- CATS NEED WET FOOD NOW – FOR FEWER PROBLEMS LATER:
The #1 cause of death in cats 5 years and older is DEHYDRATION, which leads to painful and sometimes fatal urinary tract infections, blockages, and kidney issues, both in males and females. Cats don’t have a strong thirst drive like dogs and humans and ultimately do not drink enough water on their own (not even with those fancy cat fountains). Dry food contains only 10% moisture, while wet food contains 75-85% moisture. Cats need some canned wet food in their daily diet, mixed with a little water to be sure they are taking in enough fluids to stay properly hydrated and to avoid many life-threatening issues. After running an animal rescue called, “Furry Nation Salvation” for over 10 years, I have seen to many of our adopted felines develop serious issues and die from urinary blockages and kidney related issues. All these cats were on a dry food only, never getting canned wet food in their daily diets.
RECOMMENDED: Leave out dry food if this is your normal routine, but give your kitty at least half of a 5.5 oz. can of wet food with 3 or more tablespoons of water added every single night. Twice a day is even better. This will ensure your favorite feline is maintaining proper hydration. A full fresh bowl of water should always be available. To read more info on why wet food is so important, the cost involved, and tricks if your cat doesn’t like wet food, click here.
- HOW TO DEAL WITH THOSE CLAWS & SCRATCHING:
Kittens spend most of their first year exploring and jumping everywhere! Learning to cut your kittens or cat’s claws every two weeks (regular human nail clippers work great) will help dramatically while they are learning where and where not to exercise their scratching urges. Since they are instinctive scratchers, get them a couple different scratching posts. Ones that are tall (32” or taller) and ones that lay flat on the floor. Try different materials such as sisal, wood, carpet or cardboard. Putting a little catnip on and around the scratching post will help attract them to it. To learn more about nail cutting click here.
- LEARN TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR CAT’S TEETH:
You couldn’t imagine going 15 years without ever brushing your teeth but this is the case for most of our furry felines. 70% of cats and 80% of dogs, by the time they are 3 years old, have some form of dental disease. Dental care is the health area most overlooked by cat owners as people aren’t aware of how easy, affordable, and important it is for our pet’s over-all wellbeing. In fact, a cat can live 2-5 years longer with proper oral care! Dental neglect frequently causes gingivitis, which can lead to serious dental issues, including plaque formation and the resulting bacteria spreading to the heart, liver and kidneys. A yearly dental check-up by your vet is recommended, as well as starting a home routine to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. There are brushing and NO-brushing solutions such as, enzymatic pet toothpaste and brushes made specifically for cats (My cat & dog love the poultry flavor), dental wipes, as well as oral gels (no brushing required) and liquid additives that you add to your pet’s water dish. Read this article to learn more information.
- KNOW WHEN TO CALL A VET:
Cat’s instinctively hide their pain and when they aren’t feeling well, they may hide or avoid interaction, become lethargic, or simply not act like their normal self. Unusual aggression can also be seen. My father’s cat became increasing agitated and withdrawn and he later found an infection in her leg he didn’t initially notice. Other things to look out for: A change in your cat’s appetite, gums are discolored or pale (cat’s gums should be pink), walking abnormally, litter box habits have changed (frequent trips to the litter box, crying or straining once inside, or going outside of the litter box), cat is vomiting frequently (blood in vomit, or vomit accompanied by lethargy), or a prolonged cough. Just trust your instincts! You know your cat better than anyone else, so if something seems off, take your cat to the vet. For more information on signs and symptoms of dehydration or to learn how to get your cat to consume more liquids, Click here.
- HOW TO DISCIPLINE YOUR CAT THE RIGHT WAY:
Hitting your pet is never acceptable and will only make your pet confused and fearful of you. Pets do not associate pain with something they did wrong. Try other methods proven to work. When our kitten bites our hand, we start with a stern, “NO”, followed by blowing in his face. This will get him to stop the bad behavior. Remember to establish good play habits and never allow your hand to be used as a toy. If he is in a playful stage – grab a toy. If your cat jumps on the counter say “NO,” followed by spraying him with a squirt bottle. You can also use loud noises such as clapping your hands, shaking a jar of pennies, or making a PSSSFFFF sound. Any of these methods will discourage your cat’s bad behavior, whereas hitting, will only make your cat withdrawn and distrustful of you. Also know that consistency & repetition is key. You must discipline your cat EVERY TIME he does something wrong. If you only discipline him some of the time, he won’t understand that what he is doing is wrong and will repeat the same bad behavior. To learn about all 7 methods to discipline your cat – including training devices that work, click here.
- GET YOUR CAT TO OLD AGE! INSIDE ONLY!
A cat who is allowed to roam freely outside may not survive to old age. Aside from the most obvious dangers – getting lost or hit by a car – a cat may also fight with other animals and end up with serious wounds that require immediate veterinarian care. They are often killed by predators such as coyotes, snakes, raccoons, owls and hawks and frequently develop tapeworms and heartworms from being bitten by fleas and mosquitos. Cats able to roam outdoors could also be picked up by animal control, mistreated by children or cruelly poisoned by neighbors who dislike cats in their yards. Growing up, we always had indoor/outdoor cats and NONE of them made it to old age. It’s the heartbreaking truth. I’ve learned from my childhood and know my cat Solo will never be allowed to step one paw outside – ever! Cats are easily nervous about unfamiliar territories, so bringing him outdoors – even with me standing nearby- will only build his confidence to the outdoor world. This could lead to future escape attempts if a door is left open by mistake.
*Try using scare tactics if necessary to get your cat fearful of the outdoors. Have a family member wear a bear mask near the door making a loud and scary noise, use a loud horn or shake a jar of pennies, or use a spray gun to spray him with water when he comes too close to the door. Having coyotes in our area, these are the techniques we will use should he become too daring. We have also established a “safe room” in our house, which is a secure room (our bathroom) outfitted with all his essential items such as food, water, cat box, scratching post, and cat bed. We have 4 kids so there are a lot of play dates at our home, with a lot of kids going in and out and doors being left open. At those times, we place our cat in his “safe room” so we don’t have to worry about him escaping.
- FIX BY 4-5 MONTHS OLD AND SAVE AHEAD FOR VET CARE:
Don’t risk fixing your cat at a later time as you could have an unwanted pregnancy. Fixing your cat by 4-5 months of age also eliminates the unpleasant behaviors that accompany sexual maturity, such as vocalizing, urine marking, and roaming. Fixed cats are also at a reduced risk for mammary tumors later on in life.
Vet care can be expensive, so start the habit of putting money aside every month for emergency vet care. I cannot tell you how many people are unable to get their pet the the medical care they need because they can’t afford the vet bill. If our pets get sick or injured, we are literally all that stands between life and death for them, but let’s face it. Some people feel they are forced to euthanize their beloved pet because they simply cannot afford proper treatment. I see it all too often. We recommend putting at least $5 a week (more if you can afford it) into an emergency vet fund. Set up a coin jar in the kitchen and have your family members put every stray penny, nickel or dime in it – you’d be surprised how quickly this can add up! You can also plan ahead by enrolling in one of the numerous pet insurance plans that cost as little as $8 a month. Your pet relies on you for everything – don’t let him down in his time of need. Click here to see other resources for vet care.