Are you fulfilling these 10 important cat needs?
Does your cat come rubbing against your legs when you arrive home? Or are you a frequent receiver of soft head butts and soothing purrs? Good news: you’re already fulfilling the important basic need of love. But how well are you taking care of their other needs? Find out with this easy checklist!
#1: Keep the coast clear of unknown cats
Whether you have an indoor or an outdoor cat: the presence of an unfamiliar cat feels very threatening to them. As cute as the neighbour’s furball may be: keep them out of your garden and especially out of your house.
“If you live in a neighbourhood with lots of outdoor cats, you could place translucent film on the bottom of your windows and doors”, advises Joline De Jaegher, our cat therapist. “This would reassure your cat, as it prevents eye contact and thus an escalation of conflict.”
Are you taking your cat to the vet, the grooming salon or a cat hotel? Do your absolute best to avoid eye contact with unknown cats there as well.
#2: Provide a cat-friendly litter box
Think about it: you like to do your business in a comfortable and clean spot as well, don’t you? That’s why you need to offer spacious and squeaky-clean litter boxes to your cat. “Their toilet should be about 1,5 times the length of their body”, adds Joline. “And you should always follow the + 1 rule: the number of cats plus one is how many litter boxes you need.”
What about kitty litter? “Go for odourless, clumping cat litter that comes very close to the texture of sand”, suggests Joline. And of course, you should place each litter box on a quiet location in your home.
#3 Give them enjoyable spots for eating & drinking
Not every cat owner knows this, but cats don’t like it when you place their food and water right next to each other. “If you split both bowls up, your cat will drink up to 50% more”, says Joline. “And that’s necessary, because they don’t get their water intake from their prey anymore. Kibble alone doesn’t provide the amount of fluids they need.”
Other things you might want to know: cats prefer a big and wide water bowl that is “whisker-friendly”. “And place it far enough from the wall so they can sit behind it while scanning their environment”, adds Joline. And last but certainly not least: never put the food of your cat next to their litter box. For, well, obvious reasons.
#4 Allow - and stimulate - your cat to climb
Your cat needs to be able to climb. They’re simply built for it – and they love having a safe, 360° view on their environment. That’s why you should definitely let them climb on certain furniture in your home. “You should even encourage them to climb a little higher or to take a challenge. Make it interesting: leave a treat up there that they just can’t pass up on.”
>> Don’t have a lot of high spaces for your cat to explore? Expand your home with a Fantail cat climb and fulfil this important need for your cat.
#5 Make sure they have places to hide
Under your sofa, under your bed or in your closet: your cat should always have the ability to hide. When they do: leave them alone in their hiding spot. “I know it seems sad when they hide. It makes you want to get them out and comfort them. But research has shown that hiding does make them feel better”, explains Joline. “It’s a way for them to cope with stress.” Want to make hiding easier for them? Place some extra boxes or baskets in your home.
#6 Make them hunt and work for their food
In nature, cats are used to working really hard for their mice dinners. Why not give your house cat the same challenge? “You could present their food in a puzzle, for instance”, says Joline.
Toys like fishing rods – ideally with feathers at the end – are also a great way to trigger their hunting instinct. “A few minutes of play, multiple times a day, can already have a positive impact on your cat’s life”, Joline explains. Want to reward them for being such a good hunter? End the play session with a yummy treat.
#7 Be mindful of their routine
Cats love structure. They work out their own routine in their safe home environment. That means that a big disruptor of this routine needs to be prepared really well. “If you’re planning a move, having a baby or adding an extra furry friend to the household, think about how this will impact your cat and plan accordingly”, says Joline. “For instance: make sure they always have their own safe space with smells and items they recognize.”
#8 Let them scratch their heart out
Scratching is incredibly important for your cat. It provides nail care, lets them communicate, helps them stretch and relieves their stress.
Joline: “Your cat needs enough opportunities to scratch around the house. Make sure every scratching element either tall or placed high enough so they can fully stretch out. And don’t hide a scratching pole away in the corner: your cat wants it to be seen. Only then, they can successfully communicate how safe a location is. For example, their scratch marks tell other cats that they’re around, which helps them to avoid each other.”
Did you know that cats prefer to scratch on vertical grooves? This mimics the trees they’re used to scratching outside. That’s why we designed a scratching element with vertical sisal for our cat climbs. Discover all configurations here.
#9 Respect the personal space of your cat
“Here, kitty kitty…” is not the low-key approach your cat is looking for. Let them initiate physical contact with you. “You could reach out your hand and let them sniff you”, suggests Joline. “But only when they give you a little head butt, they actually want you to touch them. Then you can pet them gently on the head – they love that the most.” Not getting a head butt? Then you shouldn’t do anything.
Don’t pick up your cat for no good reason, either. When you do, they lose the sense of control, which gives them a lot of stress.
#10 The golden cat rule of abundance
Remember the + 1 rule of the litter boxes? It actually extends to a lot of other things, especially if you have a multi-cat household.
“The ‘number of cats plus one more’ rule also applies to food & water when you have more than one cat”, explains Joline. “Spread everything out into different rooms, so they’re also out of each other’s view. This avoids tension between your cats.”
When we’re looking at hiding places, scratching elements and accessible high spots, this formula might not be enough. “It’s more like a bare minimum”, confirms Joline. “Every room your cat has access to, needs those things. This will make your cat feel comfortable, safe and fulfilled!”
And? How well are you doing on the checklist right now? If it’s not 10/10, get to work and give your cat the best possible care!
Need help getting to the perfect score? Match one of our configurations with your cat and fulfil their need to jump, climb, scratch, watch and chill.
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