Cats: Complete Guide to Caring for Cats

Cats are an enigmatic species of animals. It is nearly impossible to pinpoint what is going on in your cat’s mind. If you have owned a dog, you will agree that cats are considerably harder to build a rapport with compared to dogs.

Having said that, we want to make the process of making your cat a part of your very own family easier by educating you about the various aspects you need to know about giving your cat the life it deserves.

Therefore, if you have brought home a wild cat or any other cat breed, this is the ultimate guide for tips and tricks on caring for your cat while also building a nurturing relationship.

Table of Contents

Understanding Your Cat

Before we can understand your cat, you need to understand the species itself! For starters, any cat breed you bring home as your new pet belongs to the only species in its biological Felidae family to be domesticated.

Keep reading to understand the evolution of domestic cats or household cats as we know them today!

History of Evolution

Egypt is often thought to be the first region where people began adopting any member of the larger cat family known as Felidae. However, they were not domesticated cats.

Rather, in 7500 BC, the region’s population had managed to bring an African wildcat into their human settlements. Research also tells us that cats began entering human settlements to feast on rodents.

cats

Since their existence helped humans who were farmers, cats became useful to human civilization. From here on, domestic cats were created by the process of artificially breeding cats in a way that preserves specific physical and intuitive features in the lineage of a parent cat.

The domestic cat species already existed in 1200 BC in Greece. Over the next millennia, cats became increasingly popular in human settlements worldwide, from Europe to Egypt (where it was already popular).

Today, cats have only some changes in terms of their anatomy and behavior as a result of domestication. Even though they are primarily known as domestic cats, they can still survive in the wild.

Even wildcats are very capable as domesticated cat breeds due to various natural behaviors and characteristics that make them ideal companions. Their small size, nature to interact with other animals, evident body language, love to be active, and relatively high intelligence are among these characteristics.

Leopardus cats in captivity may show fondness for humans, but they are not tamed. Hybridization is also conceivable between domestic and other Felinae species. In fact, house cats frequently breed with wild cat breeds, resulting in hybrids like the Scottish Kellas cat.

A Cat’s Natural Habitat

Cats are now globally existent. You can find domestic breeds of cats in nearly every country and human settlement in the world. Therefore, cats are quite adaptable in terms of their natural habitat.

Not only will you find cats in urban and rural settlements pretty commonly, but also in the wild, much like their ancestors used to dwell and hunt for prey.

Having said that, cats are classified into two broad categories based on their habitat. These categories are domestic cats and feral breeds. Now, domestic cats are the cats and cat breeds you will find living urban lives as a part of families and homes.

Their needs are usually met by their owners, and while they do have survival instincts true to their feline blood, they aren’t as adept at the skills of a predator as their counterparts are. These counterparts are feral cats.

Feral cats are basically cats that don’t belong to a particular home or family and simply treat their cities and roads as their natural habitat. These cats have greater survival instincts than typical domestic cats because they always have to be alert for danger.

Feral cat

Having said that, regardless of the cat breed, it can be domestic or feral. While purebred cat breeds usually tend to be bought as pets, sometimes they can be feral cats. Similarly, common cat breeds are usually adopted as pets but are found living in urban jungles too!

Now that you know more about the species as a whole, you will find it easier to understand and decode your cat and what it needs. We have comprehensively discussed their behavior, needs, and so on so that you can nurture a wholesome relationship with your soft kitty!

Cat Behavior

Cat behavior is tricky unless you have some experience and knowledge about how to deal specifically with cats.

Don’t make the mistake of referring to a dog’s body language cues when it comes to reading your cat’s body language. Because they are entirely separate species, their ways of behaving with the elements around them are pretty different from one another.

Some of the first characteristics associated with cats are cryptic, unpredictable, and highly elusive as animals. This isn’t a perception of the modern world. Rather, it has been the way the majority of society views cats.

One theory is that since humankind never really understood the species of cats and the way cat breeds behaved, he remained opposed to a cat’s personality. Though humans communicate mostly through speaking, cats communicate primarily through silence.

