people running by, tree leaves waving, and other stuff going on that they don’t experience indoors. The easiest way to provide an outdoor view is to place a cat tree next to a window or to get a window perch. Additionally, you can install a bird feeder close to the window so that your cat will have some tweets and wings to enjoy several days later.
IMPORTANT: sometimes, an outdoor view can cause unnecessary stress in cats. If this is your case, skip this step. You may even need to block the outside view for your cat. Some cats may enjoy the calm view of the yard side of the house while being stressed by the street side.
9. Provide safe outdoor access for your cat
There are several ways to let your cat enjoy outdoors safely. If you have a yard, the simplest way is to allow your cat outdoors under your supervision and when he is expecting his meal to arrive soon. In this case, he will not wander far away. You might also build an outdoor enclosure for your cat.
However, remember that cats can get through very tight spots, and they are great climbers. Make sure the pen does not provide any possibility to escape. An alternative would be to train your cat to walk on a leash: this takes a bit of patience, but it’s possible. The main thing to remember is that your cat is not a dog. You don’t walk your cat on a leash; the cat walks you.
IMPORTANT: Do this only if you live in an area where the outdoors is enjoyable for cats. Large cities, where there’s only asphalt and concrete, provide nothing useful to cats.
10. Leave the radio on during the day
Cats who “listen” to music during the day are less troubled by sudden noises. Don’t turn the volume up too high and don’t play music that is too aggressive: Some cats love heavy metal, some do not. What you need is good background music and many radio stations provide precisely that. A radio station is also a good choice because of the news blocks—not because your cat will be better informed, but because he will hear a human voice, as well as music, throughout the day.
IMPORTANT: Do not follow this advice if you let your cat outdoors. An ability to be alerted to noises is a crucial skill outside.
11. Play with your cat before every meal
If your cat is on a scheduled feeding, you should have at least a concise play session before every meal. Try to play for at least a few minutes, but the longer, the better. What is this good for? It provokes the instincts of your cat, which is a regular behavior pattern of hunting, killing, eating, self-grooming, and napping. Your cat needs to expel energy before receiving food, and then take a nap and let his digestive system take care of nourishing.
Playtime also has an outstanding benefit for you. Before you go to sleep, play with your cat, make him tired, and then serve his meal. While he finishes eating, go to bed yourself. This way, your cat will head to his bed as well, and, if you played with your cat enough during the day, he will not trouble you while you sleep. To make this more successful, never feed your cat right after you wake up.
12. Provide accessibility as your cat gets older
Cats can jump, and they are naturally good at it. However, as your cat gets older, pain in the lower back can make your cat ask the question: “Is it worth it?” Think of the tall cat tree, think of the baby gate you installed to protect his litter box from your dog. Your cat needs to reach these locations; therefore, you need to provide easy access to them. Lower perches can be used as stepping stones to get higher, while baby gates can be upgraded with smaller holes that cats fit through, or again, with steps next to them.
Remember, as your cat reaches the age of 8, 10, or more years, his energy and strength may not be the same, but his environmental needs remain.
13. Spend quality time with your cat
Spending time with your cat helps to lessen or even get rid of most of your cat’s behavior problems. Did you know that most so-called behavior problems, like excessive vocalization, scratching, waking you at night, or jumping on the kitchen counter, are natural to cats and are exhibited because of excess energy and boredom? It’s not because your cat wants to get back at you! If you play with your cat a few times every day, pet him, groom him, take him for walks outdoors on a leash (don’t force this if it stresses your cat out), his day will be filled, and he will have no need to exhibit inappropriate behaviors.
14. Be consistent with the house rules
Nothing is more pleasing and calming as predictability. If you want to disallow a cat from jumping on your bed, make sure he is never allowed there. If you let him on your bed just on Tuesdays, except for the first Tuesday of every other month, it’s going to be very hard for your cat to figure out the pattern. The same applies to giving food from the table, jumping on counters, eating from the dog’s bowl, etc.
If you want to change the rules over time: say, you suddenly decided you no longer want your cat on the bed, it’s possible to retrain the cat. However, again, once you make the decision, stick to it and change your mind as little as possible. Try to make sure that all your family members also agree on the same rules.
