Understanding Outdoor Cat Care to Ensure Your Feline Remains Safe

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You should consider outdoor cat care if your cat has chosen to live outside, and although you may not totally agree some cats simply prefer it. There are many different pets that live outside, and although some people feel that all cats should be house cats for some this is not an option. Cats are ultimately outdoor animals that love to run, hunt, and dig in the dirt. Some wander for miles every evening whilst others feel safe in the confines of your back yard.

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.

Whether you have a farm pet that lives outside all year, or a cat that comes and goes when they feel like it, you will want to provide them shelter. The winter months are especially difficult for animals that live outside. You will need to ensure that you provide several things to keep them safe and healthy. Encouraging your pet to come inside is the preferred option; however, some cats simply prefer to spend their time outside. Outdoor cat care is simple to achieve, and will make you feel better about yours being outside.

You will want to ensure that you provide a shelter for your animal that is warm, dry and clean for them to sleep in. Smaller spaces are ideal as they will provide shelter from the wind, and your cat can curl up in the comfort of their own body heat. If your cat is sleeping in a barn or garage, you need to ensure that the area is safe for them to do so, with no hazardous materials that they can easily get into. Providing clean fresh water and food is very important during the winter months as your cat will need to build up their energy.

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.

You should check your cat’s water supply daily to ensure it has not frozen, or become dirty. Providing the right food will also help to keep your outdoor cat healthy. During the summer months, your pet may be off exploring, and hunting, however, during the winter there will be less to catch. You will need to ensure that your cat is fat and healthy so they can survive the winter no matter how harsh it is. Another thing to ensure that you have your pet regularly checked by the vet, and that they are vaccinated and neutered.

Over population of cats is a huge problem, especially with outdoor cats, and you want to ensure that your pet is not part of the problem. There are many risks and dangers that they will encounter living outside, however, they will be far happier. The night times are far more dangerous, and if possible, you should let your cat out during the day, but keep them inside at night. They are less likely to be attacked by other animals during the day

You may be fortunate enough to have a back yard with very high walls. This will allow your cat the best of both worlds, with their daily exercise and fresh air, but the advantage of not being able to escape. Outdoor cat care is often about common sense, and ensuring that your cat is well loved and looked after no matter where they decide to live.

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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