We can help ensure good health and welfare for our feline friends by keeping just a few facts in mind:
- People (and most other mammals) are a pack species; cats are an independent species. This difference means that:
- We tend to like to go to others to get them to play with us; cats prefer to come to us on their terms,
- We tend to like longer visits less often; cats prefer shorter, more frequent visits. (that they initiate)
- We tend to see shouting and punishment as forms of "conflict resolution"; cats see these as life-threatening.
- The best indicator of your cat's health and welfare is regularly seeing these healthy behaviors:
- Activity – confidently explores and uses the living space, including climbing and perching.
- Interaction – initiates brief, frequent interactions with others in the house.
- Food and Water Consumption – indoor-housed cats usually eat small meals and drink over the course of the day
- Elimination Behavior – most cats use the litter box 2-4 times a day
- Weight Loss or Gain – 10% either way can be important. You can monitor this using regular weighing or body condition scoring
- Grooming – normally cats gently groom the entire body 2-3 times a day.
- Sleeping Habits – sleeps in view, in favored places
- Vocalizing – cats have different voices; you can learn what is normal for your cat so you can notice any changes.
- Cats don't like unexpected change (who does?). Offering new things (foods, litter, toys, etc.) next to their familiar things in a separate container will let them tell you whether they like the old or new thing better.
A great start for new owners is From the Cat's Point of View, by Gwen Bohnenkamp.
From the Cat's Point of View answers nearly every question the new cat owner could have and gives the experienced cat owner a look at life from the other side of the scratching post. She also has a helpful website.