Cats make the purr-fect companions. They are loveable, affectionate, and their antics will keep you amused for days on end. But what can you give in return? How can you provide the best cat care for your feline?
We got the answer.
Whether you are a first-time owner needing guidance on how to deal with a new member in your household or an experienced cat fancier looking to brush up on your feline caring skills, we’re here to help. Check out some of the best and most useful tips to make sure you give your pet the care and attention they need and deserve.
How to Take Care of a Cat: General Tips on How to Provide the Best for Your Fur Baby
Feeding Your Feline Friend
One of the essential things your cat requires, other than your unwavering love and undivided attention, is food.
Although factors such as age and health determine your pet’s overall diet, most cats should be fed once or twice a day. Just like their big cousins in the wild, cats are carnivores, so taking care of a cat means providing a well-balanced diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. In other words, more meat and less (or no) grains.
Now, this is a point that cannot be stressed enough: cats should only eat cat food. Human food does not provide them with the nutrients they need. Plus, some human foods, like onion and garlic, are poisonous to cats, whereas giving them chocolate, raisins, or grapes — even dairy products — could lead to nasty stomach bleeding. If you, however, feed your feline companion something other than cat food, cat care rules suggest checking the label for any ingredients that might cause unwanted health issues for your pet.
Don’t cheap out when it comes to cat food. Whether you buy canned or dry food, or a combination of both, know that high-quality food costs a little extra; but it is still better in the long run as it will save you many trips to the vet and provide a better quality of life for your kitty.
Here’s another cat care tip: keeping a close eye on your cat’s food intake is an excellent way to monitor their health. A sudden decrease in appetite is a sure sign of health problems, so talk to your vet if you notice any changes in their eating patterns.
Water Is Life
In addition to being well-fed, cats also need plenty of water. Refilling their water bowl at least once a day or investing in a water fountain will go a long way towards keeping your cat healthy and content.
How to Care for a Cat: Providing Treats
We all want our cats to love us as much as we love them, but bribing them with treats is not the way to go. Too much food, especially unhealthy food, leads to obesity and heart problems, so limit your generosity to one or two pieces a day. Remember: treats should make up no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake.
Cats and Milk
Here’s a fascinating fact about cats: most cats are lactose intolerant. Kittens can digest milk, but only a few adult cats retain that ability. Cat care 101 says that giving your kitty-cat cream and milk, especially cow’s milk, can lead to an upset stomach or worse — diarrhea. In fact, milk should be avoided altogether as it is not a part of a cat’s nutritional requirement and is quite fattening.
Other foods that may cause GI issues or pancreatitis in cats include raw eggs and raw fish. Bones aren’t a good idea either as they can cause the cat to choke, perforate their intestines, or cause dental problems.
Basic Cat Care: What’s the Scoop on Litter Boxes?
Indoor cats must have a litter box to do their business. It should be placed in a quiet location and as far away from the water and food bowls as possible. Litter boxes should be cleaned regularly and never with ammonia or detergents.
It’s OK if your cat doesn’t want to use the litter box at first. Not all felines have an instinct to use it, so sometimes training will be necessary.
However, the cat care rulebook advises on contacting a veterinarian if your cat still refuses to use her litter box (and the box is clean). Avoiding the litter box could be a sign of infection or some other medical issue and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Cats usually clean themselves, so there’s not much to do here except leave them to their own devices, although human intervention is sometimes required. For more information and tips, check out our cat grooming guide.
Cat Care Guide to Nail Trimming and Declawing
Cats love to scratch, and there’s very little humans can do to stop them. Investing in a sturdy scratch post or pad will keep your cat happy and your furniture intact.
Trimming your cat’s nails is part of the natural grooming process and it’s highly recommended by both vets and pet owners alike. If you’re unsure of how to take care of cats’ nails or you’re feeling nervous about the prospect of giving your pet a “mani-pedi,” it might be a good idea to leave it to the pros.
Declawing, on the other hand, is a surgical procedure in which the last toe bone of the cat is amputated. It is extremely painful (on humans, it would be like cutting off your fingers at the knuckles), and more often than not, utterly unnecessary as there are other ways to control your cat’s scratching habits.
If you do decide on this procedure and are wondering how to take care of a cat after declawing, here are a few tips:
- Avoid using kitty litter as it might cause an infection; use shredded paper, paper litter, or crystal litter instead.
- Limit their food and water intake.
- Give them pain killers as prescribed (no aspirin or Tylenol — these can be deadly to cats).
- Remove the bandages the morning after the surgery.
- Regularly check their toes for swellings or discharge and make sure their paws are dry.
