Caring for a cat is essential, even for busy individuals. Below are the most basic ways to care for your beloved pet, ensuring they stay healthy and happy.
1. Nutritional Care for Cats
The most important aspect of cat care is their diet. Nutrition plays a crucial role in their overall health, determining whether they are robust, have a strong immune system, or are prone to illness. Many cats suffer from chronic diseases or recurring infections due to a weak immune system.
Most urinary tract infections in cats are caused by their diet. Fatty liver disease, diabetes, or thyroid problems are the result of an unhealthy, inadequate, and nutrient-deficient diet.
So what should you feed your cat? Whether you choose to feed them kibble, wet food, or a raw diet, you must ensure that their food meets all their nutritional needs, taking into account their age and health condition. For guidance on balancing and meeting your cat’s essential nutrient requirements, you can refer to our guidelines.
In addition to food, you need to provide enough water for your cat through their diet or by offering them water separately. Cats that eat kibble need to drink more water as they are more prone to urinary tract, kidney, and bladder issues.
You can also offer cats some grass to eat. Many cats enjoy eating grass, especially cat grass, as it helps cleanse their digestive system and provides essential vitamins. You can easily grow cat grass in a small pot following our super easy guide.
2. Playing with Your Cat
Caring for your cat involves not only their physical well-being but also their mental well-being. Cats love to play, climb, and run. Cats that are allowed outdoors often engage in hunting activities, including playing with fallen leaves or grass blowing in the wind. Cats engage in these hunting behaviors not just because they are hungry.
Each part of the hunting activity – stalking, pouncing, playing, and killing – releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. It is crucial that your cat has regular opportunities to play and be stimulated to keep their spirits high.
If you keep your cat indoors, you can buy them toys, either handmade or modern, battery-operated toys. However, these are still not as good as playing with them yourself. Playing with your cat will make them happy and engaged, improve their physical health, and strengthen the bond between you and your cat. There are many ways to play with your cat, from using a fishing rod toy to playing hide-and-seek with them. If you are unsure how to play with your cat, I recommend reading our article “How to Keep Your Cat Entertained” on our website.
Older cats will enjoy playing three or four times a day, while younger cats will be thrilled with ten or more play sessions daily. Short play sessions of one to two minutes are better than extended sessions. You should check their toys frequently for signs of wear and replace them when necessary.
3. Personal Hygiene for Cats
Next on the list of cat care is maintaining their personal hygiene.
- Bathing: Generally, you do not need to bathe your cat regularly. Most cats are relatively clean animals and groom themselves by licking, keeping their bodies clean. Therefore, cats rarely need baths unless they are particularly dirty, smelly, or have skin conditions such as fungal or bacterial infections.
- Brushing: Regularly brushing your cat, especially long-haired cats, is essential. Regular grooming helps keep their fur clean, reduces shedding, maintains healthy skin, and reduces the chance of hairballs. Each cat’s fur requires different care, so you can follow our tips on how to groom your cat’s fur correctly.
While grooming your cat, you can indirectly assess their health by checking for any abnormalities such as lumps, bite marks, or patches of hair loss. These could be signs of cancer, fungal infections, or other skin conditions. Grooming your cat also helps strengthen your bond with them.
- Ear and Eye Care: Typically, a cat’s ears and eyes are clean because cats regularly clean their faces and ears. However, for hairless cats or cats with ear problems, you need to help them maintain cleanliness in these areas. You can use a damp cloth to clean your cat’s ears or use products such as:
- Nail Trimming: If you keep your cat indoors, and their nails cause discomfort during play, you should trim their nails. Additionally, you should trim the nails of older cats as their nails tend to curl and pierce their paws, leading to infection. However, if your cat is young and often goes outside to play, you should not trim their nails as they need their nails to climb, hunt, and defend themselves.
4. Providing a Litter Box for Your Cat
When caring for your cat, do not forget to provide them with a suitable, comfortable, and clean litter box. If you keep your cat indoors, a litter box is a must-have item. There are numerous types of cat litter boxes available in the market, and you should choose one that suits your cat’s age and body condition. You can refer to our guidance on selecting and positioning a litter box for cats.
