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Caring for Cats

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Step One: Prepare Yourself

This may come as a surprise to some, but step one is not getting a cat. There is much to be done in preparing your home and family for bringing a feline into the household. First of all, you must have supplies on-hand for when you bring your little furball home for the first time. Things you will need include:

  1. Food Dish
  2. Water Bowl
  3. Litter Box
  4. Cat Litter

Each of these four items is critical to welcoming your cat into his or her new home. It is ideal to obtain food and water dishes made of metal or glass – plastic has the potential to leach toxins into your pet’s food and water supply.

The litter box must be an appropriate size for your cat or kitten and they must be able to get in and out of it easily. Too big and your small kitten or elderly cat may struggle to get in and out. Too small and your cat may choose to use your laundry pile instead – please believe me on this one as I speak from experience. And the cat litter should be unscented as the chemicals in scented litter are irritating and potentially damaging to your cat’s olfactory and respiratory systems.

Other items you will need include food and a carrier. You should be able to purchase these items from your local pet shop when you purchase your cat. When selecting dry food, look for high protein content and see the ingredients contain little to no grains. Cats are strictly carnivores and need meat to develop and maintain good health.

 

Step Two: Consider Your Cat’s Comfort

Optional items to have on-hand before the new fur-baby’s arrival include:

  1. Litter Box Scooper
  2. Litter Box Liners
  3. Treats & Catnip
  4. Toys & Furniture

Litter scoopers are simple tools for cleaning your cat’s litter box. Having one will save you a great deal of money on litter as you will need to change it out less frequently. It is best to scoop the litter at least once per day if not twice – depending on the number of cats you have as well as how large or small their “presents” are.

Litter box liners come in a variety of sizes and styles to suit your own taste. You can buy drawstring liners, elastic liners, and even sifting liners that do Frankly, your cat probably won’t much care for a liner. They really exist for human convenience. You can buy liners or do what I do and line the bottom of the box with newspaper each time you change the box. This also helps the litter last a bit longer as it absorbs the liquids that manage to make their way to the bottom of the box.

Now in every job that must be done there is an element of fun – and preparing for your feline should be no different. Treats and toys are a great way to help you bond with your cat or kitten and can serve as great entertainment for you both. If you are interested in training your kitten to do tricks (yes it is possible) then be sure to have a clicker to attract your attention when and where you need it. Use treats as well as affection and an encouraging tone of voice to reward them for a job well done.

Catnip can also be used as a reward and you can give it to your feline in a couple of different forms. The most common way catnip is sold is dried. When your cat inhales the aroma of the catnip, it will incite them to play. However, if they eat the herb it will calm them. You can also obtain fresh catnip which is often sold at local pet shops. Just be sure not to give your cat access to the entire plant unless you don’t mind them devouring the entire thing – leaves, stems, and all.

Finally, in consideration of your cat’s comfort, you can select furniture and toys that will entertain felines and their humans alike for hours on end. The most important piece of furniture for your cat will be a scratching post. Unless you are prepared to have your furniture and/or carpet clawed to shreds, be sure to purchase at least one quality scratching post. A good scratching post will be tall enough for your cat to stretch out the entire length of his or her body. It will be sturdy and not tip over on them. You can encourage use of the scratching post by sprinkling some dried catnip or placing treats on the post.

You can also purchase special beds or cushioned mats for your pet. However, I have found that blankets, towels, my own bed, and clean laundry often serve this purpose – so I elect to save my money for more worthwhile investments.

As for toys, I rarely purchase toys and instead elect to improvise my own. My cat Bella’s favorite toy is a cardboard egg carton in which I give her treats. She will roll the egg carton around until the treats fall out through the small holes in the cardboard. This both entertains and engages her intellect. Both of my cats also enjoy cardboard boxes. They find them great fun for scratching as well as lounging. A paper bag from the grocery store can serve as a hiding place and they also make a fantastic crinkling sound when pounced upon.

The one toy I do purchase is a teaser, which is simply a stick with a string and some sort of “target” attached at the end of the string. Attachments can be made of feathers, string, tinsel, and sometimes have jingling bells for added auditory stimulation. Some are designed so that when one attachment wears out you can purchase another. This is the type I prefer.

Another toy I purchased for my cats is a laser pointer – something everyone can enjoy far more than any PowerPoint presentation.

 

Step Three: Consider Your Comfort

Last but not least is the comfort of the humans in the household. This element is critical because if the cats inconvenience the humans, they will probably not last long in a home. So please consider the comfort of yourself and other family members before making a cat part of the family.

Some things I recommend for your own comfort include:

  1. An Air Cleaner
  2. A Furbuster
  3. Cat Shampoo
  4. Nail Trimmer
  5. Litter Track Mat
  6. Self-Cleaning Litter Box

…to be continued.

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