Healthy orange and white cat contentedly lounging on the couch (looking to the right) in front of its owner

38 Practical Cat Care Tips to Help Your Cat Stay Healthy and Live Longer

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Last Updated: January 15, 2024

We all love our fur babies, and it’s unfortunate that they live such short lives. I dread the day I’ll lose my kitty, a 9-year-old Persian named Lucky, so I try to do my best to keep him as healthy and happy as possible. I make sure to implement the best cat care practices as much as I can.

Here, I’m sharing some tips on how I keep my beloved kitty healthy. Remember, though, that these are general cat care guidelines, and it’s important to consult with your veterinarian for specific advice tailored to your cat’s individual needs.

Table of Contents

Signs of a Healthy Cat

To keep your cat healthy, you must first know what a healthy cat looks like. This way, you can easily detect if there’s something wrong.

A healthy cat typically exhibits several signs that indicate their overall well-being. Here are some common signs of a healthy cat:

Bright and Clear Eyes

A healthy cat will have bright, clear, and alert eyes without any discharge, redness, or cloudiness. The pupils should be of equal size.

Clean Ears

The ears should be clean, free from excessive wax buildup, discharge, or foul odor. A healthy cat may occasionally scratch their ears, but constant scratching or head shaking could indicate an issue.

Shiny Coat

 A healthy cat has a smooth, shiny coat. The fur should be clean, soft, and free from matting, dandruff, bald patches, or signs of parasites like fleas or ticks.

Normal Appetite

A healthy cat maintains a consistent and healthy appetite. They show interest in food, eat regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. Sudden changes in appetite, either increased or decreased, can indicate a health problem.

PRO TIP If your cat doesn’t like to eat their food, it doesn’t always mean they’re sick. They’re very picky with their food. It can also be that they’ve gotten tired of the food, even if it’s their favorite.

Good Hydration

A healthy cat is properly hydrated, which is evident by their moist gums and skin elasticity. When gently lifted and released, the skin should quickly return to its original position without any signs of dehydration.

Regular Elimination

Cats with healthy digestive systems have regular, well-formed bowel movements that are not overly frequent or infrequent. They should also urinate regularly without any signs of pain or discomfort.

Most cats will defecate at least once a day, and the poop should be deep brown in color and neither too mushy nor too hard.

On the other hand, a healthy cat should pee two to four times a day.

Active and Playful

Healthy cats are active, alert, and engage in regular playtime. They display curiosity, initiate interaction, and have normal mobility without any signs of lameness or stiffness.

Normal Breathing

Cats breathe quietly and smoothly without any wheezing, coughing, or labored breathing. Their breath should not have a foul odor.

Good Dental Health

Healthy cats have clean teeth and fresh breath. Their gums should be pink and free from inflammation, redness, swelling, or bleeding.

Balanced Behavior

A healthy cat exhibits normal behavior patterns, including grooming themselves, exploring their environment, socializing with other cats or humans, and having a balanced mood. They should not display excessive aggression, anxiety, or lethargy.

It’s important to note that these signs provide a general overview. If you notice any changes or have concerns about your cat’s health, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian for a thorough evaluation and appropriate guidance.

25 Cat Care Do’s

Wondering how to take care of your cat? Here are some tips you should try to ensure your cat remains healthy:

1.       DO provide your cat a balanced diet

It’s important to start your kitten or cat on food that’s appropriate for their age to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

  • Feed your cat high-quality, nutritionally balanced cat food with small amounts of carbohydrates, moderate amounts of fat, and large amounts of protein, along with other nutrients such as amino acids, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins.
  • Properly balanced cat foods will also contain taurine, an amino acid that cats need for their eye and heart health.
  • It is best for you to choose brand-name cat or kitten food, as these are the brands both cat owners and veterinarians trust. Some of these brands include Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina Pro Plan, Fancy Feast, Friskies, and Iams.
  • If you feed your kitty dry food (kibbles), you can put an entire day’s serving in their food bowl so they can graze throughout the day.
  • If you feed your cat wet food, make sure it’s consumed within 20 to 30 minutes of serving. The remaining food should be refrigerated and consumed within 24 hours.

2.       DO keep your cat on prescription diet even after they recover from an illness

If your vet has placed your cat on a prescription diet because of an illness, ask them if you can keep your kitty on the diet even after they recover. Because many cat diseases are caused by the food they eat, it’s likely that their illness will recur if you switch them back to their regular diet.

Even if your cat has not gotten sick yet, it doesn’t hurt to ask your vet if your kitty can benefit from a prescription diet. High-quality prescription cat food always provides at least one of the following extra benefits: weight control, tartar control, or extra fatty acids that prevent cancer, kidney disease, and heart disease and that treat arthritis.

