Cat Care

If you have chosen a cat for your pet, you’ve chosen well. These handsome, intelligent and affectionate animals have a special charm and dignity all their own. And adopting your cat from a humane society or animal shelter was the best choice of all.

Cats can be the ideal pet. Although their “catitude” may seem independent, most cats are very social, preferring the company of others. If you already have a pet (even a dog), your new cat should adapt well. Introduce everyone in a non-threatening way and allow your new pet to adjust slowly to the new environment.

Above all, never forget that your cat needs YOU – your care and affection. Knowledge of his habits and needs will help you give your new pet the best possible care, so you can enjoy each other’s companionship for years to come.

Approximately 4 million cats end up in shelters every year. One of them is sure to be a perfect match for you!

Each year, thousands of kittens are born during spring and summer — and many end up in animal shelters, waiting for loving homes. To promote adoptions of these playful, affectionate animals, the Humane Society of Greenwood joins American Humane to celebrate Adopt-A-Cat Month® each June. Come visit the fabulous felines at the Greenwood County Animal Shelter, and take home your new best friend!

For people seeking a loving cat companion, adopting a cat will enrich your world in so many different ways. Here’s how:

Approximately 4 million homeless cats end up in animal shelters every year in the United States. By adopting, you’ll be saving a life.

Choosing the Right Diet

Dry or canned? – The choice between dry and canned food is largely a matter of convenience for you and taste for your cat. Many cat owners feed their cats canned food for one meal and dry for the other. Others feed dry or canned exclusively. As long as the brand you feed provides 100% complete nutrition, and you follow recommended feeding guidelines for the amount, your cat should be fine.

Some Basic “Don’ts”

Cat Basics

Housing

A young kitten should have a well-padded shallow box or basket in a warm, draft-free location. Cats will adapts happily to any house or apartment. You should provide your cat with his own special bed, but don’t be surprised if he prefers other locations-like your bed, a sunny windowsill, or the laundry basket.

Cats are safest at home. They really have no need to go outside, and can live happily indoors. If you must let your cat out, however, do so only in the daytime, preferably under your supervision. Serve an evening meal, so your cat has an incentive to come inside at a regular hour. If he doesn’t show up, you’ll know something’s wrong, and you can start looking for him right away. If he does come in for dinner, keep him in for the night. Cats are more likely to get in fights, be hit by cars, or be exposed to other cats and wildlife with infectious diseases when allowed out after sunset. Keeping your pet inside protects his life and health.

Litter Box Training

For cats, litter box use is almost instinctive, so you should have no trouble teaching toilet etiquette. Simply provide the litter pan and make sure your cat knows where it is. (In a large house, you may need two.) A very young kitten may have to be lifted into the pan a few times, but he’ll soon get the idea. Make sure you place the box in a quiet location where your cat won’t be disturbed by another pet or a child. This will help ensure that your cat doesn’t stop using the box.

Cats are fastidious by nature. Don’t forget to do your part by keeping the litter pan fresh and clean. Remove solid wastes and urine residue once or twice a day with a litter spoon, and change the litter as needed. To help control litter box odors add litter deodorizer at litter changes and again when you clean out the wastes to effectively eliminate odor and keep litter first-day fresh longer.

If your cat stops using his litter box, you should first take him to the veterinarian to be sure he is not ill. Urinary tract infections and other diseases can cause cats to quit using their boxes. Early treatment is vital to protect your pet.

If illness is not the cause, consult with your veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist about the other possibilities that could explain this change in behavior. Together, you should be able to pinpoint the problem and find a solution.

Grooming

Claws – Cats instinctively claw resistant materials to stretch and “exercise” their claws. A good quality scratching post will help keep nails healthy and will prevent his using your furniture and drapes. In addition, ask your veterinarian to show you how to trim your cat’s claws when they grow too long.

Bathing – One of the nicest attributes of cats is their cleanliness. You will rarely, if ever, need to bathe your cat because cats wash themselves almost constantly. In an emergency, you can bathe him using warm water and mild soap (no detergents).

