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Why Cats Can’t Be Considered Low Maintenance: Vet-Verified Reasons

Written by: Crystal Uys

Last Updated on July 2, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Why Cats Can’t Be Considered Low Maintenance: Vet-Verified Reasons


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Dogs are very high-maintenance pets as, in addition to food, attention, and affection, they also need daily exercise and training. Some dogs, especially high-energy breeds like Australian Shepherds or Labrador Retrievers, need a lot of exercise. When we compare the needs of cats to that of dogs, it’s clear that dogs are higher maintenance.

Potential pet parents on the hunt for a lower-maintenance pet may think cats fit the bill perfectly. They don’t need to go for daily walks and won’t tear apart the house if they feel nervous while you’re away.

While cats are often perceived as fiercely independent, they aren’t as hands-off as some might think. They have a lot of needs that need to be met daily and aren’t a pet you can adopt and let fend for themselves. Keep reading to learn more.

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siamese kitten eating from a stainless bowl
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Cats are creatures of habit, so they need a regular feeding schedule to give them the predictability they crave. Most vets recommend feeding your healthy adult cat at least two meals a day.

Cats have specific nutritional needs that you must meet to ensure they can live long and healthy lives. Take taurine, for example. Taurine is an amino acid that’s found only in animal-based proteins. Your cat needs to acquire this nutrient from their diet because they cannot make it themselves. Taurine plays an important role in vision, digestion, heart muscle function, and optimal immune system functioning.

Feeding your cat a diet deficient in taurine for prolonged periods can lead to complications such as dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that weakens the heart’s muscle cells. Your cat may also develop feline retinal degeneration, leading to irreversible blindness.

Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their health relies on nutrients found only in animal products. Canines on the other hand are classified as facultative carnivores.

A lack of amino acids from the correct type of protein will lead to health problems, so it’s necessary for potential cat owners to do some nutrition research to ensure the diet they’ll be feeding their pet supports a healthy life.


cat grooming in pet beauty salon
Image by: Studio Peace, Shutterstock

Grooming is another essential part of cat parenthood.

Many people think that since cats don’t need baths the same way that dogs do, they don’t need to do any grooming at all. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Your kitty will require brushing once or twice a week to keep their coat and fur looking its best. Cat breeds with long or silky coats must be brushed daily to prevent tangles and matting.

Cats can sometimes control their nails themselves through physical activity and by using their scratching posts, but there may come a time when you need to trim their nails.

Cutting their nails will not only protect you from their razor-sharp claws but can also prevent painful and broken claws that can occur when the sharp tips become embedded in the carpet, curtains, or furniture.


striped cat looking out the window at home
Image by: Chen, Unsplash

Both cats and dogs need a roof over their heads to survive. Cats can get into a lot of trouble if they stay outdoors unsupervised for long periods. Some of the biggest concerns for outdoor cats include:

  • Increased risk of diseases like feline leukemia
  • Increased risk of parasites like fleas or ticks
  • Other cats
  • Cars
  • Loose dogs
  • Wild animals
  • Toxins
  • Poisons
  • Toxic plants or flowers
  • Animal cruelty

Outdoor cats can also cause environmental concerns as they have a high prey drive. As a result, cats are actually considered one of the world’s most invasive species and threaten global biodiversity.

If you do not plan to keep your cat indoors 24/7, you must ensure that their outdoor time is spent safely. For example, build an enclosed catio so they can spend time outside without threatening local wildlife, or invest in a leash or harness so you can explore together without wreaking havoc on your neighborhood.

Taking your cat for a walk may sound challenging, but the right harness and leash can make all the difference! We recommend Hepper's Cat Harness & Leash Set because it combines important safety features with stylish and comfortable design elements.

Hepper Cat Harness and Leash Escape Proof Set -...
  • Escape Proof - Cat leashes and harnesses for walking aren't all equally secure. Our double aluminium...
  • Superior Comfort - Our cat harnesses are lightweight, made with premium velvet fabric, breathable...
  • Free Extra Strength Leash - You don't need to worry about your cat escaping this harness. This cat...