The law requires over-the-counter cat food to provide nutrition around certain parameters that do not allow for nutrients to be added in therapeutic amounts. On the other hand, prescription cat food is allowed to contain high amounts of various nutrients, like glucosamine for arthritis.

In addition, over-the-counter cat food can contain less than the legally required amount of some ingredients, such as lower amounts of fiber or fat for the treatment of certain digestive disorders.

3.       DO gradually introduce new foods or changes to your cat’s diet

Unless otherwise indicated by your vet, gradually transition your cat to a new diet over the span of one to two weeks to prevent your cat from getting gastrointestinal upset.

  • Days 1 to 2: Feed 25 percent of the new food and 75 percent of the old food.
  • Days 3 to 4: Feed your cat 50 percent of both the old and new food.
  • Days 5 to 6: Feed 25 percent of the old food and 75 percent of the new food.
  • Day 7: You should be able to feed 100% of the new food.

PRO TIP If you notice, on any day, that your cat does not tolerate the change well (e.g., diarrhea, vomiting, not eating), go back to the amount your cat tolerated. Stay at this amount for a few days before you keep going. Some cats take longer than others to make the transition, so just be patient with your kitty.

You can also try a rotational diet to ensure your cat never gets “hooked” on a single flavor or brand. This simply means feeding your cat a variety of foods. You can rotate them monthly, weekly, or daily. Since the food constantly changes, your cat won’t get so stressed when one of the foods changes.

4.       DO always keep fresh water available

Just as it is for humans, it’s important for your cat to drink enough water. Ensuring they stay hydrated prevents cat diseases like kidney disease and urinary tract infections.

  • Be sure to also wash and refill your cat’s water bowl every day. Wild cats don’t like drinking stagnant or dirty water, so even domesticated cats avoid drinking water that has not been replaced.
  • Choose a shallow and wide bowl so that your cat’s whiskers don’t get irritated.

PRO TIP Cats are fussy about their drinking water. If you catch them pawing at their water bowl or sipping from the sink, then this probably means they prefer moving water. In this case, you can get your cat a pet fountain. This ensures your cat gets the fresh, flowing water they prefer so that they’ll be motivated to drink.

5.       DO provide a comfortable and cozy sleeping area

Cats spend most of their time sleeping, so it’s important to provide them with a comfortable bed. However, cats are fussy about everything, so it’s important to consider their personal preferences, along with their size and age.

There’s also a benefit to buying different types of beds, as cats love to have options.

  • A heated cat bed is great for all cats. Just make sure older cats and kittens can easily get off it if it gets too warm.
  • A self-warming bed is also great for all cats, but especially for older kitties, as the heat can soothe painful joints.
  •  A cat cave bed is perfect for shy kitties who want privacy while sleeping.
  • A cat window bed is an excellent choice for adult cats who can jump up to the window.
  • An elevated cat bed is good for all cats, but especially for kittens and senior cats that can’t climb to high places like cat shelves or cat trees.

What should I consider when choosing a cat bed?

  • Observe where your cat likes to snooze and get something similar in at least one of the beds you choose. Does your cat like to sleep on cardboard boxes or soft surfaces?
  • Choose a bed that’s only a few inches longer than your cat. Although cats feel safe in small spaces, they also like to move around and change positions. Choose a bed that allows your cat to comfortably curl up while still making them feel cozy.
  • Cats don’t like the feeling of sinking, but they also like to make biscuits, so choose a firm bed that’s still soft enough for your cat to dig their paws in.
  • Some cats like plusher and softer fabrics as long as they do not get the sinking feeling. Choose a bed whose thickness is from one to three inches, depending on your kitty’s preference. If you can, it would be great to get a bed with extra padding or a pillow.
  • Cats like heat, so you may want to choose beds with removable heating pads, self-warming beds, or Sherpa-lined beds.

6.       DO make sure your cat always has a place to go when nature calls

As I indicated in my article, Ultimate First-time Cat Owner Guide, you should always have one extra litter box, so if you have one cat, then you should have two litter boxes. If you have three cats, then you should have four litter boxes. This way, your cat has another litter box to use if they don’t like to go to their usual box for whatever reason.

In addition, be sure to place the litter box in an area your cat always has access to and that is quiet to make sure your kitty feels comfortable and secure when they need to potty.

7.       DO keep the litter box clean

Cats don’t like to use dirty litter boxes. As an alternative, your cat will resort to answering nature’s call on the carpet or your bed.

