There are 11 million cats in the UK, so it’s fair to say we are a nation of cat lovers. Felines provide companionship, fun and affection. Plus, they’re low maintenance in comparison to their canine counterparts. Don’t let their independence and low maintenance ways fool you. Like us, cats have emotions, which if not met can lead to things such as boredom and depression. They also have health needs, which if neglected may lead to unwanted or potentially serious issues.
To be a good, loving and rewarding owner, we’ve listed nine tips to help our precious kitties thrive in a happy home.
- A space to call their own. Felines can be fussy about where they carry out their people-watching and catnapping. Whether it's from a cosy pet bed, a blanket on the sofa, an elevated radiator bed or from their height of a cat tower or shelf, it's important that your cat is allowed to carry out their ‘me time’ in a place they feel safe, particularly if there are other pets in the home.
- A fresh water supply. To maintain a healthy kidney function and promote overall good health, cats need fresh water in regular supply and in a clean vessel. Place separate to their food and litter tray, and ideally in multiple spots around the home as the latter helps satisfy a cat’s desire to hunt. Pet bowls works just fine, but lots of cats love drinking fountains, as it mimics running water in the wild, appealing to their natural behaviours.
- Quality food (and treats) they love and enjoy. Buy the best you can afford and serve at consistent times to avoid anxiety about where the next meal is coming from. Rachel Andre, Founder of Tippaws adds: “Often meal or treat times are a great opportunity for additional stimulation for you cat. Try using a play mat or puzzle feeder to make your cat’s meal last longer and to play to their desire to hunt.”
Tippaws’ dry cat food range is the perfect ingredient for such ‘playful’ meals! Developed with feline nutritionists and made in the UK, Tippaws cat kibble is naturally hypoallergenic and is made from 70% real meat and fish, with added prebiotics to support a cat’s gut health. Using popular ingredients such as a chicken and salmon in their recipes, Tippaws emerged as the winning formula when trialled against other leading dry food in multiple taste tests.
- A fresh and clean ‘bathroom’. The impact of the litter tray set-up and placement can sometimes – and unintentionally, be overlooked. Like humans, cats want somewhere clean and safe where they can do their business undisturbed. You might be surprised at how much of a positive impact these small changes can have on your cat’s happiness. Top ‘happy cat’ toilet tips include:
- One litter tray plus one per cat, so if you have two cats, it’s three litter trays and so on
- Privacy please! Their tray needs to be placed away from windows, glass doors and their food and water, in a low traffic, quiet spot – ideally tucked away or backed against somewhere offering a 180-degree view of their immediate surroundings
- A clean and fresh litter tray. Change at least twice a week and scoop daily. Tippaws Long-lasting Clumping Litter offers superior odour control and is three times more absorbent than clay litter. A patented antibacterial formula made from plant fibres, it’s also very low-tracking for less litter on your cat’s paws when they exit their bathroom.
- Show them love but know their limits. Cats tend to want affection on their terms rather than yours. Trying to challenge this is only likely to cause your cat distress. Roll with their love rather than force it, so if they hop on your lap indulge them with some soft strokes and chin tickles. Picking them up at random and smothering them with a cuddle is not recommended and is likely to result in you being scratched. It's also worth noting that cats like short, low intensity interactions so administer and enjoy it when you can – and they will let you!
- Give them the fun factor and enrich their environment. Cats are naturally inquisitive, playful, natural hunters. Failing to satisfy their wild desires can result in a bored, mischievous, and possibly destructive cat. Toys will help keep a kitty stimulated mentally and physically and anything that mimics the stages of hunting – chasing, catching, tossing about – tend to be a hit. Kit out your kitty’s toy box with a variety of fishing rod style cat wands, teasers, chasers, and little catnip soft toys that can be offered on rotation. Other tactics to enrich their lifestyle and play to their natural hunting instincts is hiding food around the house in treat balls or toilet roll tubes.
- Offer something fantastic to scratch! Cats have an instinctive desire to scratch, be it to shed their claw casing, mark their territory or simply because it feels nice. If you don't want your interiors to suffer then provide your cat with somewhere they are allowed to scratch. Offering your cat both vertical and horizontal scratch posts and pads enables them to work all their angles for full enjoyment. Catnip spray can also help make the scratch spot even more alluring and is especially good when the item is new to the home and smelling unfamiliar.
- Pamper session. Cats love to keep themselves clean but it’s good practice for pet owners to offer some grooming assistance - and if you can master it, grooming is also a brilliant bonding practice too. Regular brushing is advised to stay on top of shedding and avoid matting and choke-hazard furballs and is required daily for long-haired cats. If starting out with a kitten, brushing from day one will become part of your routine but if you have an adult cat, start slowly, build gradually, and use lots of treats and praise.
- Fresh air. Whether it's from within the home or taken in via the great outdoors, cats favour fresh air to a stuffy room full of recirculated air. For indoor cats, having a window open and allowing your cat to sit near it e.g., on the windowsill allows them a burst of freshness. But if you’re worried about them escaping, consider installing a special window cover or mesh.
If you want your cat to enjoy fresh air in situ but are concerned about them venturing away from, a ‘catio’ is a happy medium. Within the UK, there are companies offering specialist containment fencing for balconies and gardens that will help you create this outdoor space then it’s over to you to fill it with wonder, excitement, and plenty of cat grass.
If your cat’s version of happy is being free to roam, keep them safe on adventures with a microchip (compulsory by law in June 2024), a breakaway safety collar and an I.D. tag. Fixing a pet tracker to their collar will also help keep tabs on their whereabouts. Establishing a routine around their return is also advised, as it alerts you to any potential issue for their safety.
Tippaws’ in-house Registered Veterinary Nurse and Feline Behaviourist, Francesca Lees says: “Happy cats are able to exhibit their natural behaviours and just be, so if you can create an environment free of any potential stressors, your furry friend will be able to live their personal ‘best life’. The goal is to see your cat thriving and demonstrating happy signs such as rubbing around your legs and wanting to play.”
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