Owning a cat is a huge commitment; one that can last for many years. To keep a cat healthy and content, it is essential to fully understand its basic needs as well as things you should not do. Many owners know exactly what their cat needs but there are some things that are inadvertently overlooked.
Here are 16 things you should never do to your feline friend!
1. Fail to provide for its basic welfare
When you bring a cat into your life, you are ultimately responsible for its well-being. You should be prepared to care for it for up to 20 years and occasionally, even longer.
There’s more to looking after a cat than just providing food and water. A cat needs nutritionally balanced meals created for cats. These should also be tailored for their life stage.
You must also look after your cat’s health. If it shows any sign of illness or pain, it’s your responsibility to resolve this.
You must allow your cat to behave like a cat. This means letting it sleep without being disturbed, allowing it to hone its natural hunting skills, accepting it will mark its territory, and allowing it places to scratch and toilet.
As an owner of 4 Maine Coons, I know how important it is to provide good scratching areas to allow them to stretch and flex their muscles.
Our Oscar’s favorite is the Pet Fusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge pictured below.
You can see more about this particular scratcher lounge on Amazon at this link. Take a look at the great reviews it gets. Ours takes a daily hammering, is over a year old, and is still in great condition.
2. Feed inappropriate food
Do not be tempted to share human snacks with your cat. Some of them are harmful – such as chocolate. And many others are full of empty calories that your cat just does not need.
If you want to treat your cat, there are plenty of suitable, healthy cat treats you can choose from or you could give it a few chunks of chicken.
As well as the right food, the right dishes are important too. Some cats prefer a wide shallow dish that doesn’t knock their whiskers as they eat and some like their dishes to be raised off the ground.
3. Deprive it of attention
Contrary to popular belief, cats are not solitary aloof creatures. They are sociable and thrive on human interaction.
Interact with your cat several times a day and give it regular exercise through play, especially if it is an indoor cat. Our cats have always loved wand toys and this one is their current favorite – especially the wiggly orange worm.
Cats need mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored, stressed, and developing behavioral problems.
4. Correct unwanted behavior through punishment or shouting
Try not to lose your temper with your cat. None of us are saints and sometimes we get exasperated.
But a cat will just be frightened if you shout at it and will not associate your anger with your disapproval of its actions. It will, however experience stress and lose trust in you.
Never ever physically punish a cat. It won’t understand a smack and you could injure it. Or it may retaliate by lashing out.
If a cat bites you don’t think for one moment that biting it back will deter it. Biting a cat constitutes animal cruelty. Instead, understand why cats bite and find a positive way to prevent yours from biting you in the future.
5. Only go to the vets when it is ill or in pain
Many people think a cat only needs to visit the vet when it’s obviously ill or in pain. The fact is every cat should go to the vet annually.
Every year, a cat should receive booster vaccinations to prevent it from contracting a whole variety of diseases – even if it is an indoor-only cat.
At an annual check-up, a vet can assess your cat’s overall health, check its heart, teeth, and prescribe treatment to prevent parasites such as fleas and worms.
6. Disregard its boundaries
Too much attention is almost as bad as not enough. Learn to recognize when your cat wants attention and when it has had enough.
Cats will always try to extricate themselves from situations they are not enjoying. If your cat has had enough of being petted it will walk away and you should allow it to.
An overstimulated cat may react by lashing out so look for subtle body language signals that say enough is enough.
7. Assume you can’t educate it
Cats are intelligent creatures and they can be taught to adhere to certain rules. Most people know a cat can be taught to use a litter box but it doesn’t stop there.
Positive reinforcement from a young age can be used to deter a cat from scratching furniture and use a scratching post instead.
Being firm and never allowing a cat on your kitchen counters will ensure they don’t jump up when you’re preparing food.
Cats thrive on routine so introduce one as soon as possible. For instance, a play session and a feed before you go to bed will help to stop your cat from waking you too early.
On the other hand, getting out of bed during the night to feed a meowing cat will teach it to do this again.
The lesson is, be consistent to get the best results or you’ll just confuse your cat.
8. Neglect to groom it
Cats are clean creatures and you’ll often spot them grooming themselves. Short-haired cats are more successful at keeping their fur in order but long-haired cats easily develop knots.