Try to scoop the soiled litter at least once a day and clean the entire litter box at least once a week.

If scooping seems like too much of a chore for you, then you might want to opt for a self-cleaning box. Aside from saving you from the stinky task, this type of litter box ensures your kitty’s bathroom is always clean.

PRO TIP If your cat suddenly goes outside the box despite it being clean, this can be an indication of medical issues, so it’s best for you to consult your vet.

8.       DO make sure your cat gets enough exercise

Engage your cat in play sessions to keep them active and maintain a healthy weight.

  • Cat toys are a fun way to keep your cat active. They engage your cat’s natural predator instincts, which make them happy while also keeping them fit.
  • Even during mealtimes, you can use interactive feeding toys or puzzles to encourage mental and physical activity.
  • Giving your cat a scratching post will not only protect your furniture but will also allow your cat to stretch their muscles and keep their claws healthy.

9.       DO provide your cat with mentally stimulating activities

Mentally stimulating activities enrich your cat’s mind, in turn reducing unwanted behavior and making your cat feel content. They also help get your cat tired, which is great for young and active indoor cats. Overall, these activities keep cats happy while also improving their physical and mental health.

  • Offer a variety of toys and engage in interactive play to keep your cat’s mind sharp.
  • Rotate cat toys to prevent boredom and maintain interest.

10.   DO Keep your cat indoors

Keeping your cat indoors is a great way to help your cat live longer. Typically, an indoor-only cat lives 10 to 15 years longer than a cat that is allowed to go outdoors.

Indoor cats avoid the risks of poisons, predators, and becoming stolen or lost. They have better health and suffer from significantly fewer injuries, infections, and illnesses.

  • If you allow supervised outdoor access, do so in a secure, controlled environment.
  • You can leash-train them so that you can take them on walks or hikes with you.
  • You can help them enjoy the outdoors while indoors by providing them with an enriching environment.

11.   DO Keep your cat in a carrier while traveling

Always use a cat carrier when you take your cat to the vet or when you take them on a road trip. Allowing them to roam around the car while you’re driving may distract you and lead to an accident.

How long can I keep my cat in a carrier?

Cats should not be kept in a carrier for an extended period of time. It is best to limit the time in the carrier to transportation or short-term confinement, such as during vet visits or travel. If you need to confine your cat for a longer duration, it’s recommended to provide a larger, well-ventilated enclosure with space for them to move comfortably.

Remember, it’s crucial to provide your cat with regular exercise, mental stimulation, and a safe environment outside the carrier to maintain their overall well-being.

12.   DO Keep unsafe items from your cat’s reach

Cats are curious creatures and will investigate everything they see, especially if it’s something new to them. They might play with it, sniff it, or even taste it. This is why it’s important to safely store everything in your home.

  • Keep household cleaners, plants, and medications out of your cat’s reach.
  • Use cat-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products in your home.
  • Keep small objects out of reach, and secure electrical cords.
  • Keep food off the countertops and tables to prevent your cat from eating something that may harm them.
  • Keep trash cans covered to keep your cat from accidentally ingesting something toxic.
  • Keep your home clean, as some cats suffer from dust mite allergies.

13.   DO keep your cat’s environment clean

Cats need a clean environment to live healthy and happy lives. This helps prevent diseases and parasites, as well as potential dangers and injuries.

  • Vacuum your cat’s bed once a week and wash it every two weeks. Also, try to wash it when there are odors or when your cat gets dirty from playing outside. In addition, regularly wash everything else that comes into contact with the bed, such as toys, blankets, and even your pet.
  • Wash your cat’s food and water bowls every day. Use hot, soapy water or a sanitizing dishwasher. If you’re using an automatic water bowl, then you should regularly inspect it, as algae or mold can grow on the filters.
  • Regularly clean your cat’s toys, especially since they use their mouths to play with them.
  • Don’t use scented detergents or harsh chemicals, as these can harm your fur baby. Be sure to use cleaning products that are safe for pets or a natural cleaning solution made of equal parts white vinegar and water.
  • Make sure that plush toys are completely dry before you give them to your cat or before you store them to prevent mold.

14.   DO microchip your cat

Microchipping your cat means placing a tiny, computerized chip under your cat’s skin, typically around the shoulder area. It allows your cat to be identified if they go missing and wind up in a veterinary hospital or shelter.

Its main benefit is that the microchip can neither be misread nor tampered with. The pet owner’s information is stored in a database, which makes it permanent. However, be sure to keep your contact details updated, as the microchip would be useless if you couldn’t be reached.

Does a microchip hurt my cat?

