Pet Series: How to Take Care of a Cat
The 2020 global pandemic resulted in a rise of pet adoptions — which is understandable, considering that pets can help people with anxiety and feel less alone, something that many people needed during that time! In addition, the shift to working from home opened up the possibility of pet ownership for people who previously didn’t think they had enough availability to take care of a pet — suddenly being home all day meant they could make the time to walk a dog, or cuddle with a cat. If you or someone you love found themselves recently adopting a cat for the first time, you may be wondering how to take care of a cat. We’ve assembled these cat care tips as part of our pet series!
Give Them Fresh Water Daily
Like people, it’s important for cats to be well-hydrated. If they don’t get enough water, it can lead to dehydration, kidney disease, or lower urinary tract problems. Wet cat food helps some, but it’s important they drink water every day. If they don’t like drinking from their bowl, try moving it away from their food — their primal instincts may want to avoid contaminating their water with bacteria found in food sources. If that doesn’t work, try leaving tall cups of water around the house, as cats often like drinking from things they “discover” themselves. Some cats also respond well to the rushing water provided by a cat fountain. It may take some experimenting to find what pleases your cat, but it’s necessary to make sure they drink fresh water every day.
Change the Litter Box Frequently
An important part of cat care is to keep that litter box clean! Cats do not like a full or dirty box, so make sure you clean the litter box often. While you do that, keep an eye on any changes in stool or urine as it could mean there is an issue you should have checked by a vet. If they won’t use the box, that also can be a sign of an issue to discuss with the vet. If you have multiple cats, get a box for each, as they often do not like to share!
Brush Your Cat Regularly
Cats are pros at self-grooming. Sometimes it seems like they spend the day either sleeping or cleaning themselves, but even with that, it’s important to brush or comb them on a regular basis. This helps remove dead hair so they don’t accidently swallow it while doing their own grooming. It also gives you the opportunity to notice any abnormal bumps, lumps, or tender areas that need to be checked by a veterinarian.
Get a Scratching Post
Cats not only love to scratch, they need to do it to help remove old layers from their claws. If you’d like to save your furniture, invest in a scratching post, pad, or cat tree with scratching posts attached. Carpet, cardboard, and sisal are all surfaces that work great for their scratching needs. If your cat doesn’t take to their scratching post right away, spray or rub it with catnip and enjoy watching them discover it!
Schedule a Yearly Teeth Cleaning
Part of owning a cat is making sure they have all their health needs met, and while there are compliant cats out there, the majority of cats would never let you brush their teeth for them. Like humans, it’s important for them to have regular cleanings to keep their teeth and overall health in good condition. Schedule a yearly teeth cleaning for your cat with a veterinarian.
Spay or Neuter Your Cat
Neuter male cats and spay females by the time they are five months old. This doesn’t just help prevent cat overpopulation, but can also help prevent reproductive diseases. Unspayed females are vulnerable to uterine infections, breast tumors, and ovarian cancers, while unneutered males could get prostate problems or testicular cancer. Neutering also reduces a male’s cat instinct to spray to mark his territory, which is helpful for preserving your furniture.
Play with Your Cat
Wondering how to make your cat happy? Play with it! Cats love to bat toys around, especially ones with jingly balls or bright lights. Fishing pole toys are a fun way to dangle feathers or other irresistible items for cats to chase and bat, or throw catnip mice in the air for them to swat around. This is not only great exercise for your cat, but a good bonding time as well. No need to spend a lot of money on toys — cats are very imaginative and their favorite play item may be a simple twist tie or the plastic ring that seals a gallon of milk!
Make Your Cat Easy to Identify
If your cat goes outdoors, make sure they wear an easy-release collar with an ID tag. This is also a good idea for indoor cats, because you never know what might make them unexpectedly dash out the door. Microchipping your cat is a great way to increase the chances of having your cat safely returned should they ever get lost.
The most important thing of course, is to show your cats lots of love and affection. Cats are notoriously independent, which makes it even sweeter when they show their love back!