What to feed your cat is best determined by your pet's veterinarian, as proper nutrition may vary depending on breed, age, health and other factors. Good quality commercial cat food can be purchased at any pet supply store. Generic food does not typically provide a well-balanced, healthy diet. The amount of food recommended for the size/age of your cat will be listed on the cat food label. Ask your veterinarian for a list of recommended foods since some types of food intended for humans can cause illness in cats. Be sure your pet has plenty of cool, clean, fresh water.
It is recommended that cats be indoor pets. Cats live longer, healthier lives when they do not face outdoor dangers. Threats posed to the outdoor cat include cars; other cats and animals fighting for their territory; sickness and disease prevalent in the outdoors; and sickness and death from spoiled foods and poisons.
Outdoor cats are exposed to ticks, fleas and other parasites. Plan to spend more on veterinary bills if you let your cat outside. Outdoor cats are also likely to get lost. On average, indoor felines live 15 years versus a mere two to five years for outdoor cats.
Cats need a well-padded, shallow box or basket in a warm, draft-free location as suitable bedding. However, they may prefer to choose their own spot.
The proper way to lift a cat is by placing your hand under its chest while supporting the hind legs with your other hand. If your cat struggles or assumes a stiff position, she does not want to be handled. Some cats love to be handled, and others prefer that you do not pick them up.
Cats typically sleep more than humans. The saying, "let sleeping dogs lie," is also true of cats. Do not disturb your pet when it is sleeping.
When traveling by car, be sure your pet is always in a carrier.
When you adopt a cat from Lee County Domestic Animal Services, it will receive its age-appropriate vaccinations. It is the owner's responsibility to see that regular veterinary care is maintained. Your veterinarian can continue to vaccinate your cat according to an age-appropriate schedule. This will include a rabies vaccination when your cat is 3 to 4 months of age. All cats must be vaccinated for rabies by the age of 4 months.
Adult cats require regular vaccinations. Your veterinarian can protect your cat from a variety of potential illnesses including feline panleukopenia, viral-rhinotracheitis, pneumonitis, feline leukemia and rabies. Cats are susceptible to respiratory infections. Ask your veterinarian to describe the warning signs. It is also important to protect your pet from fleas and ticks. In addition to your veterinarian's phone number, you should keep an emergency number handy.
As part of the adoption fee at Lee County Domestic Animal Services, your pet will be spayed or neutered as part of the adoption fee. Approximately 4 million pets are euthanized each year in the United States because there are not enough homes for them. Urge your friends to spay or neuter their pets to avoid contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. Spaying and neutering also decrease an animal's chance of developing several types of cancer. You will see fewer veterinary bills with a healthier pet. Spaying and neutering also help prevent behavior problems.
<Bookmark>Cleaning, Grooming, and Identification
Cats wash and groom themselves constantly. You will rarely have to bathe your cat. When it is necessary to bathe your cat, be sure you use a shampoo made for cats. Other types may irritate their skin.
Place litter about two inches deep in the box. The two main types of litter are clay and clumping. The clumping type forms clumps when soiled, making it easier to scoop out the solid and liquid waste. Cats naturally scratch to bury their waste.
While it is recommended that you keep your cat inside, cats do sometimes escape through an open door. It is very important for your cat to have a collar with an identification tag. Lee County Ordinance requires that all cats be licensed. However, if cats have a microchip ID, they are not required to wear the license. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is implanted between the shoulder blades by injection. The procedure is quick and relatively painless. However, its benefits are enormous. Even if your pet has no identification tag, or if the tag is lost, a scanner can read the microchip number. Lee County Domestic Animal Services implants Avid microchips chips. The microchip can identify you as the owner through its database even if your pet leaves Lee County or the State of Florida.
<Bookmark>Training and Behavior
Cats are most active in the morning and again in the evening. They will sleep a good portion of the day. Cats are not always laid-back and independent, however. You may find your cat could benefit from some behavior modification. Sadly, sometimes we see animals brought to our shelter because they do not behave the way their owners would like. Retraining can be a benefit to both cat and owner.
If your cat plays too rough it could be because you are away from home a good part of the day. When you do return, it may be over-anxious or aggressive. Redirect this aggression by supplying your cat with toys to play with while you are away. Things that roll, dangle and can be batted around are good choices. Remember though, during this play period, the toy may be chewed, torn into small bits and swallowed. Select toys carefully for safety.
Encourage him to play with the toy by himself, or he may ignore it while you are away. Handle the object enough to impart your scent. If he associates the toy with you and is reminded of the fun you've had playing with it, he is more likely to focus on it when you are gone. During your time together, do not wiggle fingers or toes in his face. He must know that body parts are not toys. If you send mixed signals by allowing him to nip and claw sometimes, but not others, your cat will become confused.
Vary toys to prevent boredom. Toys with a catnip scent are very alluring too! Homemade toys such as old socks tied together can make great toys. You need not purchase everything from the pet store.
Many owners soon discover that cats love to claw the furniture. They especially like fabric that is rough or bumpy. If your sofa or chairs seem to attract attention, try some decorative throws to keep your cat away.
Place a scratching post covered with a rough textured material and sprinkled with a little catnip beside the furniture she likes to scratch the most. You can gradually move it to a more preferable location. If the post is to be effective, it should be at least 3 feet tall and have a wide sturdy base so that it won't tip over.
Divert attraction from your house plants by switching to hanging plants, or keep plants in rooms where the cat is not allowed. Try spraying them with a plant-safe anti-chewing spray. Silk plants are also an option.
Cats are known for climbing. Therefore, do not tempt fate by leaving your treasured possessions where they can be knocked over.
Trash and other dangerous substances should also be kept out of reach. Make sure your pet does not have access to the following:
- household cleaners
- car repair fluids
- thread, yarn, ribbon, tinsel
- people foods (such as chocolate)
- open flames (tails can unknowingly be burned)
- clothes dryers
Learn more about Pet Toxins & Poisons.
Cats can squeeze into tight places. Make sure doors and windows are securely closed.
Praise Good Behavior
As mentioned before, removing temptation can solve many problems but, not all. Cats are very intelligent and can be trained to behave appropriately. Although, training cats is somewhat different from training dogs, cats do respond to praise and rewards.
Unacceptable behavior should never be rewarded with positive attention. Consistency and timing are everything in training. Punishment has almost no effect, except perhaps to teach your cat fear. Never hit your cat! Instead, keep a spray bottle of cool water handy. When your cat does something undesirable, such as scratching the sofa, spray the cat with a little water. The cat will get the message and you will continue to enjoy a trusting relationship with your feline friend.