01 of 09
Bonding with Their Humans
Cats are intelligent creatures, sentient, and quite aware of the things they like and dislike. For the most part, we can tell which things cats like the most, by the amount of time they spend with those activities. However, time isn't always the standard. We know, for example, that most cats spend 16 to 18 hours a day sleeping, however sleeping is not necessarily a cat's favorite activity.
It's difficult to arrange these pleasurable activities in numerical order, as "one size fits all" does not apply to cats at all. Like us humans, what was fun yesterday may make any given cat yawn today. As you read, you'll see that this list is interwoven and interchangeable. Cats know you can't get too much of a good thing. Reader activity will also play a role in the order of this list, so please keep your own cats' activities in mind while reading.
Bonding With Humans
When we bring cats into our lives, regardless of their ages, we become surrogate parents to them, cat moms and dads, and most of us consider our cats an integral part of our families. We and our cats bond in many ways, as other items on this list, such as petting, interactive play, grooming a cat, will demonstrate. It's rare to find even a novice cat parent who doesn't feel this bond quickly. And experienced cat parents often feel the bond immediately. I can't tell you how many times I've read shelter cat adoption stories, which almost always include something about "love at first sight" somewhere in the story.
Bonding with cats is a two-way street, as many of us have experienced. There is nothing quite so hypnotically relaxing as feeling a warm purring body next to us. It's little wonder that cats are coming into their own as therapy animals in hospitals and nursing homes.
Many Men Love Cats Too
Perhaps it's because all the men in my family have been cat guys, but there's a special place in my heart for men who love cats. One of my favorite cat dads is Avram, who originally wrote to me years ago. He was in a relationship and eventually wanted children, but wasn't sure if he could be a good father. He was fascinated with cats but was allergic to them. We worked together for almost a year, with a gradual program of acclimating himself to cats. He eventually adopted Arthur and Beowulf as kittens and adored those cats from the very first. Now, several years later, Avram is the father of a bouncing baby boy, and couldn't be happier. In my opinion, his son will grow up to be a responsible, caring person, as is the case of most kids with cats.Continue to 2 of 9 below.
02 of 09
Eating All the Food
Like many humans, cats love to eat good food and to snack between meals. Cat snacks are probably more healthful than most of our "junk food" snacks, though, as long as they don't over-do the snacking at the risk of snubbing their more healthful regular cat food.
Speaking of healthful, three basic forms of cat food are available commercially, with a fourth form which could be considered either a meal or "treat" food. In order of their recommendation by many cat nutrition experts, they are:
Continue to 3 of 9 below.
- Fresh Raw or Freeze-Dried
Since Pottinger's Study in the middle of the 20th century, more experts are convinced that a raw diet is best for cats. Michelle T. Bernard, the author of Raising Cats Naturally, recommends her own raw diet for cats and has fed healthy cats for well over a decade on her diet. Learn more about Home Prepared Food for Cats.
- Canned Cat Food
The common ingredient in raw cat food and canned cat food is water, which makes canned cat food the next best choice for cats. My personal choices for canned cat foods:
Top Picks: Canned Food for Cats
Top Picks: Premium Canned Kitten Food
- Dry Cat Food
In today's two-earner society, with the humans away at work for long periods during the day, raw or canned foods are not always practical, so the cats are fed the best dry diets available.
- Fresh Raw or Freeze-Dried
03 of 09
Ahhh...water, the stuff of life. Cats love cool running water, judging by the number of cats who drink out of the kitchen sink, given a chance. How much water does a cat need? Although difficult to quantify, it is likely no coincidence that about 67 percent of a cat's body tissue is water. Dry cat food contains minimal water, around 10 percent, and cats on a dry-only diet definitely need plenty of supplemental water to maintain that balance. Closely observe your cat's water intake, though, because excessive thirst cat be symptomatic of feline diabetes, feline hyperthyroidism, or chronic renal failure.
Some cats even enjoy playing in the water, especially breeds such as Turkish Van. There is nothing inherently wrong with this activity, and if you have a water-play cat, try putting a few inches of water in a bathtub along with a handful of ice cubes to bat around on a hot day.
Water Dishes and Automated Water Fountains
Use caution when purchasing water bowls. The plastic ones can scratch easily, allowing bacteria to grow in the tiny fissures, which sometimes result in "Kitty Acne." I have never observed this with the hard surface of Automated Water Fountains.
My personal preference for automated fountains is the Drinkwell Platinum. However, just like many other products, the Drinkwell, and other automated fountains need regular routine care, such as cleaning and replacing filters, for many years of service.Continue to 4 of 9 below.
04 of 09
Judging by the sheer amount of time most cats sleep every day, they really must like to sleep. It is well-known that cats sleep from 14 to 18 hours a day. That might seem excessive to us humans, but then most "owned" cats don't have to wake to go to work every day. Remember also that cats are nocturnal animals, and can see better at night, so sleeping during the day comes naturally.
