As you already noticed, we are huge adepts of the concept that a cat’s nutrition defines its quality of life. However, there is a number of other aspects that should be took into account. This guide will be helpful both for beginner cat parents and experienced cat owners who don’t want to miss anything.
Cats are unique and mysterious animals, which is why they are adored by many people and are among the most popular pets. One interesting scientifically proven fact about cat owners is that they lower your stress level and petting them has a positive calming effect. But how to reduce stress in your cat?
They are also great companions, they help you sleep better and improve your mood. Treating them is far simpler than taking care of other pets, such as dogs, but that doesn’t mean that cats are fully independent. With that thought in mind, we decided to name some basic pieces of advice that are essential when taking proper care of your pet cat.
Let’s check them out.
1. Regularly Visit Your Vet
Regular vet visits are one of the basic rules that apply when taking care of your cat. Health checks, vaccines, and many other things that the vets are specialized in will help you keep your cat in excellent health condition. Getting pet insurance is also something that you might want to consider.
2. Create a Stress-free Environment
Stress is neither useful for human health nor it’s useful for your feline. Keeping your cat calm and reducing the stress in her life is a #1 heart disease preventive measure. Here’s how you can do it:
- Provide a safe zone for your feline. You can give your cat an exclusive access to a certain room or a specialized box. This will make your pet feel protected and more confident because it will have an extra option to escape from unwanted danger and stress.
- Protect your cat from noises. There’s a number of situations when you can not control the stressful noises: fireworks, sirens or storms. Anxiety vest is a great remedy because it is proven to calm down your pet without any medications.
- Regularly train your feline. Creating a regular training routine is a great way to displace the stress with certainty and confidence in your cat’s life.
Read more about common stressors in cats to help your feline live long, happy and calm life.
3. Consider Adding an Extra Litter Box
The first step in this section is to get your cat to use litter boxes. This is not a big problem since litter boxes have the perfect texture. But, you should consider purchasing more than just 1 box. One general rule about cats and litter boxes is that you should always have 1 more box than cats. So, if you own 1 cat, you should get 2 boxes, 2 cats equal 3 boxes, etc.
Furthermore, you should place them in quiet places where they cannot be disturbed. Scoop them daily and clean them weekly. Make sure that they are big enough and comfortable for use. You should avoid changing brands or shapes because cats are not fond of sudden changes, whatever they may be. Litter boxes are among the first things that you need to purchase when thinking of getting a cat.
4. Provide Fresh Water Daily
As with any other pet, getting the proper food for your cat is very important, but one thing that is often overlooked is the fresh water. Many owners overfill their cups and leave the water there to sit for days, which is wrong. Daily refills are required and you need to make sure that your cat has access to fresh water each day. You should also make sure that your pet cat drinks the right amount daily.
5. Groom Your Cat Regularly
Most cats are neat creatures, self-grooming their coat. There’s no need to bath them, as it’s a stressful procedure for felines, but they will benefit from regular brushing and combing. Even if your cat’s fur is short, do your best to groom her at least once a week (do it twice or even thrice a week if your cat is long-haired).
Grooming will help to remove the dead hair from a cat’s coat, and your four-legged friend won’t have to ingest it while self-washing. It will also allow you to notice any changes to a cat’s skin and body, – lumps, rash, tetters, sore spots, etc. – and help her right away.
For many cats, grooming is a relaxing procedure. More than that, regular brushing reduces shedding and prevents hairballs formation. Your feline will look cute and clean after it.
6. Prepare a Cat Carrier
Even if you don’t take a cat outdoors, please choose and purchase a carrier. Regular visits to a vet, moving to a new home, traveling with your feline – you’ll need to transport her appropriately.
Use carriers designed for pets specifically. With so many options available on the market, it’s easy to get lost; but here go a few things to consider when choosing a cat carrier:
- A size (for a feline to feel comfortable and breathe freely); an ideal one allows a cat to stand and turn around inside;
- The material of construction (it needs to be solid enough to withstand your cat’s weight; also, make sure there are no defects inside that can hurt a cat or allow her to escape);
- Ventilation (check if a carrier provides adequate airflow and is enough for a feline to view the world outside);
- Security (locking zippers for soft carriers and secure locking mechanisms for hard ones are a must; make sure a cat won’t open them when inside).
- Specific purpose (there are specialized carriers for a long-distance travels, or carriers with a built-in litter box).
7. Present Her a Collar
A safety collar with an ID tag (a cat’s name, your phone number, and address) or an implanted microchip is a must-have for cats going outside. Indoor felines will benefit from this accessory too because it will help ensure they won’t get lost suddenly.
Consider cat collars with elastic panels so that your feline could release from it safely if her collar gets caught on something. But make sure it’s not so loose that it could slip off a cat’s head. When wearing a collar, ensure you can slip two fingers between it and your cat’s neck: It shouldn’t be too tight for a pet to breathe.
If you plan to walk with your indoor cat from time to time, consider a harness instead of a standard pet collar: It’s more secure and comfortable for a cat.
8. Spay or Neuter Your Feline
Both male and female cats should be neutered or spayed by five months of their age. The medical benefits of this procedure are:
- For female cats: It prevents breast tumors and uterine infections leading to cancer in 90% of cases.