Consistency is the key to any training, no matter if we’re talking about cats, dogs, dolphins, or humans. If you want to be successful in training your cat, you have to be consistent. As an animal learns something new, his brain forms new connections between different neurons and tries to remember the action and the outcome of it. Newly formed connections are weak and tend to diminish faster if the action is not repeated, or if it creates a different outcome each time. If the same action gives the same outcome, again and again, the connections between neurons become stronger and last longer.
Training a behavior is no different than training a muscle. If your cat is exposed to a different outcome of his action each time (for example, when he jumps on a bed, he is petted or scooted depending on your mood), his brain will never form neuron links that are strong enough to last, and your cat will not understand how to behave.
Health and nutrition
15. Visit your veterinarian annually
Many cat owners tend to visit a vet only when something terrible happens, like hair falling out, diarrhea, claws grown too long, or the cat does not eat for the third week. However, we highly recommend to visit a vet at least once a year—not because veterinarians desperately need new clients, but because it’s the right thing to do for your cat. Annual vet visits help to check your cat’s overall health, diagnose any severe issues in the early stages, and keep up to date with vaccinations.
Remember, cats never show weakness; it’s in their genes to mask it. Therefore, you may never know your cat is sick until it’s too late. Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment. Older cats and those having chronic problems may even benefit from checkups twice a year. Talk to your veterinarian about the frequency that suits your cat the best.
16. Pay attention to even the tiniest changes in your cat’s behavior
Cats are experts at masking their weaknesses. They are hunters, but may quickly become prey themselves. In such cases, being a predator or prey depends on whether you show others your weak areas. Unfortunately, cats hide their weaknesses in our homes as well, which lets many health problems go without notice until they reach an acute level.
The good news is, you can turn the tables because your cat’s behavior will never lie. Early signs of almost any health condition in a cat are changes in his behavior. For example, early symptoms of diabetes are that the cat will be eating or drinking too much. With lower urinary tract disease, you’ll see litter box avoidance, with renal failure, a sudden decrease in appetite, with hepatitis, anorexia, and decreased activity; with ear mites, shaking of the head—the list goes on and on.
If you do notice your cat acting differently (even if he otherwise appears normal), consider contacting your veterinarian. A simple phone call might be enough, so the vet can tell you whether it’s worth worrying about.
17. Clean your cat’s teeth regularly
It’s a wrong belief that cats do not clean their teeth in the wild, so there shouldn’t be a need to do so in household conditions. First, cats do eat different kinds of food in the wild, which helps to keep their teeth clean. It’s another false belief that dry food serves this purpose. It doesn’t. Second, cats in the wild do not live as long and do not need to maintain their dental health top-notch for 20+ years. A wild cat will be dead even before his teeth start falling out.
Regular brushing of your cat’s teeth will remove plaque and will prevent a buildup of tartar, which provides an excellent environment for bacterial growth and tooth decay. Dental wellness is also essential for your cat’s overall health, as it assures that the cat chews and digests his food and receives nutrition correctly.
Does the idea of putting a brush into your cat’s mouth make your skin crawl? It’s not that hard to train your cat. Here’s how to do it:
- First, let your cat taste the paste and move on slowly. Most kinds of cat toothpaste are flavored.
- Apply some paste on your finger, and try to touch your cat’s teeth.
- You can try brushing your cat’s teeth with your finger. If you feel your cat stressing out, stop, but pet and cheer him. Wait at least several hours until the next session.
- Introduce a toothbrush. Apply toothpaste and let your cat smell it first. Use a brush intended for pets, not humans.
- Keep moving on gradually. Again, touch your cat’s teeth with the brush and try brushing. Do one tooth the first time, two teeth the next time, and always make sure you end on a positive note.
- The more often you clean your cat’s teeth, the easier it will become, as both you and your cat become comfortable doing so.
- See more detailed instructions here.
- Find tips to keep your cat’s teeth clean without brushing.
IMPORTANT: Use paste and brush intended for pets specifically. Cats don’t spit the paste out, and human paste will be toxic to them. The bristles on a human brush are too hard for a cat’s teeth.
