Responsible pet owners make sure their cats are properly cared for. We’ve put together 20 points to consider for quality feline care.
1. Fresh water. Make sure your pet has a bowl of clean water available every day. Rinse the bowl and wash it with warm water and soap every other day.
2. A balanced diet. Feeding your cat a quality diet is the first step to good health, and will go a long way toward preventing obesity. If you’re unsure what your cat needs, speak to your veterinarian.
3. Neuter or spay your cat. If you aren’t a registered breeder, have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters. Shelters are full of unwanted pets. Don’t backyard breed!
4. Vaccinations. Ensure that your kitten has her full set of initial vaccinations.
5. Internal parasites. Cats do get roundworms and tapeworms. Your cat may not show any symptoms of worms, but this doesn’t mean she isn’t infected. Ask your vet for deworming advice.
6. Flea control. A good flea control programme goes hand in hand with deworming, as some worms use the flea as a host. If your cat scratches herself quite a bit, see your vet about a possible flea allergy. Never use dog flea products on your cat.
7. Regularly groom your cat. It’s therapeutic for you and your pet and you can use the opportunity to check for lumps and skin conditions that may need veterinary attention.
8. Safe environment. It’s up to you to kitten-proof your home correctly. Chemicals, medications and small objects should be safely packed away. Close the doors of washing machines and tumble driers.
9. Check your plants. Some house and garden plants are toxic to cats. Obtain a list of toxic plants and check the plants in your home and garden to make sure they are safe.
10. Litter trays. A general rule is that you should supply one litter tray per cat in your household. Remove solid waste a few times a day and replace the litter regularly. A little baking soda, sprinkled at the bottom of the tray before you add the litter, can help reduce smells.
11. Teach your children to be gentle. Cats and kids can be raised together, but children need to be taught how to treat an animal with respect. Never allow your toddler to hurt the cat as she may retaliate out of fear.
12. Travel crate. Always transport your cat in a travel crate. This will keep her safe in the car and at the vet’s consulting rooms, where dogs may be prowling about.
13. Annual check-up. Don’t neglect your cat’s annual vet check-up. Your vet will be able to pick up any early signs of illness and give your cat her booster shots.
14. Senior cats. Ask your vet for advice on nutrition for senior cats. You may need to increase the number of check-ups to every four to six months if your pet is ill.
15. Pick up your cat with care. Never lift your cat by the scruff of her neck. Rather place one hand under her back legs and the other behind the front legs when you pick her up.
16. Learn your cat’s language. Cats communicate in many different ways. You can learn to read your cat’s mood just by watching her posture, tail, facial expressions and whiskers.
18. Dental health. Dental care contributes to your cat’s overall health. Start brushing your kitten’s teeth from an early age to get her accustomed to it.
19. Microchip your pet. It’s the safest way to ensure that your cat is returned to you, should she get lost. At the very least, provide a collar with identification.
20. First aid know-how. Basic first aid knowledge can save your pet’s life. Have a well-stocked pet first aid kit in your home. Pet first aid apps are also available for smartphones or tablets.