Owning a cat is very different to owning a dog, and comes with its own set of rules. Image: Adobe Stock

Do’s and don’ts for cat lovers: How to keep your feline happy and safe

These are the things you should never do to your cat.


Owning a cat is very different to owning a dog, and comes with its own set of rules. Image: Adobe Stock

Every cat has its own personality. Cats have their own way of communicating too, but you can learn to tune in and so take better care of them.

Here are a few guidelines from vets and cat behaviour experts that will help you to understand your fluffball better.

Things you should never do to your cat

cat yarn
Yarn can cause your cat to choke or lead to an obstruction. Image: Adobe Stock

Never force a cat to socialise or cuddle when they are not in the mood. Allow your cat to come to you for affection and learn to understand when it wants to be left alone.

Never bring plants or flowers into your house without first checking they are not poisonous to cats. Lilies are so toxic to cats that even sipping the water in a vase containing lilies can lead to kidney damage.

Strings and yarn are unsafe for cats. Ingesting yarn or string can cause what vets call a linear foreign body. Intestines become scrunched and knotted as they attempt to pass the yarn. This results in the death of sections of the intestines that must be surgically removed. Yarn can also cause choking.

Never shout at or punish your cat

Do not hand play with your cat. This is because cats are hardwired to chase and hunt prey. A more appropriate way to play with your cat is to use an inanimate object such as a toy.

Cats should never be directly punished, verbally or physically. Cats are highly sensitive to loud noises and finds them scary. They can perceive the person making these noises as a threat and avoid them.

Never give your cat bones to chew. Bones can splinter and get stuck in a cat’s throat or stomach.

Don’t give your cat milk

kitten milk
Though kittens can drink their mother’s milk, most cats lose the ability to process milk after being weaned. Image: Adobe Stock

Most cats are actually lactose intolerant, so giving them cow’s milk can cause significant health issues. Milk is not necessary for cat nutrition and many cats will suffer stomach aches or other problems when given dairy. Stick to water for hydration.

Do not give your cat medication meant for humans or dogs. And never give your cat any medication without first checking with your veterinarian.

No cat wants to be alone for days on end

Do not leave your cat alone for more than 24 hours. Some people think if they leave out enough food and water their cat will be OK on their own. Cats are not self-sufficient loners even though they are generally more independent than dogs.

Never disregard your cat’s changes in behaviour. When cats experience pain, or have dental disease or arthritis, they may stop eating, interacting with the family, and become reclusive or aggressive.

If you notice your cat’s behaviour has changed dramatically, schedule an appointment with a vet to determine if there is a medical reason for the personality shift.