Although cats might be thought of as a lower maintenance pet than dogs, sometimes that is not the case. Not requiring daily walks and the cats’ lack of concern for your general well-being can be deceiving. They are a source of constant amusement on the internet and annoyance when it comes to string or things on counters. My uncle once told me that my cats needed to go since they would suffocate my children because they smell like milk. The point is cats can be jerks but we choose to love them anyway. They do require an owner who knows a thing or two for a happy co-existence.
Litter box care is not always straight forward. The general rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat in the household plus one extra. Certain cats may use a litter while others avoid litters for reasons such as the scent or textures. It is also best to have designated, cat-friendly areas in the house for their facilities. Try a guest bedroom with a baby gate if you have dogs or a laundry room to keep things clean and out of the way. Just remember that noisy appliances that run suddenly may not be relaxing for a cat using the box and could cause avoidance behaviors. Adequate cleaning, even daily, depending on the number of cats in the home is recommended. As a veterinarian, the number one reason I see cats being rehomed or turned outside is due to bad litter box behaviors. Some of this is the cat’s preferences but a lot can be corrected with owners modifying their behaviors.
Illness in cats can also be a tricky subject for some cat owners. Cats tend to hide major signs of illness if they can. They may have subtle signs if you know what to look for. These can be best identified if you keep them on a schedule. Free feeding, in my opinion, is a thing of the past. Fat cats are not healthy cats. They can be predisposed to diabetes and joint troubles. You may not know how much they are ingesting if food is always available, thus making you miss subtle signs of appetite change. Meals allow you to control the amount of food your cat eats, and as a bonus, you will know if the cat is feeling under the weather if they are skipping meals. I have had pet owners who also know a cat’s litter box schedule- incredibly helpful from a vet standpoint, but I honestly can say I do not know my cats’ schedules. However, knowing if you are cleaning less stools or urine than normal is another helpful way to track your cat’s overall health. Annual check-ups and even screening blood profiles are the last way to find problems earlier in pets- this leads to longer, healthier lives in house cats. Thus, more time with your loveable yet sometimes confusing monster.