As both a cat owner and a veterinarian, providing the best care for your favorite felines is a top priority! Cats need special consideration for everything from toys to hiding places to litter boxes, so read on for some important cat care tips.
What a cat wants
Cats are not small dogs, and this holds especially true with the way they play, sleep, and explore their environment. To encourage exercise, toys that imitate their prey, such as wand or stick-type toys will stimulate the most interest. Provide windows to look out of especially with bird feeders nearby. Cats enjoy moving vertically, so shelves to perch on are ideal so that they always have a safe space, especially where they can’t be reached by dogs or children that they may need to take a break from. Additionally, scratching is a normal behavior for cats, so be sure to provide an appropriate place to fulfill that behavior. There are various types of scratching posts and boards; many cats have different preferences for direction (horizontal vs. vertical), as well as material (rope, carpet, cardboard, etc).
Don’t let curiosity kill the cat
Cats and kittens can be very inquisitive, getting themselves into trouble very easily. When “cat-proofing” a room or household, be sure to look for anything that could fall on top of and hurt cats. Don’t leave cats unsupervised with any toys or objects that include string, as cats may try to eat these, which could require surgery to remove! Other string-like objects such as curtain-pulls should be out of reach of cats so that they can’t accidentally get the string wrapped around their legs or neck. Be sure to check out ASPCA’s animal poison control website to learn about what plants, chemicals, foods, essential oils, and human medications are toxic to cats!
In case of escape
Nobody intends to lose their pet, but accidents happen! Make sure your cat is wearing a collar with ID on it. I recommend only using break-away collars in case the collar gets snagged on something, it will fall off rather than potentially causing strangulation. Microchips are another critical way for identifying lost pets in case collars do fall off. Be sure the microchip is registered and your contact info is up-to-date.
Let’s talk litter boxes
Just like humans, cats can have preferences regarding their bathroom habits. Be sure to place litterboxes in a quiet, low foot-traffic area to allow privacy. Scoop out boxes daily, and completely change over litter and wash the box at least monthly. Use the same type of litter consistently; I recommend using litter without extra perfumes or baking soda. The number of boxes in your household should equal the number of cats plus one extra.
Happy and healthy
Preventive healthcare is always better than reactive healthcare. Be sure to take your cat to the veterinarian for an annual check-up every year to catch and manage any health problems as early as possible. Cats age much more quickly than humans, so a lot can change in just one year! Your veterinarian will also be able to recommend appropriate vaccinations, flea and parasite prevention, as well as any other testing or procedures based on your cat’s age and lifestyle. Obesity is incredibly common among house cats, increasing their risk for many diseases such as diabetes. Be sure to work with your vet to manage your cat’s weight with diet and exercise.
Prepare for the worst
Although happy and healthy is the plan, be prepared in case your feline friend is sick or injured. Have contact information available for your regular vet, as well as the nearest emergency vet. Cats are very good at hiding that they don’t feel well, so changes to watch for that would warrant a trip to the vet include any behavior change such as hiding, decreased appetite, increased drinking or urination, or urinating or defecating outside of the litter box. Veterinary care costs can add up quickly, so check out pet insurance options (before your kitty is sick!); having pet insurance can help alleviate the financial burden, especially in emergency situations.
Download the Animal Lovers Click app today on the Google Play store or iOS app store to get help from local animal lovers to find adoptable cats, locate lost pets, get recommendations for pet sitters and nearby vets, and so much more!