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Cat Care

Becoming a cat owner requires that you take full responsibility for health, care, maintenance, and well being. A cute fluffy kitten soon becomes an adult cat that will be part of your family for many years. Feline care will include providing food, water, litter, regular grooming, exercise, play, veterinarian check-ups, vaccinations, cat flea control, heartworm prevention, and the decision to spay or neuter.

Cats are especially sensitive and something as simple as rearranging the furniture can send them into a panic. Cats enjoy a predictable life. Prevent stress by using Comfort Zone with Feliway for cats.

Keep them indoors where they are least likely to be attacked by predators or exposed to disease. Domestic pet cats may be independent in nature, but they are very dependent on their owner for their needs. Cats face a variety of dangers from being left to roam outdoors. Danger from automobiles, predators, cruelty, parasites, and poisons are only a few of the things that are bad for a domestic cat. In the summer outside they are exposed to extreme temperatures and a lack of fresh clean water; in the winter outdoors they are exposed to harsh freezing temperatures and need extra calories for protection from hypothermia. Cats that are left to fend for themselves outside have a short life expectancy. Indoor cats taken care of by their owners can live up to 15 - 20 years and more. Outdoor cats are not happier -- this is a myth! All pets deserve and need to be near their owners, so they can be loved and cared for properly. Cats make wonderful, delightful pets.

Spaying and neutering are important for many reasons: Neutered males are less likely to mark their territory. Altered cats are less aggressive, easier to handle, and more friendly with their owners. Additionally, spayed or neutered cats are less likely to spray and have inappropriate elimination (urinating or defecating outside the litter box.) It is easier to prevent spraying by early neutering than to cure your cat of this behavior when he is older and the habit is formed. Females in heat will try to scratch through window screens and howl endlessly. Females are at risk for mammary or uterine cancer; males can get testicular or prostate cancer.

Feed your cat premium cat food. High quality cat foods meeting AAFCO cat food standards will ensure that your cat gets a balanced diet with the right nutrients. Provide your cat with a fresh supply of cold water throughout the day. If you make a change to your cat's diet, do it as gradually as possible. Guidelines for switching to a different food that works for dogs and cats: Dog Food -- How Much Should I Feed? Scroll to How to Transition to a New Dog Food in 10 Days. If moist pet food goes uneaten for 2 hours, refrigerate it. Consult your veterinarian for food and amount recommendations based on your cat's stage of life and health history. Keeping your cat from becoming overweight is as vital to his health as the food you feed him, so treats should be factored into his daily calories and nutrition as well.

Keeping your cat indoors or outdoors can depend on many factors, including your lifestyle and where you live. Many cat organizations recommend keeping your cat indoors for safety, better health, and a longer life. Allow your cat to choose favorite spots to hang out around the house, and then make it more comfortable with blankets and pillows or a cat bed. You can provide your cat with scratch pads and scratching post. Cat love to play with toys.

Litter Box
A very important aspects of cat care is the litter box. The most common reason adult cats are brought to shelters is for unresolved litter box problems. Make sure that it's large enough for your cat to be comfortable. Use a good quality cat litter for odor control and ease of cleaning. Place the litter box in a relatively quiet private area that your cat likes to frequent, and if you have multiple cats provide at the very least 1 litter box for each cat. If your cat is a senior he may appreciate a cat box with low walls to climb in and out of. Some cats prefer more privacy and do better with a covered litter box. A home with several stories should have a litter box on each floor. Clean feces from the litter box daily. About every 2 weeks empty out the old litter into a trash bag, clean the box, and provide fresh new litter.

Grooming tools include a brush, flea comb, and nail clippers. When grooming your cat, it not only provides bonding time, but also stimulates your cat's blood circulation, removes loose hair, and prevents knotting or matting of the coat. Grooming also prevents hairballs from developing.

Groom weekly (or more frequent if possible) and use this time to examine your cat for common health problems as well. Check your cat's gums, teeth, eyes, ears (look for signs of ear mites), skin, legs, and paws. Most cats learn to enjoy the grooming process! For longhaired cats and to minimize shedding, you can brush your cat daily.

Check your cat's nails regularly and clip them as needed. You can provide scratching posts or pads to help keep your cats nails trimmed naturally. However, if your cat's claws get too long, they may curve back into the toe pad. They are also more likely to get caught on something if they're not kept trimmed. Make sure to use good quality clippers designed for cats to trim the claws. Press the paw gently to expose the nails. Make sure you clip well to the outside of the tiny darkish pink vain, called the quick. If you clip to short and cause bleeding use pet styptic powder as a coagulant.

Checking your cat's ears should be done weekly as well. Clean them as needed, using a small amount of veterinary ear cleaner, and a cotton ball.

Get in the habit of brushing your cat's teeth daily. Begin this with your new kitten's care. This is the best way to help him avoid excess tartar and plaque build-up, periodontal disease, tooth extraction, and health issues. Ask your veterinarian for information on what kind of toothpaste to use (never use human brand toothpaste for pets.) Toothbrushes made for dogs can be used for cats. Brush Your Pet's Teeth in 5 Easy Steps. Dental care is as important as your cat's nutritional needs. Good dental care is directly correlated to keeping him in good health.

