Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How To Take Care Of A Cat

If you thinking about adopting a pet, and considering your new family member to be a cat, you need to know the basics of how to take care of a cat. People who have busy lifestyles might prefer a cat rather than a dog because they require less attention than dogs do. However, all animals need a certain amount of proper care to be healthy and happy and before you bring your new kitten home, you must learn what the cat will need and how to take care of a cat.

First and foremost, once you have adopted a cat, the first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with your vet. And if you have other cats in your household, you will need to keep your new cat separate from the other cats until your vet can examine your new cat. This is very important as cats can aquire a variety of illnesses that can be transmitted to your other cats via biting or scratching. Your vet will be able to perform some simple, relatively inexpensive tests to make sure your new cat is healthy and free from disease. Your new cat will also require its intial vaccines to help prevent illness. Once your new kitten has been checked and is found to be healthy and disease free, then you can allow contact with your other cats. Until then, you must keep your new cat away from the others to avoid any personal contact with your other cats. Your cat will also require a poop specimen to determine if it has any worms, and if so medicine will be given to you to eliminate the worms. Worms are contagious to other cats so testing for worms and eliminating them before letting your new cat share a litter box with your other cats is necessary to avoid exposing your other cats.

Cats do require some of their own personal belongings. They will need a litter box, and you should purchase one that will be big enough for your kitten to use once it is full grown. I prefer enclosed litter boxes, ones that have a lid, for several reasons. First of all, it helps reduce any mess of litter being scratched out onto the floor. Second, an enclosed litter box helps reduce any unwanted odors. And third, cats prefer privacy when they go to the bathroom and a box with a lid will provide your cat with a private place to go. You should clean out your litterbox on a daily basis. This will keep it odor free, and also keep your cat happy and prevent it from urinating and pooping outside the litter box. Cats do not like to use dirty litter boxes and if you do not clean it out on a regular basis, you will more than likely find unwanted messes on your floor. If you own more than one cat, please keep in mind that it is recommended that you provide one litter box per cat plus one additional box. Each cat will prefer its own litter box and this also helps prevent the litter box from becoming dirty too fast. You will find learning how to take care of a cat is not very difficult.

When learning how to take care of a cat, another important need for your cat is their own sleeping areas. You should provide your cat with their own cat bed to sleep on. I offer my cats several cat beds in different areas of the house. This gives the cat a choice and your cat will likely pick his favorite place to cat nap relatively quickly. Offering different places for your cat to lay and be comfortable is important as sometimes your cat will prefer to be in the same room with you, and other times the cat may prefer a quiet, private room to rest in. Cats do like their own space and appreciate some time to be by themselves so offer your cat a variety of locations to choose from.

Another important aspect of how to take care of a cat is that cats also need toys for stimulation and cat trees or cat furniture that they can play and climb on and use to scratch on. If you do not provide your cat with cat furniture and scratching posts, you may find them scratching on your furniture instead. You cannot prevent a cat from scratching, but you can provide them with appropriate places to scratch which will lessen the chance of the cat ruining your furniture. Cat toys are very important for play and exercise. Choose toys carefully and make sure each toy does not have any small parts, yarn or string that can become detatched. This poses a choking risk to your cat. If you find any parts of a toy have small parts, yarn,  string or rope, remove them yourself and prevent a possible danger to your animal.  Never give your cat any type of string, yarn, or rope as cats do swallow things like this and it poses a true medical emergency. Toys with catnip in them are great because most likely, your cat will absolutely love it. Catnip is a natural herb that cats go crazy for, and they are very entertaining when "high" on this herb. Catnip does affect each cat differently. It helps to mellow out some cats, while other cats become very playful and amusing. Some cats do not like catnip at all. It won't take long to find out how your cat will respond to catnip and if they enjoy it, continue to give it to them. Cats do build a tolerance to catnip over time, so if you find your cat not responding to catnip, but once did, just remove the catnip toys for a while and then reintroduce them in a few days. Taking the time to learn how to take care of a cat will help ensure you are providing all that your cat wants and needs.
Another important aspect of taking care of a cat is choosing a proper and healthy diet for your cat.  I recommend talking to your vet about cat food choices and find out what he recommends. Some cats prefer dry cat food, while others prefer wet food. You will have to determine by trial and error what your cat will prefer. I provide both for my cats. It gives them a choice and prevents the cat from becoming bored with the food. Wet canned food is generally better for your cat. It provides much more water content than dry food does. Cats do not always drink a lot of water so the added water in the wet food is a great way to get more water into your cat. If a cat is eating only dry food, and not drinking enough water, this can lead to constipation or difficulty going to the bathroom. Cats also require taurine in their diet, which all cat food is fortified with, so if you do feed table scraps to your cat, you should limit table food to meats and fish and make sure they still get enough cat food for essential nutrients they need. Never give your cat any kind of onions, onion powder, or any onion product. Onions destroy red blood cells in cats resulting in anemia. And never give chocolate of any kind to your cat, as it is also poisonous to cats. Always provide fresh clean water to your cat and change the water daily. Some cats prefer a watering system that runs the water constantly. They are attracted to running water and may be more inclined to drink more from running water. That type of system is not necessary though, just make sure you clean the water bowl and provide fresh water every day. Once you learn the basics of how to take care of a cat, you will find that owning a cat a provide proper care is not very demanding or difficult.

Frequent brushing is also a must when learning how to take care of a cat. While cats do a great job with grooming and keep themselves very clean, a good brushing is important to help remove excess fur. Cats ingest a lot of fur when they groom themselves and the more fur that you can remove with regular brushing, the less the cat will swallow. Cat hairballs are always a potential issue, especially with medium to long haired cats. Brushing your cat on a regular basis, even daily, will greatly reduce the risk of hairballs. Most cats love to be brushed and you will find that your cat will become very affectionate with you during brushing. This is an excellent way to strengthen the bond between you and your cat while helping to prevent hairballs at the same time.
Always keep in contact with your vet for any other questions you have, especially if your cat starts behaving differently, starts going to the bathroom outside the litter box, or you notice a change in appetite or energy levels. If your cat has behavior changes, discuss it with your vet as soon as possible to eliminate any illnesses as a possible cause. Cats will often exhibit a change in behavior when they are ill so if you notice a change in your cat, even a subtle change, you should contact your vet. Cats also require an annual wellness exam at the vets office and also require yearly vaccinations to keep them happy and healthy. Try to keep these annual appointments at the same time every year. Depending on whether or not your cat goes outside, or is strictly an indoor cat, you may need to consider flea and tick medication. Generally, indoor cats do not need this type of medication. If they do not go outside, they likely do not come in contact with ticks and fleas. But, if you own a dog or other pets that live inside and out, you may need to talk with your vet about whether or not to treat your cat for fleas and ticks as the dog can bring them into the house.

Taking care of a cat is really not hard to do. Understanding cats and cat behavior is helpful when trying to determine exactly what your cat wants and needs. But, for the most part, you only need to start with the basics, food, water, shelter, annual vet visits, a litter box, a scratching post and some toys. Then, you can start buying your cat other accessories such as their own furniture, cat trees, etc. Once you know how to take care of a cat, you can feel comfortable making the right choices when it comes to the safety and well-being of your cat

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