Cats communicate through a complicated system of body language, vocalization, and olfactory clues.

To understand what your cat is saying to you and the other creatures in your home, learn how to recognize basic cat language and figure out the most prevalent combinations that we have laid out for you!

Watch the ears

Closeup shot of a cute fluffy cat staring with its green eyes Free Photo

Cats use their ears to indicate emotion along with intent. Some common cues that you can observe in your cat are ears that face forward, backward, or sideways. When your cat’s ears are in the direction of their eyes, they are intrigued by whatever is in front of them.

However, if your cat’s ears are pointing in the latter two directions, it is usually because they are on guard and anxious. Some accompanying cues can be awkward ears, a hiss, or a swipe.

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All of these non-verbal cues and signs point to the fact that your cat is feeling threatened or dissatisfied with what you’re doing.

Listen to their eyes speak.

Cats communicate using their eyelids and eye movements. Subtle cues as to how fast they are blinking, how far they’ve opened their eyelids, and how much are they allowing their pupils to dilate are usually what cats bank on to convey a plethora of emotions.

Black Cat With Yellow Eyes

Arousal, which can be caused by fear, interest, or any other intense emotion, causes a momentary dilatation or enlargement of the pupil, wide-open eyes, convey trust, and those that are narrowed to a slit show fear or aggressiveness.

If your cat’s eyelids are drooping and sleepy, it means they are comfortable and trusting. Try giving your cat a slow blink and seeing if she responds with an affectionate expression popularly called a kitty kiss.

However, if your cat stares at another cat without blinking, it could be an indication of dominance or violence.

Listen to their voice.

Another common way in which cats convey their emotions is through vocalizations. Meowing, purring, hisses, growls, and other feline sounds are all part of the repertoire, each with its meaning depending on the situation.

Adult cats do not ordinarily meow at each other. Still, domesticated cats have learned to do so as a direct result of evolving in urban settlements and interacting with other cats.

Because only mother cats and their kittens communicate by meowing, some scientists believe this is a hint that cats view their people as kittens.

Keep an eye on their fur.

The ideal way your cat’s fur should rest is smooth and flat against its body. When your cat’s fur is in this position, it means your cat is relaxed and in good health.

Since cats are self-grooming creatures and one of the most manically clean freaks in the animal world, the condition of their fur can reveal a lot about their health.

White and Black Cat Lying on Brown Wooden Fence

Unkept and untidy fur can be a sign of illness and should not be overlooked, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy or vomiting.

A quickly fluffed coat with a “bottle brush” tail, on the other hand, indicates panic or hostility. It’s better to keep your distance from a cat who reacts in this way.

Your cat’s tail will tell a tale.

The cat’s tail, too, conveys various emotions, including playfulness or excitement, curiosity, and affection. How your cat holds the length of the tail and moves holds substantial significance when it comes to an understanding of what your cat wants to say to you.

Cat near wall under sunlight

When cats want to be contacted, they raise their tails to indicate that they are open to engagement. A flailing or thumping tail is usually a warning to stay away. A swishing tail could indicate that the cat is having fun or that it is frustrating.

When the fur on the tail bristles, it indicates that the animal is defensive. The cat is ready to battle when held high and bristling. The cat is terrified when nestled between the legs.

Notice your cat’s posture

Adorable furry cat with gray fur standing on ground near green bushes and looking at camera while spending time in nature

Like most other living creatures, cats also use their body and postures to convey what they want you to understand. Now that you know what individual cues cats use to convey certain messages or emotions, you must look at the bigger picture.

Another accompanies every cue of every cat breed. When you look at the multiple cues as a part of the bigger picture, i.e., in terms of your cat’s posture, you can understand your cat’s emotions pretty well.

Kitten Care

Anybody who says that kittens don’t make them smile is either lying or is a monster.

Having said that, bringing home a kitten or cat adoption means that your phone’s camera needs to be working perfectly, and your memory card needs to be empty for ridiculously adorable photography with ideas like your cat in a hat or just your kitten sitting comfortably inside a hat for cats.