18. Spay or neuter your cat
If you are not planning to breed your cat, it is highly recommended to alter him. This helps to reduce most of the sexually driven behaviors, like wandering, spraying, excessive vocalization, and mating. Female cat owners will appreciate the disappearance of all the heat symptoms. Altering also is the only sure way to avoid unwanted pregnancy, and it significantly reduces the risk of mammary or prostate cancers. Additionally, if you are all about saving the planet, spaying your cat helps to reduce the number of homeless cats on streets and in shelters.
19. Groom your cat regularly
This means brushing your cat’s coat and trimming his claws. First, the sooner your cat gets used to these actions regularly, the easier it will be for you to carry them out. Second, performing these “maintenance” tasks regularly will provide you with the possibility to notice any possible health problems in their early stages. Third, they are essential for your cat’s health.
Claw clipping helps to avoid them growing too long and hurting your cat, regular brushing helps to prevent hairball formation for both longhair and shorthair cats and keeps longhaired coats mat-free.
20. Apply worm, tick, and flea medications regularly
Indoor cats need these treatments, too, as parasites and their eggs can easily travel inside on your clothes, shoes, and other items, and you need to apply them regularly. You can even set a reminder on a mobile phone, mark a note on the calendar, or use any other way to remind yourself to do it.
How often should you use these medicines?
Talk to your veterinarian, and read the manufacturers’ guidelines for any medication used. You do not need to visit a veterinarian each time, but in case of trouble, a vet may treat your cat for you, or he can teach you some tricks on how to administer medicines easier.
21. Get an ID tag AND microchip your cat
This is true for indoor cats as well. First, ID tells anyone: “I have an owner; I’m just wandering here. Don’t take me to a shelter (or don’t shoot me)!” Second, if your cat indeed gets lost, identification may be his ticket back to you. When choosing the ID tag, avoid hanging parts (like one in the picture). They may get stuck somewhere and get your cat in trouble.
The most crucial information on an ID tag is your phone number. An address may be helpful, too, but—and this is extremely important—if you have an indoor cat, state this on the tag. In this case, anyone who finds your cat will not doubt that this cat is lost.
A microchip may be beneficial if your cat tears the tag off and ends up in a shelter or a veterinary clinic. Almost every veterinary clinic has a chip reader available. Implantation is a straightforward procedure, similar to a vaccination, and is done without anesthesia. No wounds to recover. Your task is to make sure your cat’s chip number is added to databases. Talk to your veterinarian regarding the databases that are available in your area.
22. Feed your cat according to the feeding guidelines of the food label
While the amount of food your cat requires is highly dependent on several factors, such as activity levels and general health of your cat, feeding guidelines are there for a reason. It’s not an amount you must feed your cat, written in stone, but it gives you an approximate evaluation, which you can adjust accordingly if your cat starves or gains weight.
- Meat listed as the first ingredient. Did you know the order represents the amount? Therefore, meat must come first. The only exception is water if it is listed as an ingredient.
- Meat must be identified as chicken, rabbit, beef, turkey, lamb, and similar. Simple “meat” or “animal meat” doesn’t promise anything good.
- Identified meat by-products. Meat by-products are good, and your cat needs liver, heart, bones, and others. If the package states simply “meat by-products,” this also does not promise anything good.
- A high amount of moisture. A natural cat diet contains more than 80% water.
- A high amount of protein.
- A moderate amount of fat.
- No grain. Cat’s don’t eat grain; they don’t eat wheat, corn, or rice. Cats also don’t eat soy or potato.
- No colorings, sweeteners, and chemical preservatives. These are added to appeal to you, and extend the shelf life. Cats don’t give a damn about them.
- No artificial flavors. They are added to make your cat believe this food is delicious (and, in turn, you believe it’s good). Without flavor, he would not even look at it.
23. Ditch the dry food
It’s not only that most dry foods usually contain excessive amounts of grain or other carbohydrates—even grain-free variations are not intended for cats by nature. Cats intake most of the water necessary through their food, and in some cases, a cat may not need to drink supplemental water at all. This has led to cats being very poor at feeling thirst. They do drink, and your cat must drink additional water, but the truth is, most cats drink too little. Dry food does not provide even 5% of the water your cat needs.
