More Cat Care Information:
Although it may well make dogs a bit jealous, the most popular pet in the United States is now the cat. Capable of showing affection, tidy in habit, certainly not as boisterous as dogs, the cat can be the ideal pet and companion for busy households that simply may not have the time to devote to the attention-hungry dog. While cats certainly do enjoy the company of their human friends, they are also quite happy to simply lie on a soft cushion or sun on a window sill when left alone for the day.
|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.
The domestication of the cat coincided with the beginnings of agriculture. Once people started raising grain, approximately 12,000 years ago, rodents became a problem. Stored grain would provide an untold bounty for mice and rats, and while dogs were terrific at hunting game or protecting flocks and villages, they weren't as efficient at rodent hunting as cats.
It is now thought that the domestic cat is descended from Felis sylvestris, the cat of the woods. It is also believed that the partnership between humans and cats began in the Middle East, probably in the Fertile Crescent. Domestication spread rapidly wherever humans were planting crops, and within centuries cats were helping to keep precious stored food safe from rodents over most of the Old World.
Even today, mice and rats destroy millions of tons of food every year, either by eating it directly or by despoiling it with their urine and feces. In addition, rodent urine can spread such dangerous diseases as leptospirosis, salmonella, and Hanta virus. Rats are also responsible for spreading bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, from fleas.
Unlike the dog, which has basically received 'good press' throughout its association with mankind, the attitude of people towards cats has been somewhat changeable over the centuries, often to the detriment of cats.
|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.|
The Ancient Egyptians revered the cat to such a degree that it was considered to be a demi-god. Harming or killing a cat during this time could bring a sentence of death to the perpetrator. Although Felis sylvestris is the root stock from which most cat breeds have sprung, another cat, Felis chaus, is thought to have been bred with sylvestris during this period. Tomb paintings depict cats hunting birds from boats with their human companions. Cats appear in paintings, frescoes, and statuary from Ancient Egypt, and cats were often mummified to assure them of success in the afterlife.
Another people who understood the value of cats in keeping rodents suppressed were the Norse. Their goddess Freya rode in a chariot drawn by a pair of enormous cats, and the farmers in Scandinavia would leave presents to these cats to help make sure that the harvest would be a good one (and probably protected from rodent predation by cats).
Famines were common in Ancient China and protecting stored food was of the utmost importance. The goddess Li Shou was the personification of all that is good in cats and she was invoked to provide protection for the home and grain. Statues of the goddess were present in many homes and offerings were made to be assured of her good will.
While those in China revered the cat, there were some in Japan who had an opposite point of view. Cats were thought to have the ability to become the changelings of princesses they had killed and so entrap unsuspecting princes and cause their downfall.
Undoubtedly, the worst time for cats was during the Middle Ages in Europe. This was a time when superstition overcame religion, and people's fear of witches and devils caused them to look upon cats as instruments of evil. Part of this stemmed from the preference of cats for night, and partly because some older women who might still be practicing ancient religions that were thought to be witchcraft kept the animals as companions and hunters of mice. The Black Plague is often thought to have become so widespread and severe because so many cats had been killed, allowing the rat population to blossom.
Fortunately, today cats have moved back into their spot as revered animals once again in many parts of the world. Loving companions, but still deadly hunters of rodents, these independent, beautiful, and intelligent creatures are important and cherished members of millions of homes worldwide.
|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).|