Boo McCourt has experience caring for cats and likes to share tips she finds along the way.
Making Your Indoor Cat Happy
Cats are intensely curious about their surroundings, and they are not satisfied until they scope out their whole environment with all their senses. Cats love to chew, and electrical cords, unfortunately, are one of their favorites.
To keep your cat away from this dangerous hazard, an easy solution is to wrap the cords in material specifically made for covering cords. It is cheap and will protect your cat from gnawing on dangerous electric cords. To protect your cat from choking or swallowing something hazardous, inspect those toys that have loose parts very carefully.
You may think a dish doesn't matter. But believe it or not, some cats are finicky about their bowls. Stainless steel bowls are highly recommended. Plastic and ceramic bowls are good, but they can scratch and leave crevices where bacteria can grow inside the bowl. I found dishes with a slight curve or slope on the inside work best if you are using wet food. The curve will help prevent the food from getting stuck on the edges.
Indoor Cats Galore
Cleo gives the outdoors a look
Is Your Cat Lazy or Fat?
Did you know an indoor cat can become lazy and seriously overweight if it is not active? Taking a proactive approach to keeping your cat happy and healthy can quite possibly add years to your cat's life. A fat cat does not necessarily mean a healthy cat.
Cats can become dangerously overweight, just like people. Overfeeding your indoor cat can often lead to serious health problems, shortening its life. So the first thing you should do is find the proper amount of food your cat should be eating based on your cat's weight.
Many people leave a dish of dry food out all day; unfortunately, this may encourage your cat to eat more and all the time. Some cats may even continue to eat even when they are not hungry, which can cause digestion issues for your cat. It is estimated for every ten pounds, a cat can be fed 1/4–1/3 cup of dry cat food.
You can break this up into intervals throughout the day so your cat gets the food it needs. One can of wet food a day is also a yummy treat for your cat. Wet food is a great way to keep your cat hydrated as well because of the high water content it contains. Don't forget a fresh bowl of water.
Playing and Scratching
Indoor cats need to play and stay active to help maintain a healthy weight. It is a very important part of their healthy development. Having a few playthings and toys for your cat will keep it busy playing and exercising.
Cats love to climb, jump, and run; there is no doubt about that. Choosing a cat tree or cat house that provides your cat with the opportunity to exercise is important. You will want something that fits into your living space yet is useful for your cat.
It is important to choose something your cat can scratch on, hide in, and, of course, climb and jump on. This will build coordination and give your kitty plenty of exercise. Cardboard boxes are a useful and cheap commodity to have around the house.
Your cats will love playing in them, sleeping in them, and, most of all, they will love scratching on them. Make some different-sized holes, connect a couple of boxes, and you have a cardboard cat house that your cat is sure to love.
Toys Can Help Keep Indoor Cats Engaged and Active
Cats love toys, and almost anything can be turned into a playful cat toy. The more toys a cat has access to, the less likely it is to become sedentary. The following are some great, low-cost toy ideas that are perfect for indoor cats.
Good Toys for Indoor Cats
- Little felt mice with a bit of catnip inside. My cats get a kick out of these little mice, pouncing and swatting them all over the house. Sprinkle some catnip on the mouse; your cat might perk up a bit after getting a whiff of the scent.
- Thing on a string. Many cats adore things on a string. You can buy string anywhere. Take some yarn, ball it up, and tie it to the string. There you have a thing on a string. Any soft toy will do.
- Laser pointers. What about those laser pointers? Cats go wild for that little red or blue light. Your cat can get plenty of exercise chasing that laser around; be safe, and do not point directly at your cat's eyes.
- A crumpled-up piece of paper. My cat gets excited when I crumple paper; she is ready and waiting for me to throw it so she can pounce on and bring it back for more. And I throw it again and again. This also provides great exercise for your cat.
- A small sock or piece of material tied in small knots. It's easy enough on their teeth and light enough to bat around.
Cats Need a Lot of Protein
Cats need five times more protein than dogs need. That's because cats use protein for energy when possible. A cat's body is specifically made for consuming more protein than carbohydrates; this is a trademark of a carnivore.
