Has a small domesticated mammal with soft fur, a playful personality, and an adorable face recently become a part of your family? Congratulations on your fun-loving addition! Whatever your reason may be for this addition, their comforting purring sounds or their affectionate behavior, they aren’t low-maintenance. On the contrary, in order to stay healthy and happy, cats require extensive and proper care.
Although cats are more ideal for people with busy lifestyles than dogs, they will still count on you for food, shelter, veterinary care, love, and a clean litter box. You’ll be their companion, their feeder, their caretaker, and their lover for many years to come. If you’re a first-time cat-owner, please read on for some useful cat care tips. This cat care guide can also come in handy if you’re already a cat owner but want to brush up on your pet care skills.
Cat Care Tip #1 – Feeding Your Cat
According to an expert in cat health, “cats are very opinionated about food, and a lot of their food preferences are formed in the first year”. If you’re getting a young cat, then you’ll have plenty of time to get her used to various types of food, dry food, semi-moist, and canned. Even if you’re getting a grown cat, there are still ways to make her get all the nutrients she needs.
The essential thing to remember is that your cat needs to eat a complete, balanced, and healthy meat-based food. Protein and fat are the most important nutrients you need. The best times to feed them are at dawn and dusk when they would normally be hunting and catching prey in the wild. From age six months to maturity, most cats will do well eating two times a day. However, growing kittens up to six months of age may require three meals a day.
The amount of food your cat should eat daily depends on its size, age, and activity. The average recommended intake is 200 calories per day. Make sure you don’t overfeed it. Overfeeding is the most common mistake that owners make, with obesity being the number one nutritional disease among cats. As cute as it may seem to have a fluffy cat, overfeeding can result in health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, and urinary tract disease.
If your cat is not eating, ask yourself: am I putting my cat’s food dish in the right place? Your cat needs to feel secure before indulging in her food. Place her dish somewhere where she can see in all directions in order to feel she’s safe from danger.
Cat Care Tip #2 –Keeping your cat hydrated
Your basic cat health knowledge should include the information that water is vital to your pet’s health. Although they don’t need to drink large amounts of water each day, they need to have fresh and clean drinking water available at all times.
If you’re hesitant between dry or canned food, remember that cats need to get their water with their food. Canned food contains around 78% of water, whereas canned food is only 5%-10% water.
The body of the cat is made up of about 70% water. Since cats eat lots of dry food which has very low water content they need an additional water supply. Getting enough water is necessary for the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, digestion and energy metabolism, and kidney function. Generally, an adult cat should drink nearly the same amount of water (in milliliters) as the number of kilocalories eaten per day.
There are ways to encourage your cat to drink more water. Make sure you provide clean water at all times, place water bowls in various places and make sure the bowls are filled regularly. Keep in mind that cats have their own preferences when it comes to obtaining water. Some cats prefer tap water and other bottled. Other prefer water fountains that you can easily find at any fully-stocked pet store. Try adding ice cubes in your cat’s food or in the water bowl.
If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, take her to a veterinarian immediately.
Cat Care Tip #3 – Letting your cat play
Although there is a growing trend for cat lovers to keep their companions indoors, many owners decide to give their cats the freedom to come and go as they please. And many cat care specialists do encourage allowing your cat to be more independent.
There is a wide range of benefits of allowing your friend to roam the great outdoors. By spending more time outdoors, your cat will develop natural feline behaviors like socialising, marking, scratching, and territory patrolling. They will even engage in hunting activities, playing with fallen leaves or lurking in the grass. As a fact, these outdoor activities release hormones known as endorphins, natural painkilling chemicals. Moreover, the outdoors will keep your feline friend mentally stimulated, the key to a happy and healthy cat. Remember: a bored cat is a destructive cat.
This is where cat doors come in handy. Most pets will most certainly benefit from having a pet flap installed in the home. Why? Because once you have a cat door in your home, you can stay in bed as long as you wish on Sunday mornings and let your pet roam in and out freely. Your cat will have the independence to go to the “bathroom” when it pleases, play when it’s in the mood, and run freely when it wishes. Not having the freedom to roam free and stay busy will result in excessive scratching and digging, getting into food, and other destructive behavior.
Consider getting a microchip or magnetic cat flap to allow your cat the freedom to choose when to go out while stopping other cats from entering the home. Rest assured that your cat will instantly learn how to use the cat flap.
Cat Care Tip #4 – Keeping your cat healthy
A basic cat care tip is that your cat needs a vet! You’ll need to register your cat with a vet as soon as you possible. A good vet should be easy to find, and a good start-point is asking your friends for a referral or finding information online.
Furthermore, it’s recommended to have your cat neutered/spayed at around four months of age or younger. Neutering your cat prevents diseases such as breast tumors in females and testicular problems in males. It can also prevent territorial behavior such as scratching, spraying, and fighting. Also, you’ll help reduce the overpopulation of this feline community.
Responsible cat owners should also make sure their cats are regularly vaccinated to stop the spread of diseases. There are core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are vital to your cat’s health and protect against panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type 1, and rabies. Non-core vaccines include vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus. You should consult with your vet about which vaccines are best for your cat.
Cat Care Tip #5 – Toileting
Cats may occasionally have toileting issues. They should be able to access their toileting site without having to pass other cats or things that make them anxious. Place your litter box in private areas of the home, away from the food and water bowls. Make sure the litter box is clean as cats don’t like using dirty trays. To keep the litter box clean, make sure you scoop the litter daily. You should clean the tray once a week by rinsing it with water and then using a cat-safe disinfectant.
Additional reading – Cat Doors: How to Choose the Perfect One