The Joys of Owning a Cat

Australians love cats.

According to the Australian Veterinary Associate, almost a quarter of Australian households have a cat – more than 2.5 million in total. Whether you’re a young family, a professional, retiree or teenager, a cat can make a fabulous pet.

So what are the benefits of owning a cat?

Physical benefits

  • Better cardiovascular health. Cats can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and even cholesterol.  
  • Improved general health. Data shows that cat owners make fewer trips to doctor.

Social benefits

  • Companionship. Cats can be great companions, particularly for young children, the elderly and people who live alone.
  • Improved mental health. Cat owners suffer from less depression and are able to cope with grief, stress and loss better than non-cat owners. Just by looking at you cat, you can increase the amount of Oxytocin in the brain – the “feel good” chemical that improves general feelings of wellbeing.

Benefits for Kids

  • Allergy resistance. Exposure to cats early in infancy is known to strengthen a child’s immune system and reduce the risk of allergies in adulthood.
  • Increased responsibility. Children who have cats, particularly those who are actively involved in feeding and grooming their cats, learn great skills in taking on responsibility.
  • Emotional development. Developing love and affection for a cat is known to improve children’s self-esteem, autonomy and empathy for others.
  • Social Development. Children and teenagers who own cats interact better with classmates, have better self esteem and report less loneliness. They are also less restless than their non-cat owning friends. 

Introducing a new kitten into the home.

Kittens can make wonderful pets. They’re playful, tenacious and very inquisitive. Like any animal, they have their quirks and it can take them a little while to adjust to their new home. Here are five tips to make you’re kitten’s arrival into your family as smooth as possible.  

Vaccinate and Desex

Before bringing your kitten home, it’s important he or she receives relevant health checks, flea treatment, vaccinations and desexing. You will also need to schedule a few booster vaccinations in their first year. For more information on this, click here.

Kitten-proof the house.

To properly kitten-proof the house, you need to think like a kitten!

  • Find all small spaces a kitten might get into and fill the gaps with a block of wood or a towel
  • Remove poisonous plants such as lilies
  • Keeps cupboards closed and toilet lids down
  • Remove immediate dangers such as electrical cords.

 Prioritise food, comfort and warmth!

  • Kittens need extra protein for muscle and tissue development, fat for fatty acids and plenty of calories to keep up with their active lifestyle. 
  • Cats are very clean animals and will instinctively want to bury their waste. It’s important their litter tray is separate from their living area and that it’s cleaned daily.
  • Mirror the kitten’s litter environment by creating a warm and safe home. Whether it’s a cat bed or a cardboard box with a blanket, your cat needs a place that's free from damp, draft and noise.

Take it slowly

Keep your kitten inside for at least two weeks, slowly introducing him or her to different rooms of the house. Introduce family members slowly too and when you do finally venture outside, start with short supervised stints in a contained area.

Keep playtime safe

Kittens love to climb, so anything that’s upright and slightly wobbly are immediate hazards. They also love to chew, so try and remove all things they could potentially choke on, like milk rings, cotton reels and bottle caps.   

Safety Note

It’s recommended that children under five don’t interact with kittens. If you have school-aged children, teach them early about the kitten’s happy/angry signs (e.g. purring versus wagging tail).