What Are a Cat's Basic Needs?
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When we think of adopting our cat to expand our family, we need to consider their needs. This is necessary to ensure their well-being. Food and accessories are important, as is providing an environment which allows them to enact their natural behaviors. This is key in meeting their basic needs and providing them with a happy life.
In this AnimalWised article, in collaboration with iNetPet, we ask what are a cat's basic needs?
Basic accessories for a cat
Regardless of the cat's age or characteristics, there are some basic elements of a cat's care we need to provide even before they arrive in our home. They include:
- Adequate food for its stage in life as the nutritional requirements of a kitten are not the same as those of an elderly cat.
- Food and water bowls, ideally separated from each other.
- Litterbox, litter and poop shovel. The cat may not like the litter you choose, so there may be an element of trial and error.
- Pet carrier for veterinary visits.
- Grooming products, including a suitable hair brush, nail clipper, wipes or shampoo (in case they ever need a bath).
- Toys and environmental enrichment items, such as a scratching post.
- We can buy them a bed, but be aware they will choose their preferred place to sleep.
When we first bring the cat home, you will need to take the cat for a general check-up at a suitable veterinary clinic, as well as to arrange their deworming and vaccination schedules.
There are several options we can choose when it comes to feeding our cat. Regardless of the one we choose, quality is of the utmost importance. Cats are carnivores, meaning their diet should be composed mainly of animal protein. This is usually in the form of meat and fish. In addition, it is important we choose a cat food which is suitable to the age of our cat. We will need to respect the feeding instructions indicated on the product packaging to avoid weight issues.
The ancestors of domestic cats lived in desert climates and hydrated themselves almost exclusively from their prey. For this reason, they don't drink a lot of water. If their diet is limited to dry feed only, they can become dehydrated more easily. If we choose dry feed, we should combine it with wet food at some point during the day to ensure proper hydration. We can also choose to provide water in a special fountain as cats prefer to drink from flowing water sources.
When thinking of a cat's needs, it is important never to neglect hygiene as it is essential for their well-being. It is especially important for cats as they are very clean animals. Cats do not need to go outside to make a movement as dogs do. It should be enough for them to have a litterbox with sufficient litter. Their litterbox needs to be placed somewhere quiet and away from foot traffic in the home.
The cat's litterbox also needs to be the right size. This means they are able to enter and exit comfortably, as well as be large enough for them to turn around while inside. The litter box needs to be cleaned routinely to ensure our cat feels comfortable using it. To know more, take a look at our article on how often we should change a cat's litter.
Cats spend large parts of their time grooming themselves. It is not necessary to bathe them, unless there is a special reason to do so. It is advisable we brush them regularly to help eliminate dead hair and prevent them from ingesting it. This, in turn, helps to avoid the formation of hairballs in their digestive system. We should also check their nails regularly and trim them when necessary.
We have talked about a cat's basic needs in terms of nutrition and hygiene, but what does a cat need to be happy? A happy cat needs to be able to express their natural behaviors, including climbing to heights, scratching their claws, jumping, etc. For this reason, it is important we provide certain elements in the home which promote environmental enrichment. These include scratching posts, climbing trees, toys and more. We can also let them investigate the carrier so it is not a traumatic experience when we take them to the vet.
Such an environment stimulates them physically so they can exercise and prevent obesity. Environmental enrichment for cats alone isn't enough. Although they are thought of as solitary animals, cats need attention from their human guardians. Although this varies according to the individual, we need to interact and play with them if we want them to be happy.
Essential veterinary care
Finally, we can't neglect the veterinarian when we consider the basic needs of a cat. This is not limited to taking the cat to a clinic when they feel sick. Illness prevention is important. This comes in the form of regular checkups, providing a deworming schedule and ensuring their vaccinations are up to date. Although our cat may not have access to the outside, they still need vaccinated as we can bring pathogens into the home. The veterinarian will determine which deworming products and vaccines are required.
Vaccinations and deworming are used most frequently in kittens. This is because their immune system is still immature, making them more vulnerable. Still, they cannot be neglected in adults. We need to follow the veterinarian's instructions closely regarding vaccination and deworming. For more background information, check out our article on vaccination schedules for cats.
Neutering is also recommended as it benefits their mental and physical well-being. We also need to make regular checkups even if the cat seems fine. Cats are good at hiding their pain, so it is important for a vet to check for certain pathologies such as kidney disease.
Extra care for a cat
New technologies can make it easier for us to meet the needs of our cat. The iNetPet application, a free app available now, allows you to gather all the information related to the basic care of a cat. This includes their veterinary history, diet, grooming schedules or even residential care when we go on a trip. All this is kept in one place and accessible wherever we are. Using the app, we can contact the professionals who take care of our beloved cats in real time and communicate directly.
In addition, you can purchase a tag with a QR code that facilitates the recovery of the cat in case they become lost. The iNetPet app helps to cover all your cat's basic needs in a simple and fast way.
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