Cats are often an attractive choice for aspiring pet owners because of the moniker they’ve earned as being the “easy” pet. Dogs, admittedly, require so much time and attention that some owners compare them to small children. Even if that’s an exaggeration, it does hold true that cats, compared to dogs, are relatively easier to maintain as pets.

The problem is that some people take that sentiment too far, buying into the idea that cats don’t need maintenance at all, that you can just dump ‘em in your home and call it a day. The reality is that cats need to be cared for correctly, and there’s a variety of bad habits that are common among cat owners that are more destructive than they are helpful. The last thing you want is for your behavior to unintentionally stress out your cat, or worse, lead them to a veterinary clinic.

We could write a 100-page essay about handy tips and tricks for your cat, but obviously, that’s beyond the scope of this post, so we’ll just focus on some of the essentials. Here are some things that you shouldn’t do if you’re a cat owner.

Rough Petting/Grabbing by the Scruff

It’s deceptively easy to be more rough with your cat than what is appropriate. No, we’re not saying that it’s common behavior to manhandle your cat in a way that’s abusive, but you’d be surprised to find how easy it is to pet your cat more intensely than they would prefer. Cat skin is soft and stretchy and they often like to move against you, provoking powerful pets. It may seem like what they want, but in reality, most cats respond well to very soft and gentle pets.

There are also some who are under the impression that grabbing the cat by the scruff is okay. For the uninitiated, this is the stretchy skin above their neck/behind their head that mothers often pick them up by as kittens. The bottom line is that cats aren’t meant to be held like that when they’re older; the best practice is just to not do it altogether; holding a cat the wrong way can lead to your kitty resenting the act, resulting in a long-term result of a pet who’s not crazy about affection.

Neglect Playtime and Affection

Many cat owners subscribe to the “drop ‘em and let ‘em go” philosophy, where you just adopt a cat, and let it loose, detaching themselves from giving it much attention aside from the occasional pet and refilling their food/water.

Cats have an unfair reputation of not being affectionate towards their owners. We’re not sure where this comes from, because the opposite couldn’t be truer. The truth is that cats adore their owners, and if you take the time to foster the relationship between you and your feline friends, they will love you forever.

And on the flip side of that, cats can get lonely. They need affection, and they need play time. They’re pretty much engineered from the ground up to be stalking killing machines, so having that desire left unfulfilled can be extremely frustrating for them. Give your cats the time and attention they need! You’d be surprised to see how much love they have for you when you’re willing to give it to them.

Using a Laser Pointer

One of the classic cathartic experiences every cat owner wants to experience is the classic laser pointer chase. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is not a productive way to play with your cat.

Here’s the deal—cats are born to hunt. It’s built into their genetic code, and if you observe a cat, they absolutely live for the thrill of the chase. As it turns out, actually catching the prey is an important component of this. While they love a good chase, cats will eventually become frustrated if it’s impossible to catch and “kill” their target.

It’s not possible for a cat to catch a laser pointer. Even if you hold it still and allow them to jump on it, a laser point has no physical form and no scent—things that are both essential for a cat to feel like they’ve successfully hunted. Laser pointers ultimately stress cats out; you’re better suited with a toy that’s tangible. It’s not as easy, but that’s part of being a pet owner.

Put Food and Water Together

At our veterinary clinic, we’ve seen all kinds of conditions across a variety of animals. So we hope you’ll take us seriously when we say that dehydration is no joke. So, what does this have to do with cat food and water being placed together? A lot, as it turns out.

Cats, as we discussed above, live off their instincts. Since cats are predators, they have a need to eat these kills. In the wild, cats instinctively don’t like to drink water that’s right next to a kill, because it carries the risk of being contaminated. Even though cats aren’t killing anything in your home, that same instinct tells them that the water next to their food isn’t good water, because it’s next to their “kill.”

That doesn’t mean they won’t drink it—it’s not like they’re going to starve themselves, but if you look closely, you might find that your cat is getting into any other source of water that they can find. It’s maddening as a cat owner when your cat is desperate to drink out of every cup of water you put down for five seconds, when they have a full bowl for themselves. Well, this is why.

We can’t blame you for not knowing this; it’s an obscure little bit of cat owner trivia, but it’ll make your cat happier.

Overfeeding

Fat cats sure are cute, aren’t they? Unfortunately, with the amount of them we see at our veterinary clinic, we’re here to tell you that fat cats are no joke. Pet obesity, just like humans, carries a large variety of risks that are either actively harming your pet, or shortening their future. Neither option is desirable.

The problem is that every cat is different, and some of them overeat without you even being aware of it. Not every owner of fat cats intended for them to be that way; some cats are just overzealous. It’s not your fault if your cat bites off more than they can chew, but it is your fault if you let the problem persist.

If your cat is showing signs of weight gain, it’s up to you to start controlling their portions. Your cat might be sad that their once abundant food source has diminished, but you can trust us when we say that a healthier cat is a happier cat.

Neglecting Vet Visits

Finally, we can’t understate the importance of bringing your cat to the vet on a consistent basis for regular checkups. Cats are very good at hiding their pain—you might not know anything is wrong with them until the problem has gotten bad enough to be obvious. At West Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic in South Charlotte, we’ll make sure to help your cat be as healthy as they can be. Contact us today for a free quote!