Recovery time varies depending on age, but after declawing a cat, special care should be provided for at least two to six weeks. If your cat is still limping even after this period, contact your vet.
Playing Is Caring
Cats have an inquisitive nature and are happiest when they are active. Pouncing on toy birds and mice, a string or a ball is one of your feline’s favorite pastimes, so make sure they always have something to do to keep them occupied. Don’t forget that even though cats will only take part in playtime when they feel like it, you should still engage them in some kind of fun activity at least once a day.
Cat Health Care: What to Do to Make Sure Your Pet Is Well?
Cats may be independent creatures, but they still need your help, especially when it comes to their health. Following are just some of the things cat parents should be aware of when it comes to the health and well-being of their precious companion.
These are tiny parasites that spread from one cat to another. If you notice your cat’s excessively scratching their ears or shaking their head, you should take them to the vet to get their ears cleaned.
Cat Dental Care
Cats are prone to gum disease and tooth decay, which could cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream and affect some of their major organs — hence why it’s crucial to provide proper dental care for your feline.
Let’s face it — your cat will never let you brush their teeth for them, so it’s best to make a cleaning appointment with your vet at least once a year. If by some strange twist of fate your fur-iend allows you this privilege, cat tooth care dictates you shouldn’t use human toothpaste, but rather a cat toothbrush kit available in pet stores and veterinary offices.
Cats can be infected with worms, fleas, and ticks. These are all serious issues that could lead to other medical conditions in both the pet and the owners.
Check your cat regularly for parasites, especially if the feline in question is an outdoor cat or an indoor one that is allowed to roam free. Make sure that the products you use for indoor and outdoor cat care are meant for felines, or better yet, consult your vet before putting any kind of spray or powder on your furry pal.
Although some pet owners are against vaccinations, vaccines offer protection from a multitude of diseases that could affect your cat, as well as other animals in your household. Vaccines are administered at set intervals, and your vet will inform you when it’s time for your pet to be vaccinated again.
Experts on general cat care recommend kittens be vaccinated before they come into contact with other animals, so take your baby to the vet as soon as possible.
Spaying and Neutering
Spaying or neutering your pet is one of the best and safest ways to stop pet overpopulation; not only that but it also provides a much longer and healthier life for your cat as well. In essence, cats should be neutered or spayed once they reach six months of age.
How to care for a cat after spaying?
After the procedure, “patients” need to be in a dark, quiet, warm, and airy spot where they can recover from the anesthesia and rest. Anesthesia effects last for about 24 hours, after which your pet will return to their normal behavior. While they recuperate, ensure that their water, food, and litter box are nearby. It’s normal for pets to feel slight pain or discomfort after the procedure. If soreness persists, your vet will prescribe pain medication appropriate for the post neuter cat care phase.
Find the Right Vet
Visits to the vet can be highly stressful for cats; they can even lead to anxiety. That is why you need to find a vet your pet trusts and feels comfortable around. Meet with the vet before you bring your feline in, talk to friends, or read some online reviews to ensure that you choose the best possible ally in keeping your furry friend healthy.
When should you take your cat to the vet?
In addition to vaccinations, regular check-ups, and cat oral care interventions, you should contact your vet any time you spot unusual behavior in your cats, such as excessive grooming, lethargy, or decreased appetite. Cats are experts at hiding potential signs of illness, and consulting your vet about the slightest change in your pet’s habits could potentially save their life.
Special Care of Cats
All cats are special, but some need more care than others.
Senior Cat Care
A senior cat, or one that is 12 years old and over, needs special care, love, and attention. What can owners do to make elderly cats more comfortable?
- Keep your cat inside. Going outside puts older cats at risk of infection, as well as stressful situations.
- Visit the vet regularly. The older the cat gets, the more likely it is to suffer new diseases — hence why regular check-ups are a must. Your vet will also recommend pain medication and age-appropriate cat care tips and diets.
- Older cats sleep for most of the day, but this is not just a sign of aging. In some cases, it could be the result of an underlying pain or discomfort, so be on the lookout for any significant changes in their behavior.
- Provide easy access to their basic needs. Senior cats move more slowly and are not as agile as they used to be. An essential part of elderly cat care is keeping the food, water, and litter box within easy reach. If you see them struggling to get up on their favorite “perch,” give them a hand or ensure that they have some kind of access, such as steps or a ramp.
- Keep your senior cat both physically and mentally active. Your furry feline is getting older, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage them in playtime and fun activities. Just try not to tire them out too much.
- Don’t forget regular grooming and cat teeth care.
