Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Factsheet: What do our cats really need?

So many behavioural problems stem from relatively simple sources. Katie B Wade provides a summary of what our cats should be doing each day in order to stay fit, healthy and happy.

Evolving over millions of years, our cats have developed specific strategies, behaving in certain ways each day, to maintain optimal health.

The more restrictions our cats face, the more stressed they can become, so to avoid stress-related difficulties such as urination or defecation in the home, over-grooming, aggression and so on, have a quick read and see what you can do for your cat.

  • Evolutionary biologists have traced the cat family to a squirrel-like creature surviving amongst the trees alongside dinosaurs. Even today we can see the domestic cat’s preference for higher vantage points.
  • The feline family originally evolved in hot, dessert climates such as Egypt. In our Northern Hemisphere many of domestic cats suffer as a result of the lower temperatures, not maintaining high quality REM sleep patterns as they remain curled up.
  • As cats are territorial they are highly sensitive to changes in their environment. The domestic cat therefore is often motivated to communicate the boundaries on the periphery of their territory, through spray marking, scratching and defecation.
  • Cats are successful small hunters. Their bodies are made to eat a variety of chewy meats little and often.
  • Cats do not just scratch to maintain their claws, they also scratch to deposit scent from the glands on their paws to communicate. Experts have discovered that the cat has a strong need to scratch both horizontally and vertically each day. Cats use glands situated around their bodies to communicate through chemical messengers.
  • Although cats hunt alone, they are a highly social species and live in large colonies where there are plenty of resources. In the wild it is even common to see queens nursing each others young!
  • The cats’ skin cells are very sensitive to touch. They need soft, cosy bedding for essential, quality sleep. Cats need to sleep for at least 18 hours per day, and need to be able to lie flat out.

For any extra reading, advice or just for a chat, feel free to contact me anytime.

Take care




Katie B Wade is a fully qualified and experienced animal behaviourist, working alongside veterinary clinics, rescue centres, societies, breeders as well as individual owners to assist with various aspects of animal behaviour and training. With professional experience handling, training, breeding and rehabilitating the competition horse, Katie went on to study a degree in Psychology and then on to specialise in Equine Behaviour with The Natural Animal Centre. Katie provides scientifically sound advice to the general public, building a bridge between academic research and practical horse ownership.

Katie B Wade



Bradshaw, J. (1993) The True Nature of the Domestic Cat, CAB International, Bristol

Turner, D. and Bateson, P. (1995) The Domestic Cat: The Biology of Its Behaviour. Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom.

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