Whether you’re a new cat owner, planning to become one, or even just one who would like to know how to better care for your furry friend, this guide has everything you need to know about caring for your cat. Cats are independent and can generally be self-sufficient, but they still depend on you to provide them with proper care. It doesn’t require a fortune, but it does require responsibility. The healthier and better cared for your cat is, the better pet it will be. Cats’ lifespans can last up to 12 years or more, meaning adopting one is a long-term commitment . With that said, let’s begin Cat Care 101!
Healthy Beginnings. No matter where you adopt your new kitten from, they all have the same potential to be healthy, happy, great pets. You may want to consider adopting from a local pet shelter. They have adult cats as well as young kittens available. While they charge an adoption fee, the cat comes free of pests, tested for diseases, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and some even declawed. This will end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. Aside from the financial benefits, there are many other reasons to consider adopting a pet from a shelter. Before you bring your new companion home you’ll want to pick up the basic necessities; a litter box, litter, a litter scoop, a food and water dish, food, and a few toys should be enough for now. It is very important to have your new cat seen by a vet. If you are low on cash, try seeking out a pet care assistance program for low-income households in your area. Please do not neglect to have at least your cat’s initial vet visit, as they will check for fleas, worms, mites, and other pests, as well as diseases such as the very dangerous Feline Leukemia Virus.
You may want to consider getting your pet spayed or neutered if they are not already, especially if you plan on having them be outdoors at any time. Un-spayed and un-neutered cats contribute to a cat overpopulation crisis and pet owners are encouraged to get them fixed. Not only that, but un-neutered male cats will mark their territory by “spraying”, leaving behind odorous urine that is difficult to get out. Un-spayed female cats will exhibit annoying behavior during “heat” that can drive you nuts.
Based on my personal experience, I recommend keeping your kitty indoors. This will protect him from dangers in the outdoors, such as aggressive cats or other animals, moving vehicles, getting stolen or lost, or contracting diseases like the previously mentioned Feline Leukemia Virus, which is common and fatal. If your cat has been allowed to roam the outdoors before, keeping him indoors can be difficult because he will always have the urge to go back outside. That’s why it’s best to keep him indoors from the beginning.
Feeding. The principle of finding the right balance of quality and price comes into play when choosing the right food for your cat. Don’t go with the bottom-end value brand food, as it contains a lot of filler and has little health value for your pet. The healthier the food you give him, the more vitality, longevity, and happiness he will have. Some low end foods contain bone fragments, fur, and who knows what else. You may consider giving him only dry food, wet food, or both. Personally, I feed my cat a middle-of-the-line dry food, but give her 1/3 of a can of healthy, premium wet food once a day or so. Talk to your vet about the best course of action when it comes to feeding your cat. To be safe, stick to the feeding instructions on the package, but usually you can just fill the bowl and leave it until it gets empty, then just fill it again. Your cat will moderate how much to eat naturally. If your cat is an indoor only cat, look for a food formulated for indoor cats to avoid weight gain.
The litter box. Cats instinctively look for a place where they can dig and bury their waste. Familiarize the cat with the litter box, place him in the box. He will feel the litter and know that this is a good place to go. Make sure you place the litter box where he will have some privacy, and fill it with a couple inches of litter. Keep the box scooped daily, and change the litter at least once a week. If you let the box get too dirty, your cat may avoid the litter box. Make sure you keep it clean. If you’re having problems getting him to use the box, talk to your vet to find out the best course of action.
Grooming. If your cat is not declawed, trimming his nails is a good idea, as it also reduce damage and scratching incidents. To do this, you’ll need a pair of pet nail trimmers. You may want to have a partner hold your cat to prevent him from squirming and causing an accident. Take the cat’s paw firmly but gently, and lightly squeeze the toe to expose the claw. Carefully position the trimmer on the white part of the claw, never cut into the pink area (called the quick) as this can cause him pain. If you want to bathe your cat, fill the tub with a few inches of warm water, should be comfortably warm to the touch. Have a cup, some old towels, and a gentle cat shampoo (do not use dog shampoo) ready. Saturate the fur with water, then work soap throughout, avoiding the head and face. Rinse thoroughly; cats lick themselves like crazy after a bath, and you don’t want them ingesting any soap. It’s almost inevitable that your cat will get fleas if it spends time outdoors, and even indoor cats are at risk. Protect him by getting a 30-day flea medication, it comes in a tube that you apply onto the skin at the neck once a month. It kills fleas at all stages, and ticks.
There’s not a whole lot else to know about basic cat care. Remember that you are all your kitty has, so be good to him. Even though cats are fairly independent, they still need interaction and companionship. Your cat’s behavior also depends on how you treat them – if you are mean or neglectful, he will be mean and avoid you. If you play with him and give him affection, he will be affectionate to you. In essence, the better pet owner you are, the better pet you will have!