Natural Cat Care


An increasing number of physical and mental health problems in both animals and man can be linked to an un-natural way of living. The good news is that relatively small changes towards a more natural lifestyle can lead to big improvements in health!


The cat is an obligate carnivore; this means she has to eat meat to remain healthy. Cats can use carbohydrates for energy but it is not as easy for their bodies to use and high carbohydrate diets have been linked to obesity and diabetes in cats. Feral and wild cats live mainly off small rodents and birds which provide a high protein, medium fat diet. These cats would only eat a small amount of vegetable matter from their prey’s stomach.
You can help keep your cat healthy by feeding a diet high in meat. Ideally a raw diet based on meaty bones would be recommended but there are many ‘natural’ and ‘holistic’ prepared foods on the market with a high meat content. Always avoid food which contain artificial colours, flavours and preservatives, or are vague about the ingredients. Encourage chewing by offering raw chicken wings or dried fish skin; chewing keeps the teeth naturally healthy without the need for stressful brushing.


Of course you are providing fresh drinking water for your cat, but is she drinking it? Cats are very sensitive to chemicals in tap water and may refuse it. Not drinking enough can be linked for cystitis and development of urinary stones. Try filtered water, bottled water, filtered rain water or even a drinking fountain to encourage water intake. In serious cases flavouring water with a little lactose free milk or chicken may be needed to begin with. Try different materials for your cats drinking bowl; they may not like a deep metal bowl which obscures their view, plastics can give off taints, stone-wear is usually well tolerated.


Rural outdoor cats may be able to enjoy real stalking and hunting of birds, animals and insects, but opportunities will be limited for suburban and indoor cats. For indoor cats consider toys which can contain food or treats to encourage play and reduce boredom and obesity. Pet shops stock ‘treat balls’ or you can devise your own from toilet roll middles and small boxes. A shoe box filled with balls, feathers and food and with a few small paw sized holes can provide hours of fun. Cats are easily bored so allow her just two toys a day and change them every day. ‘Fishing’ toys are a great favourite- again either shop bought or made at home from paper or feathers dangling from a stick. These toys also improve human health as it is a great stress-buster to play with a cat! Catnip toys usually stimulate play; valerian herb can be made into bags to relax stressed cats.


People assume that cats will enjoy living in a social group like humans and dogs, but in fact cats would generally choose to live alone. In feral colonies a group of cats share a space as it provides shelter and food, but if the food dries up the colony will not move off as a group- it’s every cat for herself. Cats can live happily in multi-cat households, but they can also be a big source of stress. Even single cats can be affected if they have outdoor access; in most parts of the UK there isn’t enough space for all the cats to have their own territories and they will potentially encounter bullies. This stress can be reduced by ensuring you have at least as many litter trays as cats; try both open and covered trays and make sure they are in quiet parts of the house (the bathroom can be ideal!). There should be lots of safe places for your cats to get away from it all, and away from each other. Cats like to perch up high so consider a ‘cat shelf’ indoors and sitting posts in the garden. Hideaways can be bought or made; cardboard boxes are a good start indoors and a simple ‘tent’ shape in wood can serve as a garden ‘safe-zone’.


There is no agreement yet on exactly why cats crave grass, but they do and it should be provided to all cats. Grass is thought to provide fibre to help move waste and furballs through the gut, and it sometimes causes vomiting. Outdoor cats can usually get enough, but be careful you don’t grow toxic grass-like plants or houseplants. Cat-grass (a type of oat) should be grown for indoor cats.


Cats also need regular, routine health care. Neutered cats live longer as they are less likely to stray, be hit by cars or contract fatal diseases. Vaccinations remain essential for kittens and most adult cats. Yearly check ups at your vet can pick up the early signs of illness and the earlier treatment is started the better. Many safe medicines are now available for cats, and they can be treated very effectively with herbal medicines and acupuncture too.

© Vicky Payne 2013