A Guide for Cat Care
Domestic cats have been kept as companion animals and “mousers” for hundreds of years. In terms of numbers, there are more pet cats than there are pet dogs. A cared for cat can live well into its teens and even beyond. Learn how to care for a pet cat.
- Selection and Purchase of a Cat or Kitten
- Feeding of a Pet Cat
- Care and Housing of Pet Cats
- Other Information on Pet Cats
- Links for More Specific Information
Selection and Purchase of a Cat or Kitten
Before getting a cat, decide if you want a kitten or a more settled adult. Kittens are playful and fun, they are also destructive and will use their claws on your furniture and you. Families with young children may find a cat to be a better choice than a kitten. Seniors might find that an adult cat to be a better companion.
It is nearly impossible to determine what personality type a cat will have when you look at them as a kitten. So if you want a particular personality type, such as cuddly, select an adult cat who likes to be cuddled.
While there is great variety in dog breeds, cats are fairly similar. Some cat breeds are more active than others, but not to the extent of difference in the dog family. As such most people select their cat based on color and hair length alone. If you are interested in showing and breeding, then you should start off with a purebred registered cat from a home that raises show/breeding quality pets.
On the whole most other cats, including those from pet shops should be considered only as pets rather than breeding stock.
You can easily get a cat free out of the newspaper, but it may require medical care, which can be costly. You can also find cats for sale in pet stores, but the best place to get a pet kitty is from an animal shelter such as the Humane Society, or SPCA. There you will be genuinely saving a life, and will have an awesome selection to pick from. As well these cats usually cost less than it would cost you to take an unvaccinated cat to the vet to have it checked, vaccinated, and wormed, this is because shelters are non-profit.
Female cats cost a bit more to spay than a male to neuter, but sometimes you can find cats who have already had this done in advance. Males who are not fixed will spray, and occasionally males who are fixed will continue to spray. Again you may be able to save money by finding one who is already neutered.
Never accept a kitten under seven weeks of age, and never pay for a kitten or cat who is not vaccinated or vet checked.
If you are paying, be sure to get a written contract that includes all guarantees.
Feeding of a Pet Cat
Kittens need kitten food up until at least eight months of age. If at this time they are still lean, they can remain on kitten food until one year of age. Adult cats need adult food. Either way, they should have access to dry food all the time. Kittens should have canned food, best fed in small amounts several times a day. Canned food is an option with adults but is generally recommended to be fed in a small amount once a day.
Not all dry foods are good for cats, some contain too much filler like corn, which as we know, cats are carnivores, so corn is not natural food for them. They love milk, but it is not good for them either. Tuna, ham, and cheese, should not be given to cats either.
Cats need access to water at all times, and will drink more when it is kept fresh. Fresh water also helps keep their urinary tract in good health.
Care and Housing of Pet Cats
Cats live longer lives if kept indoors only, but some owners enjoy letting the cat out from time to time. This can be done safely by providing your cat with some sort of cat enclosure or pen.
If a cat is going to be an outdoor only cat, it must have a place to go for shelter on colder, or wet, days, and should be given extra food. Cats who go outside must be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and dewormed. Declawed cats should never be allowed outside unless in a proper shelter or enclosure.
Cats do not need regular baths, and generally wont tolerate it anyhow. You may brush them to reduce shedding. A good selection of toys is very important. Treats are optional.
Your cat will be happier if you provide it with a scratching post or own cat tower for sleeping, playing, and scratching.
Cats need a litter box (one per cat), different kinds of litter provide various levels of odor reduction, generally the more expensive a litter is, the better the smell reduction. Some cats refuse to use litters which are scented so you may want to avoid them. Having more litter boxes than you have cats is also a good idea.
Other Information on Pet Cats
Cats have been domesticated to be kept as house pets, they can live outdoors but this is not the ideal, as there are many dangers for them. In some areas it is not legal to allow your cat off your property.
If you want a cat to be a good mouser, feed it well, as it will hunt for fun in addition to hunting for food. Cats who kill mice will need to be dewormed regularly as mice do carry worms.
Spayed or neutered pets live on average two years longer than pets that are not fixed and do not contribute to the overpopulation of cats.
Cats love an assortment of toys. Provide your cat with at least 15 toys, but only leave 5 out at any given time. Rotate the toys every week or so. Look for noisey toys, soft toys, honeysuckle toys, and for adult cats, look for cat nip toys.
Speak to a veterinarian in your area to learn what vaccinations are required.