Many people think cats are easy pets to care for. While kitties are different than dogs in terms of how we care for them, they are not pets that we can just ignore. If you’re new to being a cat parent or just looking for more ways to help your kitty, here are some cat care tips for you.
Cat Care Tips For Feeding
- Feed on schedule. Studies show that cats are healthier and less prone to stress if fed on a schedule, rather than free feeding. Smaller meals throughout the day are best, but feed based on what works with your schedule.
- Feed moist (preferably fresh) food. Cats are desert animals and were designed to get the majority of their moisture from their food. A moisture rich diet will help prevent urinary and kidney issues down the road.
- Avoid carbohydrates, grains and potentially harmful ingredients. Cats were not made to digest carbs and grains, so if this is a large percentage of their diet you’ll be dealing with more hairballs, shedding, constipation and more severe illnesses later in life. Make sure you understand every ingredient on the list of the food you’re feeding before feeding it. Some common ingredients, like carrageenan, can lead to cancer.
- Wash food dishes between meals. If you’re feeding a moisture rich diet, I will assume you already do this; however, even if you are feeding a dry kibble, you’ll still want to wash the dishes between meals. Bad bacteria builds up in the food bowl and can cause health issues… plus it’s just gross.
Cat Care Tips For Play
- Engage in regular playtime. Cats LOVE to play! If they seem like they don’t, they’re lying to you. Add it to your schedule to engage with your kitties and a wand toy or something they love daily. Exercise is the most natural detoxifier and stress reducer. Playing on schedule is fantastic for cats!
- Offer vertical space. Cats love to climb. Outdoors they will climb trees to observe their surroundings and steer clear of predators. Offering vertical space for them to climb inside the home helps enrich their instinctive nature and reduce stress. Get a cat tree or build shelves where your kitties can climb!
- Offer novel toys. If you leave cat toys out all the time, chances are your kitties won’t play with them. They like new stuff. Once your cat is no longer interested in the items you’ve provided, put it away. In a few weeks you can bring it out again and it will be like new!
- Consider harness training or supervised time outside. While you don’t want your cat to free roam outside, providing them the sights, smells and fresh air of the great outdoors is proven to help mental health, and thus physical health. Harness train your cat, build a catio or give them a safe space in your yard for them to explore while you’re outside.
Cat Care Tips For Litter Boxes
- Have one more box than you have cats. This is a big one that we only learned a few years ago – but has helped litter issues greatly in our home! Since cats are such clean animals, they prefer to pee and poop in separate boxes. They have such strong scent sensors that it doesn’t matter if you’ve scooped the box or not… they can smell it. Having one more litter box than you have cats resolves issues of cats going outside the box in many cases.
- Pick a safe, dust free litter that your cats like. Stay away from clay or scented litters and find a more natural litter. Dust from the box can cause respiratory issues for your cat and you, so a litter made of coconut, pine, grass or paper is a safer option.
- Scoop on schedule daily. If you haven’t noticed, schedule is so important for cats. Kitties like to know when they’ll have a scooped litter box and they prefer clean ones. Be sure to pick a time (or two) each day to set aside for scooping litter. 🙂
Other Tips For Caring For Cats
- Offer strong scratching posts and never declaw your cat. One of the most common reasons cats are surrendered back to shelters is because they scratch. They scratch because it strengthens their muscles, sharpens their claws, reduces stress and keeps their nails healthy. Unfortunately furniture is more important than companion animals in many households. There are many ways we can help keep our cats from scratching furniture, but offering your cat sturdy scratching posts is important for their overall health.
- Keep cat carriers out. The carriers that we have to use to transport our kitties in the car should be a comfortable space for your kitty. Leaving the carrier out and putting blankets, toys or even food in it will help your cat from freaking out when the time comes for travel. If you don’t like the look of the common cheap carrier (I don’t either), get a more comfortable and aesthetically appealing cat carrier online.
- Take your cat for wellness checks. Annual blood exams at the vet are a proactive way to avoid health problems in your kitty. Cats are stoic beings, which means they mask pain so we often won’t catch a health problem until it is bad. Yearly checkups will help you and your cat avoid the pain. For senior cats, do this every 6 months.
- Don’t use plastic. Plastic water and food bowls leach bacteria and are unhealthy for cats. Plastic bowls can also cause feline acne in cats. Use stainless steal, ceramic or glass instead.
- Give purified water. Most tap water contains so many antibiotics and contaminants that it’s just not healthy for us or our cats. Check your local area’s water contaminants and get a filter that will remove them from the water.
- Keep stress levels low. Stress is one of the leading causes of disease in cats. Keeping your home and yourself in a calm state will help keep your kitties from anxiety issues and makes for a happier, healthier home for all.
- Brush regularly. Cats groom regularly, but brushing them at least a few times per week will help remove their under coat and cut back on the work they have to do. Brushing also helps strengthen your relationship bond and cuts back on those nasty hairballs!
- Keep an eye on the nails and trim when necessary. If left unattended, a cats claws can grow and curl back into their skin – requiring surgery. Scratching posts help reduce this chance, but sometimes those nails need to be trimmed. Keep an eye on those claws!
- Love with all your heart. “And the greatest of these is Love“. While all of the above recommendations are gestures of Love, there’s nothing that replaces the formation of a deep, soul-level companionship with your kitty. Speak to your cats. Tell them you love them and treat them as family members. They will thank you with a return of that same Love. 🙂