Bathing is not necessary for cats as they are excellent at grooming themselves. But, if your cat has fleas, do use a good quality flea shampoo to kill the fleas. If you do decide to bathe your cat, have all supplies within arm's reach. Place a small towel over the side of the tub to provide a surface for your cat to cling onto. Hold your cat with a hand and lather it with your other hand. Water temperature should be approximately 100 degrees F. Wash your cat's head, ears, and neck first to prevent any fleas that are on your cat from taking refuge there while you clean the rest of its body.

Play and Exercise
Playing with your cat is essential for bonding and weight control, plus it helps your cat develop muscle tone, agility, and stamina. Buy toys for your cat that mimic hunting behaviors like fishing, pouncing, and chasing. A scratching post or pad is essential for exercise and stress relief, and you can easily train your cat not to scratch on the furniture by having a scratching post to use. Cats love to play with and inside paper bags and boxes! Your cat will appreciate his own comfortable bed to curl up in for long naps, as well as a cat perch to view the world preferably close to a window.

Cat Proofing Your Home

  • Check that windows and doors are securely screened and latched.
  • Look for dangling and potentially dangerous electrical cords.
  • Remove heavy items that can be knocked over, and remove broken glass, and other sharp items.
  • Remove plants that can be toxic.
  • Cats can be poisoned as they are attracted to sweet smelling things. Make sure there is nothing toxic around that the cat could ingest.
  • Cats like warmth, so be prepared to supervise them around a fireplace or wood stove, and keep lit candles far out of reach.
  • Cats like crawly spaces, so be alert for the cat crawling or hiding under a recliner, couch, and mattress box springs.
  • Outdoors and in the garage put mechanical fluids like antifreeze, pool chemicals, fertilizers, and other potentially toxic fluids in tightly closed containers.
  • Put medications, grooming accessories, creams, lotions, and other potentially dangerous items in closed containers.

Introducing a New Cat
Gaining compatibility between household pets is very important, but be sure to introduce a new cat slowly. A new environment is very stressful for a cat, and adding other pets and children at the same time makes it even more so. Making introductions at a slow pace will give everybody time to adjust. Take into account the training and temperament of each animal and adjust for their needs. Slowly introduce children as well.

Cats become familiar with others inhabitants primarily through odor. Provide a safe place for each animal, then slowly introduce them to each other through scent over a few days. After a time they will be ready to venture into community spaces, but make sure there are always several easy escape routes.

How to Find Your Lost Cat (or Dog)
The first thing to do when searching for your lost cat is to confirm that your cat is actually lost. Cats are very adept at finding a cozy warm place in your home to nap for quite some time.

Search everywhere inside (couches, closets, behind curtains, on bookshelves), and nearby outside (your yard, garden, and bushes) before taking the next step to venturing out in your neighborhoodand looking for your lost cat.

After you've determined that your cat is definitely gone, don't gather your entire family in an effort to search for your cat. Cats are well known to return soon after their departure. You'll want someone at home to contact the others in the event that your cat wanders back home soon after the search party leaves.

Stay fairly close to home for the first part of your search, because cats usually don't go far. They're curious animals that like to look and poke around for interesting new things. It's more likely for a cat to be a few blocks away than a few miles away. Check all the streets in your neighborhood.

While you are out searching, if you happen to see other cat owners, tell them you are looking for your lost cat. It's more likely that a cat owner will notice a wandering cat than someone who is not a cat lover.

When searching the neighborhood, call your cat's name. Your cat can hear you from a great distance. Your cat might be in between houses or behind bushes. Don't rely on just your eyes for finding your cat!

After you've exhausted your physical search, it's time to post LOST CAT flyers around your neighborhood. Title it LOST CAT and list name, breed, and color. If you have a recent photo you can scan onto the flyers that's very helpful. Keep the information simple. Provide your contact information on the flyer -- just your phone number -- not your name or address. If you advertise offering an award, leave out a few identifying details of your cat (1 blue eye and 1 green eye, missing a toe on right front foot, etc.).

Call your local veterinary offices and animal emergency clinics to see if anyone has brought in a lost cat. Give them information about your lost cat and take the flyer in if you can.

Visit your local animal control, humane societies, and animal shelters to look for your lost cat. It's quite possible that your cat could end up there, and describing your cat over the phone isn't enough to find out if he has been taken in. Ask if they will post the LOST CAT flyer where visitors and employees can see it and contact you should your cat show up.

Check the newspaper's classifieds section for Found Pets. These ads usually change daily, so you should check them each day. If your newspaper has a web site, see if you can search those listings online. You can also pay for a classified ad for a LOST CAT. Post a free message on your local Craigslist.

It's helpful to have a collar and tags on your cat, in case he is lost and someone finds him, they will know he is a lost cat.

If he was micro-chipped or ear tattooed, many veterinarians and animal shelters will be able to notify you, even if the collar and tags were removed.

Never ever send or wire reward money until you see your cat. How to Find a Lost Cat.