Cat being shown affection by his owner

Focus on the Feline: How Much Attention Do Cats Need?

While cats are generally easier to care for than dogs, they do require some attention. Here are examples of things your cat will need.

  • Your cat will need food and waterevery day
  • Your cat will need to be seen by a veterinarian — at least once per year
  • Your cat will need to go to the vet if it gets sick or injured
  • Your cat will need to be vaccinated for diseases
  • Your cat will need to get spayed or neutered unless you plan to breed them
  • Your cat will need a comfortable place to sleep, be it your bed or a bed of its own
  • Your cat will need a place to go to the bathroom
  • Your cat will need to be groomed as grooming can help you and your cat bond; also, most cats shed, and grooming will reduce the amount of hair that they leave on your furniture; e.g., longhaired cats like Persians need to be groomed every day whereas hairless breeds like the Sphynx should be bathed at least once a week to keep their skin from becoming too oily and dirty

How Much Attention Does a Cat Need?

Focus on the Feline: How Much Attention Do Cats Need?

Beyond taking care of a cat’s physical needs, how much attention does it need?

Can you leave a cat alone all day?

Do you have to walk it like a dog? And yes, some people actually do walk their cats.

Cats need at least ten minutes of your undivided attention per day. Depending on the cat, those ten minutes can take the form of play time and/or bonding time. A kitten or young cat might prefer that you play with them, while an older cat might prefer cuddling in your lap.

How Long Can You Leave Your Cat Alone?

Even the most adoring cat owners usually have jobs. While the fortunate ones can work at home, a majority still have to commute somewhere and leave their cat home alone.

As to how long you can leave your cat home alone, the answer depends on health, age, and breed. Generally speaking, the average healthy adult cat can be left alone for up to half a day. Kittens and frail senior cats, however, should not be left on their own for that long, as there is too much risk of something going wrong.

In addition, some breeds are needier than others and can suffer separation anxiety just like many dogs. Examples of such clingy cat breeds include Sphynx, Scottish Folds, Ragdolls, and Birmans.

5 Signs Your Cat Craves More Attention

Focus on the Feline: How Much Attention Do Cats Need?

A cat that wants you to pay more attention to her will do its best to let you know. Cats will demand attention from their owners if they’re bored, lonely, or ill. In fact, changes in behavior can often indicate illness in a cat, so if she starts doing something that seems out of character for her, you might want to call the vet.

Even if she’s feeling fine, a cat may still want attention from her owner, and she may use any of the following tactics:

1. Lots of Crying

Adult cats only meow at humans, not fellow felines. Cats generally use body language to communicate with each other. Since humans don’t read cat body language all that well, cats use meowing to get human attention. While meowing is normal, it becomes excessive if the cat cries nonstop, sounds desperate, or ramps up the volume when their owner is trying to sleep.

2. Destructiveness

Scratching lets the cat exercise its forelimbs and shed their claws’ outer sheathes. That’s why the prudent owner will provide a cat with a scratching post. A cat will also scratch objects to mark them with the pheromones secreted by glands on their feet.

Like crying, scratching is thus a normal and healthy behavior. It can, however, indicate neediness or unhappiness in a cat if she starts clawing things that she shouldn’t just to get a reaction from her owner. To some cats, negative attention is better than no attention, and a person who is yelling at their cat is still paying attention to it.

3. Pawing

A cat that paws at their owner’s arm or leg is sending a very clear sign that they want their owner’s attention.

4. Jumping On Furniture

Focus on the Feline: How Much Attention Do Cats Need?

Again, jumping onto places is perfectly normal behavior, and most people don’t object to their cat jumping onto the bed. On the other hand, they do object to the cat jumping onto the table when they’re eating or jumping onto the kitchen counter while they’re fixing breakfast. Cats that jump onto places where they don’t belong are often trying to get their owner’s attention. For instance, It may be a good idea to play with the cat for a bit before cooking.