Cats Have an Impressive Population
There are more than 500 million domestic cats in the world, with 40 of those as recognized breeds.
Cats Are Domestic Carnivores
Domestic cats are carnivores by nature.
Cats' Meows Can Change Over Time
A kitten's meow starts out with a high-pitched squeak-like sound. Most meows will deepen as they get older.
Tricks and Yumminess
- You can teach your cat tricks. Your cat might not be as quick to learn as a dog, but they can learn. How about this? Have your cat sit pretty for a treat. It can be done. Use a small stool or a box that your cat can jump onto.
- Pat the top of the box while saying treaty. Your cat can eventually learn new tricks while getting exercise, food, and love all wrapped into one.
- Another simple trick is playing fetch. Something as simple as a crumpled-up piece of paper will work just fine. Fling the paper ball a few feet in front of you, not too far, just enough to tease your cat.
- Use the same routine, throwing the paper further each time. Cats love rewards and love, and some yummy-ness just might give your cat some encouragement to sit, play, and fetch.
Is Your Cat Happy?
So how do you keep your cat happy and healthy? The simplest way is to make your cat feel safe and secure and keep the above-mentioned tips in mind. And you should have a happy and healthy cat to love—one that loves you back.
© 2014 Boo McCourt
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on April 19, 2015:
Thank you Kristen, Same as mine. I only have one cat now. She runs up and down the hall and has some kitty furniture to keep her climbing. She likes to hide in the cupboards too.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 06, 2015:
Boo, great hub. I have two senior adult male cats. The only exercise they get is chasing each other down the hallway and wrestling. I do feed them dry food at night and wet food for supper, half a can per cat. Voted up!
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on July 29, 2014:
I let mine out on the balcony. I make sure to watch the 1 year old, she tends to get excited by whatever decides to fly by. She also likes to sit on the windowsill and watch the activity. I basically live in the woods, so she has lots of critters to watch. I am going to check out ClawClub.
schoolgirlforreal on July 17, 2014:
Thank you for this helpful hub crazybeanrider. I have a new cat now and he is 2 1/2 years old and he's great but I also feel bad that he has to stay indoors. He loves to watch the birds outside. I used to let him on my porch but he tried to get thru to the birdies. Oh well. He seems happy otherwise with his fancy feast, and the laser game we play almost daily, and my company as well. :)
I just joined the ClawClub on fb
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on April 30, 2014:
Genna East, FlourishAnyway I thank you for your comments. My cat will get in a paper bag too. Her favorite place right now is my backpack. Genna, my cat loves shoelaces too. She will actually drag the shoe all over playing with the lace. I had small piece of craft cord she bounced around for a good while to. They are precious.
Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 27, 2014:
I always learn something new and endearing with your hubs. My cat loves shoelaces and is always swiping at them in such a cute way. Thank you for sharing these sage words of advice.
FlourishAnyway from USA on April 26, 2014:
Your tips are helpful and your photos are adorable! My cats love paper bags and boxes and an ever changing variety of toys, catnip, scratching posts, and view of well stocked bird and squirrel feeders.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on April 26, 2014:
I am glad my hub was useful to you Ruth. My sister takes her cat out on leash. I had one years ago that I walked on a leash. I have a kitten who is desperate to go outside too. I am using boxes and a lot of toys to keep her busy. She has a little dog plushy she loves playing fetch with. Early morning as I sit and drink tea, she brings the plushy and plops it at my feet. So I think she has the right idea. Good luck with your kitties, they will be lots of fun.
Ruthbro from USA on April 25, 2014:
I have recently become a cat lady, 3 kittens , 2 of which are desperate to get outside so need lots of ideas to keep them busy. This was perfect.
Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on April 25, 2014:
Thank you Ruthbro and Devika. Your comments are appreciated. I guess I am a crazy cat lady. LOL! Even though I only have 2. I am glad you enjoyed the photo's Devika.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 25, 2014:
I don't have a cat but had to stop by to read this interesting hub. You have such lovely photos and do really care for cats. Great tips and sound advice here thank you
Ruthbro from USA on April 24, 2014:
Fit Cat : Tips and Tricks to Give Your Pet a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life
Household cats are happy to lie about, preferably in a sunny spot, their only effort a trip to the food bowl or litter box. It is up to their humans to keep them healthy, physically active and mentally engaged. Fit Cat provides cat owners with a road map to the best care they can give their feline companions.
