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Respect Your Cat Day: Remember who’s really in charge (Hint: it’s not you)

Cats can recognise your voice. So yes, they are just ignoring you. Cat parents are probably smiling and nodding right now, and dog parents? Well, they’re just shaking their heads, jealous they haven’t experienced what it feels like to be owned by a cat. Earning your cat’s respect is a journey, not a destination, and what a beautiful journey it is.

While most cats demand our respect and unwavering devotion every day of the year, Respect Your Cat Day, celebrated annually on 28 March, is the perfect reminder why we love catering to their needs so much, explains Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Speaking to this point, Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, says cats primed us to love them, partly because of their humanoid faces – those big eyes remind us of our own babies – and partly because they didn’t fear us as much as other animals did. Now, cats are a global obsession, especially online, where figures like the late Grumpy Cat have more followers (and earning potential) than many human celebrities. So, in many ways, cats rule us.

However, Tucker adds, cat parents take great pleasure from making their cats happy, even if it is more challenging. Finding their sweet spot, whether it be a toy, a treat, or a certain kind of scratching, brushing, or petting that brings on the contented sound of purring is deeply satisfying. Humans, bred to live in groups, are prone to want to please others, and what better challenge than a cat?

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And what do cat parents know pleases their cat more than anything in the world? Sleeping and eating. “Cats can sleep anywhere between 12 and 16 hours a day, with energy conservation being one of the main reasons for their extended sleep periods. This is where the term ‘cat nap’ originates. In addition to deep sleep, cats can doze off for brief moments at a time, lasting anywhere from five to 30 minutes, but remain on high alert for predators or prey – a biological impulse. If your cat has ever fallen asleep sitting up, she’s doing what she’s supposed to,” Ackhurst adds.

Despite your cat’s lengthy sleep requirements, she is anything but lazy, explains Ackhurst. In fact, for the four to seven hours of the day your cat isn’t sleeping, cat parents should make sure their cat gets plenty of play and exercise. A rigorous play session is especially important in the evening, when your cat is hardwired to begin the ‘hunt.’ Provide your cat with some fun DIY toys such as an empty toilet roll and string or some feathers attached to a stick, and a durable scratching post to shred (another innate cat behaviour) – remember to always supervise your cat when playing with these items as they can be destroyed and ingested.

Then, there’s food. Do cats think about food? “Yes, they love thinking about food,” says Ackhurst. The thought of food can pop into their heads at the slightest stimulation – you entering the kitchen, the sound of a pouch or bag opening. This is when you’ll hear their ‘meow’ song in different tones. “Cats are survivors,” Ackhurst explains, and food is always on their mind even if they are fed sufficiently and on time. In the wild, once they’ve eaten, they need to start thinking about the next meal so as not to risk becoming too hungry and weak.

If you really want to earn respect from your mini feline ruler then offering them some of Hill’s delicious food in flavours like chicken, tuna and lamb will really get their purrs going.

Hill’s knows cat parents like treating their cats like royalty. That’s why cat parents will receive a free bowl (Ts & Cs apply) to suit the cat kings and queens in their homes with every 1.5kg and bigger bag of Hill’s Feline purchased. The promotion is running at selected participating Hill’s stockists around the country, while stocks last.

Visit the Hill’s website for more information

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