beautiful kitty daydreaming

Understanding Cats: A Complete Guide To Getting To Know Your Cat

Cats can make great additions to your family. They’re soft, adorable and extremely loyal. But they’re also relatively independent and low maintenance compared to dogs which require regular walks and more active play time. Bonding with a cat can be as easy as watching TV together.

But in order to make sure you are giving your cat the absolute best care possible, you need to make sure that you know what it needs.

Understanding cats is important especially because there are a few misconceptions about them. In this article, we’ll help clear up some of the mystery and give you the information you need to give your cat the best and longest life possible!

Facts About Cats

To start, you should know a few basic facts about cats. So in this section we’ll answer some of the most common and most important questions about cats.

Cat Laying on a Sofa with a TV Remote

What Is The Average Life Span Of A Cat?

A domestic cat can live up to 15 years with proper care. But there have been cases of cats living more than 20 years! If we convert cat years to human years, that’s more than 140 years old!

Even at the average of 15 cat years, that would mean your cat is living to the equivalent of 105 human years! So they are a wise old species. And you can help them live these long, happy lives by giving them the right food and care that they need.

For one, keeping your cat indoors will help it live longer as it is less likely to have its life cut short by traumatic events like getting hit by a car or attacked by larger animals.

Old Cat Wearing Human Glasses

Do Cats Dream?

You might have noticed your sleeping cat start to move its legs or head or even start to meow a little. And that’s because it is dreaming!

Scientists have proven that a cat’s brain is capable of dreaming. They experience similar sleep stages as we do so when their brain gets to the REM stage, they can dream just like we do.

In fact, they may actually dream more than we do! While a human brain spends about 20% of sleep time in the REM stage, a cat’s brain spends an average of 30% of sleep time in that dreaming stage.

And since they sleep an average of 16 hours per day, that’s nearly 5 hours of dreams—compared to our measly 1 ½ hours (if you sleep 8 hours)!

Now, figuring out what it is they’re dreaming of during those 5 hours is another mystery that we don’t yet have the technology to figure out!

Do Cats Fart?

The short answer: yes. The reason you might be asking is because you may have never noticed it. Compared to a dog which has the power to clear a room in seconds, cats pass far less gas.

Kitty Smiling with

In general, cats do pass gas but the amount is so small that you don’t really hear or smell it. Even if you do smell or hear it, this is not a problem. You don’t have to worry about gassiness unless your cat looks uncomfortable or distressed.

How Long Are Cats Pregnant?

If your cat gets pregnant, it will take about 2 months (64-67 days) until it gives birth. If she’s pregnant, you’ll start to notice a little pot belly around 30 days in. The nipples along her belly will also start to swell and become more pink or red.

A litter can be anywhere from about 2 to 5 kittens. And while pregnant, make sure your cat gets extra food since she’s eating for a whole pack now.

And it can go into heat again almost immediately after birth, so unless you’re trying to raise an army of cats, you may want to get your cat spayed or keep it indoors and away from male cats.

Proud Momma Cat with Little Kittens

How Long Are Cats In Heat?

If your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, they will go into heat once a year once they are old enough. A cat will be in heat for 4-10 days every few weeks—so we highly recommending spaying or neutering! Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Rolling around on the floor or rubbing against people and objects.
  • Raising/displaying their hind quarters, especially when pet
  • Yowling or being more vocal
  • Trying to get outside
  • Requiring more attention

Fortunately, there isn’t much bleeding like there is with dogs. It’s more behavioral. But a small amount of bloody discharge is possible and nothing to worry about.

Technically, heat is something that only female cats do but a male cat does get a little wild if there’s a female in heat nearby. Symptoms in males include spraying urine, yowling, begging to go outside, being extra affectionate.

Caring For Your Cat

Taking care of cats is fairly simple since they are relatively independent animals. Feed them, give them attention, and take them to the vet if something seems wrong. Here are some answers to the essential questions about caring for your cat.

Cat Eating Raw Steak

What Do Cats Eat?

Cats are naturally carnivorous. They need meat in their diet to survive. You may see some people trying to feed a vegetarian diet to them but this wreaks havoc on their digestive system because it’s not built to break down plant matter. It’s built for meat.

With that said, the dry and wet foods made for cats are a reasonable option. However, avoid the cheap brands that use a lot of filler. That filler is usually a corn product or other starchy plant that can cause discomfort to your cat.

The best option would be to feed your cat a homemade diet of raw meat. However, this can be expensive because you need to buy fresh, quality meat that is safe to consume raw. You can cut costs by opting for cheaper organ meats which are nutritious and not as pricey as the prime cuts.