Combing/Brushing – Long-haired cats should be combed daily with a steel comb made especially for cats. A brush will do the job for short-haired breeds. In addition, this daily grooming routine provides a good opportunity to examine your cat for any cuts, abrasions, or external parasites (like fleas and ticks).

A Hairy Problem For Kitty – While usually not a serious health problem for cats, hairballs do cause unpleasant vomiting and can sometimes cause obstructions that must be surgically removed. Usually, if you find a hairball or an inordinate amount of hair in your cat’s stools but your cat is acting normally, you can assume that the immediate problem is not serious. You should, however, take preventative measures to avoid any future problems. Regular brushing and grooming of your cat is the first line of attack as is supplementing your cat’s diet with some insoluble fiber. Fresh grass is a favorite treat for cats, and growing a pot of rye, wheat or oats is perfect when kitty gets the munchies. If the problem persists, adding a little mineral oil to the cat’s diet is a good home remedy. Add mineral oil at a rate of one teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight to the food once or twice a week for hairball prevention.

Dental Care – Cats, like humans, can get plaque build-up on their teeth, which can lead to gum inflammation and even infections. Since your cat can’t brush, it’s up to you to provide the special care that will help prevent this condition. Gentle home cleaning, regular veterinary examinations, and providing special “tartar control” food and treats can help reduce tartar build-up.

Identification

Cats, like dogs, should wear a current identification tag with your name, address, and phone number on it. Cats are curious creatures, and even housecats get out. Be sure to keep the information on the tag current-if you move, get an ID tag made with your new address and put it on your cat before the move.

There are collars made especially for cats with a short piece of elastic sewn in. These collars, which can be buckled snugly around the neck, expand enough to allow escape if your cat gets hung up on a tree limb or fence.

Kittens usually adapt quickly to wearing a collar. An adult cat may panic and writhe in frenzy for a while (usually about 10 minutes, although it will seem like hours to the owner). You can avoid the dramatics. The first time you put a collar on your cat, give him a catnip toy at the same time. By the time the toy is shredded and defeated, the collar will be long forgotten.

The Healthy Cat

Veterinary Care

Regardless of her age, take your cat to the veterinarian for a check-up as soon as possible after you get her. Ask the Humane Society of Greenwood, Greenwood Animal Shelter, or other caring cat owners to recommend local veterinarians. Make sure you choose a knowledgeable doctor whose location and hours are convenient for you.

During your first visit, the doctor will examine your cat thoroughly, including her eyes and ears; her heart and breathing; her abdomen and coat; and her mouth for disease or tartar. The doctor will check for external and internal parasites, such as fleas, ear mites, and intestinal worms, and will begin the vaccinations needed to protect your cat against fatal diseases. Keep in mind that with most vaccinations, booster shots may be required each year.

Discuss the regular preventative care your pet will need. Ask what the signs of illness are so you’ll know to get help immediately if your becomes ill, and find out how to get emergency help outside regular office hours. Preventative health care and planning for emergencies before they occur are keys to a long, healthy life for your cat.

Vaccinations

According to research recently done by a panel of leading veterinarians, proper and regular vaccinations are essential for your cat’s health. Although some pet owners fear adverse reactions from vaccines or think that because their cat is an indoor pet that they do not need vaccines, this could not be farther from the truth. The fact is that there is a far higher risk of disease and death if vaccines are not given. Following is a list of the crucial vaccines every cat needs and additional ones that may be needed.

Vaccines All Cats Need – FVRCP:

Vaccinations for High Risk Cats:

Did you know cats can get heartworm disease?

Heartworms are parasites that inhabit the hearts and lungs of infected cats. The presence of just one heartworm can result in permanent damage-or even death-to a cat or kitten. In fact, sudden death may be the first and only sign of heartworm infection in some cats.

Cats are at risk wherever dogs are at risk. The prevalence of heartworm disease has increased steadily since it was first identified. It now affects cats in all 50 states. Even indoor cats can get heartworm disease. Since infection is transmitted by mosquitoes, some people think that indoor cats are safe from heartworm disease. There are two reasons why this assumption is false: mosquitoes can, and often do, get indoors, and cats can, and often do, get out. In fact, of cats testing positive for heartworm infection, 55% lived “strictly or mostly indoors”.