In 14 chapters, the book covers every part of a cat's life. There is information seldom covered in cat books -- such as budgeting, staying in hotels, assessing health at home and reducing anxiety -- and also includes problem solving and more than a dozen games that will engage even the laziest of cats.
- How Healthy is Your Cat? - veterinarian, medications
- Knowing Your Cat - feline emotions, popular breeds, what gestures and meows reveal
- Grooming and Hygiene - hair, nails, teeth and gums
- Food and Nutrition - portion size, foods, treats, weight
- Behavior Issues - tackling problem behaviors like attacking ankles and waking you up
- Basic and Advanced Tricks - training command, cat psychology
- The Indoor Life - scratching posts, beds, play
- Litter Training - litter boxes, cleaning, solving problems like going outside the box
- Travel - airplanes, boats, hotels, anxiety, kitty-proofing a hotel room
- Pet First Aid - emergencies, CPR, first aid kit, bleeding, bee stings, burns
- Socializing - cat to cat, cat to dog, cat to people, cat to spouse/mate/guest, cats and birds
- Budgeting - how to lower expenses, what never to cut out, homemade toys, pet insurance
- The Early Years - kitten care
- The Senior Years - tips, pet-proof the house, dementia, euthanasia, adopting a senior cat, feline trivia.
There are at least 74 million and as many as 96 million pet cats in America alone. More than 2.7 million people "like" cats on Facebook. For millions of cat lovers who want only to give their pets a long, happy and healthy life. Fit Cat has the expert advice and guidance to do just that.
Cat Grooming Tips
A clean cat is a happy cat, and we're here to help! From nail trims to bathing, a little maintenance goes a long way. Read on to find out how to keep your kitty’s eyes, ears, teeth, skin and fur healthy and clean. Please note: There are some cats who do not tolerate being groomed. If your cat fights the grooming process, and there is some potential that injury could occur to your cat or yourself, please make an appointment with a professional groomer or a veterinarian to have your cat groomed.
Skin and Fur Care
Bathing Your Cat
With her built-in grooming tools (tongue and teeth), your fastidious feline is well-equipped to tackle her own hair care needs. But if she is very dirty or gets into something sticky or smelly, you may need to give her a bath. Follow these steps to ensure minimal stress and maximum efficiency.
Brushing Your Cat
Brushing your cat not only removes dirt, grease and dead hair from her coat, but it helps to remove skin flakes and stimulates blood circulation, improving the overall condition of her skin. One or two brushings per week will help kitty to keep her healthy glow—and you’ll find that regular sessions are especially beneficial when your cat ages and is no longer able to groom so meticulously on her own.
The condition of your cat’s skin is an indication of her overall health. When a skin problem occurs, your cat may respond with excessive scratching, chewing and/or licking. A wide range of causes—from external parasites and allergies to seasonal changes and stress, or a combination of these—may be affecting your cat’s skin and should be investigated. Skin problems are one of the most common reasons pet parents seek veterinary care.
Symptoms of Skin Problems in Cats
- Constant scratching, licking and chewing at the skin, especially around the head and neck
- Redness or inflammation
- Round, scaly patches on the face and paws
- Dry, flaky or otherwise irritated skin
- Hair loss, bald patches
- Swellings, lumps or skin discoloration
- Drainage of blood or pus
One of the following may be causing an abnormality with your cat’s skin and should be investigated:
- Ringworm: This highly contagious fungal infection can result in inflammation, scaly patches and hair loss. Lesions are most commonly seen on the head, ears and paws, but sometimes no signs are seen. You’ll want to have your veterinarian treat it immediately to prevent other pets and people in the household from becoming infected.
