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The surprisingly common questions people ask about their cats

With eight million cats in the UK, it’s safe to say we love our moggies. Here are some surprisingly common questions that cat lovers have asked about their pets.

With eight million cats in the UK, it’s safe to say we love our moggies. Here are some surprisingly common questions that cat lovers have asked about their pets.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Last Updated
10 MARCH 2022
3 min read
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I want to buy a cat coat for my kitten. What kind should I look for?

Cats love to be warm and if you want to keep your kitten snug, look for a coat that’s easy to put on and take off. Coats should be fitted, but neither too tight nor too loose – if it’s uncomfortable, your kitten will do its best to wriggle out of it.

Look for fabrics that are soft and flexible (and machine washable), and choose a coat with an open back so your cat can use the litter tray easily.

Should my cat have its own bed?

Cats sleep for between 12 and 16 hours a day, and most will sleep anywhere that takes their fancy. Some prefer hard surfaces, others soft, some are happy in the open, others head for small or hidden spaces. Some love a radiator; others look for cooler spots near doors or windowsills. 

It’s a good idea to introduce a cat bed, even if your cat only uses it occasionally, as it provides security and discourages them from shedding hair to your chairs, your laundry and your bed. Having its own bed helps settle your cat during and after a move or upheaval. Choose and position a bed that mimics the surfaces and room temperature your cat prefers, and encourage them to use it with favourite toys and catnip. 

To discourage your cat from settling in unsuitable places, use foil, hard plastic sheeting or even citrus smells.

Can cats catch a cold? 

While cats don’t catch the same common cold that us humans do, they can catch cat flu. Symptoms are similar to that of a cold, with sneezing and a runny or stuffy nose. Your cat may also have some muscle or joint pain and not move around as much. 

Like many viruses, cat flu is easily caught through sneezing, saliva or eye discharge. Kittens and older cats with poor immune systems are most at risk of catching cat flu, but in the majority of cases healthy felines will make a full recovery.

If your cat is under the weather, ensure water bowls and bedding are cleaned daily to prevent reinfection, and gently wipe away any eye or nose discharge with clean water (preferably saline). You may also want to treat your cat to some tasty treats to keep their strength up. 

You can, of course, prevent or reduce the severity of symptoms by ensuring your cat is vaccinated each year to prevent cat flu – speak to your vet for advice.

Do cats get COVID-19? 

Cats can contract the virus, although this is rare. Symptoms – if the pet has them – are similar to common colds in cats, including fever, cough, lethargy, sneezing, eye discharge, and possibly vomiting or diarrhoea. 

If you suspect your cat has COVID-19, talk to your vet. Isolation procedures are similar to those for humans and can be discontinued 72 hours after your cat has recovered without medical care, or 14 days after the last positive test.

Are some cats smarter than others? Is there a cat IQ test? 

Unlike dog intelligence, there hasn’t been much research about cat intellect. Experts do say, however, that there’s a difference in how cats choose to interact with their owners, which could be perceived as differing levels of intelligence. 

For example, your cat might always know when you wake up in the morning. That’s not because it can tell the time, but more likely because it’s learned your routine and wants to be a part of it. 

There are no official, scientific tests for measuring your cat’s IQ but that doesn’t mean you can’t devise your own.

Is my cat bored? 

Like people, cats can get bored, especially if there’s a change of circumstances, perhaps the loss of another pet, or a new work routine that means your cat is left alone for long periods of time. 

Signs include changes in behaviour like: 

  • Wandering around the house
  • Excessive miaowing
  • Clinginess
  • Loss of appetite
  • Destructiveness around furniture or litter trays
  • Over-grooming 

Think about creating diversions around the house, introducing items that encourage activity, like pouncing, scratching, hunting or climbing. There are lots of innovative pet toys on the market, which can help. Rotate toys to make sure they stay interesting.

Leaving the blinds open so your cat can watch the outside world is a good idea, if you feel safe doing so, and a radio or TV can provide reassuring background sound. 

Make time when you can to really play with your cat, and if you can ask a friend to drop by for half an hour every now and then, both they and your cat will enjoy it.

Should I introduce my cat to a new kitten? 

Cats are by nature are quite suited to solitary life. They’re territorial, and very good at protecting their space from newcomers. Because of this, even cats who are siblings might not like sharing space. 

However, pairing cats, or introducing a new kitten, can be done successfully if you’re careful, and the sight of your two cats co-grooming, play-fighting or curled up asleep together is well worth it.

You need to provide each cat with its own food, water, litter tray and bed, with plenty of shared space and entertainment too. Each cat might also look for a secret or hidden place to provide distance from its companion. 

If your cat dies, though it’s tempting to replace it with another straightaway, it makes more sense to give your surviving cat time to adjust. It’s wise to avoid introducing a new cat or kitten at times of illness or stress for any of you.

How can I tell if my cat is happy? 

A joyful greeting, high-pitched purring, nesting – on you or in a bed or special place – kneading you with its paws, confidence, curiosity and efficient self-grooming are all signs that your cat is happy. If your cat settles with its feet underneath and half-closed eyes, it feels safe and secure.

Signs to watch for are changes in these happy behaviours. If the purring sounds more like growling, or if your cat seems unable to get comfortable, or hides away, it’s worth checking it isn’t ill or frightened by something. 

And if your cat brings you a special gift, try to see the positive side. What looks like a dead mouse to you is a thank you gift from your grateful cat.

Is dry food enough for my cat? 