The point is, many memories await you. However, before you can enjoy those memories, you need to ensure that you know the fundamentals of kitten care. Take a look at these pointers to easily understand what you need to do to take care of your kitten!

A dedicated sleeping setup

It’s tempting to have a furball cuddling with you in your bed. However, it would be best to understand early that cats are territorial creatures, and it’s ideal to set some boundaries with your kitten.

Adorable domestic cat with white fluffy fur and blue eyes in soft basket

Therefore, buy a dry bed for your kitten along with a quilt that will keep it warm. As you keep doing this, your kitten will grow up to be a house cat who is comfortable in her own space and has lesser chances of developing issues like separation anxiety.

A bathroom

No, we aren’t referring to our bathrooms with fitted toilets. Instead, cats use cat litters to poop or urinate.

Having said that, an adult cat is only likely to use cat litters if you familiarise it with cat litters while it is still a kitten. Purchase a cat litter and place it in a quiet and preferably isolated part of the house for your kitty.

A well-balanced diet

The food you feed your kitten plays a vital role in ensuring that your kitten stays healthy and well supplemented with all the necessary aspects of nutrition, including macronutrients and micronutrients.

While it may not be easy or even healthy for you to feed your kitten natural food at all times, a blend of commercially available kibble and some homemade and natural food items is a safe way to go.

Play with your kitten

Playing with your kitty is vital for bonding. Kittens are energetic and interested, and they like chasing cat toys and interacting with their owners to burn off some of their energy.

Pet Cats on the Playground

To keep your cat from being bored, rotate a range of various sorts of cat toys and play different activities. Chase and catch toys, toys filled with delectable food items, and puzzle feeders are all examples of toys.

Grooming your kitten

Regular grooming in the form of soft brushing is essential for medium-haired and long-haired cats in particular. Begin grooming your kitten when it’s still young so that it becomes a pleasurable bonding experience and a part of everyday maintenance.

Allowing you to brush your cat should be rewarded with a good cat food treat, vocal praise, and patting. Gradually your cat will understand that grooming is a necessity, making it easy for both of you.

Grooming your cat can help avoid ‘fur balls’ by removing dust, dead skin, loose hair, grass seeds, tangles, and shed fur. When cats brush themselves, especially long-haired cats, they may swallow fur, which can pile up in the stomach. Your cat will vomit them after a certain point. 

Train your kitten

A common misconception seems to be you cannot train cats. However, using rewards to positively reinforce good or desirable behaviors is effective in training cats. Reward-based training also involves disregarding ‘unwanted’ behaviors in general.

Playtime, for example, is an excellent time to teach your kitten some manners. Games can get a little passionate and rough at times; make sure playtime is over if they scratch or bite.

In this approach, your cat will rapidly learn that ‘unwanted’ behaviors like clawing too hard or biting don’t get them any attention, and they will tend to quit doing them.

Veterinary support

Being updated with every vaccination and having a good vet go a long way in ensuring that your cat lives a healthy life. Make sure to regularly visit your vet and have your kitten checked for any health issues. You can also discuss neutering your kitten with your vet.

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Preventive Care

White Cat on Black Textile

A preventive care regimen for your cat essentially focuses on preventing health issues by incorporating healthy practices into your cat’s healthcare routine.

Typically, a preventive care regimen involves monitoring all parameters of your cat regardless of whether your cat is perfectly healthy or ill. This helps in catching health issues early on and appropriately dealt with.

Some necessary aspects of preventive care for cats involve the following –

History

Your veterinarian will be able to get a general picture of your cat’s health status by talking to her about her daily routine. Changes in your cat’s temperament can happen slowly enough not to notice them unless you’re asked specific questions.

Is your cat eating well and having frequent bowel movements? Is it making an effort to urinate? Is your cat stumbling? Is it a sluggish riser while it’s lying down?