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5. Knocking Stuff Down

Sometimes, a cat will knock items off a table or a shelf because they’re curious and want to see what happens. Other times, they will be trying to get their owner’s attention, particularly if the owner is nearby.

What Is Enrichment?

Enrichment, sometimes also called behavioral enrichment or environmental enrichment, is a concept derived from animal husbandry. It describes ways of improving the physical and psychological health of an animal by exposing it to various stimuli, particularly stimuli it would encounter in the wild.

Enrichment can be passive or active. In passive enrichment, the owner or zookeeper simply exposes the animal to different sights or sounds that it might enjoy. Common examples of passive enrichment for cats include windows that provide a good view of the outdoors and videos of birds.

Active enrichment requires the animal to do something in response. Many cat toys provide active enrichment by stimulating the cat’s prey drive. Some people use puzzle feeders to make their cats work harder for their food and to challenge their minds. Cats, after all, evolved as hunters. They are supposed to seek their food rather than just have it given to them.

Interactions with humans or other pets are also considered a form of active enrichment, for the cat should respond in some way to their owner or fellow pet. Despite their reputation as loners, most cats do enjoy companionship, be it in the form of a human, dog, or fellow feline. Some breeds, such as the Siamese, are said to do best in pairs. These cats crave a lot of attention, and they can play with each other if you aren’t around.

How Do You Provide Enrichment for a Cat?

Focus on the Feline: How Much Attention Do Cats Need?

As already mentioned, passive enrichment can often take the form of bird videos or a window with a good view of the outside. You can provide a hammock for them to rest on while they watch the world go by.

A catio is an outdoor exclosure that is often connected to the house. It can provide cats with the best of both worlds: the safety of being indoors along with the stimulation of the outside world.

Cats like perches. They typically feel safest and most secure when they are someplace high with a good view. If you don’t want your cat climbing your bookshelf, get them a cat tree.

Cats also need scratching posts. Clawing is a powerful instinct; even declawed cats go through the motions of clawing. There are many types of scratching posts available made from a variety of materials.

There is also a large variety of cat toys. Many, like the classic catnip mice, can be enjoyed while you’re away. Some, like feather wands or laser pointers, are “interactive.” That means you have to use them while playing with your cat. Many of the interactive toys work by triggering a cat’s hunting instincts, so you try to get them to chase the feather or red dot. These toys also have the advantage of encouraging the cat to exercise so it will stay a healthy weight.

”I Want a Cat, but I Don’t Have a Lot of Time.”

Focus on the Feline: How Much Attention Do Cats Need?

You can get a pair of cats, so they can play with each other, while you’re busy. You should also get adults for they require far less care than do kittens. Remember, a cat’s average life expectancy is around 15 years, so if you get a pair of three-year-olds, they can keep you company for a good dozen years.

Shorthaired cats need less care than their longhaired cousins. Those gorgeous coats require daily grooming, while cats with short hair may need to be groomed only once a week.

If you can squeeze a daily grooming session into your busy schedule, consider getting Norwegian Forest Cats. These big longhaired cats are believed to be descended from cats that traveled with the Vikings. While they can be affectionate, any relationship will be on their terms. In other words, they will decide if they want to sit in your lap or not.

The Russian Blue, like the Norwegian Forest Cat, often appears on “Most Independent Cat Breeds” lists. It’s a slim shorthair that always has a blue-gray coat tipped with silver. The Russian Blue is often described as “reserved” and “shy,” but it also has a playful side and loves to fetch.

The American Shorthair is a descendant of cats brought over from Europe during colonial times. As such, it is one of the oldest cat breeds in the United States. It tends to be medium-sized or large and is most often a tabby. It can have a life expectancy of up to 20 years. Like the Russian Blue, the American Shorthair is one of the quieter breeds. While it doesn’t demand attention, it does enjoy play sessions with interactive toys.

Conclusion

I hope this article helped you to understand more fully your cat’s needs. For additional information, watch the below video.

Product data was last updated on 2019-09-15.

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