Switching your cat to a wet (canned or raw) diet will:
- improve coat quality;
- improve dental health;
- reduce obesity;
- reduce the occurrence of hairballs;
- increase activity;
- decrease the litter box odor significantly;
- improve overall health;
- reduce the risk of developing certain diseases like diabetes, kidney failure, lower urinary tract disease, and others.
24. Feed high-quality cat food
People want—people need—to save money on stuff. Cat food provides possibilities to save big because the price range is quite broad and your cat eats like, what, a ton every year? Unfortunately, while not always true, there’s a correlation between the price and the quality of the food. Why? Because cats need meat, and meat is expensive. While you can have no guarantee a costly cat food will be good, rest assured—cheap is junk.
Things to look for in good commercial cat food are meat listed as the first ingredient, no grains of any type in the food, and high protein in the food.
If you indeed want to save money on your cat’s food, try making his meals. The best way to start is by reading books:
- “Feline Nutrition: Nutrition for the Optimum Health and Longevity of your Cat” by Lynn Curtis
- “Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purr-fect Health” by Kymythy Schultze
Both of them contain useful information about cat nutrition, as well as good recipes to start.
It’s best to feed your cat a variety of recipes, alternating them. This way, you can provide complete and balanced nutrition for your cat, as no single recipe can be balanced and complete.
25. Avoid dramatic changes in your cat’s schedule
Any changes provide significant stress to your cat, and the more dramatic the changes, the larger the stress. Thus, if you need to switch something in your cat’s schedule (let’s say, due to daylight savings time), try to shift the activity gradually over several days, to minimize the stress associated with the change.
If a baby arrives, do not set up the nursery room in one day. Add the crib one month, and the baby the other one. This way, your cat will adapt easier. Not planning a baby? That’s just an example: it applies to any changes—make them as gradually as you can. If dramatic changes are unavoidable, make sure you pay your cat a ton of attention. Pet, brush, play and let him nap in your lap. Sometimes just being near can work wonders.
26. Get on the ground to be at your cat’s level
Do you know what you look to your cat when he’s on the floor? Like a giant! And, depending on circumstances, it may or may not be scary to him. If you want to be your cat’s best friend, get used to crouching, sitting, and lying on the floor at most times when you greet and interact with your cat. There’s more trust in persons who are not overwhelmingly large; besides, your cat will be closer to sniff your nose, too. Besides, you can also greet and interact with your cat when he’s on a cat tree or a perch.
27. Set your cat on a scheduled feeding
This has several benefits for both you and your cat. Let’s start with your benefits. First, it gives you an ability to control how much your cat eats. Second, it gives you a cat training and behavior modification tool—food. Third, it makes your cat understand the rhythm of the day better, eventually adapting to yours and diminishing activity-related behavior problems, like aggression or disturbing owners at night. Fourth, your cat will become more active and willing to play. Some cat owners may say it’s not the best thing, but why do you have a cat? To look good on a couch?
Increased activity has tons of benefits for cats, including reduced obesity and improved health, which is a success story on its own. But that is not all. Your cat’s digestive system is literary made to eat on a scheduled pattern. Unlike cows or goats, cats do not graze; their daily rhythm is carried out on a hunt/rest basis. He is a hunter. He preys on and consumes his catch. Then his digestive system takes care of it, and waits for the next meal, which may arrive in several hours or even later.
Three to four meals would be the optimum choice in a household case, to comfort both you and your cat, while in the natural conditions, a cat would have up to ten meals per day. If you do not want to revert to scheduled meals, the next best thing is to make sure you do not add more food than is recommended by the manufacturer’s guidelines on the package. However, this won’t work in a multi-cat household, as you are risking a few cats being overfed while others are underfed.
28. Provide fresh drinking water available at all times
This is especially important if he’s on dry food. Cats have developed as animals who consume the water with their food. Unfortunately, most commercial cat diets are not able to provide it. Water is essential in many body processes, and the dangerous part is that dehydration may show no apparent symptoms for a prolonged period. That is, by the time symptoms like painful urination or lethargy appear, it may be already too late to apply treatment effectively.
