Healthy Cats: Caring For Your Feline Friends
Have you recently added a feline friend to your family? Congratulations! Learn about kitten nutrition, litter training, vaccinations, and more to give your cat or kitten the best possible start in life. If you are considering adopting a cat or kitten, please visit your local shelter!
Your New Purry Friend
Make an appointment with your veterinarian within a few days of your new kitten or cats arrival. Your veterinarian will make recommendations based on your cat's age and health. Female cats should be spayed and male cats neutered by five months of age. Your cat should see the veterinarian at least once a year for an examination and annual shots, and immediately if she is sick or injured. Never give your cat medication that has not been prescribed by a veterinarian. If you suspect that your animal has ingested a poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for 24-hour animal poison information.
We recommend feeding high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food. Your veterinarian will be able to assess your new cat or kitten and determine the best diet. Factors such as age, activity level and health make a difference in what and how much a cat should eat. Treats should be no more than 5% of the diet. You will need to provide fresh, clean water at all times, and wash and refill your cat’s water bowls daily. Many people feed baby food to a cat or kitten who is refusing food or not feeling well Please read labels carefully: If the baby food contains onion or garlic powder, your pet could be poisoned. Please read People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets for a list of off-limits items. Take your pet to your veterinarian if signs of anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting or lethargy continue for more than two days.
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but you should brush or comb your cat regularly. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat's coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs. It's also a great way to socialize and bond with your feline companion. To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck or by the front legs.
Protect From Parasites
Your pet should have her own clean, dry place in your home to sleep and rest. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Whether your kitty is indoors or out, be sure to use an appropriate flea and tick preventative. Humans are also vulnerable to many of the complications and diseases that ticks and fleas cause - take the right steps to keep your home and family safe from an infestation.
If allowed outdoors, your cat should wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. And for both indoor and outdoor cats, an ID tag or an implanted microchip can help ensure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
Keep the litterbox clean! Cats won't use a messy, smelly litter box, so scoop solid wastes out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent and refill at least once a week; don't use ammonia, deodorants or scents, especially lemon, to clean the litter box. If your cat will not use his or her litterbox, please consult with your veterinarian. Sometimes refusal to use a litter box is based on a medical condition that required treatment.
Cats Need to Scratch!
When a cat scratches, the old outer nail sheath is pulled off and the sharp, smooth claws underneath are exposed. Cutting your cat’s nails every two to three weeks will keep them relatively blunt and less likely to harm the arms of both humans and furniture. Provide your cat with a sturdy scratching post; the post should be stable enough that it won't wobble during use, and should be covered with rough material such as sisal, burlap or tree bark. Many cats also like scratching pads.
Visit the ASPCA for more information and helpful tips, solutions and answers to some of your most frequently asked feline questions to keep your kitty happy and healthy!
DR. ADAM SNIDERMAN, VMD
“Live With Them, Love Them, Laugh With Them! We Treat Them Like Our Own.”