8 Basic Cat Care Tips

Tips for Cat Owners

So you’ve just adopted a precious little kitten or cat. Now what do you do? Well you need to get prepared before bringing your new cat home. There are certain things you absolutely must have on hand.

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.

1. A litterbox, litter and scoops are vital. Get a nice covered litter pan that will give your cat privacy and keep odors to a minimum. It is a good idea to get the clumping type of litter because it’s so easy to scoop out and throw away. If you only have one cat, you might want to invest in an automated litter system such as the Litter Maid – but these don’t work well with multiple cats.

2. Your cat will require 2 bowls that won’t tip over. The food dish should be relatively shallow and the water bowl should be a bit deeper. It is a good idea to feed your cat twice a day – both dry food and canned food. And water should be changed daily.

3. Your cat will also need plenty of toys to keep him/her stimulated. My cats have always enjoyed the bizzy balls best of all. They go by different names, but here’s what I’m talking about – they’re plastic balls with bells inside. There’s a wide variety of great cat toys on the market and most are pretty cheap – just try out a bunch and you’ll find what suits your kitty best.

General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

4. A scratching post is very important as cats have an inborn need to stretch and sharpen their claws. If you don’t provide them with a suitable place to scratch, then they’ll end up doing it on your furniture or carpet. Even with a scratching post, they’ll probably still scratch where you don’t want them to. So you might want to spray cat deterrent or put double sided tape on your best furniture.

5. Of course a collar and id tag is important whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat. An indoor cat can slip out the door in a flash and without some form of identification – you might never see her again.

6. Cat beds are optional. I’ve bought different cat beds over the years and to tell you the truth, they’ve rarely been used. Most cats like to seek and find their own places to nap – and it usually varies from day to day. One day it may be on your bed; one day it may be on your couch; one day it may be on the floor; and one day it may be in a kitchen chair.

7. Flea and tick prevention are extremely important too. I am partial to the Frontline liquid stuff that you place between your cat’s shoulder blades – it works well and doesn’t cause any problems for your cat.

8. Be sure and schedule a visit to your veterinarian. The vet will let you know if there are any underlying health problems or conditions that you should be aware of and get your cat started on a good regimen of disease prevention.

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
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