- Companionship - we are talking about domestic cats and for that reason they need to be with people and if suitable other cats or dogs for a part of the day at least. See separation anxiety as a possible consequence of not providing this basic need. Here is another post on the subject: Cat behavior and separation anxiety.
- A balanced diet - I have just done a post on this most important of subjects. We should make sure that there are no bones in the cat food if we are making it ourselves. See homemade cat food.
- A good and constant supply of water. It is easy to let this task drift and the water becomes stale. Cats don't seem to drink much partly because manufactured wet cat food contains 80+% water! But dry food is much more fashionable these days and under these circumstances water is absolutely vital. There is a certain amount of controversy surrounding dry cat food, which you might like to read about: Cat Food Recipe.
- A garden to exercise in. But it must be safe. It is becoming increasingly difficult to let a cat wander into a garden and remain safe. In the USA a large percentage of cats are full-time indoor cats for this reason. An enclosure in the garden is a compromise. Or indeed any safe area to play and exercise every day is fine. It really should be well away from busy roads, though or any roads for that matter. There are conflicting, strong views on indoor and outdoor cats. Cats indoors or out. See a number of posts on this subject.
- A suitably quiet and out of the way place that is warm to sleep, an activity which occupies a good part of the day for a cat. See a list of links on the subject of cat sleep.
- To be combed and brushed regularly. This is particularly important when they are shedding their coats during warmer weather. Long-haired cats such as the Persian, Ragdoll and British Longhair cat need to be brushed every day.
- Some sort of scratching post. This might be an old chair because cats have a tendency to chose something that we might find unacceptable. See a list of articles on cat scratching.
- Try and help to clean their teeth. There are special toothpastes etc. Personally, I would not bother unless your cat has the kind of mouth and gums that are more susceptible to tartar build up. The only really practical way to clean a cat's teeth are by a vet under anesthetic. The bottom line is to check teeth and take preventative measures as best as possible. See Cats Gum Disease, Dental Gel for Cats.
- To be able to move to the outside freely through cat flap if an outdoor cat. In the UK most (90+%) are outdoor cats. But great care needs to be exercised in areas of traffic. Even when there is little traffic there are many other hazards (e.g. poison - see cat poison) so an enclosure, which are surprisingly still rare or careful supervision or a leash are advisable. See (a) cat on a leash (b) cat stroller (c) cat leash laws (d) cat training.
- A properly maintained and suitably situated litter box of decent size. The RSPCA suggest a cat needs to be trained to use a litter. I respectfully disagree. Cats will use it automatically perhaps with a little direction from us provided it is maintained to a high standard and provided the cat is well and the house is clean. See litter box habits.
- Microchipping in a modern world it is recommended. There is some controversy surrounding microchipping, though. An added benefit is that it allows for a cat flap to operate on the wearer of the microchip, preventing time share cats wandering in.
- Cat neutering (males) and spaying (females) should be carried out as soon as possible in order to avoid unwanted litters. See neutering cats and cat neutering increases body weight.
- To act promptly by a visit to the vet when your cat is ill or injured. An early visit can save money and make recovery faster.
- Vaccinate your cat per your vet's recommendations. See cat vaccination recommendations. Vaccinations are a procedure not a routine event. Care and discretion needs to be exercised and some vets may over vaccinate.
- Consider worming treatments and always check for fleas by flea combing at the same time as grooming as mentioned above. See (a) How to Control Cat Fleas (b) a large list of links to articles on flea control to life cycle.
- To make sure your cat is looked after when away on holiday.The classic is a cattery (cat hotel in the UK). For a more nervous cat a cat sitter is more suitable but the bottom line is cost, I suspect. A cat will need the standard vaccinations before she can be accepted into a decent cattery.
- Unconditional love..........lots of it. That is the answer to the question, "What do cats need?".
FromWhat Do Cats Need? to Home Page
What Do Cats Need? -- Photos top: by alasam
What Do Cats Need? -- Photo middle: by Tom Poes
Photo bottom: by Rakka
All photos published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.