ALL ABOUT DOGS and CATS Resource Center for Canine & Feline Lovers
Basic Cat Care
When you first get your cat, you’ll need to spend about $25 for a litter box, $10 for a
collar, and $30 for a carrier. Food runs about $170 a year, plus $50 annually for toys and
treats, $175 annually for litter and an average of $150 for veterinary care every year.
The best place to get a cat? Your local shelter! Please visit our Pet Rescue Directory and
Purebred Cat Rescue Directory to find shelters and rescue groups in your area.
Make sure you have all your supplies before you bring your new pet home. See our
checklist in the sidebar.
- An adult cat should be fed one large or two or three smaller meals each day.
- Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks must eat four times a day.
- Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day.
(Read the article: Feeding Puppies and Kittens)
You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30
minutes, or keep dry food available at all times. We recommend a high-quality, brand-
name kitten or cat food; avoid generic brands.(Read the article Food Not Fit for a Pet)
Provide fresh, clean water at all times, and wash and refill water bowls daily.
Although cat owners of old were told to give their pets a saucer of milk, some cats do not
easily digest cow’s milk, which can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Treats are yummy
for cats, but don't go overboard. Most packaged treats contain lots of sugar and fat,
which can pack on the pounds. Some cats like fresh fruits and vegetables, like broccoli,
corn or cantaloupe. You can offer these once in awhile.
If your kitten is refusing food or isn’t eating enough, try soaking her kitten food in warm
water. If that doesn’t work, kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time. Use
turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with
her regular food.
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. Read the article:
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.
Your pet should have her own clean, dry place in your home to sleep and rest. Line your
cat's bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please
keep your cat indoors. Cats who are allowed outdoors can contract diseases, get ticks or
parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, or get into fights with other free-roaming cats
and dogs. Also, cats may prey on native wildlife.
If allowed outdoors , your cat must wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar
with an elastic panel which will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on
something .An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned
if he or she becomes lost.
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A
bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat's box. In a multi-level home, one box
per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so
slowly, a few inches a day.
Keep in mind that 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; you can do this less frequently if using clumping litter. Don't use
ammonia, deodorants or scents, especially lemon, when cleaning the litter box.
Cats delight in stalking imaginary prey. The best toys are those that can be made to
jump and dance around and look alive. Your cat can safely act out her role as a predator
by pouncing on toys instead of people's ankles. Please don't use your hands or fingers
as play objects with kittens. This type of rough play may cause biting and scratching
behaviors to develop as your kitten matures.
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. Do not declaw. declawing is mutilation.
Provide your cat with a sturdy scratching post, at least three feet high, which will allow
her to stretch completely when scratching. The post should also 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. A sprinkle of catnip once or twice
a month will keep your cat interested in her post or pad.
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.
These tiny parasites are a common problem that can be transmitted from cat to cat. If
your cat is constantly scratching at his ears or shaking his head, he may be infested with
ear mites. You will need to call your vet, as your cat's ears will need to be thoroughly
cleaned before medication is dispensed.
Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS)
Both males and females can develop this lower urinary inflammation, also called Feline
Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Signs of FUS include frequent trips to the litter box,
blood in the urine and crying out or straining when urinating. If your male cat looks
"constipated," he may have a urethral obstruction and can’t urinate. This can be fatal if
not treated quickly. Urethral blockages are rare in females. About five percent of cats are
affected with FUS. Special diets may help prevent this condition.
Fleas and Ticks
Flea infestation should be taken seriously. These tiny parasites feed off of your pet,
transmit tapeworms and irritate the skin. Carefully check your cat once a week for fleas
and ticks. If there are fleas on your cat, there will be fleas in your house. You may need
to use flea bombs or premise-control sprays, and be sure to treat all animals in your
house. Take care that any sprays, powders or shampoos you use are safe for cats, and
that all products are compatible when used together. Cats die every year from improper
treatment with flea and tick control products. Please contact your veterinarian for the
most effective flea control program for your pet.
Medicines and Poisons
Never give your cat medication that has not been prescribed by a veterinarian. For
example, did you know that acetominophin and aspirin can be FATAL to a cat?! Keep rat
poison or other rodenticides away from your cat. If you suspect that your animal has
ingested a poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison
Control Center for 24-hour animal poison information at (888) 426- 4435.
Spaying and Neutering
Female cats should be spayed and male cats neutered by six months of age. Neutering a
male (removing the testicles) can prevent urine spraying, decrease the urge to escape
outside and look for a mate, and reduce fighting between males. Spaying a female
(removing the ovaries and uterus) helps prevent breast cancer, which is usually fatal,
and pyometra (uterus infection), a very serious problem in older females that must be
treated with surgery and intensive medical care. Since cats can breed up to three times
per year, it is vital that your female feline be spayed to prevent her from having
Kittens should be vaccinated with a combination vaccine (called a “3 in 1”) at 2, 3 and 4
months of age, and then annually. This vaccine protects cats from panleukopenia (also
called feline distemper), calicivirus and rhinotracheitis. If you have an unvaccinated cat
older than four months of age, he will need a series of two vaccinations given 2 to 3
weeks apart, followed by yearly vaccinations.
There is a vaccine available for feline leukemia virus (FeLV). This is one of the two
immune system viruses (retroviruses) that infect cats. The other is feline
immunodeficiency virus (FIV). There is no vaccine available for FIV. Cats can be infected
with either virus for months, even years, without any indication that they are carrying a
fatal virus. All cats should be tested for these viruses.
FeLV and FIV can be transmitted at birth from the mother or through the bite of an
infected cat. Neither virus can infect humans. Many outdoor and stray cats and kittens
carry this infection. Because of the fatal nature of these diseases, you should not expose
cats already living in your home by taking in untested cats or kittens. To be safe, keep
your cat indoors—but if your cat does go outside, he should be vaccinated against the
feline leukemia virus. Remember, no vaccine is 100-percent effective.
Rabies vaccination is required by law in most areas of the USA and Canada. Ask your
veterinarian if you are unsure of the laws in your area.
Please note, if your companion cat gets sick because he is not properly vaccinated, the
vaccinations should be given after your pet has recovered.
Kittens and cats can be infected with several types of worms. The key to treatment is
correct diagnosis. This will ensure that the medication is effective against the parasite
your pet has. A dewormer that eliminates roundworms, for example, will not kill
tapeworms. Your veterinarian can best determine the culprit—and prescribe the
|Cat Supply Checklist
- Premium-brand cat food
- Food dish
- Water bowl
- Interactive toys
- Safety cat collar with ID tag
- Scratching post or
- Litter box
- Cat carrier
- Cat bed or box with warm
blanket or towel
- Crazy kitty! More than 50
percent of felines go wild
when they smell catnip.
- Lickety split: A cat's tongue
has lots of tiny spines that
help pick up dirt from her fur
- The average cat has a
"vocabulary" of more than 16
different sounds, including
purring, howling, hissing and
- The average lifespan of an
indoor cat is 13 to 18 years—
and we’ve known lots of
kitties who’ve made it to 20-
Pet Care & Grooming Articles - Feline Grooming