7 Things Cats Need Every Day
Many pet sitters get into this field because they love dogs, but quickly find out how awesome cat visits are.
Pet sitting is the perfect service for cats because cats love to stay at home and they tend to get into less trouble than dogs at pet sitting visits.
Cat visits also tend to be booked at more convenient hours because they usually don’t require a bedtime visit. So, cat visits lead to less burnout. Cat visits are much easier than dog visits, and you can often charge the same price.
Cats make up about 65% of the revenue at my pet sitting business and many pet sitting entrepreneurs successfully operate “cats only” businesses. Of course, it’s helpful to know a few things about cat behavior if you want to offer the best possible care for cats.
First of all it’s important to understand, most undesirable behavior in cats is caused by fear or stress. It may seem odd to think a cat can get stressed, but take a moment to look at the world from a cat’s perspective.
- They live with giant humans, who could easily overpower them and sometimes act in unpredictable ways
- Although cat’s can pick up on 20-40 words or so, they don’t fully understand the language we speak. Also, we humans often don’t fully understand the protolanguage cats speak.
- There may not be any place in the home where the cat can get completely away from a human’s reach
- They don’t have full control over their environment. Rather, humans decide where cats can and can’t go.
Thinking through how your cat perceives their world goes a long way to understanding why they might be stressed.
Of course, working towards building trust with your cat and providing a loving relationship will go a long way in decreasing a cat’s fear levels, but it often takes a conscious effort to make sure you are providing a cat with what they need every day to reassure them that their environment is safe. So, let’s cover the seven things cats need every day.
1. Vertical Space / A Place To Perch
Cats perceive a higher vertical space as safe, a better place to hunt from, more powerful, and more valuable. If you don’t have a cat tower, a cat hammock, cat shelves / steps, or any place where a cat can perch, they will be more stressed out. Cats need a place where they can get up and off of the floor because the floor is where they are most vulnerable to predators. Further, many cats will feel the most comfortable when you can provide a vertical space that allows them to get away from a human’s reach.
Be aware that a cat may claim a perch as their own and defend it from other cats in the household. Ideally, each cat should have their own perch.
2. Reassurance / Slow Blinks
Cats need to feel comfortable around their humans before they can destress and be the sweet kitty they deserve to be. One of my favorite tricks to reassure a cat is to slow blink and look off to the side.
When you slow blink you are saying, “I’m not going to hunt you right now.” This is the Jedi mind trick for cats and it’s very calming and reassuring for cats.
They understand slow blinks almost universally and very quickly. As long as you are patient with this technique, the cats in your care will start slowly blinking back at you.
I also like to boop my cats on the nose with a finger or gently pet them when I notice they are getting stressed out. A simple gentle touch along with some calm words can be reassuring to a cat that trusts you and is OK with pets. Playtime, some wet food, and/or treats can also help a cat feel safe in their environment.
3.Something to Scratch
First of all, don’t declaw cats, rather trim their nails. Second, cats need something they can scratch. Again, cats will claim the thing they scratch as their own and may even defend it from other cats. Ideally each cat in the household should have their own thing to scratch.
This could be:
- Free standing scratch cardboard
- Scratch cardboard attached to a wall
- A good cat scratching post
Cats scratch to stretch their muscles, arms, legs, and back. It’s a stress relieving activity your cat should have access to every day. If you don’t have a scratching post you can simply wrap rope around pretty much anything to turn it into a scratching post.
4. A Successful Hunt
If you ever encounter a cat that likes to swat at you, you might be able to win over their heart with a feather toy. Many times when a cat is eager to swat at you they are also eager to swat at a toy. To simulate a successful hunt, simply have the cat chase (or even just watch) the feather toy for 5 – 10 minutes, then end playtime by tossing out a couple of treats. This way the cats get the feel of a successful hunt by getting tasty food as a reward for their efforts.
5. Good Nutrition and Clean Water
Good food and clean water is key to a long healthy life. While many cat’s can do just fine with just kibble, a little wet food mixed with warm water can dramatically improve a cat’s health because they get more water in their diet, which can reduce the chances of UTIs, kidney problems, digestive problems, and improve overall health.
Cat’s should also have clean litter every day. If a cat is not able to hide their poop from predators they will become stressed out and feel vulnerable.
Cats lick themselves for between 1 and 4 hours every day. When you account for how much cats sleep, this adds up to 20-50 percent of their waking lives.
Why do they lick themselves so much? Cats have glands in their tongue that excrete a sebum which is good for their coat. It helps remove dirt, dead skin cells, and parasites such as fleas. One fascinating reason cat’s groom so much is to hide the scent of their previous meal. This way predators can not track them as well. Again, you can see the drive cats have to protect themselves from threats.
It also seems like cats groom themselves because they simply enjoy it.
Cats sleep between 16 – 20 hours every day. Cat’s sleep so much to conserve their energy to hunt, chase, and kill their next meal. Even though house cats don’t have to hunt for their meals, a cat’s instinct is to be ready to track down and hunt tasty food, which you should simulate with a feather toy / string toy and treats each day, as mentioned earlier in this article.
It’s important to note that if you cat does not have a place where they feel comfortable sleeping, they may get stressed out. Having a perch, cat hammock, or any soft space that is off the ground can help a cat get a good day’s rest.
I mean, isn’t this why we get cats anyway?? Cats love it too. If your cat is not snuggling with you, work on the items above until you have a snuggly cat.