The microchip doesn’t cause any pain for your kitty, as it is a beveled needle, and it slips right under your cat’s skin.

15.   DO establish a routine for your cat

Cats are creatures of habit that thrive on routine. They do not respond well to change, as they find comfort and security in familiar things, and the same goes for their daily routine or schedule.

It is instinctual for your cat to constantly think of their own needs and how those needs will be met. As such, being able to meet their basic needs in predictable ways allows them to relax when you’re away. Letting your pet know what to expect and when to expect it allows your pet to feel secure.

Routines aren’t helpful only for pets, but for you, too. Having a routine reduces the likelihood of you forgetting to leave food for them, give them their medication, or fill their water bowl before you leave.

However, try not to follow an overly strict schedule and allow for some flexibility. This way, your pet doesn’t get anxious when you can’t get home in time to give them their meal or if you get too busy to play with them on some days.

What to Include in your kitty’s routine

When deciding what to include in your pet’s routine, consider the things that mean most to them, such as food, water, and time spent with you.

What does a daily cat routine look like?

Here’s an example of how you can establish a schedule for your cat:

Morning play session and breakfast. If you have the time, it’s good for you to play with your cat before you give them their morning meal. As predators, cats will benefit from simulating the “prey sequence” of stare, stalk/chase, pounce, and finally the kill bite. If you give them their meal afterward, then you’ve started another important cat sequence, which is hunt, eat, groom, and sleep.

Litter box cleanup. Getting this task done after the morning meal is good, especially since you’re about to leave for work.

Midday play break. If you work from home, playing with your cat during your lunch break allows your cat to release some energy and also gives you a bit of a breather. If you’re not at home, be sure to leave your cat some toys they can play with on their own so that they don’t end up sleeping all day and will be tired enough to sleep all night.

Afternoon/ early evening play session. Another prey sequence for your cat before their dinner is just what they need. Use a wand toy to mimic rodents, insects, snakes, or birds. Play with your kitty for 15 to 30 minutes.

Early dinner. Although having a fixed schedule (twice or thrice a day) for feeding your cat is helpful, you may also consider giving them small meals more frequently. In the wild, cats usually eat small, bite-sized meals throughout the day. In addition, this will keep them from getting so hungry that they eat so fast, which can lead to vomiting.

Litter box cleaning. Clean the litter box twice a day to ensure your cat stays happy.

Before bed. Play one last prey sequence with your kitty, followed by a treat, to wear them out, making both of you ready for a restful sleep.

16.   DO regularly groom your cat

Although cats already do a good job of grooming themselves, some help from you will ensure that they stay extra healthy and clean.

  • Brush your cat’s coat to remove loose hair and prevent matting, hairballs, and shedding. If you have a short-haired cat, try to brush them once or twice a month. If you have a long-haired kitty, you may need to brush them every day.

PRO TIP Brush your cat more frequently if they’re shedding to keep your furniture and floor from being covered in cat hair.

  • Brush your cat’s teeth regularly or provide dental treats to promote oral health.

PRO TIP Introduce your cat to regular teeth cleaning early on to maintain good oral hygiene.

  • Practice regular nail trimming to prevent overgrown nails and potential injuries.
  • Practice regular ear checks and clean your cat’s ears if necessary.

When should I give my cat a bath?

You don’t need to frequently bathe your cat. However, if their fur has accumulated dirt that doesn’t easily come off or if your cat has health issues that prevent them from grooming themselves, then you may need to give them a bath. In addition, if you have a hairless cat, then you will need to bathe them every week to remove the body oils that cat hair would otherwise absorb. Make sure you have cat shampoo available, along with treats, to incentivize your cat afterward.

17.   DO regularly spend time with your cat

Although cats are known for their independence, they still need love and attention. Experts recommend that you give at least 20 minutes of loving, undivided attention to your cat every day.

  • Play with your cat. Not only does this keep your cat mentally stimulated, but it also allows the both of you to bond and have plenty of fun.
  • Pet your cat. This mimics the sensation of being groomed, which mother cats do to their kittens to keep them clean and nurture them. This also releases oxytocin in the kittens and the mother. The same thing happens when you pet them, making it a pleasurable experience for them.
  • Talk to your cat. You are your cat’s entire world, especially if there are no other pets in the home. As such, even if you’re just having a monologue they can’t understand, it still makes them feel loved and special.

How do I know if my cat’s not getting enough attention?

These are some examples of when your cat might be seeking more attention from you:

  • Your cat jumps on your lap while you’re in the middle of something.
  • Your cat jumps on the kitchen countertop while you’re preparing a meal to get your attention.
  • Your kitty intentionally knocks things off the shelf.
  • Your kitty paws at your arms or legs.
  • Your cat reaches for your hands.
  • Your cat excessively meows around you.

