I have a friend who says “all cats are born with an inbuilt violin”. If the kitty is unhappy, chances are you’ll hear about it. Maybe he’s just used to hearing the way Sparrow carries on when something (anything) isn’t to his satisfaction, maybe he has a point. Cats do tend to be drama queens.
If like me, you’re wondering how to keep your cat happy and healthy (and quiet), I have good news for you – it’s pretty easy. The secret is to give the noisy creature all of the things he needs and none of the things he doesn’t. Simple.
What Cats Need to be Happy
The best thing about cats is their independent natures and tough guy attitudes, but that’s mostly a front. Without making a cliche about surviving vs thriving, our cats need our help to live their best lives. Basic things like food, shelter and safety are what separate pets from strays and these things are a given, but that’s not where it stops.
Provide your cat with just the basics and you’ll have…a cat. But go beyond that and you’ll have a character who will provide you with plenty of love and laughs. Providing places for your kitty to do cat things like climb, hide, lounge and scratch is a good start. Cats love the safety and alone time that a high vantage point provides, so giving them access to high shelves or towers is a great idea.
Cats need to feel safe to be happy, so doing things like the viral ‘cucumber behind the cat’ trick could really be affecting your kitty’s mood, as this article from National Geographic explains. Frightening your cat for a laugh is hugely stressful to the poor kitty and kinda mean on your part. There are much better, healthier ways for your cat to make you giggle.
Toys, games, cat trees, hidden treasures, scratching posts and human friends are the best ways to make your kitty smile. Indoor cats especially need a lot of love and attention – regular playtime and grooming are important for your cat’s physical and mental health. Having a good bond with your pet is good for both of you, so make time every day for some loving.
How to Keep Your Cat Healthy
Health and happiness go hand in paw, it’s really difficult to have one without the other. Keeping cats healthy can sometimes be a challenge, especially for cats with chronic illnesses like asthma. (I’m looking at you, Sparrow). Taking your cat to the vet is a good and responsible thing to do when they’re sick, but taking steps to keep your cat healthy in the first place is even better – and it’s pretty easy:
- The right amount of the right food – feeding your cat a good, balanced diet that he enjoys is number one and number two is not overfeeding. Cats need a high protein, moisture-rich diet in order to be at their best and stay at a healthy weight. Asthmatic cats have a few different requirements – you can read about the best food for cats with asthma here.
- Enough exercise – outdoor cats stay fit by running away from the dangers of the outside world, but indoor cats need our help. Daily playtime should include cat-like things like running, jumping, climbing and pouncing.
- An enriching environment – mental stimulation is important for everybody in the house; a bored cat destroys your stuff and is generally not fun to live with.
- Regular check-ups – I’ve yet to meet a cat who enjoys vet visits, but regular check-ups are important to keep on top of your cat’s health, especially as he ages.
- A stress-free environment – It might sound strange, but cats have plenty of things to stress about. They’re delicate and territorial, even something as simple as a strange visitor or moving a piece of furniture can freak them out. Which leads me to my next point…
Mental Illness and Cats – it’s a Thing
Studies have shown that our feline friends can suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders and senility, just like us. Except not just like us; they don’t have the same ability that we do to understand what’s happening to them. We can’t tell a depressed cat that it might help to have a decent meal, get some sunshine and talk about it with a good friend. I know this because I’ve tried.
Behaviours usually have a reason, so after ruling out any physical illness it may take a bit of detective work on your part to figure out why your cat is acting crazy/sad/obsessive. If the less than sane behaviour is in any way harmful to your kitty, your vet or an animal behaviouralist will be able to help you work out a solution.
How to Deal With an Unhappy, Unhealthy Cat
It’s your job to protect your pet from harm, so if there’s a problem, it needs to be fixed. If your cat is obviously unwell, get to the vet. Coughing, wheezing, sneezing and vomiting are not normal, so please get these things checked out.
If your cat’s problem is stress-related or psychological, be gentle with the kitty and do what you can to remove whatever is causing the freak-out. A lot of the time, a few simple changes can make all the difference to your cat’s mental health, so put the cucumbers away.
How do you keep your kitty happy and healthy? Let us know in the comments…