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Cat Caring Basics

By Kaela Wong


Cats are one of the most common simi-large housepets according to https://www.thetoptens.com/best-house-pets/. Are you a cat person or a dog person? You may have your preference, however, I personally am an animal enthusiast (except for spiders and snakes). Recently (at least for the past few months) I have been interested in getting a cat. Oddly enough (at least to my family) I've only ever had dogs, as the saying goes “fighting like cats and dogs”, so now it is controversial that cats and dogs cannot get along this is (at least according to https://www.animalbehaviorassociates.com/dogs_cats.htm) because dogs view cats as prey. Well (that is with my dad's permission of course) I will be able to put that to the test. for now, however, I have been doing research on not only the breeds I am interested in but also the basics of cat care from necessities to diseases to training and items.


Basic things to get


Food that are off-limits

  • Onions

  • Garlic

  • Green tomatoes

  • Chocolate

  • Grapes

  • Raisins

  • Avocado

  • Milk

  • Xylitol (sugar)

  • Meat trimmings

  • Raw eggs


Training Mistakes


  • Overestimating how much time training takes

  • Ignoring the good (wanted) behavior and paying attention (in the cat’s eyes rewarding) the bad behavior

  • Attempting to eliminate instinctive behavior

  • Expecting your cat to listen without training

  • Setting unrealistic training goals


How to keep cat motivated while training


  • Don't have high expectations

  • Train in small time segments. Just like people when they feel overwhelmed they don’t feel like doing something anymore.

  • Reward the cat when doing well


3 most common cat behavior problems


  • Clawing furniture

  • Redirect energy through a different outlet. Experiment on different scratching posts: horizontal and vertical. Reward when using the scratching post. If they are still scratching the furniture, place double-sided tape there and where the cat has already scratched before.

  • Biting and scratching during play

  • Although it is instinct, don’t pull back the hand, instead, freeze in place. This will show that when biting and scratching, it is not acceptable. Don't play with the cat with hands, instead use feather sticks and such like that.

  • Going outside of the litter box

  • The litter box should be 1.5 times the cat’s body size. If cats like their litter, they'll dig in it. Most cats don't like covered or automatic cleaning litter boxes. Most cats like clumping unscented litter. Clean out at least 2x a day. Clean out with non-scented cleaning products (that are pet safe), not citrus scented (cats don't like it).


Feeding mistakes


You leave food out all the time, instead, measure it out and have scheduled mealtimes. Make mealtimes last longer by using food puzzles instead of bowls.


Not optimal eating environment. The cat may feel threatened by other pets, noises from appliances, and people always walking by. Safe quiet areas where your cat can eat undisturbed.


Too many treats, replace food rewards with petting or play sessions. Or fewer treats, and make the cat move/work to get them.


Milk is bad, despite all of the pictures cats are actually lactose intolerant.


Changing diet too quickly. Sudden changes in diet can result in vomiting/ diarrhea because it was so abrupt. If you are going to change diet, do it gradually.


Feeding your cat only vegan diets. Cats are obligate carnivores and must eat meat.

Taking care of a new kitten


Verify kitten’s age


Typically, the kitten should be 10 weeks and older. If younger than the suggested age then, consult the vet because they have very specific needs.


Find a good veterinarian


Taking the kitten to the vet should be one of the first things done to not only test for:

  1. Birth defects

  2. Parasites

  3. And feline leukemia

  4. But also allows asking important questions and advice on litter box training.

Get the most out of the first vet visit


Have the veterinarian recommend a type of food, how often the kitten should be fed, and the portion size.


Discuss kitten safe options for controlling parasites, both internal and external.


Learn about the possible signs of illness to watch for during the first few months.


Discuss how to introduce the kitten to other household pets (if you do have pets).


Schedule future visits and vaccinations to establish a preventive health plan for the new family member.

4. Shop for quality food


Food made for kittens is the easiest way to make sure the kitten has enough nourishment. Growing kittens need as much as 3 times the amount of calories than adult cats. Choose a name-brand supplement specifically made for kittens. To ensure the food’s quality, make sure the package has a statement from AAFCO (Association of Animal feed control officials).


5. Set up a feeding schedule


Usually, at the age of 3-6 months, most vets recommend feeding 3 times a day. Once the kitten is 6 months old, most vets will suggest to scale down to only two feeding times a day.

6. Be Sociable


Once the vet has made sure your kitten is completely healthy, handle at least once a day. So you and the new family member can have a good bond.


7. Prepare a room


Sometimes, cats need their own “alone time”, set up space where the cat can retreat if needed. TIP: Cats like their food and litter box as far as possible.


8. Gear up


Get all the essentials. Such as:


a.Quality food, specifically formulated for kittens

b.Collar and ID tags

c.Food bowls, preferably metal or ceramic

d.Litterbox and cat litter

e.A comfortable, warm cat bed

f.Cat carrier

g.Scratching post

h. Kitten safe toys, no small pieces that your kitten can swallow

i. Cat brush

j.cat toothbrush and toothpaste (get him started at a young age)

k. Tick comb


9. Watch for early illnesses


If the cat is showing any of these signs, contact the vet.

a.lack of appetite

b.poor weight gain

c.Swollen or painful abdomen

d.Lethargy (tiredness)

e.diarrhea

f.difficulty breathing

g.Wheezing or coughing

h.pale gums

I. Swollen, red eyes or eye discharge

j.Nasal discharge

k.Inability to pass urine or stool


Surviving the first month


Going home


Before picking up the kitten, prepare the carrier by spraying it with pheromone spray (pheromone spray is made to calm pets). Along with giving treats throughout the trip, so that way the kitten will grow to like the carrier, which will be great for later in life. Separate new kitten from other housepets. Once the new kitten is able to use the litter box and is comfortable with their new environment, they are ready to explore the rest of the house. Before letting the cat have free range, make sure the house is completely kitten proof. So the cat won’t bite or scratch you (or the vet) while being handled, handle, talk to and love on the kitten frequently. This consists of (gently) handling paws, looking in (or even smelling) ears, touch their tail, and groom often. It is also suggested to take the new kitten to the vet within 48 hours of getting him/her home. Going to the vet shouldn't be a bad experience, ask the workers to give your kitten treats, and (if possible) bring a stool sample so that she/he can be tested for internal parasites.

Travel


If traveling in a car, start with having them in the carrier on short trips so that way he/she can get used to the motion, and to also see if he/she has motion sickness. For most travels, most vets will suggest to not feed for 4-6 hours, because he/she may get sick on the trip. Also again, get them used to the carrier, so that way they know “ok, I know this. I'm safe”. Another tip is to never let the cat out of the crate/carrier because the cat may get hurt (jumping out, burying themselves under all the luggage, etc). Always leave someone in the car (with it on) if you’re going to leave the cat in the car. As most of us know, it can turn into a nightmare extremely fast on a hot day. No matter where (or what time of the year) you think about leaving the pet in the car, DON’T DO IT! If traveling by plane, make sure the airline allows cats (it’s also good if you look at the hotels on the road that are cat-friendly).


Sources

http://www.vetstreet.com/ used for basics (just as a basic URL)

http://www.vetstreet.com/kitten-basics-101-taking-care-of-your-new-kitten basics

http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/surviving-your-first-30-days-with-a-new-kitten basics

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/8-tips-for-holiday-traveling-with-pets travel

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/car-travel-with-cats-what-you-should-know travel

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/traveling-with-pets-what-to-remember-before-you-leave travel

https://www.thesprucepets.com/human-food-and-cats-551947 basics

https://www.preventivevet.com/cats/shopping-list-for-kittens-and-new-adult-cats-adjustment-period things to get

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