There are about 11.1 million cats and 8.9 million dogs in Britain, which makes cats the most popular household pet in the UK (PAW Report, 2018). Cats are generally more independent, need less grooming and are cheaper to feed than dogs, so could arguably be the easier pet of the two.
However, you still have a duty to create a cat-friendly home so that your cat is properly cared for and can lead a healthy and happy life.
Cats spend an average of 16 hours a day asleep (Whiskas, 2019), so it’s well worth buying a good quality cat bed.
Cats like to feel cosy and secure, so a cave-like bed is usually preferable. You will also want a bed that is washable so that it lasts longer.
For indoor cats, you will need a litter tray. Fill a litter box with one or two inches of litter and place it in a room (away from food and water bowls) where your kitty can use it without being disturbed.
If your cat is allowed outside, you can hopefully train it to go to the toilet in the garden so that you don’t have to clean out the litter tray or put up with the smell.
Cats are ‘obligate carnivores’ which means they need to eat meat as part of a balanced diet. For convenience, dry cat food beats wet food, but wet cat food may offer benefits such as increasing total water intake.
Ultimately, your cat will decide whether it prefers wet or dry food, but many nutritionists recommend a combination of both.
Remember to stick to the recommended amounts, as if you overfeed your cat, it will become unhappy and unwell. And don’t forget to stock up on food bowls.
Young kittens are particularly inquisitive and like to explore. They are playful and can easily knock things over or pull things down, sometimes causing damage or even injury.
Chemicals and human medicines are not good for cats, so you should always keep harmful chemicals safely locked away. They are also particularly sensitive to antifreeze, which can prove fatal.
If your cat is allowed outdoors, you will need to create a cat-friendly garden as some pesticides can be toxic to cats. Certain flowers and plants such as lilies, chrysanthemums and daffodils (particularly the bulbs) can also be harmful to cats.
Most pet owners arrange for their cats to be neutered so they don’t have to deal with either kittens or an aggressive tom. You should consult your vet about vaccinations and parasite treatments for your pet.
An annual health check is also a good idea, as well as a cat insurance policy that meets your needs and demands.
Experts also recommend that you provide high places for your cat to rest, perhaps on top of a bookcase. Cats like to climb and they feel safe if they are high up. A hiding place is also a must as cats can be timid creatures.
Cats are territorial and often become attached to a particular place. If you are moving house, it’s best to keep your cat indoors for two weeks until it acclimatises to its new home. You should also take precautions when you first bring a cat home to make sure it doesn’t stray.
Your cat might not always like company, but it doesn’t mean it won’t get bored or frustrated. It needs plenty of space to roam around and climb. If your cat is allowed outdoors, consider a small cat flap so that your cat can prowl around as it pleases.
Stimulating your cat with new toys such as puzzle feeders will help keep it occupied. You could also provide your kitten with a scratching post (rather this than your living room sofa). Cats love to watch birds so a window perch or bird feeder is also a good idea.
Cats typically live for 14 years or more, which means you can enjoy many happy times together. If you notice a change in your cat’s behaviour, it could be a sign of boredom, illness or injury. If you are particularly worried or the problem persists, you might want to contact a behaviour specialist.
Your vet might be able to help or you could get in touch with the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) at www.asab.org, or the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) at www.apbc.org.uk.