- Fleas: Not only do fleas irritate the skin, cats can have an allergic response when exposed to them. Symptoms commonly include excessive scratching, thinning of hair above the base of the tail, crusts and red, raised skin lesions. Some cats may also be sensitive to flea-treatment products certain flea collars, for example, may cause redness and irritation around the neck.
- Other external parasites: Ear mites usually cause itching and redness around the ears, and a dark, coffee ground-like material can be seen in the ear canals. Lice can produce intense itching, and mange mites can cause severe flaking and scaling.
- Seasonal allergies: Your cat’s constant scratching may be due to her sensitivity to common allergens from trees, mold and grasses.
- Food allergies: Many foods (such as beef, milk, poultry and corn), fillers and colorings can be seen as foreign by your cat’s immune system and can lead to itching and rashes.
- Grooming products: Certain shampoos and grooming products can irritate your cat’s skin.
- Seasonal changes: Many cats, like people, get dry, flaky skin in the winter.
- Environmental factors: Contact with certain chemicals or fabrics can cause skin irritation, as can exposure to the sun or excessive cold.
- Bacterial or yeast infections: These infections most commonly follow the onset of another skin disorder.
- Tumors: A variety of benign and malignant skin growths can develop in cats.
- Stress: Anxiety may cause cats to excessively lick and chew, causing hair loss.
You should visit your vet for an exam as soon as you notice any abnormality in your pet’s skin, such as excessive hair loss, flaking and scaling, redness and bald patches, or if your pet begins to excessively scratch, lick and/or bite areas on his fur.
After obtaining a history and performing a thorough physical examination of your cat, your vet may perform some of the following diagnostic tests in order to find the cause of your cat’s symptoms:
- Skin scraping with findings evaluated under a microscope to check for mites
- "Tape test" to check for parasites
- Individual hair examination under a microscope
- Bacterial culture and sensitivity tests
- Skin biopsy
- Food and other allergy testing
- Blood tests to assess your cat’s overall health
- Microscopic evaluation of cells to establish if bacteria or yeast are present
Which Cats Are Prone to Skin Problems?
Because of the wide ranges of causes, cats of all ages and breeds are susceptible to issues involving skin. Young, elderly, immunocompromised and cats living in overcrowded, stressful environments may be more susceptible to skin problems than others.
To Prevent Skin Problems
- Use natural, hypoallergenic soaps and shampoos recommended for use on cats.
- Brush your cat regularly to prevent matting of hair.
- Feed your cat a healthy, balanced food without fillers or artificial ingredients.
- Implement a flea-treatment program recommended by your veterinarian.
- Thoroughly clean and vacuum your home (and remember to always throw away the bag).
- Provide calm living conditions for your cat.
- Your vet may prescribe skin creams and/or oral medications to prevent skin problems.
To Treat Skin Problems
Ask your vet about the following treatments:
- Topical products, including shampoos, dips and sprays, to prevent and treat parasites
- A balanced diet to help maintain healthy skin and coat
- Antibiotic or antifungal medications
- A dietary supplement containing essential fatty acids
- Corticosteroids and antihistamines may be prescribed to control itching.
- Hypoallergenic diet for food allergies
Shedding is a cat’s natural process of losing dead hair. Indoor cats can shed all year-round. Regularly grooming your cat and vacuuming hair from your house should minimize the inconvenience of shedding. However, if you see bald patches in your cat’s fur or notice a significant loss of hair, the underlying cause may be a health-related problem and should be investigated by a veterinarian.
A variety of medical, dietary and stress-related issues can cause your cat to lose more hair than is normal. If you notice he’s losing an excessive amount of hair or has bald patches, please consult your veterinarian immediately. Your cat may be suffering from one of the following health issues:
- Bacterial infection
- Hormonal imbalance such as hyperthyroidism
- Poor diet
- Certain medications
- Pregnancy or lactation
If your cat obsessively licks, bites or scratches, OR if he’s losing patches of hair or stops to scratch or bite the same few spots persistently, then it’s important you take him in for a veterinary exam. There may be a medical, dietary or stress-related issue that needs immediate attention.
If your cat sheds a lot and your veterinarian has determined that there is no underlying medical cause, there are a few things you can do to minimize his hair loss:
- Feed him a healthy, balanced diet.
