Unfortunately, nowadays you still see cats that have to lead a very lonely and very restricted – in short, not species-appropriate – life. Of course, this does not happen intentionally or maliciously by the owners. In most cases, people simply do not know about the needs of their pets. But what do cats need to be able to live in a species-appropriate way and what prejudices are still circulating among some cat owners? How does cat care work?
What are the outdated views on cat keeping?
There are still a lot of old prejudices about cats, their behaviour and their keeping, which are widespread even among long-time cat parents and which unfortunately are never questioned.
The loner theory, for example, has long been disproved. Cats are solitary hunters, but not loners. They are extremely social animals, if they have been sufficiently socialised to their conspecifics.
Very often you hear the argument that a cat was brought into the house because people don’t have time for a dog. Unfortunately, it is still a very widespread misconception that cats organise their own lives and only need their humans as “can openers” or “servants”.
Cats are not undemanding “simpler” pets just because they are small and ideally leave their droppings in a box!
What is the correct way to keep outdoor cats vs. indoor cats?
Especially with outdoor cats, some owners are still of the opinion that these animals do not need any additional occupation, attention and care. But these cats also need the attention of us humans as well as unrestricted access to their safe home territory around the clock.
For some decades now, cat keeping has also changed to the extent that a large proportion of cats are kept exclusively indoors. Contrary to popular belief, keeping cats indoors is no reason for an unhappy cat.
If a cat is kept in the flat or in the house without free access, it is by far not enough to provide it with a litter tray, a food and water bowl and perhaps a small cat tree, and in the worst case to leave it alone for 8-10 hours a day.
Green Rubin - Katzenangel
Die nachhaltige und langlebige Katzenangel aus Sisal und Holz.
What does species-appropriate cat keeping look like?
Fortunately, some ideas about how to keep a cat species-appropriate and what needs a cat has have changed over time. The most important findings are as follows:
- Kittens should not be separated from their mother and siblings until they are 12 weeks old at the earliest, and should ideally not be left to grow up alone.
- It is best to have siblings of the same sex or two kittens of the same sex at a similar age.
- The little heads of our purring darlings also like to be stimulated regularly. Various intelligence or search games are excellent ways to do this.
- Cats need extensive play and cuddling sessions. Cats that are kept exclusively indoors need a species-appropriate indoor territory and intensive activity with their humans. This means at least 2 – 3 fixed play sessions of approx. 10 – 15 minutes each per day.
- Cats (like dogs) also suffer from separation anxiety and stress when left alone for hours without activity. Cats are extremely adaptable and creative animals that can often compensate for mistakes or deficits in their attitude for a very long time.
- Cats usually suffer silently! Until the owners notice that something is wrong with their house cat, it can take a long time. Especially “well-behaved” cats that hardly move and do not participate in family life should be an alarm signal. This behaviour could indicate depression.
- A species-appropriate and high-quality food should be a matter of course.
- As well as regular care of the coat, ears, claws, teeth, etc.
You can read more myths about our graceful little velvet paws here: Myths about cats
What else do I have to consider when keeping a cat?
You should not only know your cat’s needs, but also its expressive behaviour. It is worth learning cat language 😉.
Inform yourself about your cat and always try to offer it a life that is as species-appropriate as possible. This way, we can live together with our pets and not just next to each other!
It is high time to throw old prejudices overboard and redefine cat ownership in many areas. A mindful coexistence, in harmony with the natural needs of a cat, is desirable. With the necessary background knowledge and empathy, cat parents can contribute a great deal to giving their darlings an all-round happy and fulfilled cat life.