- How to Take Care of a Cat
How to Take Care of a Cat
One of the biggest draws of cats as pets is that they can be relatively low-maintenance. However, in order to show proper care and love for your family cat -- whether he or she be a kitten, adult, or senior -- there are some key facts about cat needs and habits that any cat owner must know. This is a comprehensive guide to get you on track for taking the best care of your cat.
The average cat has just a handful of basic necessities that you’ll need to provide:
- Nutrient-rich and age-appropriate food
- Clean water
- At least one size-appropriate litter box with litter in the box and a scooper
- A brush or steel comb
- A caring veterinarian
Cat overpopulation is a serious problem that leads to over 1 million cats in the USA dying every year from sickness, disease, euthanasia, and more. There are many shelters, rescue organizations, and other groups that are working to provide care and shelter for as many cats as possible, but the issue of overpopulation cannot be solved until the general public is made aware of the importance of spaying and neutering their cats and actually follows through on doing it.
Even if you adopt an indoor cat, spaying and neutering is important in the unwanted but common event that your cat runs outside.
Additional benefits of spaying and neutering include:
- No heat cycles
- Eliminates males spraying/marking
- Eliminates risk of cancer or complications with reproductive organs, as well as dramatically lowering risk of breast cancer
- Reduces aggressive behavior
- Reduces tendency to roam, which reduces a risk of getting hurt or contracting disease
Get more information about spaying and neutering from Spay USA.
Food & Nutrition
The food a cat eats is essential to their health and life expectancy. Indoor cats in particular are prone to becoming overweight and diabetic with a poor and unregulated diet.
When it comes to cat nutrition, there are several essential nutrients that a cat needs to survive and maintain good health:
- amino acids from protein
- fatty acids
Cats are carnivores, and dietary proteins contain amino acids that their bodies need. Deficiencies in these proteins can cause health problems. Protein along with carbohydrates and fats are required for providing the energy a cat needs to sustain their normal activities. It is extremely important to choose food for your cat that contains all essential nutrients.
Every cat needs a litter box, and in households with multiple cats, more than one litter box is preferable. Some specialists advise that even one cat would be happiest with more than one litter box.
The primary factors to proper litter box maintenance are:
Neglecting scooping the litter box and cleaning out the box regularly will upset a cat, since they prefer a clean environment (hence all of their self-grooming!). Litter box neglect is a common reason for cats urinating and defecating outside of the box. Put yourself in your cat's paws. Would YOU want to use a dirty toilet? Or would you go elsewhere?
2. Type of Litter Box
Most cats prefer a larger box with no lid on it. Enclosing a litter box may be preferable for an owner to reduce odor, but it can be disconcerting for a cat that relies on constantly surveying their environment. To control odor, maintain a clean litter box or consider litter alternatives like the Cat Toilet Training System.
3. Type of Litter
Some cats can be particular about the type of litter used. The purpose of litter, for the cat, is to hide their scent. It’s a defensive and protective instinct. Litters that are better at clumping will be preferable, as it is more likely to cover and maintain a level of cleanliness in the box. Find out more in our guide, "Types of Cat Litter."
Litter boxes should be placed in locations that are easily accessible for your cat but are not near entry or exit points in your home. A common way that indoor cats run outside and go missing is by being near an open door when the owner is unaware. It is also a best practice to keep the litter box a safe distance from the cat’s food and water in order to avoid fecal contamination.
Cats are self-cleaning machines. They will typically be very diligent about grooming their own coats and don’t require regular baths like dogs. Cats prefer clean environments, so it is important to keep good care of items like your cat’s bed, blankets, litter box, and more in order to keep your cat happy and comfortable.
Cats should have their teeth checked regularly by their vet. Some cats with dental issues might need special care or products to help with gingivitis and tooth decay, but any measures or products used in this regard should always be approved by a vet.
Cats require minimal training compared to dogs, but oftentimes cat owners will need to deter cats from certain unwanted activities such as scratching furniture, jumping on countertops and cabinets, and expelling waste outside of the litter box.
A number of techniques can be attempted to curb these behaviors, depending on the personality of your cat and how he responds to certain types of feedback. If a cat has a negative experience, they will try to avoid it in the future.
Review our guide, “How to Train Your Cat,” to learn multiple methods for training your cat.