How to Keep Your Cat Happy and Healthy Indoors, Outdoors or in Between Doors

How to Keep Your Cat Happy and Healthy

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 Keep Your Cat Happy and Healthy


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…

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  1. One of my cat’s stress responses is to vomit. If I go from spending lots of time with her to being busy/out and about, I know to expect piles of vomit. definitely not good for my apartments that have been carpeted, but this is the price we pay for 13lbs of furry love.
    She’s also 16 going on 17, and senility is definitely starting to be an issue. I’m hoping to keep her sharp with playing and toys and plenty of stimulation. Or, she’s playing me by pretending that she’s starving and didn’t just eat two hours ago…I dunno!

    1. Penelope, nice to hear from you again! I think Blanche is playing you…or maybe she’s just vomited so much that she’s genuinely hungry again. We need to hurry up and invent that cat translator.

  2. Hi Shirley,
    How I love your website and I just loved to read this article.
    As a cat lover, I really love how clearly you say we should not do things to cats just to have fun. That is not nice at all.
    Cats are nice and great by themselves and they will do many things to bright up our lives.
    Having a cat or two at home it’s really the best thing to do, they are loyal and caring creatures.

  3. I was surprised to read that cats need to go in for regular check ups with the vet. I have taken my two little guys (dogs) in for check ups regularly. They get their shots, flea pills, teeth cleaned, etc. So I am wondering, do cats need all the same things? I don’t know that my son’s wife has ever taken her cat in for anything, ever. That makes me worry and wonder. Maybe this is why she (the sweet little cat) is so ornery….all the time. Could this be why, that she has some underlying health issue?

    1. Yes. Absolutely. Get that cat in for a checkup as soon as possible. Then again, some cats are just difficult and bad-tempered, so there may be nothing to worry about, but I reckon it’s better to know for sure.

  4. Simon, my kitty, when bored, hungry or wanting outside, will walk up to me and start nibbling on my leg. That is definitely my signal. Problem is that I have to go through the motions of furnishing all of the above, as his request for attention is nonspecific. He is not a lap cat but does enjoy being picked up and having his face scratched. At night, his signal is to start scratching my mattress! This one can really be annoying. Enjoyed my visit to your site.

    1. I absolutely love it when cats have people names, Simon sounds like a bit of a character. Thanks for saying hi, Tanya.

  5. I enjoyed your article. I have to know; did you name him after Jack Sparrow? Just curious but he is adorable. I didn’t know cats could even get asthma. It’s hard enough for a child to understand it much less a cat,
    Good advice on keeping up with your Vet. Staying ahead of shots, worming, fleas, etc. will keep your fur baby happy even when they hate going.
    My last cat was named Charmin. I have a little 2 lb. Chihuahua now.
    Great article.

    1. I did! Sparrow was born on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so I figured he needed to be named after my favourite pirate. Thanks for your lovely comment, Deborah 🙂

  6. Wow, lots of great information about cats. I had no idea that cats can get depressed. I love cats. I am planning to get one in the future. You can expect me coming to your website for more information in the future.

  7. These are all great ideas to help with cats! I grew up with dogs but once I got out on my own I got a cat, and now I have two little guys who have completely different personalities. They have been very good the entire time I have had them but recently have turned their worlds upside down with the birth of my first child. I can tell a huge difference when I make sure I spend time playing with them and taking care of them as well as my daughter.
    I can’t get rid of what is causing them stress, but I can try all the other things you have suggested. Is there any other suggestions for the cat and baby relationship? Thank you!

    1. Congratulations! I think the most important thing you can do for the moment is to make sure your cats are never around the baby unsupervised. Cats are pretty territorial and they don’t like change, but if you’re mindful of this and do whatever you can to keep your fluffy friends stress-free, they’ll eventually get used to the new addition to your household.

  8. I’m a cat lover and planning get a cute one. I feel the information here will be very helpful for me to manage her. As it would be the first time I will have a pet and I don’t have any experience in managing cats, your post on how to keep cat happy and healthy would be the best guide for me!

  9. Shirley, I love this article! Your are very passionate about the well being of your kitties and that is very apparent. I am also a huge cat lover so this was wonderful to read. I have noticed that most people don’t take accountability for their pets, by making sure they eat the right amout of food, get enough exercise, and prioritize creating a balanced and happy environment. Instead they fill a giant bowl full of food, and let them laze around the house, with not much attention. To each their own. I know many animals that seem the be happy living an unhealthily life style but I’m sure there are adverse effects. I hope people listen to your advice and spend more time truly caring for their pets.

    1. Thanks Jacob, what nice things you say! You know, it’s probably those people who don’t take care of themselves too well who are also being lax with the care of their pets. You’re right, to each their own, but when you’re responsible for another life you have to take responsibility properly…don’t you think?

  10. I was never much of a cat person, my wife and kids love cats. Therefore, we are cat owners (well we provide the food anyway). Our cat is about a year and a half old. He is mostly an outdoor cat, but he comes inside to eat. We say he is just using us for the food and there may be some truth to that LOL. Cats are super independent. He loves to “hunt” and brings us birds all the time. Sometimes they are alive, sometimes partially alive 🙂 This cat has grown on me, I think it’s the hunting! I completely agree with you though, you have to provide the right environment for the cat. They do love high places, like the tree he uses to access the roof. Occasionally he will sleep all day inside, and I have to admit it’s pretty cute. Great post, thank you for sharing. You have some great insight!

  11. Hi, I am pleased to found your blog.
    I have two cats right now; one is already twelve and the other one just one and a half.
    I try to buy toys or just spend time with them, and neither of them likes to play a lot.
    My younger though still very nervous about me getting close to her! Even when I try to pet her.
    Do you have any advice about it?

  12. Hello ShirleyNot,

    Great article! I have 2 cats at home and one of them looks exactly like the picture displayed. I have a pretty busy schedule, so play time is not always available for them unless my brother’s girlfriend gets home early.

    Your website is very informative especially to owners who are busy and neglects their cat.

    I will definitely try your methods out when I get home tonight and hopefully be consistent with it.

    Thanks again,

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