How to Be the Best Cat Owner
There are a few things you should know before you purchase or adopt a feline. Ultimately, your budget will determine whether you purchase a purebred cat or adopt a stray. Adopting is more affordable, but if you have your heart set on a specific kind of cat, like a Maine Coon or a Russian Blue, you can buy from a breeder. Some cat breeds cost more than others, especially if they are purebred. Regardless of breed, being the best cat owner is about providing them with what they need to live comfortably, including healthy food, vaccinations, and love. See what it takes to become the best cat owner you can be!
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Understand the Commitment
Some people think that cats are easier to take care of than dogs because they essentially take care of themselves. While that’s sort of true, it doesn’t mean you can neglect a cat completely. If a cat is left with access to water, food and a litter box, they’ll be okay, but they still require plenty of love and affection. As a cat owner, it’s important to understand that cats are a long term commitment and that there are costs associated with owning a cat.
Life Expectancy of a Cat
Cats live an average of 15 years. Depending on factors like the breed, their health conditions, and whether they spend time outdoors, a cat can live anywhere from 10 to 20 years or more. Indoor cats that are vaccinated and removed from the dangers of the outdoors might live longer than an outdoor cat who has to fend for itself. The lifespan of an outdoor cat is significantly shorter than an indoor one because they are exposed to dangers like fleas, ticks, and illnesses. Typically, outdoor cats have a lifespan of anywhere from three to 10 years.
Health and Wellness
Like any animal, cats require regular visits to a trusted vet so they can receive vaccinations and screening tests for illnesses like feline leukemia. Regular veterinary visits can help prevent your cat from getting infections or other serious diseases that pose a threat to their health. When you adopt or buy a cat, the first thing you should do is take them to the vet to get a baseline idea of their health and ensure that they are up to date on all of their vaccinations.
Kittens between six and 16 weeks of age require certain vaccinations to prevent them from getting rabies or respiratory problems. After six months, you should have your cat spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and other health issues. As your cat ages, they’ll require boost vaccinations and annual wellness exams. Senior cats (eight years or older) might require blood and urine tests to screen for issues like anemia, diabetes, kidney or liver problems, hyperthyroidism, heart problems, and other diseases. Because older cats are at an increased risk of serious health problems, it is recommended that they be seen by a trusted vet bi-annually.
Many people wish to declaw their cats to prevent scratching issues. Declawing your cat is not recommended unless medically necessary. This is especially true for outdoor cats, who need their claws to protect themselves when they’re wandering about. If you decide to let your cat roam outdoors, it’s also important to make sure your cat wears a collar with your contact information or have them microchipped.
No matter the health needs of your cat, pet insurance can help you keep up with the costs.
Cat vaccines help combat life-threatening feline diseases. Talk to your vet about the vaccination schedule that’s right for your cat. The vet should treat your cat based on its individual needs, recommending the best vaccines based on age, current health status, and lifestyle. Below are some of the most common vaccinations that a vet will provide for a feline:
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP)..
- Feline Leukemia (FeLV).
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).
Spaying or neutering your cat can help them live longer, healthier lives. For females, spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which can be cancerous. For male cats, neutering prevents prostate problems and testicular cancer. In addition to these health benefits, spaying and neutering your cat can help control their behavior. Spayed females won’t go into heat and neutered males are less dominant or aggressive.
Cats are carnivores and their diet should reflect the foods they would eat if they lived out in the wild. The ASPCA recommends semi-moist canned food or dry food for cats, as long as they’re nutritious. Make sure to read the label so that you know exactly what you’re giving your feline. Meal feeding is recommended over free feeding or leaving food out for your cat to help themselves to. The first signs of stress or illness are reflected by a cat’s appetite, so monitoring their diet closely can help keep you in touch with how your cat is feeling.
Fortunately, cats are built to groom themselves and more than capable of handling their hair care. If your cat gets dirty or into something smelly, they might require a bath. Generally, though, brushing your cat will remove excess fur and skin flakes as well as stimulate their blood circulation. Brush your cat once or twice a week to keep her looking healthy.
Understand Your Cat’s Behavior
Like their wild ancestors, all cats exhibit similar behaviors. From stalk-like play to purring and meowing communication, every cat shares these basic tendencies. Below, we take a closer look at the normal behaviors that cats exhibit on a daily basis:
- Playing is a normal activity for a developing kitten. Your cat’s play might mimic an attack or defense behavior, including chasing, pouncing, or rearing up. Cats love toys that roll, move around, or challenge them to learn new things.
- Hunting or mock-hunting is another common behavior in cats. In domesticated cats, play and hunting look similar because most of the toys your cat plays with are viewed as “prey.” To keep your cat tame, play with toys, but don’t allow them to bite your hand or claw at you.
- Cats make a variety of sounds. From classic meows to hissing in anger or the soft purring of a content cat, it seems cats always have something to say! Teeth- chattering occurs when your cat sees prey that is out of their reach and simply means your cat is excited or frustrated.
Keep Your Cat Entertained
Daily play keeps your cat happy and healthy physically and mentally. Regular play can also lessen anxiety, stress, fear, boredom, and even depression. There are a number of ways you can keep your cat entertained, from daily petting sessions to fun toys. Kittens will want to play more frequently than older cats, simply because they have more energy. That doesn’t mean a senior cat won’t enjoy a bit of playtime every now and again, though. These are just some of the ways you can keep your cat entertained:
- Sock toys.
- Feather toys.
- Paper balls.
- Ping-pong balls.
- Treat puzzles.
- Cardboard boxes.
- Laser pointers.
- Supervised time outdoors.
Cats can be simple pets, but they also take a lot of work. With the right attitude, you can welcome home a fuzzy feline of your own! It’s important to remember that cats need the right vaccinations, ample playtime, an excellent diet, and of course, plenty of attention from you.
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This post was updated November 25, 2019. It was originally published November 25, 2019.