We are careful to look after our own health with exercise, good food, and stress management – so we should do the same for our pets too, especially our cats, who are very sensitive animals.
It seems like more of us than ever have at least one furry friend and Petplan Pet Insurance have recently revealed the results of the Petplan Pet Census 2018, the largest pet ownership census to date. There were more than 60,000 responses and you can see the highlights and current collection of Pethood Stories can be viewed on this interactive map.
I’m really excited to be sharing this census and cat owning advice with you today not least because I adore my cat Henning, but Petplan is a brand I’ve trusted with his insurance ever since we adopted him. Read on to find out more and don’t forget to share your #PethoodStories on social media!
With 44% of us calling our pets our babies, it’s no wonder it’s so important to us to keep our pets happy and healthy. I worked in a veterinary practice for a few years and I was so surprised to learn how sensitive cats are given so many of us own one – or are being owned by one! Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years helping with cats in the practice and also from looking after Henning.
Henning has been an indoor cat ever since he was born, and I’m finding more and more of my friends are either choosing to keep their cats inside or circumstance dictates they have to. Hen has never shown any desire to be outside but his indoor nature means he can be very lazy! He was overweight for a while and I put that down to inactivity, as he doesn’t eat massive amounts. I had never had an indoor cat before so the laziness was new to me.
Cats do love to play but sometimes you might have to encourage them to do it. We try to spend a couple of minutes each day playing with Hen’s toys and we’ve found the more we do it, the more active he’ll be around those times too (I’m sure you all know the morning and evening mad half hours pets can have – he’s a big fan of these now). You might need to trial different types of toys – Hen loves some of his but ignores others completely – and catnip can be a great catalyst for a play session.
If all else fails, a cardboard box usually works – cut some holes in and play peekaboo with their toys!
Cats are very stressy animals, but we just don’t realise as they show it in different ways – whether that’s overgrooming, inappropriate urinating, aggression, or any other change in behaviour. This could be from something chronic like boredom or more acute like a visit to the vet or a change in furniture at home – yep, they’re that sensitive.
Ideally, you’ll figure out the stressor in your cats’ life and work to create an environment that decreases that, by keeping daily routines similar, not moving your home around too much or having too many visitors. It’s not always possible to do these things however, so there are measures you can take to help reduce the symptoms of stress.
Henning is unfortunately an overgroomer. He’s a very sociable cat, so I find the more time I spend at home with him the less he grooms – as much as I enjoy being at home it’s not always possible. so we have a plugin which releases pheromones to help relax him, plus he’s on an anti-stress diet.
There are so many different types of food out there in supermarkets, vet surgeries, online and even raw-based offerings – so which is the best type of food for your cat? Generally you can choose the food that is suited to their age range (kitten, adult or senior) and lifestyle (indoor cat, for example, or low calorie). If the food is high enough quality then dry food only should be fine, which will help keep their teeth healthier for longer too.
In certain circumstances you might need a specialist diet – like Henning has a stress-busting, urinary support food – but speak to your vet about this as it may be by prescription only.
Access to water is super important if your cat is mainly on a dry food diet. If you find your cat doesn’t drink water at home, make sure their bowl is away from their food, it’s not made of plastic and they can see the bottom (see, I said cats were sensitive). Refresh it every day and you will be able to see how much they’re drinking each day.
Cats are one of the only animals that CANNOT be vegetarian due to them needing taurine, which can’t be synthesised. They also shouldn’t really have milk; as cats mature they lose the enzyme that is used to digest lactose.
If you feel like your cat is constantly hungry but is losing weight, get them booked in for a check up with the vet – the same goes for any changes in toilet habits, drinking or activity.
Most of this advice comes from years of owning cats and also working at the vets, but it’s all corroborated by organisations and websites like the RSPCA, Petplan, and Catster. What else do you do to look after your cat? Let me know on social media using #PethoodStories.
Welcome to That Squat Bot! I'm Sarah, a Personal Trainer based in Manchester, UK.
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