We’ve written a lot about dogs in the last couple of months but we mustn’t forget our feline friends. They would be furious if they knew, but they also understand that they are a mystery to be admired, and are much less understood.

Here are a few facts and tips.

Growing up my pleas for a puppy fell on deaf ears. Quite rightly my Mother understood how much work dogs can be and so cats were introduced into my heart and home as an 8 year old.

As an adult I now have two beautiful British Shorthair cats called Lily and Nelson (pictured) who have been with me for several years. Each one has their own personality – Lily loves to play in the bath, when it is empty, and Nelson loves catnip toys.

Last year puppy Winnie (French Bull Dog) joined our family and we had to go through a slow process of introducing her to Lily and Nelson.We’re glad to say that they have accepted Winnie quite well and apart from the odd hiss or two they go about their day as normal.

Cats are very independent and are probably one of the easiest pets to have in your home. They don’t need to be taken for a walk every day and many are extremely loving. In fact, 30 minutes of stroking a cat actually increases a human’s serotonin – that’s the chemical that helps us feel happy.

Cats are famous for sleeping, in fact most cats can be found huddled up somewhere for an average of 15 hours per day! The less you interact with them the more likely they will sleep longer so make sure you introduce playtime and a simple cat toy which will provide hours of fun. You can also introduce interesting ways of feeding them using food placed in cartons, boxes etc., for them to sniff and hunt – after all hunting is what they did regularly before they became domesticated.

Cats need to keep their claws trimmed and sadly will go for the nearest piece of furniture, carpet, wallpaper or anything that is abrasive. Ensure that you introduce a large scratch post as early as possible. Place some cat nip nearby and encourage them to use it. I’m afraid this won’t actually stop them clawing around the house but it will help to reduce ruining your sofa!

A handy tip, if your cat has started on the furniture already place some clear double-sided tape on the area for a few weeks, with a post close by as an alternative. They will not like the sticky surface and will soon move on.

Although it is illegal in this country there are still some unscrupulous vets out there who will offer to de-claw your cat. Please don’t ever even consider this. If you can’t deal with this natural aspect of a cat’s behaviour then don’t have one.

Cats can be very demanding especially at feeding time and have even learned how to meow like a baby crying. How many of us have experienced the padding, purring, meowing and nudging first thing in the morning? Cats really are masters of persuasion.

Do make sure you check your cat for fleas regularly and treat them every month with flea drops (your vet will be able to advise on brands). Most cats love to be groomed so invest in a flea comb too. Left untreated the cat may suffer from skin problems or tape worms and you will suffer from an infested house as fleas breed quickly in carpets and furniture.

Here’s some more useful tips

• If you move into a flat ensure it is cat friendly and they have easy access to get in and out – a cat flap is recommended
• Cats get jealous and protective so if you are expecting a baby do take this into consideration
• If your cat is old or stays in a lot you’ll need a litter tray which will have to be cleaned regularly
• Designate a quiet room for your cat – they like to have a safe place to go to
• Be careful what plants or flowers you have in the house, some are toxic to cats such as lilies
• Avoid giving your cat milk as this can upset their stomach
• Do get them spayed and micro-chipped
• Always provide a few water sources around the house for them. Preferably away from their food bowl
• Stick to regular feeding times

Here at Hampstead Housesitters we look after many of our clients cats and kittens providing daily visits, playtime, grooming and lots of fuss. If you’re going away on holiday or business and are worried about your feline do get in touch and we can discuss tailoring a bespoke service for you so you don’t have to worry hello@hampsteadhousesitters.co.uk

You can also find further advice from the following charities RSPCA, Cats Protection, The Mayhew