One of the biggest mistakes potential adopters make is thinking that cats are low maintenance pets. It’s true that, unlike dogs, they don’t need to be taken out for walks; their food will cost less than a medium to large sized dog; and they are less likely to destroy your house if neglected. But that doesn’t equal low maintenance. Let’s look at the truth about how much attention cats need from their humans.
Myth: Cats are independent and don’t need much human interaction.
Truth: Cats need companionship to thrive. There is a common belief that a cat sleeps all day and during their waking hours ignores people. But that’s basically a description of a cat that is sadly neglected. No matter what you think of your cat, your cat considers you family. They want to be involved in what you are doing because your schedule and behavior affects them directly.
It’s true cats don’t demand attention the way a dog does. And that makes it even more important to learn a cat’s subtle signals to discern what is going on with them. Honestly, it’s not that hard to be in tune with your cat, if you make the effort.
A neglected cat will sleep more, eat more, and may become depressed. Or they may act out to get attention from their people. It’s important to interact with your cat daily, apart from mealtimes. Spend time around your cat, have play sessions, or treat sessions. Many cats thrive on learning simple tricks like high five. Time with your cat can be fun for both of you.
Myth: Cats can entertain themselves.
Truth: Anybody can entertain themselves if they’re forced to. But to give a cat a good quality of life, you need to pay attention to what entertains them. Then you build on that. Most cats enjoy vertical spaces for recreation and resting. So figure out how to create that in your home for them. Find out what forms of play your cat enjoys most, and give them more of that.
Put some thought into making life more interesting for your cat. This can be anything from utilizing window views to making sure the best sun puddles are available. It’s not all about human interaction — it’s about creating an environment that enriches your cat. And that does take some effort.
Myth: Feeding cats is easy. Just dump food in a bowl and leave it out.
Truth: Free feeding dry food is the least healthy way to get your cat the nutrients they need. Dry food is highly processed and often loaded with carbs and fillers that cats don’t need, or that may even be unhealthy for them over the longterm. Canned and other forms of wet food (as long as they contain high quality ingredients) are a better option for your cat’s health.
Yes, good quality cat food is more expensive. But over time, your cat will probably have fewer health issues that would add up to higher vet bills in the long run. They will have a longer, more active, and happier life — and that doesn’t have a price tag.
So do your research when it comes to cat food and buy the best choices you can afford. If because of work or other obligations away from home, you absolutely must feed dry food, make sure it is strictly portion controlled. Use a feeder with timer, and if you have multiple cats, get the kind of feeders that work with your cats’ microchips. That way, cats have to stick to their own food.
Myth: Cats don’t need regular veterinary check ups.
Truth: A study by Bayer Animal Health indicated that 83 percent of housecats visit the vet during their first year of life — then never go back. This is really unfortunate because regular check ups are crucial to keep track of your cat’s health.
Having a regular veterinarian means they may be able to catch warning signs before an illness goes too far. That way, you can take measures to keep your cat healthier longer. Some things, like kidney values, need to be watched carefully as a cat ages. If you have a relationship with a veterinarian, you will be able to discuss issues about your cat, and the vet will have their history right there.
If you are worried about cost, look into investing in pet insurance.
Many people don’t take their cat to the vet because corralling the cat is so much trouble. The cat fights and hides at the very sight of a carrier. If you train a cat from an early age that traveling in the carrier is not a big deal, and that it doesn’t always take them to the vet, that’s often helpful. Leave the carrier out for them to sleep in and interact with. And watch yourself — if you are stressed out, it stresses out your cat too. Make sure you aren’t adding to the problem.
I hope this is enough proof that cats are totally not low maintenance! Cats are living beings that require care and lots of love. They should be family members who are involved in your life, and receive a high level of attention and care. Cats have so much to give — but you also need to take the time and effort, and give back.
Other posts you may find helpful:
- Cats in High Places: Why We Like Them, How to Create Them
- Why Cats Are More Social Than You May Think
- The Top 10 Ways to Have a Better Relationship With Your Cat