Today, I will be enlightening you about keeping cats as pets. It is important to note that cats are quite different companion animals from dogs, and so they will rarely behave in the same way.
Let’s look at the reaction of a disobedient dog after being scolded compared to that of a cat:
The dog generally seems apologetic while the cat looks quite snide.
Cats hate being controlled and it is very difficult to force them to do something they don’t want to. I think this is the fundamental difference between cats and dogs.
Although cats are often described as aloof and mysterious, they can be just as affectionate as dogs. Cats usually return an equal amount affection given to them by their owner, and may choose to hide from strangers. In contrast, many dogs behave in a highly affectionate way towards most humans. Cats will also refuse to perform tricks such as fetching items or similar commands. They prefer to do whatever they want, when they want. Because of this independent trait, they are often good at keeping themselves occupied if you are out or busy. Some cats completely ignore bought toys and prefer to play with bits of cardboard or old string they find around the house instead.
Cats were originally kept for pest control, which is a role that they still play well today. They are extremely efficient hunters and will usually try to attack anything that moves. Even if you don’t have a mouse problem, cats still like eating insects so they can stop your house from being infested. You will no longer have any need for fly swats or bug sprays, both of which are far slower methods of pest control compared to owning one cat.
Cats are the cleanest domestic animals as they generally only use a litter box, frequently clean themselves and emit absolutely no bad smell. Some cats may have bad breath, but this is only noticed if the cat yawns directly in your face. If you let your cat outdoors, it may also learn to dig holes and bury waste. Most cats bury their business after using the litter box, but some cats will not. I suspect this is either because the litter box is not big enough, or because the cat does not want dirty paws from digging through old litter.
Cats are also very beautiful in appearance, with numerous colour varieties and a silky fur texture. They also seem to have a wider range of different personalities and are more interesting to interact with. In addition, I’ve always found the shape of a cat to be aesthetically pleasing, so owning one is a bit like having a piece of artwork forever changing shape and position around you. Due to the great flexibility and smaller build of a cat, they are able to jump up on and walk over any piece of furniture you own. Although they can bite and claw, they are more delicately structured and it is very difficult for them to seriously injure people.
The vast range of sounds and expressions that a cat is able use will allow better communication between you. The pitch and duration of many cat cries enables a human to quickly pinpoint any message that the cat is trying to get across. The sound vibration from a cat’s purr also produces a lovely resonance that will calm you during times of stress. Cats are also excellent company and will provide some welcome warmth by sleeping on you.
Cats can shed. Usually the fur is quite wispy and not immediately obvious, but this can get annoying if your cat likes to sit on your clothes. This problem doesn’t bother me as I shed far more hair than my cat and it is much more noticeable.
Occasionally cats will throw up, especially if you own a long haired cat. This is mostly due to hairballs, although food may also come up in the process. They will make a very low, distinctive noise while they are retching so you can prepare yourself for the clean-up. Luckily, I find my cat always chooses a nice clear spot on the floorboards that is easy to clean vomit off. I’ve also noticed that my cat only heaves like this every other month.
Cats have claws and like to use them. Some will scratch up your favourite furniture while others may try to shred your legs. The best thing you can do about this is to get your cat a scratching post or make a scratching board it can claw at. A plank of wood with the reverse side of an old carpet secured to it is fine. If your cat is docile enough, you can also buy a claw clipper, but many cats will hate this and run off before you can trim anything. Declawing is an incredibly cruel solution and prohibited in Australia. Essentially this is equivalent to amputating all fingers at the knuckle on a human, and it will leave the cat feeling helpless.
Female cats can go into heat and make an unruly amount of noise. Spaying the cat is recommended if you have this problem or if you allow your cat to go outdoors. This will also ensure you don’t end up with unwanted litters of kittens. I had my cat spayed after she began making a very disturbing, demonic, howling noise that attracted all the tomcats in the area to my door. However, the procedure gave her quite a serious throat infection. Male cats can be more aggressive and mark their territory by spraying it. Again, de-sexing the cat will usually solve this problem.
It is very important that a kitten gets lots of positive human contact, especially during the first 12 weeks of life. Ideally someone should stay at home to spend time with it as often as possible. The basic personality of a kitten appears to be set from very early on, so it is advised to choose one after careful observation. Generally any active, healthy looking kitten which responds well to human interaction will make a friendly companion pet.
