CAT CARE 101
My youngest memories, at the age of 2, was playing with my pet cat. According to my mother, one fine day, for no apparent reason, I decided to cover my whole cat with Vick’s vapour rub! The cat obviously was not too happy about it but he survived that episode. Indeed, keeping a pet cat has been a comforting constant in my whole life. Although, a happy cat in a loving home brings much joy to any family, cats are far from being independent, and they need constant care and attention. Only a true cat-lover will have the patience to understand a cat’s needs, and provide them with the right kind of care. The requirement list to keep your tabby happy need not be long and complicated, as long as you are sensitive to the cat’s character and habits. Given my 4 decades worth of cat knowledge, I have enough material to write a book on cats. Who knows, if the right opportunity comes along, I might just do that. Meantime, I will share with you my Dos & Don’t List for Cat Care which is like a survival kit for cat owners, and it will cover concisely the key points which should be applicable to 99% of domestic cats out there.
Top 10 Do’s For Responsible Cat-Owners
1. Give your cat space to roam around the house and garden. A happy cat will not need to venture too far away from home, and it will always return at meal times. Be weary of any neighbourhood dogs who may attack your cat.
2. All cats need to be vaccinated to boost their immune system. For kittens, you should send them for vaccination when they are 3-months old or more.
3. Cats should be spayed when they are 6-months old or more in order to prevent females from giving birth to unwanted kittens, and to stop male cats from constantly leaving home in search for females to mate. The operation is fast and painless, and the cat can live a healthy & normal life afterwards.
5. Feeding your cats biscuits rather than soft can food is healthier. Ask your pet shop for nutritional brands. Furthermore. give your cat a treat of boiled fresh fish or chicken liver once-per-week. You can give them lactose-free goat’s milk powder sometimes, but make sure your mixture is not too thick. Fresh & young coconut water is good for cats too.
6. Change the cat litter sand daily for good hygiene, and to reduce foul odours.
7. Regularly, stroke and brush your pet, and always speak to them in a gentle tone in order to relax them, and the brushing will eliminate unwanted loose hair too.
9. Find a good veterinarian clinic for your cat’s check-ups & simple ailments, as well as search for an animal hospital which can handle more serious sickness & problems. Keep their numbers handy in case of emergency.
10. Bath your cat with cat shampoo at least once-a-month, and rinse or wipe the whole cat them with water weekly. After wash, dry them with a clean towel, and let them out in the sun to lick themselves dry.
Top 10 Don’t For Responsible Cat-Owners
1. Before you decide to keep a pet cat, consider if you have the time, money and adequate space to maintain a cat. A pet is for life, and you should NEVER abandon them, in sickness or health.
3. You should never physical abuse any cats. Cats are innocent creatures who are programmed to follow their natural instincts. However, with proper guidance & training, your cat can learn to live harmoniously in your household. Ask your professional vet for advise & tips to overcome any feline issues before you take any drastic action.
4. Never leave your cat unattended for more than a day. If you are going away for a few hours, leave enough biscuits and drinking water for your pet. If you are going away for more than a day, send your pet to a REPUTABLE pet hotel for lodging & professional care in your absence. The hotel fees will range from RM15 to RM25 inclusive of meals.
5. Do not feed your cat any junk food or your scraps because cats are allergic to certain human foods, and you should stick only to nutritional cat food which have been recommended by a doctor.
7. Never ask an unqualified person , like someone who does not own a cat, to look after your cat in your absence because they may inadvertently put your cat’s life in danger. Find a trusted fellow cat-owner to babysit your tabby.
8. When bathing a cat, bathe your cat in lukewarm water and do not dip the cat’s head under water nor pour water directly unto their face & head. Always use a small wet cloth to carefully wipe their whole face and ears. If your cat has fleas, apply flea powder or medicine on your cat as per the instructions on the packaging.
9. Never leave your cat alone with toddlers or small children as it could be unsafe for both the child & the pet.
Your Basic Cat Survival Kit
1. Quality cat biscuits.
2. Fresh meat such sardines, tuna and chicken liver. These ingredients are great protein source and the oily fish will give your cat’s fur a nice shine.
3. Lactose-free powdered goat’s milk for cats, and clean drinking water supply.
4. Feeding bowl plus a water bowl. It best to place these bowls on a plastic mat which can be cleaned easily after feeding. Old newspapers will also do the trick.
4. A cat litter tray, cat litter sand & a small shovel.
5. Cat shampoo, a big and small drying towel.
6. An empty box for your cat to lay in or play with.
7. A portable cat box.
9. A few cat toys.
10. Most importantly, your cat will need lots of TLC from you!
Do You Really Want To Keep A Cat?
Looking after a cat is a life-changing choice because it will directly affect your life in many ways – good and bad! Are you prepared to sacrifice much of your time and money for this important & high-responsibility duty? New cat owners should not make a hasty decision to bring a new cat into your home unless you are fully aware and prepared for what you will be getting yourself into. You cannot return the cat if you change your mind later. Therefore, if you do not have a deep affection towards cats, then it is best that you do not own a cat in the first place: Think of the nice dinners or the amazing holidays that you will be able to afford by not having a high maintenance cat. Put it this way, a pet cat is totally dependant on it’s master for all it’s basic needs & happiness, and the master must be fully committed to their role as a cat caretaker every single day, through both the good & bad times. Anything less than 100% dedication in caring for your cat will be unfair to the innocent cat.
So You Are Ready & Qualified, What Comes Next?
My recommendation is to pick an abandoned cat from an animal shelter. The best age to choose a cat is when they are 6-months old or when they are able to feed themselves because it will be easier for the kitten to familiarise with you a it’s new surroundings at this earlier stage. Until the kitten has settled into its new home, you should give your kitten as much attention as possible. It’s always best to keep 2 kittens because they can keep themselves company and play with each other.
Take the kittens immediately to the vet for a medical check-up and find-out when will they need to be vaccinated, dewormed and spayed.
Wherever possible, do not try to save money by buying only cheap food for your cat, and certainly, do not forgo taking your cat to the vet as soon as you detect something amiss. Remember your cat deserves the best, and he or she will repay you tenfold for your kindness & generosity by showering you with their unconditional love & affection.
There will times when your cat misbehaves like knocking down your expensive glass ornaments or empty your rubbish bin. You should respond calmly by just verbally reprimanding your cat in a stern voice; most cats are smart enough to realise that they gave done a bad thing, and they will not repeat it since they do not want to upset their master if they can help it.
Don’t be surprised if your cat brings home a bird or a mice one day because they are either honing their hunting skills, or they want your attention.
Different cats have different personalities, so it is best you understand the unique characteristics of your cat so you can help him or her with their weaknesses, as well as encourage them to develop their strengths.
A cat, if well taken care of, can live happily for more than 20 years. You will be amazed to see how a cat can fit well into your life and become an increasingly important part of your family over time.
About The Author
Gus Ghani is a certified High-Intensity Interval Training Coach who is also a self-confessed animal lover. Currently, he owns 10 cats and his wife owns another 15 cats. All of their cats were abandoned strays who were rescued from the streets.