All cats, regardless of fur length, should be groomed regularly to remove loose fur that they might otherwise ingest and cough up as fur balls for you to clean up.
Occasionally, ingested fur is not coughed up and travels further into a cat’s intestines where it can cause blockages and untold problems.
We have tried many brushes with our Maine Coons and highly recommend the Hertsko slicker brush. It is great at preventing mats.
Pro tip: if your cat has matted fur that won’t brush out, very carefully split each one with a seam ripper. Make sure you do not catch your cat’s delicate skin though!
9. Smoke near it
We all know that passive smoking is harmful to people and the same goes for cats. You must avoid subjecting your cat to cigarette smoke at all costs.
Smoke outside or in a room away from your cat and air it properly before your cat enters it.
Cigarette smoke poses two problems with cats. Not only is it harmful if they inhale it and it also coats their fur with toxic residue that is ingested as they groom themselves.
10. Subject it to loud noises
Cats have sensitive hearing and don’t cope well with noises such as fireworks and really loud music. Many will panic at the sound of a vacuum cleaner or a power tool such as a drill.
If you know there is going to be a lot of noise in or around your home, ensure you allow your cat access to a quiet area where it can feel safe.
11. Shave its fur off unnecessarily
Now and then it is necessary to shave a cat but shaving one just for effect is actually quite cruel. Some owners love to give their cats lion cuts for no reason other than they think it looks cool.
Others shave their cats in hot weather because they genuinely believe they will feel relief from the heat.
Cats have fur coats for many reasons and can tolerate warm weather perfectly fine. In fact, their coats offer them protection from heat.
A cat’s coat actually helps to keep it cool as well as warm. Though any cats are not obviously affected by a shave, they are aware of something being different and some are obviously bothered by this.
So if you’re one of those people who think shaved cats look cute, try to get over this idea and research what’s really best for the cat itself – please.
12. Ridicule it for your own amusement
Don’t do anything intended to ridicule your cat. There are many video examples of cats being encouraged to do unnatural things, some of which could harm them.
If you ever have the urge to buy your cat clothes, suppress it. Don’t dress a cat up so you can have a giggle or post a few photos on social media.
There are many reasons why cats should not be clothed. Clothes restrict their natural movement, prevent them from grooming or scratching when they want to, and generally cause untold stress.
13. Declaw it
Cats need their claws. Full stop. If you think performing an onychectomy, as it is technically known, is a cosmetic procedure similar to cutting your fingernails, think again.
The declawing procedure removes the claw and the first joint of every cat toe. Afterward, a cat has to re-learn to walk on a different part of each toe and can find every step painful forever.
A declawed cat can’t climb properly, scratch to flex its muscles or protect itself from danger.
Cats scratch and claw things – it’s what they do. If you can’t handle this you should seriously consider not owning a cat. Seriously!
14. Abandon it to fend for itself
Before you adopt a cat, be sure that you are prepared to look after it properly for the rest of its life. Don’t assume it’s OK to give it a go and then give up if things don’t go to plan.
Don’t ever think it’s OK to put your cat on the street if you can no longer keep – it for whatever reason. Cats who have been raised by humans do not know how to fend for themselves.
If you can no longer keep your cat, find it a new loving home, contact your vet for advice, ring local shelters – do anything but abandon it.
A house cat that is turned out of its home is in danger of starving, getting injured or attacked, or freezing to death and much more.
Don’t assume someone else will take it in and care for it – this is not guaranteed to happen.
15. Treat it like a human
As much as they act as if they own us, cats should not be treated like humans. They have a completely different operating system and set of requirements. So let your cat be a cat to avoid confusion.
Allow your cat to act like a cat. Let it develop its own routines; eat, sleep, play, scratch, and meow as necessary.
16. Allow it to be treated as a plaything
Children tend to pull cats around as if they are toys. It’s essential that young children are supervised around cats and are taught from a young age to be gentle toward them.
It’s not fair to expect a cat to tolerate mistreatment at the hands of a child. we all know how sharp a cat’s claws are. They seldom use them on people unless provoked.
It seems like there’s a lot to take on board and that it is easy to make mistakes as a cat owner. But most of this is common sense and it doesn’t take much to get into the swing of enjoying cat ownership. Honest!