If their efforts to communicate their needs don’t work, they may resort to engaging in bad behavior, such as scratching the furniture, to get your attention.

18.   DO respect your cat’s boundaries

Just like humans, cats need some alone time and appreciate having their own personal space. If your cat retreats to their bed, their favorite hiding spot, or a quiet place, it’s a clear indication that they want to be by themselves. As such, do not intrude on their privacy and let them relax in peace.

Violating your cat’s personal space makes them distrust you. Likewise, they get mentally and physically stressed when you impose human behaviors on them. Your likes and dislikes aren’t necessarily the same as theirs.

Conversely, respecting your cat’s boundaries allows you to maintain a good relationship with them.

  • Don’t force your cat to socialize, as this will make them aggressive toward and scared of you and other people.
  • Don’t take your cat out of the environment they put themself in. For example, if they’re hiding or sleeping somewhere, leave them there or call them to come to you. If they refuse, then just let them be.
  • Separate your cat from animals they do not want to see, as it can lead them to fighting over territory, competing for resources such as water and food, and hurting each other.
  • If you’re playing with your cat, petting them, or cuddling with them, and they start to swat at you or make motions of biting you, this indicates that they no longer want to play or cuddle.

19.   DO get your cat spayed or neutered

Reproductive diseases can affect both female and male cats. In this regard, neutering male cats prevents some prostate problems and testicular cancer. On the other hand, spaying female cats prevents ovarian cancer and uterine infections, as well as lowering the risk of mammary tumors.

Neutering also suppresses a male cat’s urge to roam, thereby keeping them from getting lost. In addition, neutering and spaying help control the cat population, reducing the number of cats without homes.

20.   DO monitor your cat’s health

Be vigilant about monitoring your cat’s health. Many cat diseases can be prevented if you can spot the early signs and take the necessary measures. Vet bills are expensive, and scheduling a vet visit can take time, so do what you can to help your kitty.

Waiting for your cat’s condition to get worse before you act will result in much more expensive emergency cat care, suffering for your cat, and heartbreak for you.

  • Monitor your cat’s weight. Regularly check your cat’s weight to ensure it is within a healthy range.
  • Monitor litter box habits. Watch for changes in the frequency or consistency of urination and bowel movements.
  • Monitor your cat’s litter. Check for the presence of blood or crystals in your cat’s urine and the firmness of their stool.

It can be hard to clearly see these, though, especially if you’re using a type of litter that clumps. In this case, you might want to use a smart litter like Pretty Litter, which changes color when a potential health problem is detected in your cat’s waste.

  • Watch for signs of illness, such as changes in behavior and appetite.

21.   DO educate yourself on your cat’s health

Don’t simply rely on what the vet tells you when it comes to caring for your cat. Make the effort to learn more about cat care in general or your cat’s health condition in particular, as well as about your cat’s breed and behavior, so that you can make informed decisions about their care.

You won’t have access to a vet 24/7, so you should be equipped with enough knowledge to know what’s best for your cat. Besides, the vet can only tell you so much during your visit. They won’t get to tell you about all the best practices in cat care, but all this information should be available online.

Read articles, watch YouTube videos, or read threads on Reddit. User comments are especially helpful, as many cat parents share cat care tips on how they ensure their cat’s wellbeing or how they treat their cat’s condition.

As an example, I combined the advice and medication the vet prescribed with the information I learned from my research to come up with an effective treatment for my cat’s constipation. The medication alone didn’t work, so I had to figure out what else I could do to help my cat.

22.   DO take your cat to regular veterinary check-ups

Schedule annual or biannual visits for vaccinations, examinations, and preventive cat care. Your vet can also tell if your cat is at the right weight.

23.   DO make sure your cat’s vaccines are up-to-date

Vaccines can protect your cat from diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. They can also make your cat’s immune system stronger.

Your vet can determine which vaccines your cat needs and how often they need shots. This usually depends on your cat’s lifestyle, overall health, and age.

Kittens start getting vaccinated when they are six to eight weeks old until they reach the sixteenth week, with shots coming in every three to four weeks. They must then get a booster shot after a year.

Adult cats, on the other hand, need shots every one to three years, depending on the vaccine’s longevity.

