|The Basics Of Caring For Cats|
The Basics Of Caring For Cats
Our fuzzy friends can be a lot to deal with sometimes, especially if you are new to taking care of your first cat. They need special attention when it comes to feeding, spending time with and overall caretaking. Cats make great friends and companions, so it’s a good thing to be able to care for them appropriately.
Here are some basic questions to ask yourself before owning and caring for a cat/kitten:
- Is your living area safe and accommodating for your pet?
- Will you be able to cover the expenses related to feeding, litter box and veterinary care?
- Will your cat have access to a safe and quiet resting place?
- Do you have kids, neighbors, roommates or other animals that could potentially harm the cat?
- What kind of cat are you looking for? Kitten, adult, calico, tabby?
- Do you have what it takes to clean up after the cat? Read also: How to groom your cat.
Setting up a “safe room” for your cat
One of the most important things to think about before bringing home a brand new cat or kitten is to put together a “safe room” for your cat to stay in for the first couple of days. The room should include all of the basic necessities a cat needs for security and comfort. Please follow the instructions below for the best results. Even though it is mainly desirable if there are going to be other cats in the house, a “safe room” doesn’t always have to be a completely separated room.
If this will be the only animal in the house, the “safe room” might be a location set aside in a big sized room in the dwelling.
Required time: Approximately thirty minutes
Minimum Supplies for your new cat:
- Water & Food Bowls.
- Scratching Post.
- Litter Box.
- Cat Bed and/or Cat Tower.
- Cat Toys.
If a separated room is not going to be used for the “safe room”, you can easily place one or two large screens to create an individual private section in an unused room corner.
Put the litter box in one corner of the room, far away from the water and food bowls. It really does not need to be fancy. The most important factor is that it should be sized correctly for your pet. If you would like to conceal it, many great litter box covers are available that can resemble furniture or other décor. You will also need a cat litter scoop, and a bag or container to dispose of the droppings.
You should place the scratching post right next to the cat’s litter box. Make sure it is a nice tall one. If you have enough room space and the funds available, you might want to consider a cat tower as an alternative. With a nice big platform at the top, many cats will prefer the tower as opposed to a bed, because of their attraction to high and tall places. Read also: Average lifespan of a cat and how to increase it.
A comfortable, quiet place to sleep is a very important necessity for most cats since they will sleep a big segment of the day. Of course, if the “safe room” happens to be inside a bedroom, your new cat migh soon dismiss the nice little bed you purchased in favor of your own bed. If the “safe room” happens to be a screened off area, the cat bed could very well be in a corner just opposite of the litter box.
Water and food bowls should definitely be placed far away from your cat’s litter box. The bowls might be made of glass, stainless steel, or ceramic. If ceramic, make sure the bowls have been glazed with a lead-free solution. It’s best to completely avoid plastic bowls for cats’ water and food, because plastic can be a potential cause of irritation and rash in the chin area (most commonly called “kitty acne”).
A few nice toys will complete your new cat’s “safe room”. You will want at least one interactive toy to be used as a bonding tool, and one or two “play-alone” toys, mainly for the times you will not be in the room.
- Make sure to cat-proof the entire area just before bringing your cat home.
- You will need something underneath the litter box to keep stray litter from getting on good carpeting or the floor. Litter mats are specially made for that exact purpose, but even a single layer of old newspaper will do just fine in a pinch.
- Scrunched up newspaper wads also make very good toys for interactive games of “fetch.”
An older soft pillow can easily substitute nicely for a cat bed.
What You Will Need (Basic Checklist/Recap):
- Litter box with scooper.
- Paper bag lined with a plastic bag for the droppings.
- Scratching post.
- Cat bed or tower.
- Glass or stainless steel water and food bowls.
- Plenty of fun cat toys.
- A screen or two if you are going to have to “make do” with a corner of one of your rooms. Read also: Cat tricks and psychology Definitive guide: Teach tricks like high five.
Kittens (Baby cats):
When it comes to bringing up kittens, the philosophy is very similar to raising kids. If you can provide proper training and care when they are young, it enhances the odds they will grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. So if you very recently just happened to adopt a new kitten, you might want to consider incorporating this advice as soon as you can.
1. You shouldn’t treat your kitten as an older adult.
Just like a human infant has very different needs compared to a teen, a kitten tends to have care requirements distinctly different from those of a fully matured adult cat. In addition to this, you might consider a kitten’s multiple stages of development when caring for him/her:
Under eight weeks of age:
At this very early age, a new kitten should still be close with his/her mom and litter siblings. Because of the fact that little kittens this young of age are unable to normalize their own temperatures, they rely on eachothers body heat in order to survive. In addition to this, the kittens will still be developing eyesight and leg coordination. If you foster or adopt an orphan kitten in this particular age group, important care will need to be taken, including bottle-feeding the kitten for approximately every 2 hours up to 4 weeks of age and possibly having to help your kitten poop and pee. It is best to meet with a veterinarian for specific advice and instructions.