- Make sure that they have a comfortable, warm place to nap and rest. Somewhere with a view preferably.
- Cherish the time you spend together and make every moment count. Older cats usually want more love and devotion than younger felines. They are also more likely to get upset by a change in their everyday routine, so don’t stress your senior cat out for no reason (unless you have to).
Diabetic Cat Care
Taking care of a diabetic cat may seem daunting, but diabetes in cats is actually an easily manageable condition, and in some cases, even reversible.
Your vet will give you all the information you need about your feline’s diet, exercise routine, and insulin administration. They will check your kitty’s blood sugar level and help you keep it under control, but it will be up to you to give your pet the insulin injections. Not to worry, though! Some advice on how to care for a sick cat and give her injections: administer the drug in the loose skin between and around the cat’s shoulders. This is the best, most accessible, and least painful spot to give your pet an injection.
Cats with diabetes usually require insulin twice a day; however, the frequency and the dosage will be determined by a vet.
A healthy, high-fiber, and low-calorie diet is a must when it comes to caring for a diabetic cat. Try to avoid dry food and feed them canned food as this will provide additional hydration.
How to Care for a Deaf Cat
Cats might lose their hearing as they grow older or if they suffer from certain diseases. Some cats, usually white cats with blue eyes, are born deaf as a result of genetics. Whatever the cause, if you have a deaf cat, keep them indoors. These kitties are more at risk when they go outside because they can’t hear the approach of unknown animals, traffic, and other dangers.
Focus on vibrations, touch, and visual cues to communicate with your cat and keep her mentally stimulated with plenty of toys.
How to Care for a Blind Cat
Cats rely more on their sense of smell and hearing rather than vision; hence, cats that lose their sight will adjust to their environment much faster than deaf cats.
Nevertheless, there are things you can do to make your blind feline’s life easier. Again, don’t let them go outside, and always stimulate their other senses, particularly with toys that are loud and noisy.
Most importantly, don’t pick up your cat and carry them if they get disoriented. Using your voice to guide them will make them much more independent.
How to Care for a Pregnant Cat
Cats have a natural instinct when it comes to motherhood and are more than capable of taking care of themselves at this time. Still, cat parents can help. Preparing a cardboard box or laundry basket where a pregnant cat can give birth is a good idea. However, as with everything else, felines will do what they please and choose a spot they consider to be the safest for their babies.
One of the most important elements of pregnant cat care is nutrition, and this is something you can help with. Mother cats need more calories during their pregnancy; after all, they are eating for two — or rather three to five actually (the average size of a cat litter). Don’t overfeed them, though, as this might cause unnecessary complications and heart issues.
Pregnancy is a vulnerable time for felines, so if you notice anything unusual while your cat is expecting, contact your vet immediately.
After the Birth: How to Care for Newborn Kittens and Mother Cat?
When the kittens are born, resist the urge to either pet or pick them up. Mother cats are incredibly protective, and you could get seriously hurt if you try to separate the mama from her babies.
Wait for at least a week to ten days for their eyes to open before you touch them. In the meantime, ensure the mother is well-fed and not bugged (by you or other pets).
You can start giving your kittens solid food after a month and begin the weaning process, but try to keep them with their littermates for at least 8 weeks.
How to Care for a Stray Cat
Stray and feral cats can manage fine on their own most of the time, which doesn’t mean that they don’t need assistance from humans every now and then. All of us can do our part to help strays, such as feeding them and providing shelter.
Nevertheless, the biggest favor people can do for community cats is have them spayed or neutered. TNR (trap-neuter-return) has been proven as the most effective method in controlling the overpopulation of stray cats, and the number of pets in animal shelters.
How to take care of an outdoor cat?
Outdoor cats have shorter lifespans than domestic pets and are more susceptible to disease, infection, and other dangerous situations. If you’re committed to looking after a stray, treat them as you would your home pet. This includes regular feeding, health checks, and vaccinations.
How to Take Care of an Injured Cat
Cats are adventurous and curious creatures, which can sometimes get them into trouble. Scratches, bites, and other minor wounds are common among cats, especially the ones that enjoy their outdoor freedom.
If you’re providing cat wound care for a minor injury or scrape, gently clean the area around the wound with an antiseptic solution. Don’t use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide — these solutions will only cause tissue damage.
If it’s a puncture or a deeper wound, clean around the edges and use a piece of cloth to stop the bleeding (if there is any). In this case, you should take your cat to the vet for stitches. Afterword, use a bandage or a collar to prevent them from licking their wound and causing an infection.