- For male cats: It prevents the risk of getting testicular cancer and prostate problems.
The behavioral benefits take place too: Spayed female cats won’t go into heat every three weeks, and neutered males won’t yowl and urinate more frequently all over the house. Neutered cats are calmer and better behaved, therefore living a longer, healthier life.
On top of that, spaying/neutering your cats is highly cost-effective compared to treating underlying health conditions or caring for a litter.
9. Provide a Scratching Post or Pad
Your cat will scratch something anyway because it’s an instinct, allowing her to keep nails smooth and sharp. Plus, cats mark their territory, stretch their muscles, and reduce stresses that way. Furniture, floor, carpets, or curtains will suffer if you don’t provide a feline with tailor-made scratching posts.
Both horizontal and vertical, they serve to pull off a cat’s old outer nail sheath. Choose a sturdy one, at least three feet high, and make sure it’s stable enough. The material needs to be rough: burlap, tree bark, sisal, cardboard, carpet cloth, or any of this kind will work.
Please do your best to train a cat to use her scratching post. First, place it next to the furniture or other item the feline currently prefers. Encourage her to use a scratching post instead:
- Lure with a cat’s favorite toy.
- Praise her every time she uses the post, so she starts associating it with a positive experience.
- Place a few scratching posts and pads in your home’s high-traffic areas so that a cat could visit them many times per day.
- Don’t punish or yell at a cat when you see her scratching wrong surfaces. Instead, sprinkle her with water to discourage such behavior.
When visiting a vet with your feline, consult if she needs any vaccinations to prevent illnesses that usually affect pets. Your veterinarian will recommend vaccines based on your cat’s age and health.
Please, never give your cat medications on your own and never decide what vaccines she needs unless your vet prescribes. Even the core vaccinations vital to all the cats require prior testing of a cat’s condition and determining the right time and frequency. It depends on your feline’s age, lifestyle, environment, and medical history.
11. Keep a Cat’s Teeth Clean
Like humans, cats suffer from dental problems such as gingivitis, stomatitis, periodontitis (gum inflammation), tartar, fractures of teeth, etc. It happens because of the bacteria collecting on their teeth with time and contributing to other feline diseases. But unlike humans, cats can’t brush their teeth and support oral hygiene.
A responsible pet owner, you should help your cat prevent the problem. For that, please check her teeth regularly to watch for signs of dental discomfort and do annual teeth cleaning at the vet clinic. Some signs to watch are gum bleeding and inflammation, missing teeth, trouble eating and chewing dry food, and lots of calculus or tartar on teeth.
You can also take some preventative treatments at home, brushing your cat’s teeth with a special toothbrush and toothpaste. Ask your vet to show how to brush a cat’s teeth correctly, and clean them daily, removing food debris and therefore preventing tartar formation.
12. Give Some Toys
Cats are active and playful animals, so your feline will thank you for some items she could spend time with, especially if she’s alone in your household and has no playing partners. There’s no need to buy expensive and much-ballyhooed cat toys, as your four-legged friend may simply ignore them. Sometimes a good simple chew toy is the best. (Remember all those memes about pets not giving a damn to what you bought?)
Place several simple, inexpensive toys throughout the house to turn it into a playground for your cat. She can consider almost everything to be a toy, so make sure yours are safe and appropriate:
- Toys need to be large enough and free of small parts so that a cat couldn’t swallow them.
- Avoid buying toys with bells, buttons, or strings because your feline may mistake it for a treat.
- Make sure to hide all the ribbons, needles, plastic, pins, paper clips, dental floss, and anything else your cat might chew.
Feel free to use DIY cat toys: wads of paper, cardboard boxes with some holes for extra fun, feathers, cardboard or menswear mice, catnip yarn balls, etc. Keep in mind that many felines love rolling toys, easy to bat around.
13. Play With Her
Play is a cat’s vital activity, even when she’s an adult already. Regular playtime with your feline will provide her with a stimulating environment for a happy and healthy life. When playing, a cat gets energy, the opportunity to satisfy her instincts for hunting, and mental and physical stimulation. For kittens, play helps to learn survival skills like chasing, stalking, and trapping prey.
Playing with a feline is your chance to bond with her. Don’t you want a cat to consider you her friend and family member? The regular play also helps felines maintain a healthy weight and prevent behavior problems arising from boredom.
Try playing with your cat every day so that she could satisfy all the instincts, release negative energy or aggression, and gain confidence that she’s safe with you, her human parent, in your household.
Pro tip: consider YouTube cat games that will both enrich your cat’s life and save your time.
Here goes a shortlist of what you need to do (besides proper nutrition) for your cat to live a happy life:
- Visit a vet regularly.
- Spay/neuter and vaccinate your feline at the appropriate time.
- Choose a proper litter box.
- Provide fresh water daily.
- Create a stress-free environment: prepare a cat house and carrier, protect her from noises, give some toys and scratching pads, and remember to play with your four-legged friend every day.
- Groom your cat and keep her teeth clean.
- Take care of her safety: think of a collar with an ID tag or an implanted microchip.
That’s the essential cat maintenance tips for every pet owner to follow. And while they may sound obvious, your responsible sticking with them will influence your feline’s health, longevity, and overall well-being by far.