Cat Care: Everything Your Cat Wants You to Know

cat care

Did you know that the oldest known pet cat lived around 9,500 years ago? That’s about four thousand years before Egyptians made art about cats- they’ve been domesticated far longer than we originally thought.

For as long as people have been keeping cats as pets, we’ve loved them. Part of owning a cat means wanting to provide the best cat care you can- but people often don’t know what that means. Cats are very different animals from dogs, even though they’re both common household pets.

In this article, we’ll tell you how to provide your cat with the best care possible.

We’ll explain basic cat care such as feeding, thirst, and grooming. We’ll also explain trickier care, such as finding a cat hospital to have your cat spayed or neutered. We’ll even explain some cat behaviors so you know what your cat is thinking at a given time.

All you need to do to become an expert in cat care is keep reading.

Feeding Your Cat

Cats need specific foods to thrive. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that cats are primarily carnivores. This means that they need to have meat in their diet. If you try to put a cat on a vegan diet, it will quickly become malnourished.

The next thing to remember is that cats need an essential amino acid known as taurine to stay healthy. It’s important for their heart and eye health. The amount of taurine a cat needs depends on what stage of their life they are in.

Next, if your cat hasn’t been eating well you may have heard of baby food as an alternative. Read the labels carefully! If the baby food has onion or garlic powder it will poison your cat.

Finally, watch your cat for signs of malnutrition or illness. If any of those signs occur for two or more days, take them to a vet near you.

Cats and Thirst

Cats have a hard time drinking water. Cats prefer constant fresh water. Some cats even require items such as a pet fountain, due to their preference for running water. This is because they evolved from wild animals that mostly drank from streams- that preference is still hard-wired into them.

It’s important to keep an eye on how much your cat is drinking. If you don’t make sure they get the type of water they want, cats will often become dehydrated rather than drink it.

Another good way to make sure your cat stays hydrated is to make sure they have wet food in their diet. Wet food has a far higher water percentage than dry food, meaning they need to drink less water. This helps if your cat is a fussy drinker.

Some owners “trick” their cats by drinking from a water glass and leaving it out for their pets to drink from. This is also an acceptable way of making sure they get the water they need.

Spaying and Neutering

Unless you’re prepared for health and behavioral problems, you should make an appointment for this cat surgery. Spaying and neutering your cat is important to their health.

Spaying or neutering your cat will lower the risks of your cat getting cancer. In female cats, it prevents mammary tumors; in male cats, it prevents testicular cancer. Spaying your female cat lowers the number of urinary infections the cat contracts.

In addition, spaying or neutering your pets will get rid of the behavioral problems that come with these hormones. You don’t want your cat spraying urine around to try and attract a mate or mark their territory.

Making sure your cat gets spayed or neutered will also cause them less distress during mating season. This means that life will be peaceful for you and your pet.

A female cat needs to have the procedure as young as four months, when they reach sexual maturity. A male cat should have it at five or six months old.

Playtime With Your Cat

Cats aren’t as obvious as dogs about when they want to play, but there are signs. If your cat is being extra needy, avoiding you, or attacking your ankles when you move, they may need some playtime.

You should invest in a variety of cat toys to find out which ones your cat has the most fun with. Make sure you use these toys with them! Many owners substitute treats for playtime, which makes your cat gain unhealthy amounts of weight.

Cats are typically active in short bursts, so playtime should only be about fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. You should have playtime one to three times a day.

Not only will it improve your cat’s mood, but it will improve their health! For every hour you play with a cat, it tends to add an extra four hours to your cat’s lifespan.

Regular Vet Appointments

You should be bringing your cat in for regular vet appointments. How regular, exactly, depends on the age of your pet.

You should bring in your kitten once a month as they grow. During this time they should also be spayed or neutered. In addition, they should also be given their vaccinations.

Adult cats only need to be brought in once a year. You may need to bring them in more than once a year, however, if you want to have their teeth properly cleaned.

Senior cats should be brought in twice a year, or every six months. This is to ensure that no health problems creep up as your pet continues to age. 

Bringing your pet in for regular vet appointments is the easiest way to keep track of their health. It will also protect you from needing to make emergency vet appointments much of the time.

Litterbox Health

Cats need their litterboxes to be kept in specific conditions.

First, a litterbox needs to be accessible. You should have one per cat you own, plus one extra. If you live in a multi-level house, there should be at least one litterbox per floor.

