New Year's resolutions for cat owners
It's a new year - and the perfect time to think about improving our pets' health and happiness, as well as our own.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, owners are expected to take positive steps to ensure they care for their animals properly - in particular, providing for the five welfare needs, which are:
1. A suitable environment
2. A suitable diet
3. To exhibit normal behaviour patterns
4. To be housed with, or apart from, other animals as appropriate
5. To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
By fulfilling these needs you can make life happier for them and you, says Cats Protection. The charity has suggested some New Year's resolutions you can make to help you meet your cat's needs and get 2019 off to a good start:
1. Provide your cat with the perfect place to live
As a minimum, this means an environment that is safe and provides shelter, warmth and stimulation.
Cats should have everything they need, including food and water bowls, a comfortable bed, a litter tray, a scratching post, some fun toys and access to a high spot where they can escape to and hide.
2. Make sure your cat has a healthy diet
Their diet should meet all their nutritional needs and provide enough satisfaction, so they are not hungry.
A 'complete' cat food should be enough to give them a balanced diet -- but avoid overfeeding, as preventing your cat from gaining weight is much easier than helping them lose weight.
It's also important to follow any dietary recommendations made by your vet if your cat is diagnosed with a medical condition where a special diet is part of the treatment.
And don't forget to give your cat access to fresh water at all times.
3. Enable your cat to express normal behaviour
There are certain behaviours that make a cat a cat.
For example, if they go outside, hunting provides a cat with great physical and mental stimulation. If they stay indoors, this should be replicated in play.
Cats like to go to the toilet in a safe/private area. If an indoor cat, a litter tray should be provided, again in a safe, private area, with a clean litter tray available at all times.
Cats also need to be able to keep clean by washing themselves and keep their claws in good condition and a good length.
4. Give your cat the choice to be apart from other cats
Although some cats can be sociable with other cats, they generally don't need the company of other moggies as they are evolved from a solitary species. If you have more than one cat at home, Cats Protection recommends making sure they each have their own separate space to retreat to if they want to be alone, complete with their own food and water bowls, scratch posts, litter trays and beds.
5. Protect your cat from pain, suffering, injury and disease
Your cat should be registered with a vet and have regular checkups and vaccinations against common cat diseases as well as regular flea and worm treatments
Veterinary treatment should always be sought in the event of illness, injury or accident. Think about taking out a pet insurance policy to give you financial protection in case of unexpected vet bills.