Is your cat ever out of breath, coughing, or sneezing? Is it irritable? Your responses will lead the veterinarian down a diagnostic path that will ultimately result in your cat feeling better.

Regular vet visits

A veterinarian should examine even your healthy cats at least once a year, or, ideally, twice a year. Your cat may require more regular visits if your cat is older or has medical issues.

During a physical exam, any type of cancers, infected lymph nodes, heart murmurs or skipped heartbeats, and abdominal tumors can all be detected first. They’ll look for signs of systemic diseases, such as enlarged or shrinking kidneys, liver, or spleen.

Cat with veterinarian

A cat’s visual capacity can be determined by looking at its eyes. An orthopedic examination can determine whether a cat is arthritic and in need of pain treatment.

An examination of the hair coat by a dermatologist will decide whether or not flea and tick management is required and detect skin infections caused by different types of bacteria and viruses.

Parasite interventions

In order to keep parasites like fleas off your cat’s body, you can consult your vet regarding preventive medication such as spot-on treatments and the use of anti-parasite products.

Additionally, you must also consider preventive medication for heartworms or other parasites.

Vaccinations

Naturally, when there’s talk of preventive medication, vaccinations are a staple requirement. By staying updated with your cat’s vaccination record, you can prevent your cat from succumbing to diseases like rabies, feline panleukopenia virus, and other deadly ones.

Preventing obesity

You should not feed your cat any and every type of food. Discussing recommended foods for maintaining weight while also ensuring a well-balanced diet can be a vital factor in ensuring that your cat stays at a healthy weight. Tabby cats are one such cat breed that is generally prone to putting on unhealthy amounts of weight.

Common Conditions in Cats

Cats generally face a few common health conditions. For your easy reference, we have listed them below. You must ask your veterinary practitioner to educate you about how these can be prevented and observed.

  • Cancer
  • Feline Immunodeficiency virus
  • Diabetes
  • Feline Leukemia Virus
  • High-rise syndrome
  • Rabies
  • Heartworms
  • Ringworms
  • Respiratory infections
  • Common intestinal parasites

While these conditions can seriously affect your cat’s health, a good preventive healthcare regime along with routine veterinary consultancy can keep your cat happy and healthy!

Care Essentials

When you have decided to adopt a cat or buy a cat breed of your choice, there are some essential items and products that you can use to make your bought or adopted cat’s life easier, healthier, and more enjoyable.

Early on, investing in these products can help allow your cat to settle comfortably in your shared living space. Some of these care essentials for your pet cat are –

  • Clean food bowls
  • A separate water bowl
  • Soft-bristled brushes
  • Fur combs
  • Kibble dispenser with timers
  • Toys that your cat can interact and play with
  • The best quality cat food or kibble (in consultation with your vet)
  • Litter container and premium-grade litter
  • Scratching mats and pads
  • A cat carrier
  • A rug for your cat to sleep on

Diet & Nutrition

As you know, cats are felines. In their natural habitats, Felines are not only carnivorous but also some of the most fearsome predators.

cat natural diest and junk

Therefore, to keep your cat (regardless of the cat breed) healthy, you should feed it a diet that is as close to the nutritional value as its diet as it would be in the wild. The ideal diet should consist of these nutritional values for your cat –

  • High protein content, as is typically derived from raw animal-based diets
  • High water content
  • Low to medium percentage of carbohydrates

We have several articles that tackle exactly what you should be feeding your cat to ensure an optimal diet that meets its nutritional requirements! Further, you must also consult your vet regarding what you can feed your cat and what you can’t.

Keeping Your Cat Healthy

Keeping your cat healthy requires consistency rather than hard work. Having said that, here are some staple ideas that you should use to keep your cat at its healthiest!

  • Brush your cat’s fur every day. Not only does this keep their fur coats clean, but it also makes for a great bonding activity with your cat.
  • Make sure to include canned foods, dry kibble, and natural foods in your cat’s diet. Doing so will allow your cat to enjoy its diet while also sourcing the required amount of nutrition from it!
  • Watch your cat’s water intake. Drinking too much water can be as much of a problem as drinking too little of it can be. Moreover, observing your cat’s water drinking habits can also help you pinpoint any abrupt changes in your cat’s habits. This allows you to seek veterinary intervention as soon as possible.

As long as you follow these tips and what we have discussed in this comprehensive article, you will have the happiness of watching your healthy cat grow into a loving companion.

Characteristics Of a Cat

Like other animals, even the species of cats have over 65 cat breeds, most of which vary in terms of their typical physical dimensions and characteristics such as length and fur type. Having said that, cats do share their core biological features.

Being carnivorous animals, cats have exaggerated canines that allow them to tear through flesh while eating. Their manner of walking resembles that of larger felines such as tigers, wherein they walk on their toes softly as if they were stalking prey.

Even domestic cats sport retractable claws, which stay hidden in their paws until they are provoked or engaged in hunting prey. Cats are quite peculiar in their own ways but are some of the most majestic creatures to exist.

Senses Of a Cat

Being predatory in the wild, cats have extremely acute senses that allow them to gauge motion and danger adeptly.

Even domestic pet cats and adopted cats share these features with their wild cat counterparts. Cats navigate through the world using their visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, or taste senses and their whiskers.

cat

Due to a biological mechanism that allows their eyes to absorb as much light as available, cats can rely on their vision to watch for things in the dark. This is referred to as night-vision.

Further, due to evolution in the wild, cats also have a massive range of frequencies in which they can hear sounds. A fascinating fact is that cats can even use ultrasound detection to prey on rodents or other vermin.

Belonging to a predatorial class of animals, it should be no surprise that cats also have an excellent olfactory system that allows them to identify animals and things based on smell alone.

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Cats use their whiskers for feedback on their immediate surroundings. When these whiskers touch any surface, cats use that feedback to draw conclusions about how near or far objects are! It’s only in terms of taste that humans can outperform cats.

While humans have over 9000 tastebuds, cats have only a meager 470. However, these tastebuds have evolved to help them taste only proteins, amino acids, and other nutrients commonly found in animal-based diets.

Lifespan and health

The average lifespan of cats has been rising consistently since the late 20th century. In fact, today, it stands at more than double the expected lifespan in the 1980s – 7 years. Today, the average life expectancy is about 15 years, but the age of the oldest cat went up to 38 years of age.

All in all, due to a lower chance of mortality in urban areas than in the wild, along with medical interventions and treatments, cats can live longer lives than their wild cat breed counterparts. Moreover, there is research to prove that neutering your cats can help them live a longer and healthier life!

14 Fun Facts About Cats

1. The earliest known pet cat lived 9,500 years ago and was kept as a pet.

This fascinating fact about cats is certain to impress your guests at your next dinner party. Did you know that the cat was initially believed to have been domesticated by the Egyptians?

However, in 2004, French researchers uncovered a cat burial in Cyprus that was 9,500 years old. Due to these recent discoveries, it has become the world’s oldest known pet cat, having existed more than 4,000 years before the first known Egyptian portrayals of cats.

2 What was the fortune of the world’s wealthiest cat? 7 million

Several sources claim that Blackie is the world’s richest feline, and the Guinness Book of World Records confirms this.

When Blackie’s rich owner went away, he refused to acknowledge his family in his will and instead left Blackie his seven-million-pound inheritance! We can’t believe we’ve learned anything new about cats!

3. Cats spend over 70% of their lives napping, according to the ASPCA.

If you assumed that cats spend most of their lives napping, you would be correct. According to the Veterinary Hub, cats spend around 13-16 hours every day sleeping, which equates to 70 percent of their lifespan. It is the life of a cat!

4. The cat door was created by Isaac Newton.

Despite the fact that Isaac Newton is most known for his work on calculating gravity, many think that he was also responsible for the invention of the cat door.

In the book How Stuff Works, it is stated that Newton’s experiments at the University of Cambridge were frequently halted by his cats scratching at the door, which caused him to stop working.

