5 essential things your cat needs to be happy

A grumpy cat is no fun for anyone. Keep your precious kitty purring happily with these easy tips from veterinarian Amanda Chin.

Written by Amanda Chin
Tabby cat lying on bed, selective focus

There’s nothing better than coming home and being greeted by a happy cat. If your cat struts around with an upright tail with a quivering tip, rubs its face and body against you, speaks to you in a high-pitched meow and shows off its playful side, that’s a good sign your cat is on top of the world.

If not, there may be a few things you need to change about your home environment to make it a happier place. This is especially true if you have an indoor cat, who may get restless and bored more easily.

With just a few simple lifestyle steps, your cat will fall in love with you all over again. Here are some essential things your kitty needs.

1. Plenty of exercise — read playtime

A healthy adult cat needs 15-20 minutes of play each day. This could simply be changing up the toys each week from catnip mice to wand toys to bells or puzzle toys. Hiding treats around the house and giving them areas to climb are also a great ways to get your cat moving.

2. A view to the outdoors

Cats are inquisitive. They love to check out their surroundings and know what’s going on in their neighbourhood. If you have an indoor cat, simply giving them a comfortable place to sit on the windowsill or on a bookshelf with a view to the outdoors will give them immense pleasure.

3. A place to scratch

Scratching posts are a personal preference. Most cats prefer vertical scratching posts that are tall enough for them to stretch out fully, stable enough to resist them pushing against, and have a vertical thread.

Encourage your cat to use its scratching post by placing it in an area where it enjoys scratching, sprinkle catnip on it, guide your cat to it, and reward your cat when it uses it.

To stop your cat from scratching at the couch or carpet, you could try temporarily place foil or double-sided tape over the surface.

4. A dark place to sleep

On average, cats sleep about 16 hours a day. They need a quiet, dark area such as a bookcase, box or bench top to curl up and rest. Although cats are naturally nocturnal, it is important that they keep active during the day to avoid nuisance night activity such as scratching at your door, meowing or hunting.

5. A private toilet area

Cats have strict requirements when it comes to toileting. Without the right litter box set up, inappropriate toileting and marking can occur.

There must be at least one litter box per cat located in separate areas, and an additional litter box per household. Choose a litter box that is 1.5 times the length of the cat in size, and fill it with fine-grained and unscented litter at a depth of approximately 4 cm. You should also make sure the litter box is away from high-traffic areas.

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