How to Take Care of a Cat
Bringing a new cat into the family is exciting and rewarding. Cats are affectionate and loving companions and with love and care, can be part of your life for many years.
Cats are known for their resilience and independent nature, but domestic cats need to be cared for. This article is to help you learn how to take care of a cat and prepare for the journey ahead with your new furry friend.
Choose a clean dry and safe space for your cat, away from any other pets. Cats are territorial and use scent markers to claim a space for their own. After a few days, allow your cat to investigate other parts of the house.
If you have other cats, you should not allow them to see each other, keep them apart and gradually introduce them to each other’s scent.
There is much debate over whether cats should be kept indoors or allowed to go outside.
You should carefully consider all the risks and decide what you think is best.
Things to consider for outdoor cats:
Cars and loud noises.
Safety risks if you live in a high rise apartment.
(Consider cat proofing your balcony with netting or mesh)
Fleas and ticks require extra vigilance.
Indoor or outdoor, your cat should be able to easily access a safe area to sleep.
Before you bring your new kitty home, you should make sure you have all the supplies you are going to need.
- Food/water bowls
- Premium-Brand cat food (age appropriate)
- Litter boxes
- Cat litter
- Collar and identification tag
- Brush/flea comb
- Interactive cat toys
- Bed or box, warm blanket
- Scratching posts
- Cat carrier
- Love and hugs
Take your cat to the vet
The first thing you should do when you bring your new kitty home is to book an appointment with your local veterinary. This initial check-up is to identify any health issues and so that your cat can receive any necessary vaccinations and check or treat worms, fleas and ticks, this is very important, particularly if you are adopting a rescue animal.
Your vet will advise you on how to take care of your cat and maintain its health. If your cat shows signs of behavioral problems, ask your vet how to cope with or correct any known issues.
During this visit, be sure to ask your vet about spaying or neutering. We all love kittens but the reality is, the world is full of homeless cats which are prone to injury and disease. The numbers keep going up.
Besides the exponential cat population, Un-neutered males have a tendency to spray which is always unpleasant.
If you are on a limited budget, some vets offer low-cost options to people who are unable to fund the operation, otherwise, contact your local SPCA and find out if they offer a free service.
Get your cat electronically chipped and get a safety collar with your contact information on it.
Fleas, Ticks and Worms
An important part of learning how to take care of cat is knowing how to prevent and treat parasites. There are many products available, including all-round parasite treatments. The most popular products are collars and spot-on products. If you prefer the natural way, there are plenty of chemical free, Eco-friendly cat products.
Keep your pet bedding clean by washing it, preferably on a hot wash.
Another important part of learning how to take care of cat has to do with toileting. Cats like to bury their poop and most do not require any toilet training. When you notice your cat wanting to poop, simply introduce it to the litter tray and nature will do the rest. If your cat does need a little help, you can use attractant litter or litter additive as a guide scent.
If your cat does make a mistake, you should never get angry or scold your cat. Cats do not respond well to any kind of aggression and it will only result in them disliking you.
Litter boxes come in a vast array of shapes, sizes, depths and styles and one size does not fit all. If your cat struggles to use its litter box it is likely to avoid using it. Choose a litter tray size that allows your cat to climb in and out of the box and maneuver with ease.
The general rule is one box per cat and one extra. If you have multiple levels in your home, you might want to have extra trays.
A good depth litter box with a lower entry on the front will prevent litter from spilling out on to the floor. For very small kittens a much smaller, low sided box is suitable for the first few months, then you can change to a larger box as it grows. Cats with mobility issues also need a lower entry.
The wrong litter box can result in issues such as litter spillage, difficulty cleaning, or your cat may avoid it altogether.
Litter boxes should be placed in a space with good air circulation and positioned so kitty can easily access it and exit it from more than one side. If you have multiple litter trays, avoid lining them up next to each other. Fill the litter tray to about 1 – 2 inches in depth.
Allow your cat to poop in peace. Place litter trays in areas where there are no loud noises or humans constantly walking through.
Previously, clay-based litters were the most popular and are very cheap however, they contain chemicals and produce a lot of dust.
There are many types of Eco-friendly, biodegradable cat litters which are healthier for both you, your cat and the environment. Types of natural litter include Corn, Wheat/Wheat by-product, Walnut and Grass and Pine.
Keep your cat’s litter boxes clean
Cats don’t like strong smells and will avoid dirty litter trays. Solids should be scooped out of the tray at least once a day and fully cleaned once a week or less if you are using clumping litter. To clean the litter tray, empty and safely dispose of the contents. Rinse with a mild detergent. Never use chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, or scents.
If your cat suddenly develops issues with its usual litter tray, it may be the result an ailment such as a urinary tract infection or gastrointestinal issue. The cat will associate the discomfort with the litter tray and avoid using it. If this occurs, you should bring your cat to the vet.
Urinary problems can also be caused by anxiety. Try placing a calming pheromone diffuser in the vicinity of the litter tray.
Grooming and Bathing
Use a soft brush to gently groom your cat. A good way to trick your kitty into being groomed is to begin by petting them into a relaxed state then sneak in the brush without them seeing.
Cats are not known for their love of baths but sometimes it has to be done.
Bathe your cat in lukewarm water and a recommended pet shampoo. Avoid getting any into your pet’s eyes and rinse away any soap suds. Gently dry your kitty with a clean towel.
Cat-proofing your home
Cats need to scratch in order to remove the outer sheath of their claws.
Place multiple scratch posts or scratch pads around the home and lure them in with catnip. They will associate the area with feeling good and hopefully keep away from the furniture.
Your cat is going to be in your life many years to come. A friend by your side, through good times and bad. Treasure every moment and give them all the love in the world.
- Kirsty Hill