First time cat owner? Keep them happy and healthy with this behaviorist’s six tips

Young man sitting on a gray sofa petting head of ginger cat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While they may not be quite as straightforward as their canine brothers and sisters, cats aren't as complex as they often lead us to believe.

If you're familiar with the signs of a happy cat, then you know that our feline friends are always communicating with us about their feelings.

From meowing and slow blinking to rubbing up against you and purring, a content kitty is hard to miss. 

But aside from feeding them the very best cat food, what can you do to ensure your beloved bundle of fluff stays happy and healthy?

Well, thanks to Maria, a certified cat behaviorist and founder of Cats Explained, it all comes down to six key things.

Check out her Instagram post below, or read on for a summary of each of her top tips for ensuring your feline friend stays mentally and physically fit.  

1. Play with your cat 15 minutes a day: "Cats need mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy," explains Maria. "Provide your cat with toys, scratching posts, and opportunities to play and explore to help prevent boredom." Check out our guide to how to play with a cat to help ensure your cat gets the physical and mental workout they need to thrive.

2. Trim your cat's claws: "Regularly trimming your cat’s claws can help prevent them from becoming too long and potentially causing problems, such as getting stuck in fabric or causing injury." If you're new to trimming your cat's nails and are worried about cutting too far and potentially hurting them, our vet's guide to cat nail clipping has got you covered. 

3. Clean your cat's litter box every day: "Regularly scoop and clean your cat’s litter box to help prevent odors and keep your cat happy," Maria advises. 

4. Know your cat's normal behavior: "Pay attention to your cat’s normal behavior and look for any changes that may indicate a problem. This can help you identify potential health issues and address them promptly." 

5. Regularly groom your cat: "Grooming your cat can help keep their coat healthy and prevent matting. It’s also a great opportunity to bond with your cat and show them love and affection." Be sure to use a good quality cat brush that suitable for your cat's coat type. 

6, Keep your cat's vaccinations up to date: "Regular vaccinations can help protect your cat from serious and potentially life-threatening diseases," Maria explains. Take a look at our vet's guide to cat and kitten vaccinations if you're unsure which shots your cat needs. 

Not only can following the tips above help give your cat's physical and mental health a boost, it's also a great way to strengthen your relationship.

If you're ever worried about your cat's behavior or wellbeing, we recommend speaking with your vet or a qualified cat behaviorist, who will be able to offer advice and guidance. 

Kathryn Rosenberg
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past three years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with a very mischievous Cocker Spaniel and a super sassy cat, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.