  • Some of the vaccines all cats must have protect against the following: feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, feline distemper (also known as panleukopenia), and rabies. The first three usually come in a combination shot called FVRCP or distemper shot.
  • Your vet may also recommend extra shots, depending on the diseases common in your area, how often your cat is around other cats, and how much time they spend outdoors.
    • One is a vaccine for feline leukemia, a non-curable viral infection that spreads through bodily fluids such as milk, urine, feces, and saliva. Another is a vaccine for Bordetella, which is specifically for cats that stay in a kennel or that go to groomers where the infection can quickly spread.

PRO TIP Vaccines cannot provide a 100% guarantee that your cat will be protected from diseases. To help your kitty stay healthy, limit your cat’s exposure to environments where cat illnesses are more common, as well as their contact with animals that are infected.

24.   DO give your cat preventive medication

  • Administer preventive medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworms if recommended by your vet.
  • If your cat has fleas, it is important to treat both your cat and your house, as 95 percent of the flea lifecycle takes place in your home. Treat your cat with the medicine your vet prescribed, and treat your house with flea spray whose effects can last up to twelve months.
  • Establish a deworming routine, as worms can also make your cat sick.

25.   DO get pet insurance for your cat

To get the most out of pet insurance, I recommend that you get your cat insured as early as possible, as pet insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing illnesses. If you get coverage before the onset of any health condition, the insurance will be able to cover all your kitty’s potential health concerns.

Choose pet insurance that covers preventive cat care, as it would be easier to prevent diseases than to treat them once they’ve already developed, not to mention that some diseases have no cure.

If preventive cat care coverage comes at an extra cost, it will be well worth it, as the costs of treatments, emergency cat care, and surgeries will be much higher.

13 Cat Care Don’ts

1.     DON’T feed your cat an all-dry cat food diet

Although dry cat food (kibble) is cheaper and has a longer shelf life than canned cat food, feeding your cat a diet that consists only of dry cat food can make them sick.

  • Dry food can cause obesity if you allow your cat to free-feed.
  • Dry food is the main cause of urinary tract problems. Although cats on a dry food diet typically drink more water, they still don’t get enough moisture to support their body’s functions. This can keep the cat dehydrated, leading to kidney and bladder problems.

PRO TIP It is best to give your cat a combination of wet and dry food. Wet food helps ensure your cat stays hydrated, while dry food helps keep their teeth clean and healthy. In addition, cats like trying new things. They get bored eating the same food all day, every day, so feeding your kitty wet and dry food at different meals gives your cat the variety they want and need.

2.       DON’T overfeed your cat

Excessive weight can lead to obesity and other cat health issues.

To maintain a healthy diet for your cat, be sure to measure the portions you give them. The cat food label has recommendations on the proper portion based on your cat’s weight and age.

It’s best, though, for you to consult your vet on what the proper diet for your cat is. If your vet recommends a dry food diet, then you can use an automatic cat feeder to ensure portion control and that your cat gets fed on time.

3.       DON’T feed what you eat to your cat

Don’t feed your cat the food you prepared for dinner. Many of the food items you consume are toxic to your cat. These include alcohol, bread dough that contains yeast, chocolate, coffee, citrus fruits, coconut water and coconut flesh, dairy, raisins and grapes, raw eggs, nuts, undercooked or raw meat, some herbs and vegetables, and Xylitol, among others.

Some people also give baby food to a kitten or cat who is not feeling well or does not want to eat. Just remember to carefully read the label and make sure the food does not contain garlic or onion powder, which are poisonous to a cat.

RELATED: What Foods Can Cats Eat That Humans Eat?

4.       DON’T give your cat too many treats

Cats love their treats, and as cat parents, we often get tempted to give them more than they should have because we love to spoil them. However, this is one area where we should practice tough love. No matter how much we love our kitties, giving them too many treats will cause more harm than good.

Too many treats can make your cat gain weight and increase the risk of other health problems. They can also make your cat lose their appetite or become a fussy eater once they’re served their regular meals.

Treats should comprise only 5 to 10 percent of your cat’s diet. To account for the treats, make sure to decrease the amount of the main food you give them by 5 to 10 percent.

5.       DON’T give your cat animal bones to eat or chew

Bones, especially poultry bones, are dangerous to cats, as they can splinter and get stuck in your cat’s throat, intestines, or stomach.

Make sure that the meat or fish you give your cat is completely free of bones.

6.       DON’T give your cat medicines that are intended for humans

It is important to avoid giving your cat over-the-counter medications without consulting your veterinarian. Many human medications can be toxic to cats, and the dosage and suitability of medications vary based on the individual cat’s needs.

7.       DON’T scare your cat for fun

Cats are as much prey as they are predators, which is why they’re always on high alert for potential dangers. They immediately become suspicious of something new, and if it turns out to be unexpected, they get scared. They can get stressed and even physically hurt if they suddenly run away or jump so high that they hit the wall (Remember the cucumber prank people played on their cats?).