Eight to eleven weeks of age:
Kittens are typically weaned by eight weeks and should be eating a normal kitten diet, which should be energy dense, highly digestible and protein rich. Whether picking out wet or dry food, make sure it is formulated just for kittens. Other significant changes will start happening during this time period as well. As your kitten begins developing motor skills he/she will become a wild ball of action — playing, jumping, running and exploring. This is an exciting timeframe of “kittenhood”, but also one that can possibly be somewhat dangerous to your kitten if he/she is not appropriately watched over. Start setting certain boundaries for your kitten and keep him/her in a safe, enclosed room while you watch over him/her.
Two to four months of age:
This will be a phase of speedy growth for kittens in which they will have just about 3 times more energy than an older cat. They will need 3 to 4 personal meals a day during this timeframe. According to certain sources, these meals should be a minimum of thirty percent high-quality protein.
Four to six months of age:
Kittens in this specific age group will be reaching adolescence and will be becoming sexually mature. First talk to a veterinarian about having your kitten neutered or spayed before your kitten gets to this stage you can avoid bad habits like spraying territorially and accidental litters. Read also: Do you need to bathe your cat?
2. Reward Good Behavior and Socialize
The socializing and training that your cat will receive during kittenhood can affect how well he/she will likely interact with other animals and people when he/she’s older. Just try to make sure that your kittens have a positive experience out of any exposure to socialization you provide them.
As a brand new kitten’s “parent”, it will now be up to you to show him/her and guide him/her to see that the world is a fantastic place. Consider trying some of these socializing and training techniques:
- Kittens will typically use litter boxes by gut instinct, however you can also help teach him/her to use it by putting him/her in the box after playing and eating. Be sure the litter box is going to be always available to your kitten and is cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis.
- Pet him/her often.
- Get him/her accustomed to weekly grooming and combing.
- Introduce him/her to new toys.
- Allow him/her to experience alternate surfaces/floors to walk on (linoleum, carpets, etc.)
- Take him/her outside on a leash or in his/her cat carrier (It sometimes can be dangerous to allow a kitten outdoors without one.) However, before you provide any outside exposure be sure that your veterinarian has administered the proper vaccines and a decent amount of time has passed for your kitten to build a stronger immune system.
- Give him/her new objects to explore and discover, such as paper bags and boxes.
- Invite some friends over and ask them to play with him/her and give him/her different kinds of treats.
- Provide appropriate scratching alternatives (scratching posts for example) and reward him/her with treats, praise or toys when he/she uses them.
- Try not to allow your kitten to scratch or bite during playtime. If he/she does, divert his/her attention to a toy.
- Expose him/her to other kittens and cats (as soon as they are current on vaccinations, of course!). Believe it or not, there are even “kitten socializing classes”; do a web search to see if any of these classes are available in your location.
- Take your kitten on vehicle rides, giving him/her treats the entire ride, and get him/her accustomed to the cat carrier.
- Reward nice behavior with praise or treats.
- Do not punish naughty behavior, instead, ignore him/her when displaying inappropriate actions.
- Constantly challenge your kitten to think by teaching him/her new tricks.
Always be patient with your kitten. Read also: How To Care For A Kitten.
3. Make Preventive Care a Priority:
Schedule an appointment as early as possible. No matter what you do, be sure schedule your kitten’s first veterinarian appointment at least within a week of getting him/her. Frequent and early veterinarian visits will help establish a connection between your kitten and the veterinarian and will help the veterinarian establish a solid baseline for your kitten’s health and wellbeing.
Ask about heartworm, fleas and parasites. Have a veterinarian check your kitten for parasites along with worms, and have him/her de-wormed, if at all necessary. And while heartworms may not be as much of a problem for cats as they are for dogs, some kittens can very well be susceptible, so also be sure to ask your veterinarian if he or she recommends some type of heartworm preventative. Unfortunately the biggest parasitic threat to your kitten, however, is fleas. You can start administering topical flea solutions as a preventative measure when your kitten is between eight to twelve weeks of age — although some brands can be formulated for kittens as young as four weeks old. Read also: What a cat needs for a healthy life.
You should also ask which vaccines your kitten needs along with how often: Preventive care for kittens can include vaccines for distemper, rabies and feline leukemia. The shots are typically first administered when a kitten is close to eight weeks of age, with boosters given every couple of weeks until he/she reaches around sixteen weeks of age. After that, your vet can set him/her up on an adult vaccine schedule. The vet could also possibly recommend extra vaccines.
These types of building blocks will give your kitten the best possible foundation in life, but don’t forget that she will still need a fair amount of care and attention when he/she gets to an older age.