Yes, we cats are proud and free and independent and all that. BUT...there are some things we really, really need from our humans. Here are a few: safe, healthy food; clean, fresh water; a safe shelter, vet care, a clean litter box, and, of course, love. Lots of love. But there are more.
1. We need to be kept indoors, or, if we go out, it should be with a harness and leash firmly attached to our humans. Why? Yes, it's fun to run free and play in the outdoors. But it's not so fun when we are attacked by a savage dog, or tortured by cruel children, or run over by cars, or bitten by raccoons...you get the idea.
2. Make sure windows have screens that don't fall out if we jump up onto the window sill to check out the world. It is NOT true that we land, unhurt, on our feet if we fall out of a window several stories up in an apartment building.
3. If you're sure we can be safe outside, at least give us a breakaway collar. If it carries our human's address and phone number, so much the better. Non-breakaway collars can be deadly. Many cats have died a horrible death because their leather collar caught on a low branch of a shrub or bush. If the cat could not break the sturdy collar, it died a painful death from hunger, thirst and exhaustion.
4. Take us to a vet for a regular checkup. People who don't already know a vet can ask an animal shelter or rescue group for a referral.. Or you can go to your telephone book and pick out several vets in your area. Call each one and ask what's the cost of an office visit. You may be surprised at the difference between answers!
5. Spay or neuter your cat. It is not cruel to do so. All that is lost is the instinctive behavior your kitty would need if living in the wild. For sure, behaviors of fighting, spraying, producing endless litters of kittens is not something your kitty needs in your house. It will help your cat live longer, because kitty is no longer driven to fight and breed over and over again.
6. Feed your cat a healthful diet and make sure clean fresh water is always available.
7. Keep that litter box clean! Most cats will instinctively use a clean box. (If there are mistakes, look at our article on that subject under 'cat care.'.) Put the box in some convenient but out-of-traffic spot.
8. Don't forget to brush your kitty, whether the fur is short or long. Brush regularly to keep coat and skin healthy and cut down on the amount of fur getting shed.
9. Make sure there's time for play. Sure, cats amuse themselves quite well. But your kitty will know you're the best friend when you play with him/her.
10. Be ready with toys and scratching pads or post to save wear and tear on your home! A good dose of catnip on the new scratching post or pad usually gets the scratching off to a good start. Or, a part of an outdoor log, with bark on, can be the place for a good scratching workout, especially after it is sprinkled with catnip.
11. Teach your cat what not to do by blowing a whistle or squirting from a water bottle. Do not hit or kick or otherwise physically hurt the cat. This only teaches fear of you.
12. Remember to be gentle and patient with your cat. Be sure that what you expect from him/her is, well, reasonable. (Some cats will learn to sit on the toilet. Some simply do not have it in them to learn that. The same with walking on a leash. Some will, others will just never get it.)
Finally, remember that almost any problem has a solution, especially if you deal with it early. Don't wait weeks, months or years to solve issues. There's a lot of good advice around. For example, you can always ask me! Just go to DearTabbyTheAnswerCat.com, and together we can surely figure it out!