Similarly to us, cats also need a clean litter box. Therefore, you should clean the litter box at least once a day, completely changing the litter and washing the box once a month. If you neglect cleaning the litter box regularly, your cat may refuse to use the litter box and eliminate outside of it. You can apply our tips on getting rid of litter box odors or use odor control cat litter. However, choose an unscented product as cats have a keen sense of smell and dislike strong fragrances.
If you do not want to use a traditional litter box, you can even train your cat to use the toilet bowl. You can find more information on this on our website.
5. Providing Hiding Places for Your Cat
- If you have a kitten, you should care for them by keeping them indoors instead of letting them roam freely outside. Outdoor cats have shorter lifespans compared to indoor cats due to the risks of accidents, being slaughtered, fighting with other cats, getting bitten by dogs, being infested with fleas or ticks, and contracting infectious diseases.
When you keep your cat indoors, it is important to provide them with a hideaway spot to make them feel safe and secure. Cats are easily anxious or fearful of things like fireworks, home repairs, children, unfamiliar guests, or conflicts with other cats.
Hiding places can be as simple as a cardboard box on its side, a snow fort-style cat bed, an empty space under the bed, or a wardrobe with an open door. Here are some recommended hiding places for cats:
Cats feel safer when they can observe their surroundings from a high place. This is another important coping mechanism for anxious or fearful cats. You can care for your cat by placing a cozy blanket on top of a wardrobe or creating an entrance by putting a stool or similar object beside it. Cats also enjoy sitting on window sills and shelves.
6. Providing Scratching Posts for Your Cat
Cats need to scratch! It is their natural instinct. When they see rough or textured surfaces, their instincts tell them to scratch. And they can’t resist that urge. Therefore, you should respect their needs and instincts by providing them with scratching posts. If you don’t want your sofa or mattress ruined, then you should provide them with an appropriate place to scratch to their heart’s content. Here are some recommended cat scratching posts:
7. Cat Health Care
Regular Health Check-ups: Taking care of your cat involves taking them to see a veterinarian at least once a year for check-ups and vaccinations and immediately if they become ill or injured.
Neutering: Neutering is one of the most practical ways to care for your cat. It is a mandatory action and is crucial for your cat’s well-being and longevity. Neutering prevents abandoned kittens, reduces the spread of diseases, prevents your cat from wandering in search of a mate, and stops them from marking territories through scratching, urinating, or fighting. I encourage you to read “The Benefits and Care of Cats After Neutering” to understand the importance of this procedure.
Vaccinations: Vaccination helps keep your cat healthy and prevent the spread of diseases. Kittens should receive their initial vaccinations at around 8 to 9 weeks old and the second dose at 12 weeks. Your cat should also receive regular booster shots throughout their life to help maintain their protection against these diseases. There are some precautions and care you should take before and after vaccination, so it is best to follow the instructions to avoid any mistakes.
Deworming: Cats can be infected with various types of worms, and some of these worms can be transmitted to humans. Regular deworming is necessary to keep your cat healthy, especially if they eat raw food. You can refer to our tips on how to deworm your cat on our website.
Flea Prevention: Fleas are common in cats but can be challenging to detect. You can refer to the signs of flea infestation in cats to diagnose and treat them before they become a full-blown infestation. You should consider treating your cat for fleas regularly, whether or not they have fleas, as treatment is much more challenging than prevention.
Dental Care: Dental disease is prevalent in cats, especially as they age. You should regularly check your cat’s teeth. Many cats do not exhibit clear signs of discomfort, although signs of dental disease may include:
- Decreased appetite
- Bad breath
- Dropping food or difficulty eating
- Blood-tinged saliva or drooling
- Rubbing face or pawing at the mouth
- Behavioral changes, such as becoming quieter or more aggressive
- Reduced grooming
- Sneezing, runny nose, or swollen face
Dental disease can cause pain and significantly affect your cat’s health and well-being. Brushing your cat’s teeth is the best preventive measure. However, cats dislike having a toothbrush in their mouth and may struggle and resist. Therefore, you need to introduce the process gradually or follow our simple and effective 7-step guide on how to brush your cat’s teeth.
These are the seven essential ways to care for and meet your cat’s most basic needs. They include:
- Paying attention to their nutrition
- Playing and engaging with them
- Maintaining their personal hygiene
- Keeping their litter box clean
- Providing hiding spots
- Giving them appropriate scratching posts
- Taking care of their health
I hope this article helps answer your question about how to care for your cat to ensure they stay healthy and happy.