Most kittens are already litter trained by their mother when they come to you, so all you need to do is show them where the litter box is. You can also set a routine for sleeping and feeding times. My cat has been sleeping in the same 7-8 hour time block as me since it was 7 weeks old. It’s also probably not a good idea to let your cat out after dark unsupervised.
Many kittens are lactose intolerant and cannot digest normal milk, even when diluted heavily. Only offer water or specialised kitten milk, otherwise your kitten might get diarrhoea. Some brands of food might also not be digested as well as others. You can choose to feed your cat dry biscuits or wet food. Generally, the dry biscuits contain a large amount of cereal filler and meat offal. These are usually cheaper due to the poorer quality of ingredients used, but they are nutritionally balanced for your cat and good for teeth. Wet food contains more actual meat and cats prefer the taste, but it can be expensive. I am feeding my cat an equal proportion of both dry and wet food along with some extra dry treats.
Parasite control is important, especially if you let your cat outside. Fleas can infest your entire house, hiding within carpets and between floorboards. If you notice that your cat is frequently scratching itself, or leaving flea dirt or eggs in places where it sleeps, you will have to buy flea sprays and powders to treat your entire house as well as your cat. I have found that the most effective product for parasite control to be Revolution, which completely eliminates and prevents all infestations. It also gives the cat’s fur a soft, silky smooth texture as an interesting side effect.
List of Behaviour and Actions
Used as a greeting. It is usually a friendly hello when you walk past the cat while it is sitting on top of a scratching post. A shorter version is made in succession as a response to seeing birds through windows. We can assume the cat is attempting to communicate with feathered friends using a common language.
Means the cat is happy. Often used when the cat is sitting with you, being patted, or expecting to be fed. Purring is an expression of emotion.
The cat rubs itself on you and all surrounding objects. This is an expression of both affection and territory marking.
The cat will tap you on the hand while you are eating something. This means the cat wants a taste of whatever food you are having.
This occurs when you try to use the top of your head to pat a cat, and the cat reciprocates by rubbing or bumping it’s own head against yours. This sequence of actions results in an affectionate headbutt.
A double edged sword where the cat expresses happiness by ‘mashing’ the front paws while alternating claws between retracted and extended. My cat only does this on something soft, such as a blanket. If you are lying under a thick blanket the kneading feels like a massage, while if you are under a thin blanket the kneading may spike you.
Drop and Roll
Means the cat is happy, enjoys rolling around or both. It will drop to the floor, purr and begin gathering dust by rolling about. My cat will do this when I walk through a doorway or if she returns from playing outside.
The cat will stand up on two hind legs at a screen door and cry to let you know that it wants to come back inside. Similarly, it will also stand up beside a closed door and whine if it wants to go outside.
While you are sleeping, the cat will walk all over your blanket to try and find the warmest spot. When it is happy with a suitable location, it will curl up, purr loudly and then go to sleep there.
As soon as you open your eyes in the morning, the cat will make a satisfied sound and trot over to your bed. It will then walk in circles around your head while purring until you get up.
The cat will carefully sniff anything foreign that comes into the house. Examples include international mail, new clothing or groceries.
This is when the cat positions itself in a comfortable place. Lounging is usually done on beds or on top of scratching posts, preferably with legs hanging off any edges.
The cat will run alongside you while you are walking, and then cut you off by collapsing onto your feet. This means the cat really wants your attention. My cat will stop me in the middle of walking by dropping directly in my path. Generally this is a command to be patted.
The cat will change body positioning as it sleeps. The differing results can be fascinating.
The cat licks itself sometimes just because it knows you are watching it.
Used to express admiration or amusement. You may hear this as a greeting when you wake up in the morning, or when the cat is whacking around an insect.
Paw Clap of Doom
OHKO move that instantly kills all insects, if it manages to hit them.
Used when you dangle Da Bird or a similar toy out of the cat’s reach. It will jump a vertical distance roughly double it’s own length to reach the toy. Much to your surprise, the cat often succeeds in catching it.
When the cat randomly sprints in no particular direction. Sometimes it will increase in speed by bouncing off furniture, and other times it will only run within a certain area.