- Groom him regularly.
- Examine your cat’s skin and coat during your grooming sessions. Checking for hair loss, redness, bumps, cuts, fleas, ticks or other parasites will be a fast way to determine whether you need to go the vet to solve your pet’s shedding.
If your cat’s shedding is normal, the worst you may end up with is a hairy wardrobe and home—your cat, however, may suffer from hairballs if she isn’t groomed regularly. If her shedding is due to an underlying medical cause, including allergies, parasites, infections or disease, her health may continue to worsen if you don’t seek veterinary care. Additionally, cats who are not groomed appropriately can become matted—this is especially true for long-haired cats. Matted hair can be painful and lead to underlying skin problems.
Your cat’s ears may be able to pick up the sound of a bag of treats being opened across the house, but they could still use a little help staying clean. Monitoring your kitty’s ears once per week for wax, debris and infection will help those sensitive sonar detectors stay perky and alert to your every move.
Outer Ear Check
A healthy feline ear flap, or pinna, has a layer of hair on its outer surface with no bald spots, and its inner surface is clean and light pink. If you see any discharge, redness or swelling, your cat’s ears should be checked by a veterinarian.
Inner Ear Exam
Bring kitty into a quiet room where there are no other pets. Gently fold back each ear and look down into the canal. Healthy inner ears will be pale pink in color, carry no debris or odor and will have minimal if no earwax. If you find that your cat’s ears are caked with wax or you detect an odor, please bring her in for a veterinary exam.
Ear Cleaning 101
- Place a little bit of liquid ear cleaner (ask your vet for a recommendation) onto a clean cotton ball or piece of gauze.
- Fold kitty’s ear back gently and wipe away any debris or earwax that you can see on the underside of her ear.
- Lift away the dirt and wax rather than rubbing it into the ear. And do not attempt to clean the canal—probing inside of your cat’s ear can cause trauma or infection.
Signs of Ear Problems
Watch for the following signs that may indicate your cat’s ears should be checked by a veterinarian.
- Persistent scratching and pawing of the ear area
- Sensitivity to touch
- Head tilting or shaking
- Loss of balance and disorientation
- Redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal
- Unpleasant odor
- Black or yellowish discharge
- Accumulation of dark brown wax
- Hearing loss
Know Your Ear Disorders
- Ear mites are common parasites that are highly contagious among pets. Telltale signs include excessive itching of the ears and debris that resembles coffee grounds.
- Ear infections are usually caused by bacteria, yeast or foreign debris caught in the ear canal. Treatment should be sought immediately as ear infections can cause considerable discomfort and may indicate allergies, hormonal abnormalities or hereditary disease.
- Blood blisters (hematoma) are the result of blood accumulation in the ear flap. They’re often caused by infection, ear mites, fleas or trapped debris that causes your cat to scratch her ears or shake her head excessively.
Paw and Nail Care
Cats need healthy feet to scratch, climb and achieve their famed acrobatic landings. That’s why it’s important to regularly examine and clean your cat’s paws and make sure they’re wound-free.
Does your kitty disappear when the clippers come out? Do you have to wrap her in a towel to give her a manicure? Follow these steps to help your cat relax while you trim.
Your cat needs clean, sharp teeth and healthy gums. Damage to the tongue, teeth, palate and gums can lead to many health risks for felines, but these can be prevented with regular home check-ups and good old-fashioned brushings.
Brush your cat’s teeth at home by following these simple steps:
- First get your cat used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Start by gently massaging her gums with your fingers or touching a cotton swab to them.
- After a few sessions, put a little bit of cat-formulated toothpaste on her lips to get her used to the taste.
- Introduce a toothbrush designed especially for cats—it will be smaller than human toothbrushes and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your cat’s gums.
- Apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing.
Chew toys can satisfy your cat’s natural desire to chomp, while making her teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help floss your cat’s teeth, massage her gums and scrape away soft tartar.
If your cat suffers from any of the symptoms mentioned below, please see the vet right away:
- Gingivitis: This inflammation of the gums is mainly seen in older cats. It may start as a dark red line bordering on the teeth. If left untreated, gums may become sore and ulceration may occur. This may be a sign of FIV or other infection.