Fresh drinking water in several locations throughout your home, as well as wet food, can prolong your cat’s life for years, not to mention, improve his quality of life.
How to check if your cat is dehydrated:
- Dry gums. Check with your finger. It should not stick to the gums.
- Hard stools, constipation. Stools must be solid, but not rock hard.
- Look for other symptoms: sunken eyes, loss of appetite, lack of activities, flaky coat, dry skin. Note, there may be many other reasons for those, too.
- Diarrhea, drooling, excessive urination, kidney disorders, and other medical conditions can cause dehydration.
- In case of any signs of dehydration, you must visit a veterinarian as soon as possible.
29. Provide a drinking fountain
In nature, cats prefer running water: first, because it is less likely to be polluted, as any pollutant drifts away quickly, and second, because running water usually is shallow, so there’s a smaller risk of danger hiding in it. While you know there’s no alligator in your cat’s water bowl; your cat may not be aware of the fact.
The fascination with running water is the main reason why many cats love to drink right from the faucet or toilet. A great way to provide running water is to get a water fountain from a pet store. Remember, though, even if the water is running, you still need to replace it at least daily.
30. Learn your cat’s body language
Especially the way he tells you to stop whatever you are doing. When someone asserts that his cat lashed out without warning, it’s not true. There always is a warning; it’s just that many don’t notice it. Your cat’s body sends unmistakable signals about his mood and the effects your actions have on it:
- Lashing or waving of the tail
- Flattened or twitching ears
- Glaring, looking directly at you, with eyes narrowed and pupils contracted
- Twitching of the skin
- Hair standing up on his back and tail
- Flattened whiskers
- Crouching posture
- Arched back and lateral position
- Tail lowered, or between his legs
- Hissing, growling, snarling or spitting
31. Let your cat dictate the interactions
When Rudyard Kipling wrote his famous: “The Cat that Walked by Himself,” he did not intend to say that cats need or want to walk alone. He meant that your cat is a creature who likes things his way. And the best way to ensure this is to let it be his way. If you think your cat wants to be petted, do it! If it appears he wants to be left in peace, grant it!
Even more, provide a location where your cat can be all by himself, like an additional cat tree in a distant room, or better yet, a high perch in a place where the family gathers. Don’t bother your cat at all in this specific location, and instruct other family members to do likewise. Your cat will quite quickly learn that this is the location where he can get time on his own and he will go there often.
32. Learn to pet your cat properly
Cats are cute, and their cuteness begs to squeeze them. Is that bad? Everyone feels that way after all, but you should learn than most cats do not like being squeezed. WHAT??? That is right, and there are several ways of petting and handling that cats don’t like. Being aware of them, and knowing how your cat likes it best, will not only make him feel better but may also save your skin from bites and scratches.
How to pet a cat:
- Do not overstimulate your cat. That is, don’t squeeze and don’t pet your cat too intensely using frequent and rapid strokes. Be calm and gentle.
- Let your cat pet you. Place your hand near your cat’s forehead or cheeks and wait for your cat to rub his face against it. You can alternatively extend your index finger and place it close to your cat’s nose, as a form of greeting. Let him sniff and rub against it.
- Always go along the direction the fur lies. Do not pet your cat against his coat.
- Watch your cat’s tail. It’s his communication tool, and if it twitches or lashes, it’s a great moment to stop. (Or, it was a great moment to stop a few seconds ago.)
- Rub your cat’s upper head, cheeks, and chin with your fingers.
- Slow strokes. Areas most cats like are the top of their head, forehead, and cheeks. Do slow, individual strokes. They not only make your cat feel relaxed but will relax you as well.
- Be cautious with your cat’s back, throat, chest, rear part, and flanks. It’s okay to touch those, but it may depend on your cat’s personality and even mood. Watch his body language as you do it.
- Don’t touch the belly. There may be exceptions, but most likely, your cat is not one. The abdomen is the most vulnerable part of your cat’s body, and only the most relaxed and trusting cat will let anyone touch it. Lying on the back is not an invitation to rub the belly. Your cat is not a dog.