Special Care for Special Breeds
How to Care for a Sphynx Cat
Sphynx cats are not stingy when it comes to giving love and affection to their owners, but they require a lot of care in return.
- It’s a common misconception that Sphynx cats, and all hairless cats for that matter, require less work. In fact, because they lack hair, these cat breeds are more prone to disease and skin conditions.
- Nutrition is crucial in keeping a sphynx cat healthy. This breed has particular dietary requirements, so only high-quality food rich in protein and fat is suitable.
- Regular baths are an important part of a hairless cat care routine. Use gentle cat shampoos and make sure that cats are properly dried, so they don’t catch a cold.
- Did you know that Sphynx cats can get acne? To avoid this issue, always ensure that their skin is clean and dry.
- Regularly clean their ears and clip their nails. Hairless cats don’t have any hair in their ears or on their paws; meaning dirt, easily lodged in these body parts, could cause an infection.
- Sphynx cat care includes regular vet visits since these felines, like most purebred cats, are genetically prone to certain diseases.
- Last but not least, hairless cats are extremely sensitive to both the cold and the sun. If you’ve seen Sphynx kitties wearing cute sweaters, although adorable, it’s not just for the looks — it’s also to keep them warm. Hairless felines shouldn’t spend too much time in the sun either, even though they love it, because they can easily get sunburnt.
Long Hair Cat Care
Long-haired cats have beautiful, silky, luscious fur, but maintaining it requires lots of care and grooming. In addition to becoming a hotspot for fleas, matted and tangled hair can cause trichobezoars, i.e., hairballs in the intestine, and intestinal blockage.
Other issues owners should be careful of when adopting a long-haired cat, especially a Persian, is eye care. Persians and other brachycephalic cats (more commonly known as “flat-faced cats”) have teary eyes which although not particularly harmful, could lead to a bacterial infection. Proper Persian cat care involves owners gently cleaning the eyes of their cat with a soft cotton pad dipped in water to avoid any unwanted fluid buildup (which is just asking for an infection).
These smooshed-face felines frequently experience nasal issues as well as a result of their anatomy. To stop their noses clogging up, use a wet cloth or cotton pad to clean their face and nostrils.
How do I cat-proof my house?
Before you take your pet home, check to see if any situations could potentially endanger your cat’s life or health, such as:
- High windows without screens;
- Certain plants that are poisonous to felines;
- Medications lying around;
- Small objects that your pet could choke on.
Cats are expert climbers, and they love sitting high (and mighty) in places where they can keep an eye on everything that goes on in their domain. If you don’t have a cat tree, remove any objects lying on shelves or cupboards that you don’t want the cat to break. You just know that your feline friend will get on the highest shelf or cabinet the first chance they get and knock anything in their path.
How do you take care of a cat for the first time?
OK, so you’ve finally decided to get a cat; you’ve bought all the necessary supplies and taken all the precautions. What’s next for the first-time cat owner?
Cats are territorial animals and will probably feel uneasy in a new home — hence why new owners should be very, very patient. If your new pet wants to spend a day or two hiding in some corner of the room, let them. Don’t force anything; wait for them to come to you. It might take some time for you and your cat to become friends, but once you do, you are in for a fantastic experience.
What’s the difference between taking care of a cat in an apartment and a house?
Looking after a cat in a tiny apartment is pretty much the same as doing so in a house, the biggest difference being that there is less space. Meaning, you have to clean the litter box more often and make sure that your apartment is well-ventilated, especially so if you live higher up where opening windows is not the best option. On the plus side, a smaller area for your cat to move in means your kitty will allow you to share their space, which in turn means more cuddles and snuggles.
What is the average life expectancy of an indoor cat?
Indoor cats have a lifespan of 13 to 17 years. Some felines live up to 20, although this is quite rare. The breed can also determine lifespan — some breeds like the Manx and Siamese live longer. The American shorthair is yet another one of the popular cat breeds known for their longevity.
Is it really necessary to bathe a cat?
Not really. Cats are clean animals, even fastidious when it comes to grooming, so baths are optional, especially for indoor cats. Outdoor cats might need more regular baths, but do bear in mind that they will be more exposed to infections and colds the more you bathe them. The best course of action would be to let cats clean themselves. They’ll do a much better job than you anyway.
How often should you bathe an indoor cat?
Bathing indoor cats once or twice a year is more than enough. Hairless cat breeds might need more frequent baths, usually once a week, whereas long-haired cats require baths every 8 weeks.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of cat care, the only thing left for you to do is implement what you’ve learned. Hopefully, these tips will make you a better cat parent to your fur-ball or maybe even convince you to welcome a new member into your home.