Some of the most recent research suggests that most complete cat foods on the market provide excellent nutrition, whether they’re dry or wet. But there’s a few things to consider when choosing the right type or combination for your cat.

The age and life stage of your cat is important. Cat foods are usually designed with age and weight in mind, so check the advice on the packaging. Any specific dietary needs can be discussed with your vet. 

Wet food is lower in energy density and may be helpful if your cat tends to get overweight. On the other hand, a lighter or fussier cat may get more nutrients in small volumes, which is where dry food may have the advantage.

Dehydration can be a problem in cats, and can lead to kidney problems. Wet food contains more water, so if you’re choosing dry food it’s important to make sure your cat has lots of opportunities to drink water. 

Dry food can also be helpful to your cat’s dental hygiene, breaking down tartar and strengthening teeth, but in older cats who are less able to break down the food through chewing, dry food may prove less digestible.

Whatever you choose, it’s key to keep an eye on how much your cat eats and drinks, and seek advice if their eating habits change or they seem less healthy than usual.

Why does my cat drink from puddles? 

Why cats and dogs will happily lap up murky puddle water and ignore their own bowl is a mystery to most pet owners. The answer might be because tap water is a bit too chemically treated for cats’ taste. Or they might not like the taste of the plastic their bowl is made from. 

Although cats’ keen sense of smell means they’re unlikely to drink anything that could harm them, you may want to look at ways to encourage them to drink the water you provide, if only to make sure they’re getting enough of it. 

  • Keep a good distance between the food and the water bowl. Unlike humans, cats prefer their food and water to be separated.
  • Go for a wide, shallow bowl, so your cat’s whiskers won’t catch on the sides.
  • Keep the water fresh. A cat may prefer a puddle or a stream if it seems fresher or colder. This is also why many cats seem to prefer running water, from a fountain, a tap and, of course, the loo.

Do cats overeat? 

Yes, and sadly this can lead to obesity and the problems that can bring, just as it does with humans. Old age, diabetes and medication can all lead cats to overeat. But the biggest problem is us: the main cause of overeating in cats is overfeeding. 

If your cat is overeating, or overweight, look at your feeding practice. Introduce strict feeding times, and reduce feeds to ‘little and often’. There are special bowls and feeders available that can help with this. Making access to food more of a challenge, involving a longer walk, steps or small obstacles can encourage your moggy to get more exercise on their way to their food.

How do cats feel about dogs? 

Surprisingly little is known about cat-dog relationships, although plenty of households enjoy the company of both. A recent study did report that dogs and cats can get along when the circumstances are right, that being introduced at an early age and the cat being the first to arrive, were helpful factors. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of owners said that it was the reaction and behaviour of the cat that determined the success of the relationship.

Should I trim my cat’s claws? 

Claws are vital for your cat’s natural activities – jumping, climbing, hunting and grooming. In the normal course of a cat’s life, it will keep its claws trim through natural wear and tear. 

But occasionally, especially in older cats who are less active, their claws may start to grow a bit long, which can cause discomfort. 

Signs to look out for include your cat catching its paws on the carpet or furniture and being less able to pull away, or the sound of claws on hard floors. 

At this point, it’s possible to trim your cat’s claws, using special pet trimmers. But this may be tricky and potentially distressing for you both, so check with your vet to see if it’s necessary. It may just be time to invest in a new scratching post.

How do I stop my cat clawing the furniture? 

Cats scratch for lots of reasons – it’s a way of keeping their claws sharp and giving their limbs a workout. They might also scratch if they’re anxious or trying to get your attention.

To protect your new sofa or prized carpets from scratching, try a scratching post or board, or even invest in some cat furniture that your pet can claw to their heart’s content.

What are the signs of cat skin cancer? 

Just like humans, cats can get skin cancer through exposure to the sun, but they can also develop skin cancer due to genetic reasons. Things to look out for include lumps and bumps that don’t go away; change of nose colour; crusting or redness on the bridge of your cat’s nose; balding; chewing and scratching; and any bleeding or general slowness in healing. 

If you suspect your cat really isn’t well, then contact your vet. If cancer is suspected, they’ll take a biopsy of the affected area or extract cells for testing. Most cats will make a good recovery if the cancer is caught early on. 

You can help reduce the chances of your cat developing cancer from sun exposure by limiting how much time it spends outside sunbathing; you can also buy cat sunblock (but don’t use human sunblock).

Why are some cats chattier than others? 

Just as with people, some cats are chattier than others and some breeds are renowned for having a lot to say.

Vocal cat breeds include Siamese, Turkish Angora, Burmese and Tonkinese – it’s advisable to do your homework if you’re considering one of these as a pet.

Primarily, cats ‘talk’ to get your attention – whether it’s for food, affection or play. If your cat suddenly becomes more vocal, it could be telling you that something’s wrong.

If you find your cat’s chat is a nuisance, avoid reinforcing their behaviour and only give your cat attention when it’s being quiet and calm. If you suspect your cat is bored and is filling time with constant babble, then introduce more stimulation to keep them amused.

Is it important to have pet insurance for my cat? 

Pet insurance isn’t compulsory but it can provide peace of mind – you’ll need to be confident you can cover the cost of any emergencies, operations or treatment that your cat needs if you choose not to have it. 

There are several types of policy to choose from, and the one that’s right for you and your favourite feline will depend on your needs, budget, your cat’s pedigree and whether it’s a kitten or an older cat

Start a quote with us today to see what your options are.

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