When the cat tries to force it’s own head down your drinking glass to get at the water near the bottom. They seem to have a preference for sharing your water rather than drinking their own.
Used when the cat is either bored, sleepy or feeling overly comfortable. Sometimes this is used to concede defeat during a staring contest.
Flying Squirrel Leap
An amazing display of both aerodynamic and athletic power. Usually observed when the cat is attempting to jump from the top of a scratching post onto a table located several metres away and on the opposite side of the room. May have a 20% chance failure rate depending on how sharp the cat’s depth perception is at the time.
When the cat climbs up to a framed picture and stares at the different colours and shapes quizzically.
The cat may give you this look if you accidentally drop a pencil or come out of the bathroom. I believe this stare is used to convince you that the cat knows more than it actually does.
When you reach up to pat the cat while it is sitting on top of a scratching post, it looks down at you audaciously and grabs your hand with it’s paws instead.
When you and the cat have been staring at one another for long enough, you both end up giving each other this look until one of you falls asleep.
If the cat is desperate enough to go outside, it will claw itself vertically up the door. Otherwise, some cats just like to climb screen doors.
Something has gone astray in the cat’s head and it will dash around, spin, attack objects, jump and steal socks for a short period of time. After this, it will find somewhere to rest and pretend nothing happened.
When the cat notices you are reading something interesting or typing, it may jump onto your desk and sit in the middle of your keyboard. I’m not entirely sure whether it wants to join in, type a secret message or disrupt progress.
The cat teases you by biting into your flesh, without sufficient force to break the skin.
The cat looks at you expectantly and makes a cry while sitting outside the door. You think this means it wants to be let back inside, so you stop whatever you are doing and rush to the door. As soon as your hand touches the doorknob, the cat runs off.
The cat’s pupils expand, signalling that prey has been targeted. If the cat is looking at you in this way, it is preparing an attack. Throw a towel over the cat’s head to disrupt the lock on process.
When the cat sneaks up behind you while you are bent over doing the dishes, and then jumps onto your back.
The cat looks fearfully at the ceiling, but there is nothing there. This makes you wonder if the cat can see something you can’t.
The cat is there one second and then gone the next. It doesn’t respond to calling, but when you actually get up to look for it, the cat suddenly appears in front of you out of nowhere. You can never seem to find out where it has been hiding.
The most ungodly, low-pitched sound possible emitted from deep within the cat. It will make this eerie, Satanic noise all through the night. The only way to silence this is to the have the cat spayed.
The grumbling that ensues when the cat realises you are not going to let it outside despite it sitting at the door for half an hour.
A low-pitched growl sometimes used when you share meat with your cat. It believes you are going to steal the meat away and tries to seem intimidating. A more high-pitched, continuous version of this growl is used when meeting another enemy cat.
Sometimes when the dog is sitting outside the screen door, the cat will spit at it from the inside.
The cat will hiss if it is annoyed enough with something you are forcing it to do. For example, putting a collar on it or forcing tablets into it’s mouth.
The cat may learn to open doors by sticking paws into the gaps around the perimeter. It uses this trick to push open the bathroom door while you are sitting on the toilet in order to judge you.
The cat will seriously try to slash you if it is angry enough, or if you accidentally step on it’s tail. This attack is too fast to avoid, so your best bet is to wear jeans or shin guards all the time.
This cry means ‘Life isn’t fair’. Often occurs when you refuse to share your lunch with the cat or ignore it when it wants to go outside.
In response to being scolded, the cat will sometimes flatten it’s ears and give you a condescending look. There’s not much you can do about it other than ignore the cat for a few hours as punishment.
This is a dangerous state where the cat is in an attack stance and cannot recall who you are. It may attack you if there is nothing else in the room it can pounce on. If you cover the cat’s eyes with a sheet of newspaper, if will often redirect it’s blind rage at shredding the paper instead of you.
The cat purrs to make itself feel better if it is scared or hurt. Often this will occur at the vet when the cat’s temperature is being taken.
Sometimes the cat will have nothing to practice pouncing on, and begin madly attacking the corner of bed sheets or the bottom of your drawers. Stay very still to avoid attracting attention to yourself.
Interestingly, you may notice that the perimeter of the cat can conform to the shape of any container it is trying to sleep in. This special ability can also be applied to thin perches:
Guide to cat tails: