Cats 101 : Helpful Tips and Facts for Cat Lovers


Are you a cat person? While cats are ranked as one of the most popular pets, they are often misunderstood to their dog counterparts and their dog-loving owners. With the many facts and common misconceptions surrounding cats, it can be hard to know how to properly take care of a little kitten. So, here are some helpful tips and facts that show cats are just as lovable as any other pet.

Nutritional Diversity

An important but often overlooked difference that cats have is their particular diet needs. Unlike many omnivorous pets, cats are particularly carnivorous in nature and require more meat sources in their food. This is why it is important to search for cat foods that contain high percentages of protein such as chicken, tuna, or beef instead of just flavor.


In addition to content, cats eat on a different time scale compared to us. In general, cats are healthiest when having frequent smaller meals throughout the day instead of one main meal. This habit has likely developed from a cat’s natural routine of hunting prey like mice at various times of the day. Of course, this natural preference can become very inconvenient as a busy owner. To combat this dilemma, some experts advise investing in a timed feeder for convenience’s sake, or putting their bowl in a trickier spot for the adventurous kitty in your life. Either tactic can keep your cat healthier and maintain their weight better as well.


Tricky Kitties

Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained just as well as any other pet. While this training process is not as simple and as well-known, cats can be taught many different tricks when done properly. The notion that cats cannot be trained stems from the fact that they are more independent than a dog who looks to obey for a tasty treat.


To combat this fact, training has worked best for cats under short and consistent training sessions. This way, a cat’s attention is held just long enough to teach them something new and allows them to remember how to get that tasty treat you offered them next time. In fact, it has been shown that a cat’s memory can last very long from past training sessions.


As with most animals, cats work best with positive reinforcement, never with punishment. Of course, praise might not always work as good as a tasty treat. As with most things, practice will help reinforce certain behaviors.




Master Mentality

It is not a secret that dogs actively show their emotions and affections more readily compared to cats. However, this common ideology simply has to deal with the difference of pack mentality between the two species. In general, dogs often work together in packs under an alpha leader. This leader has most often become the dog owner, so a dog will do whatever it can to make their owner happy.


In contrast, cats are solitary hunters that do not rely on their owners as much. These creatures are often content with having some alone time, and affection often has to be initiated by the owner themselves.


Despite this fact, this does not mean that a cat is not capable of showing affection in their own way. For instance, a cat’s tail is a big conversation holder. Something as simple as a hooked tail can mean ‘let’s be friends,’ while a quivering tail means that they are very happy to see you. In fact, cats developed audible meowing to communicate with their human owners. In addition, certain body languages can be very telling. A cat turning their backs to us may seem cold and dismissive, when it is actually the biggest sign of affection and trust a cat can give us.


Feline’ Active?

Cats also differ to other pets in the fact that they spend their daylight hours in a unique way. While dogs are active and playful during the daytime, cats mostly lounge around and nap until dark. In fact, cats have been found to nap about 70 percent of the time, while eating 15 percent of the rest of the time. Once it hits dark, however, many owners realize they have a ball of energy on their hands. Although nocturnal, cats have been seen to accommodate their owner’s schedule to earn some head pats and playtime.


Cats can be lazy from time to time, but they can still be active creatures. Their muscles are meant for pouncing or leaping around to stalk prey. Their ability can be tested with feathers or other types of toys that pique their interest for a hunt.


As you can see, cats eat, play, and communicate in different ways than we are often used to seeing. However, that does not mean it is right or wrong, or that their love for their owners is any less important or meaningful. It is just important to know what your cat’s behavior actually means and how to accommodate them accordingly. After all, your adorable fluff ball will thank you for understanding them in their own special way.


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Dr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH

Chris is a seasoned veterinarian with over 15 years of animal health experience in small animal, large/farm animal, equine, and public health fields.

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