33. Clean the litter box regularly
One of the most popular reasons for cats eliminating outside the box is an untidy litter box. Not only that, even if your cat still uses his dirty box, it causes displeasure for him. Besides, in this case, when something additional appears (like you get a dog, or your cat gets scared of something outside the window), he may stop using the box altogether, and it will be hard for you to figure out why because there will now be more than one cause. Clean the litter box at least twice daily and dump all contents approximately once a week, or as necessary.
Most popular reasons why cats don’t use their litter boxes:
- Health problems;
- Untidy litter box;
- Wrong litter box location;
- Too few litter boxes in the household;
- Cat dislikes litter type;
- Hooded litter box, automatic litter box;
- Territorial issues;
34. Forget about the scented cat litter
It’s made to appeal to you, the buyer. Elimination is not only about getting rid of waste products, but it’s also about the scent as well. Cats love unscented litter with medium-sized grains. They would like soil in the litter box even more, but that is not a convenient or safe way to maintain your litter box. Therefore, it’s wise to go with the closest match. Better ways to keep your cat’s litter box odor-free are to clean his litter box daily and to switch to a wet diet with low grain and other carbohydrate content.
35. Have someone visit during your absence
If you are away for longer than a day, you should have someone check on your cat. It is possible to set up an electronic food dispenser, automatic litter box, and to provide water without human intervention. You can also set an electronic toy to keep your cat entertained, and even a web camera to see if your cat hasn’t burnt the house down. Still, it’s wiser to have someone come and check whether your cat is fine, have a “conversation” with him, and play a bit. One thing is that electronics may fail and leave your cat hungry or thirsty. Another is that the absence of the owner is a tremendous stress to your cat, and having someone (it’s best if your cat knows the person) come by will reduce that stress significantly.
36. Do not punish your cat
This is not only about animal cruelty, although to a certain level it is. Mostly, it’s about the efficiency of the training itself. The vast difference between positive and negative training lies in the fact that positive reinforcement tells your animal how to behave, while punishment only tells him what not to do. It’s like someone saying “No, No, NO!” at everything you do, so that you become confused about what you should do. Negative reinforcement might make your cat feel like the purpose of life is to limit his choices, and to disallow everything.
On the other hand, if your cat understands what he is allowed to do, he will not need to try things he is not welcome to do, and his life will be less troublesome. Just think of it that way. As often as possible, for every bad behavior, try to figure out an alternative. Your cat scratched the sofa? He can scratch the post right next to it. Does your cat jump on a counter? He can jump on a windowsill at the opposite wall. Does your cat bite your arm? Let him chew on an interactive toy. Whatever the behavior, there always is an appropriate option.
37. Train your cat to love his pet carrier
What is the scariest object for most cats? Even more frightening than vacuum cleaners and toddlers? It’s a cat carrier, or perhaps it should be called a medieval torture device if that’s how your cat sees it. However, it should not be like that.
The cat carrier must be the place where your cat feels safe and sound. For example, if your cat visits a veterinarian (the torturing done there calls for a whole story of its own), it makes a huge difference if he sees his carrier as a sanctuary. In this case, you might remove the top of the carrier, and the vet will be able to do a routine check and vaccination without taking him out of his secure portable home.
How do you make your cat love his carrier?
First, leave the carrier out in open sight as you come home. Don’t tuck it away in the attic, but leave it on the floor in the corner of any room where your cat spends a significant amount of his time. You can also remove the top part of it, and place a blanket inside. This way, your cat will get used to it being present and will treat it as an everyday item—nothing scary about it.
As your cat gets used to it being in the corner, you can try and leave food right next to it. Leave it and pay no attention. If the food is not gone after some time, move it further away, until you find the distance where your cat feels safe to eat.
Over several weeks, or even months, you can now move the food closer and closer, inch by inch to the cat carrier, finally getting to the point where your cat will have no reluctance to eat his food inside the carrier.
Above, you found 37 ways to improve your cat’s life. It doesn’t matter if your cat already enjoys a great life with you: You know there’s always room for improvement.