Next, litterboxes need to be cleaned regularly. You should scoop out a litterbox once a day to prevent cat waste from building up. It will also prevent the buildup of bacteria that could make your cat sick.

At least once a week, litterboxes need to be cleaned thoroughly. Remove all litter and wash the litterbox with mild detergent (nothing lemon-scented). Then, replace it with fresh litter.

If this feels like too big of a task for you, you might want to invest in a self-cleaning litterbox to cut down on your daily chores.

Keep Cats Inside

It may seem cruel to you, but you should never let your cats roam around outside. Cats are not meant to be outdoor animals; they are too domesticated for that. It’s bad for the health of your cat and the health of the environment.

Cats who remain as indoor pets have a longer lifespan than those who are allowed to be outside cats. In addition, indoor cats are healthier than outdoor cats. They don’t get any of the diseases, parasites, or infections from fights with animals that outdoor cats do.

If you want your cat to have some outside time, then you should consider bringing them for trips. There are specialized backpacks you can carry your pets around in so they can enjoy fresh air and sunshine without getting away.

If you feel your pet should have outside time at home, consider building a catio. This is an enclosed space where they can enjoy the sun without actually being outside.

Cat Dental Care

Many people don’t know how to take care of their cat’s teeth. This leads to many cats having serious dental problems like gingivitis by the time they reach four years old.

You must establish a cleaning routine while your cat is young so they will allow you to brush their teeth frequently. In addition, you should schedule a dental exam for your cat about once a year. This may include a proper dental cleaning, which they will be put under anesthesia for.

Most dental issues in cats appear in the gums first. Keep an eye out for red, inflamed gums, and make sure your pets don’t get to that point.

If you don’t know how to clean your cat’s teeth, you should make an appointment with a local vet. They can give your cat a checkup and help you set up a routine to brush your cat’s teeth.

Cat Grooming

You may have noticed your cat grooming themselves throughout the day. This means that you don’t need to bathe your cat without a good reason for it. However, you should use a grooming brush on your cat regularly.

Cats can’t brush themselves. Brushing your cat’s fur ensures that you can get rid of fur that needs to be shed, as well as avoid its fur being matted. 

In addition, there are many health benefits to grooming your cat! It helps to distribute their natural oils throughout their fur, leading to a healthy coat.

Grooming your cat will also get rid of dead skin flakes, which makes them much more comfortable. The act of grooming your cat even helps improve their blood circulation!

Finally, grooming your cat also allows your cat to get socialization time on their terms. Many cats enjoy being groomed. It’s a great way for them to spend time with you.

Recognize Cat Behavior

Cats behave very differently from dogs, so don’t trick yourself into thinking they don’t like you. Learn to recognize how cats behave.

The biggest thing to understand is that cats need more personal space than you realize. Cats aren’t very social animals and don’t need much physical interaction. Don’t force affection on your cat- they will come to you if they want it.

Next, when a cat is on their back, it isn’t usually an invitation for belly rubs. It’s usually a sign that they want to play or feel aggressive! If you try to rub your cat’s belly, be aware you may end up with some scratches.

Finally, pay attention to a cat’s tail.

If it is high and vibrating, that’s usually a sign that they’re excited and happy. If it’s high and flicking back and forth, however, that’s a sign that you need to back off.  They’re agitated and on high alert.

Mistakes to Avoid

The final thing to know is what mistakes to avoid as a cat owner. Avoiding these mistakes will ensure both you and your pet are as happy as you can be.

The most important thing you need to do when owning a cat is to prepare a space for them. Make sure they have access to all of their needs and toys. This helps create a sense of belonging, which puts them at ease in your home.

Next, make sure that you socialize your cat! Expose them to a wide variety of people, animals, and environments. This will help them stay calm and confident when exposed to something new.

Finally, make sure that you train your pets! Even though cats don’t need as much training as dogs, they still need to be trained to do a few things.

Namely, cats need to be litterbox trained and know not to scratch furniture. When training your pet, make sure you use positive reinforcement like treats rather than punishment.

Make Sure Your Cat Care Is Great

Now that you’ve learned everything you should know about cat care, are you ready to make sure that you’ve been keeping your cat’s health the best it can be? 

If you are, then you should make an appointment with us! We take pride in a Westlake vet that you can rely on to provide the best care possible to your furry companions.

Don’t wait- make an appointment with Slaton Veterinary Hospital today! Let us provide your pets with the type of care they deserve!