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6 Tips for raising a healthy and happy cat (in GIFs)

I work as a journalist specializing in pets and wildlife. I cover pet care, pet lifestyle, wildlife, wildlife travel, and the people who work with and on behalf of animals.

Ask any cat owner who dotes on their precious feline what makes them so special. I guarantee the word "aloof" will not come up.

Instead you will hear "independent," which is one characteristic that we cat lovers adore.

We also know that once cats trust us, we reap the rewards of their affection. We can show them trust by caring for them. Following are five tips for raising happy and healthy cats.

1. Cat naps

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Cats like having a warm and comfortable place to sleep, even if that is on your bed, in an open linen closet (that's where my mom's cat sleeps) or in her own personal cat bed. Cats sleep between 13 and 16 hours a day. So having a quiet place to curl up and take a cat nap is essential.

2. Find a healthy pet food

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The saying "You are what you eat" also applies to cats. Poor nutrition can lead to health problems. Look for a cat food that lists meat as the first ingredient. Cats are carnivores and must have meat in their diets.

My cats are fed once in the morning when we have our breakfast, and once at night to coincide with our dinner time. Cats prefer routines; that is why, when I try to sleep in on the weekends, they wake me up for breakfast.

My cats are not finicky. Some cats can be. So, try a few varieties until you find something your cat enjoys. And never overfeed your cat. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 58.3 percent of cats in the U.S. are overweight, and obesity leads to illness. Stick to a healthy diet, and do your best to avoid giving your cats treats.

3. Good grooming

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If you live with cats, I'm sure you have observed them cleaning themselves. Even though they are meticulous, you can assist them by brushing them daily. It should be a ritual. My cats see me take out the brush, come over, and start to purr.

Brushing their fur cuts down on hairballs, which means they won't ingest a lot of their fur when they are cleaning themselves, and you will have less fur in your home and on your clothes.

4. Cats love cleanliness

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Cats hate using a dirty litter box. That is why as soon as you clean the box (This happens in my house all the time.) they will want to use it. Try and use a dust-free litter free of harmful chemicals, additives and synthetic scents. There are lots of eco-friendly bio-degradable products on the market to choose from.

5. Playtime

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Cats love to hunt and play. My cats love it when I take out a laser pointer (just be sure never to shine it in their eyes). Another favorite toy is a fishing rod with a fabric bird on one end. My cats love to chase and jump after this toy.

Playtime is when we bond, and cats get a lot of mental stimulation and exercise from playing.

6. Giving and getting love

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I just read that a cat's heart beats almost twice as fast as a human's heartbeat. For this cat person, that translates to cats giving us twice as much love in return for our caring for them.

Photo credit: Sarah Miadema/ Moment/ Getty images


Michele C. Hollow writes the animal advocacy blog Pet News and Views. She works as a journalist, and her byline has appeared in several print and online publications. She is the author of The Everything Guide to Working with Animals, and she lives with two cats, Chai and Karma.

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