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By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Cats are a lot like us. We cat parents know that while it is nice being around loving family and friends, we value our independence. Maybe we all have a little cat in us.

We also know that once we gain the trust of a cat, we’ll have a friend for life. A happy and healthy cat will reward us with affection. Showing them trust is easy. Following are six tips for raising healthy and happy cats.

1. Cat Naps

Cats sleep between 13 and 16 hours a day. They like having a warm and comfortable place to curl up in, even if that is on your bed, in an open linen closet (that’s where my mom’s cat sleeps) or in her own personal cat bed. One of my cats sleep on my desk while I work because she likes being near (at least that is what I tell myself) and she loves the big window that floods the room with sunlight. Getting 40-plus winks is quite restorative.

2. You are what you eat applies to cats too
Poor nutrition leads to health problems. Look for a cat food that lists meat as the first ingredient. Cats are carnivores and must have meat in their diets.

My cats are fed once in the morning when we have our breakfast, and once at night to coincide with our dinner time. After breakfast and dinner, I pick up and clean their bowls. They are left empty because a grazing cat that eats too much food can develop diabetes and other serious ailments.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 58.3 percent of cats in the U.S. are overweight, and obesity leads to illness. My cats are not finicky. Some cats can be. So, try a few varieties of food until you find something your cat enjoys.

3. Good grooming
While cats groom themselves it is important to brush them. Make it a ritual. When my cats see me take out their brush, they come over and start to purr.

Brushing their fur cuts down on hairballs, which means they won’t ingest a lot of their fur when they are cleaning themselves, and you will have less fur in your home and on your clothes.

4. Cats like clean litter boxes
Ever notice that as soon as you clean the litter box, they want to use it? I can’t say that I blame them. No one likes a dirty bathroom!

Use a dust-free litter that’s free of harmful chemicals, additives and synthetic scents. There are lots of eco-friendly bio-degradable products on the market to choose from.

5. Playtime
Cats love to hunt and play. They know exactly where the laser pointer is kept and as soon as I reach for it, they are ready for the chase. Just don’t shine it in their eyes.

Another favorite toy is a fishing rod with a fabric bird on one end. My cats love to chase and jump after this toy.

Playtime is when we bond, and cats get a lot of mental stimulation and exercise from playing.

6. Bonding time
Spending time with your cat benefits both of you. I make time in the morning before I start my work day. We wake up together and I talk to them while I give them their breakfast. After breakfast, we play with the laser pointer. I am at home, so we play after lunch and again after dinner.

They reward me with purrs and cuddles.

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