To do this, he hired a skilled carpenter from Cambridge to cut two holes in the door: one for the mother cat and another for her kittens. According to accounts, several of these openings may still be observed at the facility today.

5. For more than two decades, a cat served as Mayor of a town in Alaska.

Stubbs, an orange tabby cat, served as mayor of Talkeetna, a tiny town in Alaska, for over two decades! He was elected in numerous uncontested elections, and despite the fact that he had no legislative authority, he was well-liked by both locals and tourists.

6. Cats walk in the same manner as camels and giraffes

A Tabby Cat Walking on the Floor

Have you ever observed that cats walk in a manner similar to that of camels and giraffes? By walking with both right feet first, followed by both left feet, they are able to move half of their body forward at the same time, which is a very effective method of movement.

7. The record for the world’s longest cat is 48.5 inches long.

Domestic cats are seen as small and fragile creatures in the opinion of the majority of the population.

Was it known, however, that Stewie, the world’s tallest cat, was a Maine Coon that stood at 48.5 inches tall and resided in the state of Maine? Arcturus, on the other hand, holds the title for being the tallest cat, standing at a whopping 19.05 inches tall! Those are some impressive felines.

8. The cat Didga has the ability to do 24 tricks in a minute.

If you believe that cats are incapable of doing tricks, you will be surprised to discover this cat truth.

A cat can do 24 tricks in one minute, which is the most ever recorded! Didga accomplished a variety of feats on his skateboard, ranging from rolling over to even leaping a bar!

9. House cats and tigers share 95.6 percent of their genetic composition, according to research.

This information about cats will completely blow your head. Recent research found that our domestic cats share 95.6 percent of their genetic makeup with tigers, which is an incredible statistic to consider.

Many of their behaviors, including scent and urine marking, prey tracking, and pouncing, are also shared by the two species.

10. The loudest purr ever recorded is 67.8 decibels (A)

In the United Kingdom, Merlin, a black and white cat from Torquay, now holds the world record for the loudest purr generated by a domestic cat.

Merlin is the son of a black and white cat that lives in Torquay. To put this in context, his purr has a loudness of 67.8db(A), which is about the same as a shower! The average cat purrs at a volume of 25 decibels.

11. In 1963, a cat was sent into space.

You’ve probably heard stories of monkeys and dogs going into space, but did you know that a cat also ventured into the vast unknown? Felicette, popularly known as ‘Astrocat,’ was the first and only cat to travel into space, accomplishing this feat on October 18, 1963.

12. A domestic cat can run at rates of up to 30 miles per hour.

If you’ve ever observed your tiny kitten sprinting around the living room when they’re feeling energetic, you’ll know that cats are quite agile.

However, you won’t believe this cat’s truth until you hear it. They have the ability to travel at rates of up to 30mph, which is so fast that they could easily beat Usain Bolt in a 200-metre dash if they tried!

13. When their cats died, ancient Egyptians would shave their brows to show mourning.

Herodotus stated in 440BC that when a beloved cat died in Ancient Egyptian times, the family members would remove their eyebrows to show their sorrow, according to the Ancient History Encyclopedia. Wow, that’s a fascinating truth about cats!

14. It was found that the world’s oldest cat was 38 years old!

His age was 38 years and 3 days when he died, making him the world’s oldest cat ever.

Originally born on August 3, 1967, Creme Puff survived until August 6, 2005, and his owner, Jake Perry, previously had the previous oldest cat record holder, Grandpa Rex Allen, who died at the ripe old age of 34! Jake Perry is doing something right, no matter what he is involved with.

Conclusion

Despite being an enigmatic species, cats can be adorable house pets, whether you adopt a cat or buy one. Using the approaches discussed in this article, you can give your cat a comfortable life abundant in love and enjoyment! Cats are majestic creatures, and now that you understand them better, you are better positioned to love your cats!

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Author
Gulshan
Hi, I am Gulshan, a pet blogger, and author. I've been working with the local pet groups for the past five years. I have been fascinated by our pets and am here to share that wonder with you.