General Care for Cats
Posted September 29, 2016
General Care for Cats
Bringing a new cat or kitten into your home can be exciting.
Whether you’re a first-time pet owner, or you’re thinking about
welcoming another animal into your home, there are many things to
consider before adopting or purchasing a feline companion.
“Before adopting or purchasing a cat,
you should consider the time and financial commitment of pet
ownership,” said Dr. Sarah Griffin, lecturer at the Texas A&M
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
“Additionally, you should determine if your lifestyle is suitable
for responsible pet ownership.”
For example, if you are thinking about adopting a kitten, you
should be able to provide the kitten with at least three wellness
visits to a veterinarian for vaccines and deworming, Griffin said.
Additionally, Griffin recommended kittens be spayed or neutered
when they are six to nine months of age and given monthly flea,
intestinal parasite, and heartworm prevention, whether the kitten
lives primarily indoors or outdoors.
Cats should also be given these treatments to prevent the spread
of certain diseases. Griffin recommended cats visit the
veterinarian for wellness visits semiannually to annually. “It is
important to treat cats for fleas and other parasites because fleas
can spread disease,” Griffin said. “Some intestinal parasites can
even cause zoonotic disease, meaning the disease can be transmitted
from animals to people. Additionally, heartworms can cause
permanent heart and lung damage to cats, so it is important to
provide preventative care against heartworms.”
Another important factor to consider before purchasing or
adopting a cat is diet. Providing a well-balanced and nutritious
diet plays a key role in your feline’s health. “I recommend feeding
cats high-quality dry and canned food,” Griffin stated. “It’s
important to introduce both types of food to kittens in case they
require a special diet when they get older. Look for The
Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label on
food before purchasing it to ensure quality.” If you have any
questions regarding feline nutrition, ask your veterinarian for
If you are considering bringing a cat into your home, you should
also be prepared for their natural behaviors, such as scratching.
Scratching may not be conducive to an indoor domesticated
lifestyle, so cat owners should give their cat an outlet for this
behavior, such as through a scratching post. Other options for cat
owners include declawing their cat. However, declawing should only
be done after failed attempts to prevent the cat from using its
claws destructively or when its claws present a health risk to the
owner, Griffin said. Some possible ways to stop destructive
scratching include trimming the claws weekly, giving the cat plenty
of scratching posts or other items made for cats to scratch, or
placing temporary synthetic nail caps on the claws, Griffin
Another factor to consider for potential cat owners is the
responsibility of cleaning litter boxes. Litter boxes should be
cleaned daily and fresh litter should be used weekly to every other
week, Griffin said. “I recommend having one more litter box
than cat in the home. For example, if you have two cats, you should
have three litter boxes,” she said.
Cats should naturally use a clean litter box that is in a quiet
part of the home and is well separated from the cat’s food and
water. If inappropriate urination occurs, or the cat is not using
the litter box, this could be a sign of a medical or behavioral
condition. Talk to your veterinarian to determine the best
solution to this problem.
Whether you are an experienced pet owner or beginning a new
journey in the world of pet ownership, be sure to review and
understand the responsibilities of a kitten or a cat. Pets fully
depend on their owners for food, love, and care, so it is important
to be completely committed before adopting or purchasing a new
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk.
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