If the thing that causes the fear persists, it can permanently turn into a phobia. You take away the one place they feel secure and safe, in time turning them into a feral cat.

8.       DON’T scruff your cat

Cat owners usually scruff their cats to reprimand, move, or restrain them. While mother cats naturally scruff their kittens, they do so to move or carry their kitties, not to discipline them.

  • Scruffing is uncomfortable for your cat, and having their weight suspended by the nape of their neck can cause them pain.
  • Scruffing your cat causes stress and fear.
  • It can make a cat associate the situation, people, and environment with fear.
  • When a cat’s fear becomes too much, they may start to defend themselves by scratching or biting.
  • It can lead to your cat getting injured. For example, you might accidentally drop them if they react with aggression or fear. Some cats also suffer from skin fragility syndrome, where their skin can get ripped off the underlayer of fat.
  • It can make your cat develop negative feelings for you.

9.       DON’T punish your cat for bad behavior

  • Spraying on your cat, stomping your feet, or shouting can make your cat scared of you. Instead, train your cat using positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior.
  • Scolding your cat can encourage the bad behavior because you’re still giving them attention, which they crave. Instead of scolding your cat, redirect them in a positive way.

You can call them by their name or try other ways to gently get their attention, then offer them a toy or treat. This will distract your cat from whatever they are doing. You can then spend a few minutes petting or playing with them, making them less likely to resume their previous bad behavior.

10.   DON’T play loud music/TV around your cat

Cats’ sense of hearing is far superior to that of humans, so loud sounds can cause them pain and intense discomfort. They can also hear things that we can’t, so even the loud music we think is harmless may hurt your cat’s ears. In addition, they can hear things even from far away, which makes loud music in their immediate surroundings even worse for them.

  • Don’t play loud music in the same room as your cat. Alternatively, give them access to another room or area of the house they can retreat to while you play music.
  • Even if your cat is in another room, limit the time your cat spends there so that they don’t get exposed to the loud sounds for too long.
  • Consider soundproofing the room where your cat stays.
  • Consider using high-quality earbuds or headphones.
  • Keep household noise at a reasonable level to avoid unnecessary stress.

11.   DON’T declaw you cat

Declawing means amputating part or all of the toe bone attached to each toe’s claw, making each toe shorter.

  • The surgery alone comes with many risks and possible complications, which include bleeding, nerve damage, throat damage (from a breathing tube), cardiac arrest, stroke/embolism, pneumonia, and even death.
  • Post-surgery complications include a reopening of the wound, infection, pain, and continued bleeding.
  • Although rare, long-term pain after a declaw can occur. Research also shows they can have a higher risk of barbering (a condition where cats pull out their hair) and back pain.
  • Your cat can suffer from temporary paralysis (up to two months) because of the tourniquet used during surgery.
  • Your cat can have an abnormal stance or walk.
  • Your cat’s inability to scratch may cause emotional stress.
  • Declawing your cat can increase their aggression (e.g., biting) and inappropriate defecation or urination.

12.   DON’T shave your cat unless it’s medically necessary

Although shaving a cat seems to be a popular practice among cat owners, it doesn’t really benefit your cat, as their hair helps regulate their body’s temperature so that they remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

13.   DON’T leave your cat alone for more than 24 hours

It’s okay to leave your cat alone while you’re at work since they spend about 18 hours a day sleeping. However, if you’re going on vacation or on a business trip, then you shouldn’t leave them to fend for themselves.

They will stop using their litter box once it gets too dirty, which means they’ll probably do their bathroom business elsewhere around the house.

Leaving your cat with a big bowl of food is also not a good idea, as they can overeat due to stress. They can also knock over their water bowl and get injured.

Even an automatic feeder may not be a good option because it could fail to work.

In addition, cats have social and emotional needs that cannot be met if they are left alone for prolonged periods.

If you must go away for some time, be sure to have someone check in on them frequently.

  • Ask a friend or relative to check in on your cat
  • Hire a pet sitter
  • Leave your cat with a friend or relative
  • Leave your cat at a pet hotel

Final Thoughts

Although caring for a cat seems like a complicated task that involves the various areas of a cat’s life—physical, mental, emotional, and social—it’s really quite simple. Empathy applies not only to humans but to animals as well. If you’re uncertain about something, then put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel about something if you were them?

If this seems difficult for you, then treat your kitty as you would a human baby. What’s harmful for a human baby will likely be harmful for your cat, too, and what’s good for a human baby will likely be good for your kitty, too.