- Periodontitis: If gingivitis invades the tooth socket, the tooth may become loose and an abscess may form.
- Stomatitis: This inflammation of the mouth lining may result from a foreign body in the mouth, a viral disease or dental problems. The cat will have difficulty eating and the inside of the mouth will appear red.
- Rodent Ulcer: A slowly enlarging sore or swelling on the upper lip.
- Salivary Cyst: If salivary glands or ducts that carry saliva to the mouth become blocked, a cyst may form under the tongue.
- Mouth Ulcers: Ulcers on a cat’s tongue and gums are sometimes caused by feline respiratory or kidney disease.
A good home eye exam just before grooming can clue you into any tearing, crust, cloudiness or inflammation that may indicate a health problem. Here are few simple tips to keep your kitty’s eyes bright and healthy.
How can you tell if there is something wrong with one or both of your cat’s eyes? Look out for the following:
- Red or white eyelid linings
- Crusty gunk in the corners of the eye
- Tear-stained fur
- Closed eye(s)
- Cloudiness or change in eye color
- Visible third eyelid
Certain body language will also alert you to possible eye distress. If your cat is constantly squinting or pawing at her eye area, give her eyes a good inspection. If you find any of the above symptoms, you should immediately call your vet.
The following eye-related disorders are commonly seen in cats:
- Conjunctivitis: One or both of your cat’s eyes will look red and swollen, and there may be discharge.
- Third eyelid protrusion: If the third eyelid becomes visible or crosses your cat’s eye, he may have a wound or may be suffering from diarrhea, worms or a virus.
- Keratitis: If your cat’s cornea becomes inflamed, the eye will look cloudy and watery.
- Cataracts: This opacity on the eye is often seen in elderly and diabetic cats.
- Glaucoma: The cornea becomes cloudy and the eye enlarges due to an increased pressure in the eyeball.
- Bulging eye: Bulging can occur because of accident or trauma or an eye tumor.
- Retinal disease: Partial or total vision loss can happen when light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye degenerate.
- Watery eyes: The fur around your cat’s eyes may be stained with tears because of blocked tear ducts or an overproduction of tears.
Many feline eye disorders can be treated with vet-prescribed drops or ointments—your vet will show you how to apply eye and ear drops at home.
The best way to prevent eye conditions is to make sure your cat gets all her vaccinations and has thorough check-ups. Please examine her eyes regularly and consult a vet if you find any abnormalities. Eye conditions that are left untreated can lead to impaired sight or even blindness.
Keeping Your Cats & Dogs Entertained During the Coronavirus Quarantine
If there is any upside to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we now get to hang with our pets all day, every day! It is great to be able to spend some quality time with our furry friends, but having to manage their excitement while working from home can be a challenge.
We have seen the adorable photos of people attempting to work with a cat on their laptop or a huge dog trying to get on their laps. We love them, but it might be time to start thinking of some creative ways to keep them entertained, especially when we are trying to spend as little time as possible around others.
Keep in mind that your pet’s quarantine has similar mental health effects as your own. Since their walks may be getting shorter, and you’re now spending more time at home on your computer, you might be interested in a few fun tips to keep your dogs and cats active and happy during the current coronavirus shelter-in-place regulations:
Spend quality time with your cat during isolation
Chances are you’ve been spending more time at home than usual. This is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your cat and help them adjust to their new life indoors. Many cat owners think it’s natural for a cat to roam, or cruel to keep them inside. But just like dogs, with adequate love and care cats lead happy and fulfilling lives at home.
Purchasing some cat toys (or even making your own) is a good start. Spend some time with your cat by playing games that allow them to display natural behaviours such as stalking, luring and pouncing. If your cat has never played with toys before this might take some getting used to. Our recommendation? Get yourself a wand toy – we’ve never met a cat that doesn’t like them!
We also recommend creating some high spaces and hiding places for your cat to retreat to throughout the day. You could even occasionally hide treats in these areas as a little surprise. This helps keep their environment interesting and fun.