From the highly adjustable, machine-washable velvet harness to the sturdy nylon climbing rope leash, this set has everything you'll need to start adventuring.

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!


owner cleaning her cats litter tray
Image by: Yuliya Alekseeva, Shutterstock

Cats are great because they don’t whine to be let outside to do their business like dogs, but the downside is that you must contend with cat litter daily. Dogs will go into the yard to eliminate, keeping offensive odors out of your home, but cats need a particular area of your home dedicated to their toileting.

Litter is something you’ll need to budget for as it is a recurring expense, just like your cat’s food. You’ll need to scoop it every day; otherwise, your cat may begin eliminating outside the box, and your home will start to smell.


cat playing with owner
Image by: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

Cats don’t need to be taken for daily walks or let outside to run off some steam as dogs do. But just because you’re not playing fetch with your cat doesn’t mean you don’t have to provide them with sources of entertainment.

Cats that do not get enough mental or physical stimulation will become bored, and unfortunately, boredom and cats do not mix. A bored kitty may develop inappropriate behaviors such as scratching, over-vocalization, excessive sleeping, or aggression.

You must spend some time every day playing with your cat in some capacity. Buy different types of toys to see which your cat prefers.

You can’t be home all day, so buy your cat a scratching post and cat tree so your kitty can have some entertainment to pass the time when you’re away.

Looking for toys that cater to the many needs of your cat? The Hepper Hi-lo Cat Scratcher is one of our favorite cat products. Its clever thee-angle design offers multiple ways for your cat to climb, stretch, and exercise. Made of a sturdy plywood base and a replacement cardboard insert, this scratcher is an option that can be enjoyed by cats for years to come. If your cat requires a little encouragement for self-play, the Hepper Plush Mouse Kicker is a fantastic choice. Equipped with bite and kick-resistant fabric, an enticing internal bell, and organic catnip, cats can satisfy their natural prey instincts while getting the physical activity they need to thrive. 

Hepper Mouse kicker toy white cat playing on a scratching postscratcher
Hepper Plush Mouse Kicker Toy Hepper Hi-Lo Scratcher
Multi-level play
Multi-level play:
Multi-level play:
Interactive :
Interactive :
Promotes exercise
Promotes exercise:
Promotes exercise:
Replaceable parts
Replaceable parts:
Replaceable parts:
Satisfies prey-instincts
Satisfies prey-instincts:
Satisfies prey-instincts:

At Catster, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!


ginger cat check by vet
Image by: Nestor Rizhniak, Shutterstock

Cats have a slightly longer life expectancy than most dogs, living to around 15 years on average. Since they live longer, pet owners must be prepared to care for their cats for their entire life. A longer lifespan equals more expenses like food and veterinary care and many more years of taking care of your pet.

Cats are fantastic at hiding illness or pain and have actually evolved to be this way. When cats were in the wild, they’d do everything in their power to avoid attracting the attention of their predators. Sick, slow, or injured cats would have become easy targets in the wild.

While your domesticated kitty is safe from predators in your home, it’s still ingrained in their brain that they need to hide any signs of illness or pain to protect themselves. Your kitty may exhibit subtle signs that indicate illness, so you must be in tune with your pet to detect health problems. Some signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • Sitting in strange positions (e.g., hunched over)
  • Low energy
  • Changes in coat appearance
  • Shedding more than usual
  • Eye discharge
  • Nose discharge
  • Breathing changes
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Yowling in pain when using the litter box
  • Refusing to eat

A visit to the vet should be in order if you notice any unusual behaviors in your cat.

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Final Thoughts

Cats are considered self-sustainable by many, but we wouldn’t consider them a low-maintenance pet. Properly caring for a cat requires a lot of time, energy, space, and money. It is a huge responsibility, and the decision to adopt one should not be taken lightly. So, if you’re searching for a low-maintenance pet, a cat is not it.

See Also: 

Featured Image Credit: xixicatphotos, Shutterstock

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