Making sure your cat gets to live their best life brings a sense of fulfillment that is reward enough for the task of caring for them. As a bonus, you also get to spend more years enjoying time with them, and I guarantee they will be some of the best years of your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an indoor cat get fleas?

Yes, even indoor cats can get fleas. While indoor cats have a lower risk compared to outdoor cats, fleas can still be brought into the home by other animals or on clothing. It’s essential to regularly check and treat your indoor cat for fleas to prevent infestations.

Does an indoor cat need a rabies shot?

Yes. Indoor cats still need to be vaccinated against rabies. Even though they have limited exposure to the outside world, there is still a small risk of them coming into contact with rabid animals or escaping outside. Vaccinating your cat against rabies helps protect them and ensures the safety of your household.

Are indoor cats bad for pregnancy?

Indoor cats are generally not harmful during pregnancy. However, pregnant women should take precautions to avoid exposure to toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be transmitted through cat feces. Pregnant women should avoid cleaning litter boxes and, if possible, have someone else take care of that task.

Can an indoor cat get ear mites?

Yes, indoor cats can get ear mites. Ear mites can be transmitted through direct contact with other animals or objects. If you suspect your indoor cat has ear mites, it’s important to have their ears examined by a veterinarian and follow the appropriate treatment to eliminate the mites.

Are indoor cats happy?

Indoor cats can be happy if their environmental and social needs are met. Cats require mental and physical stimulation, playtime, social interaction, and environmental enrichment. Providing them with toys, scratching posts, perches, hiding spots, and quality time with their owners can contribute to their happiness.

How often do indoor cats need shots?

The frequency of vaccinations for indoor cats depends on numerous factors, including the cat’s age, vaccination history, lifestyle, and regional recommendations. Generally, indoor cats require core vaccinations such as rabies and FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia) vaccines. Consult with your veterinarian to establish an appropriate vaccination schedule for your indoor cat.

How many cat beds do I need?

The number of cat beds you need depends on your cat’s preferences and the layout of your home. It’s recommended to have at least one comfortable bed per cat, placed in different areas where they like to spend time, such as favorite spots for napping or near windows for bird watching.

How to make your cat live longer?

To help your cat live a longer and healthier life, consider the following tips:

  • Provide a balanced and appropriate diet.
  • Ensure regular veterinary checkups and vaccinations.
  • Offer mental stimulation through play, interactive toys, and puzzles.
  • Maintain a safe indoor environment.
  • Provide opportunities for exercise and physical activity.
  • Offer fresh water and keep it easily accessible.
  • Maintain proper dental hygiene.
  • Minimize stress and provide a calm and loving environment.

How often should I take my cat to the veterinarian for checkups?

It is recommended to take your cat for annual check-ups. However, senior cats or those with underlying health conditions may require more frequent visits, as advised by your veterinarian.

How can I help prevent obesity in my cat?

To prevent obesity, ensure your cat has a balanced diet, proper portion control, and regular exercise. Provide interactive play sessions and engage your cat in activities that promote movement.

What is the best way to prevent fleas and ticks from getting into my cat?

Regular use of veterinarian-approved flea and tick preventive products is crucial to preventing infestations. Consult your vet for the most suitable options for your cat.

What can I do to prevent hairballs in my cat?

Regular brushing helps reduce the amount of hair ingested, which can help prevent hairballs. Additionally, specialized cat food formulations or hairball remedies can aid in hairball prevention. Consult your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

How can I help prevent urinary tract problems in my cat?

Providing fresh water, a balanced diet, and avoiding stress can help prevent urinary tract problems. Additionally, feeding wet food or adding water to dry food to increase moisture intake may be beneficial. However, it’s important to consult your veterinarian for comprehensive advice.

How can I prevent my cat from developing dental problems?

Regular tooth brushing, feeding dental-specific cat food or treats, and providing dental toys can help promote good oral hygiene and prevent dental problems in cats. Consult your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

How can I minimize the risk of my cat developing kidney disease?

Ensure your cat always has access to fresh water, and feed them a balanced diet that is appropriate for their age and health. Regular veterinary checkups can help detect early signs of kidney disease.

How can I help my cat cope with stress or anxiety?

Creating a calm and safe environment for your cat, providing hiding spots, and using pheromone diffusers can help reduce stress. Consult your veterinarian for additional advice or potential medication options.

How can I prevent my cat from getting hair mats or tangles?

Regular brushing and grooming sessions help prevent hair mats and tangles. For long-haired cats, consider professional grooming or trimming to manage their coat effectively.

Featured Image Credit: Sandy Millar / Unsplash

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