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A Brief Guide to Keeping Your Cat Happy

04 March 2016

UK - Cats are one of the most popular pets in the UK, but there are a number of misconceptions about the best way to look after them. Even though people think cats are independent animals they still need to be cared for. You need to spend time playing with and looking after your cat, and there are a number of other things to consider to make sure your pet is happy as well as healthy.

TV vet Emma Milne has written a series of books for adults and children, entitled Pet Detectives, which aim to change the common misconceptions about how to keep your pets happy.

In this article, we discuss some of the common ways in which you can improve your cat’s health and happiness, as recommended by Emma and other qualified vets.


Cats need to be fed good quality, varied meat-based food - it’s impossible for them to be vegetarians. The two main types of food to choose from are wet and dry.

Fresh wet food should be replaced twice a day and dry food once a day. Their food should be placed somewhere quiet that they feel safe and far away from their litter tray if they use one.

Cats should only be given water to drink and should have fresh, clean water available at all times.


The drive for a cat to hunt isn’t triggered by hunger, but because every part of the activity - from stalking, to pouncing, to playing – is a strong evolutionary drive for them. Because of this, keeping your cat entertained with toys that let them mimic these behaviours can keep them happy, allow them to exercise, and strengthen the bond you have with your cat.

Cats, like people, really vary and some will want to play more than others. Swapping their toys around will stop them from getting bored, and making sure you play with them will keep the games varied and solidify your bond.

Somewhere to Hide & Somewhere to Climb

Cats need to have lots of places to hide to make sure they feel safe. Even if that ‘something’ is a cardboard box, an igloo cat bed, a space under your own bed, or in the wardrobe, it’s important not to disturb them while they’re hiding away because we should always respect our pets’ needs for some peace and quiet!

Cats also feel safer if they can climb up somewhere and view a room or area from a height. Putting a blanket on top of a wardrobe with a stool below can give your cat the perfect place to survey things from above!


A scratching post provides exercise, keeps cats’ claws healthy, and allows your cat to take part in natural behaviour without ruining the furniture.

Solitary creatures

You may be surprised to know that cats are naturally solitary creatures and don’t need the company of other cats to feel happy. In fact some cats simply can’t manage in a house with another cat and can become ill from the chronic stress and conflict. Littermates may live happily together but in general single cats are a better choice.

Indoor or Outdoor?

Cats love to roam and should ideally always have free access to the outside should they want it. This lets them exercise, explore and indulge in all the behaviours that cats love. If proximity to main roads and other dangers make you consider keeping them inside, think carefully about whether a cat is the right pet for you. If you do make this choice, indoor cats need extra attention to keep them mentally stimulated, including more time playing, more places to hide and explore, and an ever-changing rotation of toys.

For cats who do have access to the outside world, a micro-chip activated or magnetic cat flap is an ideal solution for giving them the freedom to choose when they go out. These systems also prevent other cats from wandering inside looking for food and making your cat feel threatened.

These are just a few ways in which you can make sure your cat is happy as well as healthy. There are many more tips and tricks to doing the best for your cat in Emma’s book series Pet Detectives, which is now available to buy at


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