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17 things your cat actually wants from you

17 things your cat actually wants from you
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Your unconditional love and devotion is what your cat really wants from you. Easy, right? Maybe not. While we’re sure you adore your kitty, the trick is showing your love in a way that cats want and understand. They’re called finicky felines for a reason, after all. They don’t appreciate or show affection in the same way dogs or humans do, and it can often feel like they’re giving you mixed signals. To help you decode your cat’s behaviour, we asked experts to share the truth about what cats really enjoy – and what they loathe.

A cat cave

A cat cave
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Just like Batman needs a hideaway, so does your cat-man (or woman). “Cats are naturally solitary, so they need to have a place of their own where they can be alone,” says animal behaviour expert and trainer, and former zookeeper, Stephanie Mantilla (who has worked with every type of kitty from house cats to cheetahs and lions). Cats can easily become overwhelmed, especially if you have kids or other pets, and having an area of your house only your cat can access will make them feel secure, she explains.

Climbing gyms

Climbing gyms
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Cats are born climbers, so if you don’t have something designed for them to climb on, they may scale your furniture, curtains or Christmas tree instead. In addition to promoting exercise and mental stimulation, these types of gyms also help your cat feel safe. “Having a cat tree or cat shelving in your home is a way for your cat to get up high and out of reach where they can relax,” Mantilla explains.

Looking for a kitty that’s social and affectionate? Here are 8 cat breeds with the friendliest personalities.

Multiple litter boxes

Multiple litter boxes
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Unlike dogs, cats are very particular about where they poop – which means that cats generally need more than one litter box to feel comfortable. “Even if you have only one cat, they’ll need at least two litter boxes,” Mantilla says. “Cats are clean creatures and become stressed if they think their litter box isn’t suitable.” And what does a stressed cat do? They poop in places outside their litter box, which makes you upset as well, she adds.

Got an issue with your feline friend? Cat whisperer extraordinaire revels 7 mistakes cat owners make.

The right kind of litter box

The right kind of litter box
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While we’re discussing litter boxes, it’s important to make sure your cat’s box is one that will help them feel safe and comfortable, says Lisa Stemcosky, feline behaviour manager. “It should be in a calm space but not hidden. A large, open-topped container is usually preferred, as your cat can dig and turn around with ease, and the open top lets your cat quickly escape if they are startled by something,” she explains. “[And] be realistic on how far you expect your cat to travel to use the bathroom. For example, travelling from the second storey all the way to the garage may be tough for a senior cat or a kitten.”

A sunny spot to snooze

A sunny spot to snooze
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Cats love sunshine so much that it may seem like some days all they do is follow the sunny spot as it moves across the floor. “Cats love nothing more than a warm, comfy place to sleep,” says veterinarian Sara Ochoa. “Favourite spots are basking in the sun or on a pile of freshly dried clothes, but really, anywhere your cat can find that it is warm, they will sleep there.” You can help your cat by making sure their bed is in a warm spot and keeping a sunny area clear for them to lounge in.

You can also help your cat by understand the truth about dogs and cats.

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Daily litter cleanings

Daily litter cleanings
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Yes, you read that right: Cats need to have their litter scooped every single day, Mantilla says. Sorry to add an extra chore to your daily to-do list, but your cat really, really wants a clean space to do their business in. Any build-up can be distressing for them. So, in addition to having an additional litter box available, Mantilla recommends taking a few minutes each day to clean out their litter and to add fresh litter when needed.

Think kitties are low maintenance? Here are a few things you need to know about owning a cat.

Snuggles on their terms

Snuggles on their terms
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Cat owners love cuddling their kitties, and cats love being cuddled…sometimes…and only on their terms. “Unlike dogs, cats aren’t pack animals and would not be in a long-term family situation in the wild,” Mantilla says. “Forced cuddling or petting makes your cat wary whenever you come around.” If you want affection from your cat, it’s best to let your cat come to you on their own. Mantilla suggests placing a soft blanket or other items your cat loves near you on the couch and then wait for the magic to happen.

If you want a pet that likes a cuddle, learn here 12 of the most affectionate cat breeds.

A long, slow blink

A long, slow blink
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Communication with your cat can be tricky. They’re generally not as easy to read as dogs, and they don’t really understand human language. But one thing they do understand is a particular kind of eye contact, says Russell Hartstein, a certified dog and cat behaviourist. “Making eye contact with your cat and giving them a long, slow blink is a way to offer love from a distance,” he explains, adding that when cats give you that type of protracted blink, they’re showing you that they feel loved, comfortable and safe around you.

A predictable, consistent home

A predictable, consistent home
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Cats don’t want or need a wide variety of food, bedding or daily activities. They thrive in a stable environment, so one of the best things you can do as their human is to provide them with consistent food, water, shelter and enriching toys, says cat behaviourist Dawn Kavanaugh. “Your cat needs to trust you to be the constant in their life,” she adds.

Cat out-of-sorts? Here’s 4 reasons why you cat may be cranky.

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Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, Reader’s Digest magazine May issue will not be available at its regular on-sale date to our subscribers or through our retail channels in that region. We hope to have the issues available in early June, but this is dependent on when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team