Kitten and Cat Care
FEEDING: Feed your kitten or adult cat on a free will basis by keeping a bowl of fresh, dry food continuously available. Feed only commercial brand-name cat food formulated for your pet’s age. The nutritional quality of the food will directly affect your cat’s health, behavior and lifespan. Your veterinarian can assist you in the proper diet for your pet. No table scraps, dog food, bones, milk (causes diarrhea which causes dehydration) or raw fish (destroys vitamin B). Fresh water should be available at all times.
HOUSETRAINING: Show your kitten or cat where the litter box is located—its mother has already taught it how to use the box. Keep the box clean by scooping out the waste daily and changing the litter every few days. Use only mild detergents (like dishwashing liquid) to clean the box. Keep the litter box in an area separate from the food and water dishes. And if your cat suddenly stops using the litterbox, contact your vet immediately.
GROOMING: ♥ Coat: Frequent and regular brushing will prevent a heavy ingestion of hair (can cause hairballs) and will keep your pet’s coat clean and glossy.
♥ Nails: Trim nails every 2-3 weeks to keep them from getting too sharp. Ask your veterinarian to show you how. Providing your kitten or cat with a scratching post will save your drapes and furniture. ♥ Teeth: Wipe your pet’s teeth every couple of weeks with cotton, gauze, or a child’s toothbrush soaked in baking soda. This will prevent a buildup of tartar. ♥ Baths: Cats bathe themselves and would only need a bath to control fleas.
TRANSPORTING: Always transport your kitten or cat in a pet carrier for its safety and security. Your pet will also be much happier in an enclosed container.
SAFE TOYS: Paper bags, shoe boxes, catnip toys, and rubber balls (large enough so pet can’t swallow them) are safe. No small sharp objects, string or yarn.
BED: Provide your kitten or adult cat with its own bed away from heavy traffic areas (like the kitchen). Remember, kittens especially, need sleep during the day as well as the night.
SUPERVISION & COMPANIONSHIP: A kitten needs almost constant supervision for its safety, for ease of housetraining, and for proper socialization to humans. An adult cat requires less supervision, but will still need plenty of love and affection.
COLLAR AND I.D. TAG: Protect your kitten or cat with a current identification tag and collar. The I.D. tag should have the pet’s name, address, and phone number. If your animal gets lost, this is the best insurance that it will be returned to you. Your pet’s collar should not be too loose or too tight (you should be able to slip two fingers under the collar while your pet is wearing it) and change it as the kitten grows.
SAFETY: Keep your kitten and adult cat indoors where it will be safe from countless outside dangers. Too many well-meaning pet owners expose their pets to needless dangers because they believe, “A cat needs to be free.” “It’s in a cat’s nature to roam.” “It’s cruel to keep a cat cooped up all day long.” “My cat has enough sense to stay out of danger.” These beliefs are not true. What so many of us “allow” our cats to do, we would never permit for our children. And yet, unlike children who grow up to become responsible for themselves, cats are totally dependent upon us for their entire lives. They are not the self-sufficient survivalists that we often give them credit as being. Outside cats are killed by cars, lost or stolen, exposed to fatal diseases, attacked by other animals, abused by cruel people, poisoned, injured in fights by other cats defending their territories, injured or killed from belts or rotating blades from under the hood of cars when the engine is started (cats often crawl under car hoods to escape the cold in winter).
Toys and attention will keep your indoor cat stimulated and happy. Screen all windows—cats can really fall from ledges or balconies and be seriously injured or killed. Keep household cleaners, electrical cords, and fragile objects safely away from your cat. Many plants are poisonous to your pet—check to see if the plants around your home are dangerous.
VETERINARY CARE: A kitten needs to visit the veterinarian several times in the first year for the necessary vaccinations that will protect it from common feline diseases. An adult cat needs to visit the veterinarian once a year for vaccinations and a physical examination. In addition, cats should be checked annually for internal parasites (such as worms). All cats, by law, over 4 months of age, must be vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian.
PROBLEMS: Always see your veterinarian first to see if the problem is a physical one. If it is a behavioral one, seek the advice of your veterinarian or books. Most problems can be solved with knowledge and patience.