Cat Care Tips – 10 Not So Random Choices

Cat care is a very important part of being a cat owner. You should always strive to know as much as you can about your cat and how it behaves. The better you understand your cat, the more likely you are to be able to prevent problems from arising, or at least catch them sooner and deal with them more effectively (and inexpensively).

Keeping Your Cat Fit, Trim and Happy

1. Get your cat neutered. This is an important thing to do for many reasons, including population control (there are simply too many cats out there), health reasons (it reduces the incidence of certain types of cancer) and behavior reasons (neutered male cats will not wander around looking for mates).

2. Keep your cat indoors. Unless you want your cat to become kitty litter or coyote food, keep it inside! Cats left outside roam, get into more fights with other cats, become sick more easily due to exposure to elements and parasites, and they can even be stolen by someone who wants a free cat! A good compromise if you absolutely must let it outside is a secure screened porch or an enclosed area in your yard that it can exercise and be safe in.

3. Keep your cat active. Cats are both hunters and athletes, so they need a lot of stimulation to keep from going stir-crazy. This doesn’t mean you have to run your vacuum cleaner as fast as it will go 24 hours a day, but provide lots of toys for it – things on springs that bounce erratically, catnip mice with bells inside them, balls with those little feathery antennae… you get the idea!

4. Try not to let your cat become fat and lazy. This tends to happen easier than with dogs because cats often refuse their food if they don’t think there’s any flavor to it, but they will eat as much as you put in the bowl. If your cat looks a little chunky, cut down on its food a bit and give it toys with less “flavor” so that it has to work harder for its dietary rewards.

5. Be careful about feeding your cat too many treats.

If a tiny piece of cheese or a bite of leftover chicken is good, then giving your cat an entire can of tuna or a whole sandwich is even better, right?

Wrong! People food isn’t always good for cats. It’s hard to resist playing with kittens and puppies because their fur is soft and pretty (and smells yummy!), but you should avoid petting cats under the chin.

6. Be careful about petting your cat in general. Cats are very friendly creatures, but they don’t always take to being handled in the same way dogs do. If you stroke a cat on its back or side, it may seem appreciative of the attention, but if you reach up and touch it under the chin (the “sweet spot”), it will often get annoyed and lash out at you with sharp claws and teeth. It’s natural behavior for them – they’re protecting their throat area by biting and scratching – but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel hurt when we’re attacked! Also avoid petting cats who aren’t used to it; this can lead to standing upright and even hissing!

7. Play with your cat, but don’t play too roughly. In general, cats love to be chased and to chase their owners. They get a natural high from pouncing on things, so it’s important for them! But you have to know when enough is enough – certain breeds of cats are more prone to being over-stimulated than others, and some will even become aggressive if aggravated too much. Don’t start a wrestling match with a kitten who still has its baby teeth either; they’re very sharp!

8. Be careful about the types of toys you give your cat. A scrunched up piece of paper can entertain many cats for hours (I’ve had my own go nuts over crumpled-up pieces of paper), but some cats can become obsessed with certain objects and may carry them around, rub against them or even try to eat them! If a cat becomes fixated on a particular toy or object, don’t reinforce the behavior. Take it away for a while and then give it back once the object of fixation has lost interest in it.

9. Watch out for poisons around your home. In general, you should keep all cleaning products as well as paints and other toxins as far from cats as possible because they can be fatal if ingested or used incorrectly. Cats are naturally attracted to colorful things – that’s what those shiny eyespots on their foreheads are there for – so anything bright and colorful is often very tempting!

10. Don’t forget about your cat’s health needs! Cats need annual shots and vaccinations just like your dog does, so don’t forget to take it in every year for its checkup. Your veterinarian can also help you with first aid if your cat is injured or has eaten something harmful.

Cats are wonderful creatures, but they’re not nearly as easy to care for as dogs are – especially on a low budget! Make sure that you have the time and resources before getting one, because some cats are more demanding than others. Always be careful about how you handle them too; even though they’re cute, soft pets who purr when petted the right way, they can sometimes be moody and violent!

If any of this seems overwhelming to you or if there’s anything you want to know more about, your local veterinarian is a good person to talk to.

Good luck and happy cat-owning!

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