Protection is easy. Feline heartworm disease can be difficult to detect and diagnose, and there is no approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats-but prevention is convenient and reliable. Be sure to protect your feline by administering a heartworm prevention medicine.

Signs of Heartworm Disease in Cats

Know The Facts Before You Declaw Your Cat

Click Here for “The Truth about Declawing – Technical Facts.”

Many loving owners have their cats declawed but are not aware of the long range effects that are both physical and emotional to the cat. Declawing is not simply a matter of trimming. In effect, it is ten amputations. A cat’s claw is harder to remove than the tip joint of all ten of your fingers as you do not retract your fingertip. Cats’ claws are set into the joint below in Declawing a complex manner.

The physical effects of declawing is gradual weakening of the muscles of the legs, shoulders and back. Balance is impaired. The cat is 75% defenseless. Cats do not defend themselves with their teeth. They defend themselves with their claws. A declawed cat is really a club-footed animal. The cat cannot walk normally as he must move with his weight on the rear of his pads. The cat’s posture is altered and he loses the grace cats are known for. As they are defenseless, declawed cats live in a constant state of stress making them more susceptible to disease.

Declawed cats are also more prone to bite since they no longer have their claws to use as a warning. As their claws are their first line of defense, declawed cats resort to their teeth in fear. Cats often give a harmless “warning pat” with their paws to let you know they do not like how they are being groomed, etc. Without claws, however, a cat is more prone to bite to let you know. Cats are polite creatures. They give you warning with a little swat before they act to defend themselves. When their warning tools are taken away, they have no option but to bring out the big guns first.

Just like children, cats are the most “naughty” during their growing period, usually the first eight months. Just as a baby chews when teething, a kitten will try his claws on furniture and carpets during his first months but will usually outgrown this destructive habit.

Spaying/Neutering

See Spay & Neuter Clinic Section.

Aside from helping to control animal overpopulation, spaying your female cat or neutering your male cat has many benefits for you and your pet:

REMEMBER, cats do not need to reproduce to be happy.

Helpful Hints

Handling and Training

The sooner you learn to understand your cat’s behavior, the more pleasure you’ll receive from his companionship.

If your cat will be traveling with you, follow these guidelines:

The Aging Cat

With proper care and feeding, your cat may be with you to celebrate his 15th birthday or more. As he advances in years, he will need special care and understanding. He may not be as much fun as he used to be, so don’t expect him to bounce around like a spry kitten. When your cat becomes a senior citizen, you will want to keep a special eye on him. Here are some things to watch for:

Have his teeth checked regularly. Erosion of the tooth enamel can cause gum infections.
If your cat is drinking an unusual amount of water, this could be an early indication of a kidney problem. If the symptoms persist, see your veterinarian immediately.
Older cats are less active, so they don’t need as much food. Watch his diet so that he doesn’t put on a lot of weight.
A loss of hearing frequently plagues the aging cat. You’ll want to take this into consideration if you notice that he doesn’t respond to your verbal commands.
Drafts pose a special problem for the older cat. Since he will sleep more, make sure that his bed is comfortable and out of drafts.
Be sure the litter pan is easily accessible. Older cats may have difficulty climbing stairs.

A Lifelong Friend

There are few greater compliments than the friendship of a cat. You can’t buy or force a cat’s friendship. You get affection and respect only when you earn it-and a cat’s standards for human conduct are high. Provide a safe, warm, dry home, good nutrition, regular veterinary care and plenty of love and affection. These will go a long way toward making you and your pet the best of friends, and the rewards will be endless. Finally, recognize that even with the best of care, your friend’s health and quality of life will one day decline. Your veterinarian can help you decide when the time has come to end his suffering. The kindest thing you can do is to help his pass on with dignity. It is natural to feel sad about this decision and to grieve. Eventually, you may get another cat who will be unique and wonderful, although it will never take the place of the pet you lost.

From “Cat Care” by American Human Association
Heartworm information by Heartgard For Cats

Things That Make You Go “Hmm”