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If you share your life with a cat, you know how wonderfully playful, intelligent, independent, and affectionate felines can be.  However, you may have some questions about how to care for Fluffy, keep her happy and safe indoors, or identify potential health problems.  This section will address these and other issues that face those who enjoy the companionship of a cat.













Handling

Contrary to popular belief, it is quite wrong to pick up a cat or kitten by the scruff of his/her neck.  This can damage the muscles.  Hold the cat or kitten with one hand under the chest and with the rest of his weight supported by your other hand.  Kittens particularly must be handled gently as their bones are fragile.


Feeding

No matter how well we provide for our felines in terms of warmth, safety, companionship and health care, the one thing that finally attracts and binds a cat is the food we provide. Throughout his/her life a cat will have a variety of dietary needs according to its age and state of health.  A cat who does not receive a balanced and varied diet may well move elsewhere!














Grooming

Regular grooming of your cat is advised, especially for long-haired cats.  Brushing and combing will remove loose hair, dirt and dust and the occasional flea that he may pick up.  Grooming also helps to prevent fur-balls which can be harmful and form in the cat's stomach when he constantly licks loose fur.  Daily grooming also ensures time devoted exclusively to your cat, which is important with today's frantic pace of life.  Your cat can be forgotten amidst the many other demands on your time.


Sleep

Cats are great preservers of energy and spend about two thirds of their life asleep.  Provide a basket or cardboard box, and line it with a small blanket.

Give a kitten a chance to sleep for a good deal of the day.  Remember, he/she is a young animal, not a toy, and children should be taught to respect him as such and allow him to sleep.


Fleas

Even cats in the best circles may pick up fleas when outside the house.  To eliminate fleas, not only the cat must be treated, but the whole house, (e.g. skirting boards, carpets, the base of curtains, furniture, etc.), as well as the cat's bedding.  Treat the cat with a safe insecticide spray or powder.  Consult with your Veterinarian for the proper product to treat your cat, as you cannot use the same product on kittens as you do adult cats.


Vaccinations

All kittens need to be vaccinated according to the schedule provided by your Veterinarian.
Cat vaccines protect against feline distemper, upper respiratory infections and rabies. Veterinarians usually recommend giving a young kitten a series of these vaccinations starting when the kitten is six to eight weeks old, and continuing every three to four weeks until the kitten is about four months old.  Remember most vaccines must be given over a period of time and require multiple veterinary visits.  So check with your veterinarian and get ready for a happy, rewarding friendship with your pet..


Litter Box Training

Cats are naturally clean animals but a new kitten needs to be shown what is required, unless of course the kittens Mom has already taught him/her about the litter box.  Provide a litter tray filled with commercial cat litter (the wood-based litter is flushable).  Keep it in the same place, easily accessible to the kitten, and make sure it is cleaned regularly. Take the kitten to the tray after meals and on waking up from sleep. If there is access to a garden, introduce him to it gradually and he will soon learn to make his own toilet arrangements, however, I am a firm believer in not letting cats outdoors, but the decision is entirely up to the individual.














Exercise and Fresh Air

All cats need exercise so to keep your cat fit and to protect your furniture.  A scratching post is a good investment; alternatively, you might bring in a log or make a scratching board to help your cat to keep his/her claws sharpened.  This will help him/her to flex his muscles and to shed old claw sheaths.  Scratching posts also enable the cat to mark his territory as a scent is deposited (undetectable by humans) through his claws.  This makes him feel at home and usually stops the need for him to do this on the furniture.

Toys, such as table tennis balls, catnip mice or a cotton reel, will help keep your cat active.

Fresh air and sunshine are necessary to us all, so if your cat or kitten is confined to a home without an enclosed balcony,  place a wire screen into one window to admit air and sunshine without the risk of his falling from a height.

White cats, however, are very susceptible to the harmful rays of the sun and should be kept out of it as much as possible, especially during the hours when it is most damaging.

It is unsafe to allow cats out on narrow ledges or open roofs several floors above the street. Many animals are injured and killed every year through lunging at a bird or butterfly and missing their footing.  It is not true that a cat will always land on its feet.


Preventive Measures

Cats are naturally inquisitive creatures, a fact that has been noted in the familiar saying, "Curiosity killed the cat."  While your home may not seem all that dangerous, plants, products, appliances, and furnishings found in the home can harm a cat.  Although you cannot prevent all accidents, common sense and a careful check of your home can help you avoid some of them.  Just as you would childproof a home for a toddler, so should you cat-proof a home for your pet.  There are numerous plants that are poisonous and fatal to cats should they nibble on or ingested.  Please refer to my list for the safety of your cat or kitten.


Keep Your Cat Indoors

Keeping your cat safely confined at all times is best for you, your pet, and your community.  Cats should never be shut out at night.  Apart from the callousness of picking him up from a warm, comfortable snooze in his/her warm bed and putting him/her out in the cold, there are the risks of road accidents and stealing.  Most road accidents to cats take place during the hours of darkness. Cat stealing, unfortunately, does go on and mostly at night.  Keep your cat safely in at night and provide him/her with a litter tray.

Cats are wonderful creatures.  They all have their own little personalities.  You will find that they are not the independent, unsociable creatures that most people think they are.  They will show you love and affection beyond your beliefs.















DECLAWING 
Please read this before considering declawing your cat!


External Parasites  

Internal Parasites  

Spay and Neuter

Poisonous Plants

Catnip and Cat Mint

          
Cats Are Special Friends 
Cats and Kittens
General Care and Health

Medical and care advice on this page is for your knowledge and information only.  It is not a substitute for a Veterinary appointment or an actual diagnosis for your pet.  If you feel your pet has a health or behavior problem please consult your Veterinarian immediately for specific advice tailored to your individual pet.