It doesn't seem to matter to cats when, where, or with whom they may sleep. The pictured cat was apparently sleeping in a bed with his favorite man.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Cat play is serious fun for cats. From kittenhood on, cats will play chase, capture, and kill games with bits of lint on the floor, other kittens, shadows on the wall, moths and other insects, toys (of course) and their humans hands (which is a no-no) Cat play is a fallback to cats in the wild, where they must stalk and kill their prey in order to eat and survive. Cat toy companies keep this in mind when producing their products such as toy mice, birds, butterflies and other "prey" on pole toys, and "chase" toys, such as laser toys to chase a beam of light. Cats either have great imaginations, or they just get engrossed in the fun of the chase.
We humans share the penchant for surrounding our own kids with toys, by buying our cats every kind of toy we see and admire. Just as I used to enjoy coloring a crayon picture alongside my daughter, I enjoy playing a game of hide-and-seek or catch with my cats. While cats enjoy playing with us, they are quite comfortable playing alone, and it is fun to sometimes catch them in the act.
Favorite Toys and Games for Cats
These are some of my and my cats' favorite purchased toys and games: They include both interactive and play-alone games.Continue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
Here's a rhetorical question: Why do cats love to watch birds? Probably the main reason is that birds are prey and cats are predators. And the sight of a chirpy feathered creature hopping around on a windowsill or even a T.V. screen with alert the immediate attention of even the most bored, sleepy cat. This same propensity to chase and capture can even fascinate a cat watching birds through a window.
One of the first things my son and I did when we moved to our home in a forested area was to buy bird feeders. Our trees were full of birds we hadn't seen in our previous home: tiny yellow American Goldfinches, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Jays, and a number of other birds I haven't yet identified. We first bought the least expensive type, such as the pictured "sock" feeder filled with nyger (thistle) seed, which birds (especially Finches) love. Later, we bought three or four suet cartridges and wire mesh holders, and attractive metal hanging bird seed holders, all of which we hung from the roof over our front porch, which is adjacent to two windows in my son's (and the male cats') bedroom.
All was well, and the birds and their harmless "hunters" were happy -- until this spring when the black bears came out of their winter sleep with their newborn cubs and discovered the feeders filled with tasty seeds, berries, and fruit which they also love. I've since learned a lot more about our wildlife, and we've taken down all but the finch socks from our front porch, but will put them back up in late fall when the bears have gone down for their winter nap.
Ways to Attract Wild Birds to Your Yard
- Plant Flowers That Attract Birds
There are also a variety of shrubs and trees that attract birds to your yard.
- Use Attractive Bird Feeders
- Make Your Own Bird Food
- Don't Forget the Hummingbirds
- Provide Housing and Nest Material
Cat fur from combings can be placed in shrubbery for birds' use in lining their nests.
- Water for Birds' Drinking and Bathing
Of course, if you live in a high-rise with nary a bird to be seen, you and your cats can watch them on television.Continue to 7 of 9 below.
- Plant Flowers That Attract Birds
07 of 09
Scratching and Clawing
One of cats' basic needs, which they thoroughly enjoy, is scratching various surfaces to "sharpen" their claws. Actually, what happens when the time is right is that the sheath which covers cats' claws gradually loosens, and scratching dislodges it, so that it remains in the scratching post substrate, falls to the floor, or otherwise hides somewhere.
Think about how good it feels to take a long stretch when your muscles feel tight and knotted. That is another reason cats scratch - to do those stretching exercises which both relax and energize them. It always makes me chuckle to see a cat come racing into the room, stand up and scratch the devil out of that post, then race ecstatically around the house.
Do you know any humans who bite their nails when worried or stressed? Cats also claw to comfort themselves during times of fear or stress. Single cats may rarely or never scratch, and then become scratch-maniacs when more cats enter the home.
Be sure to supply plenty of scratching posts to satisfy cats' scratching needs and a regular cat claw management program.Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
Nothing feels better to a human than a hot shower to relax muscles and then to emerge and off with a fluffy Egyptian towel. Cats feel exactly the same after 15 minutes of self-grooming, or being brushed by their favorite human. The contented rumble of their purrs is evidence enough, and guess what they do when they finish? Bingo! They go to sleep'
We Can Groom Cats, Too
Most cats loved to be brushed or combed by their favorite humans. It must feel as relaxing as it feels to us to go to a spa for a shampoo and scalp massage, then visit the sauna, and enjoy a full body massage. One of the things to watch for with cats, though, is not to overstimulate them, particularly on the lower part of the back. Some cats, particularly those inclined toward feline hyperesthesia, may run off, or turn aggressive with too much stimulation. So select your grooming tools carefully, and observe your cat's reaction, so you'll know when to stop. And just like in a human spa, offer a treat once you're finished.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
People Who Pet Them
Cats love to be gently petted, especially when this attention is given by their favorite human.
Do you have a cat who seems to be stand-offish when you try to pet her? It's kind of sad and worrisome, isn't it? But consider this: how many times has she approached you for some loving and you've ignored her or worse, removed her from the room because you were too busy? I write this with deep shame because that happens too often with my Jenny. It's difficult trying to meet a deadline, or research, with a cat kneading tender skin on your legs, or trying to walk on the keyboard.
Turnabout is fair play, so please keep that in mind the next time you are snubbed when trying to pet your cat. Also, as in grooming, when you are enjoying a petting session, keep an eye open for signs of overstimulation, or you may find yourself the victim of a little petting aggression.