To avoid the risks of raw meat, you can opt for conventional budget meats and boil them before serving to your cat. This is cheaper and better than going for a high end store bought cat food.

Kitten Eating Dry Food from a Bowl

One final note on this point: don’t give your cat dairy. Once kittens stop drinking their mother’s milk, they lose the ability to digest milk products (just like every other mammal and the majority of humans). So, in short, all cats are lactose intolerant.

How To Bathe A Cat

For the most part, the answer to how to bathe a cat is to just not do it. Cats clean themselves. Their tongue is like a little scrubby sponge that brushes out grime from their fur. So you don’t really need to bathe them.

More importantly, a cat’s skin is very, very sensitive and wet fur can irritate it, let alone the soap you use. So if you’re going to do this, make sure to dry them as soon as bath time is over. And only do it a couple times per year at most.

Otherwise, if your cat got into some dirt or dust, just use a brush to comb their fur and remove the excess dust or dirt that way. Then let them clean themselves.

How To Get Rid Of Fleas On Cats

Cats are prone to getting fleas if they are let outside. If you keep them indoors, it’s far less likely to become a problem. However, if they do get fleas, it’s important to respond ASAP. There are a few different medications and treatments that you can use.

Grey Cat Scratching Behind Its Ear on a Red Floor

When applying a topical flea treatment, make sure to put it at the nape of their neck. You want to avoid places where your cat can easily lick because then they will just remove it before the medication can do its work (and it may be toxic if ingested).

There are also shampoos that you can use. And this is one case where it is acceptable to bathe your cat!

How To Get Rid Of Cat Pee Smell

If your cat is spraying in your house, this could be a sign of heat so the first step is to get your cat spayed or neutered in order to stop them from doing this again in the future. If they’re peeing around the house because you’re still in the process of house breaking them, you’ll just have to deal with it until they are trained.

It’s important to eliminate a stain and its odor as soon as possible because cats are likely to pee in that spot again if they can smell pee there. They will treat it like their toilet! So to get rid of the cat pee smell, you need to get a special enzyme cleaning spray.

This spray not only cleans up the stain and makes it so that you don’t smell cat pee, it also breaks down and removes every trace of the odor so that even your cat (with its more powerful nose) can’t smell it either.

Cat with Funny Expression Sitting on a Toilet

Using regularly cleaners may remove the smell for your nose but your cat can still smell it and will pee there again. So you need to use the specialized sprays that are made for this purpose.

Extra Tips For Taking Care Of Your Cat

Aside from basic feeding and taking care of problems like fleas, cats are pretty independent creatures. However, you should spend plenty of time bonding with them while also taking care to show respect for their needs and wishes. Here are some extra tips to help you there:

  • Spend quality time with your cat - When a cat behaves distant or uninterested it’s because they are actually fiercely loyal animals. They select the people (and animals) that they allow into their lives very carefully. You have to show your cat that you are someone who will always be there for them by spending plenty of quality time with them.
  • Respect their space - Cats are actually naturally nocturnal which is why they spend so much of the day napping. Don’t try to force your cat to play if it’s trying to relax. When your cat is sleepy or lazy, the best way to bond is to just relax next to it or let it nap on your lap.
  • Get it neutered - You can avoid dealing with a cat in heat and unintended litters of kittens by getting it spayed or neutered as soon as possible. This is especially important if your cat is also an outdoor cat.
  • Grooming - While bathing isn’t necessary, brushing your cats fur is a great way to remove excess fur and dirt and it’s wonderful for bonding. One way that cats bond with each other is by cleaning each other’s fur so by brushing your cat, you’re bonding with it in a way that it understands and appreciates.

The Catnip Question

Catnip is an herb related to mint. Some owners give it to their cats. But what does catnip do to cats? The ingredient that makes cats go crazy is called nepetalactone. It acts like a stimulant when a cat sniffs it.

Cat Rolling in Catnip

This lasts for about 10 minutes. If they eat it instead, it acts more like a sedative. However, only about 50% of cats react to catnip and if they will be sensitive to it, it won’t be until they are around 1 year old because kittens are not affected at all.

So, in short, it’s a totally safe thing to give to your cats but it’s not necessary at all and your cat might not react to it at all. If they do react and enjoy it, you should limit their usage to once every 3-4 weeks to prevent them from developing a habit!

Final Word

Cats are wonderful pets and once you understand what makes them tick, you’ll be able to nurture and care for them in exactly the ways that they need. By learning more about your cat, you’re making sure that it can live a long, happy life as a member of your family!

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