Cat FAQs

What should I do if my cat is urinating on the floor or spraying?

Cats can get urinary tract infections just like people and as a result may spray or urinate in inappropriate locations at inappropriate times. If your cat exhibits this behavior, you should have it examined by your veterinarian. A urinalysis should be performed to determine if a medical problem exists. If the problem is deemed behavioral, the veterinarian can suggest behavior modification techniques.

Why does my cat rub her head against me and my shoes?

Your cat has special scent glands located in various parts of her body, including the area underneath the skin on his chin, and the area around her eyes. When your cat rubs up against you with its head, she is actually marking you with her scent, as a signal to other cats that you are hers. You will probably notice that when your cat is doing this behavior, she is in a loving, peaceful and contented mood. The scent glands around her face release what are known as “facial pheromones”.

You should feel honored when your cat does this behavior to you as it is demonstrating its deep affection for you. Rubbing its head against your shoes is also a marking behavior and perhaps your cat is trying to cover up the scents from where you have been during the course of the day with her own scent. Again, signifying her “claim” to you.

Why does my cat bite me?

Young kittens between the ages of 3 weeks old and 8 months old will be teething off and on, and will have very strong needs to bite. This is normal behavor for all animals. So the idea is to keep them from bitting you and instead have them bit something else. You can use toys and objects around the house, etc. You want to train them from the start that toys and other things are okay to bite, but people are not. If a kitten learns this from the start, there is hardly ever an inappropriate biting behavior as an adult. Some cats start biting out of frustration after they have been de-clawed.

Some cats start biting out of misplaced aggression, which usually can be countered by providing the cat a feline playmate, and/or providing them more toys or by making their environment more stimulating. For a cat with a serious biting problem, often the quickest way to teach them not to bite you is to immediately blow on their faces when they bite. They hate this and will usually run away. Saying “NO!” firmly at the same time reinforces this training. At all times, it is critical that you be thinking and acting on the firm belief that toys are okay for biting but people are not.

Why does my cat knead on me?

When your cat kneads you with its paws, it actually showing its love and affection for you. Usually, the cat will have a loving expression on its face. It may be purring and even drooling slightly. Your cat is back in touch with his instincts as a kitten when he does this, and feeling the same sense of comfort and warmth that it did as a kitten when with its mother. Young kittens knead their mother’s nipples to stimulate the “let down” reflex in her so that her milk flows for the kittens to suckle. If your cats kneading behavior is uncomfortable for you, be sure to keep your cat’s nails clipped short, and maybe keep an extra towel around to pad the area he it is kneading. You cat is happy and likes you so don’t be worried and enjoy it.

Why is it that my cat wants to play with me in the middle of the night?

While this behavior can be annoying, it is very normal and natural for your cat. The night time is the prime hunting time for cats in the wild and its instincts may be telling it to be active at night. Jumping on and over the furniture and knocking over things may be its natural way of looking for prey. Another key reason for cats behaving this way is that when you are away during the day, it is probably getting plenty of rest. By the time the night comes around, it is ready to play and has lots of energy saved up and ready to turn on. Young kittens and cats especially can be very active at night.

Try making an effort to spend time with your cat before and after work and any time you can during the day. The idea is to give it the attention it wants and wear it out before you go to bed. If you have a single cat who insists on behaving this way, you might want to consider getting him a feline companion so that he would not be bored during the day, and could work off some of that energy during the day instead of saving it all up for the night.

Why does my cat put her toys in her water bowl?

Believe it or not, this is a very common practice among both cats and dogs. It just might be that your cat is trying to find a “safe” place for her favorite things. It often happens that the toy that ends up in the water or food bowl is often a toy that has recently been enjoyed by your cat, or even by your cat with you. In the wild, cats often take their prey back to their “nest” area, and hide it from predators. Indoor cats don’t really have a “nest” per se, so they often consider their food and water dishes and that area in general as the “safest” areas within their “territory”.

Why do cats chatter their teeth when they see birds?

Most cats make that quite distinctive teeth chattering noise that seems reserved specifically for when they see birds or squirrels, whether outside or even on television. Actually, that noise may be more of an instinct than you realize. Many feline behavior specialists have noted the similarity of that noise to the special neck bite that cats use in the wild designed to kill a bird or small rodent quickly and efficiently, before they have a chance to struggle. Young kittens and cubs in the wild have the opportunity to practice this special bite; house cats may just be showing their excitement at seeing potential prey, or possibly their frustration in seeing potential prey that they cannot get to. Many times, you may notice that your cat’s tail is getting puffy, or is twitching in a special way that accompanies his special chattering noises.

Why does my cat eat house plants?

Like people, cats need some roughage every now and then to help keep their digestive tracts stay healthy. Cats will eat grass and greens from time to time for exactly this reason. Some cats will seek out greens to eat and this may be why your cat is eating your plants or parts of your lawn. Please note that this can be dangerous or even poisonous to your cat depending on the plant it chooses to eat and if you use pesticides on your plant and/or lawn.

A good thing to do is to purchase your cat his or her own plant that can be eaten. You can purchase a cat grass growing kit at your local pet store. Some kits will have grass that is already sprouted that you simply maintain. Other kits contain the seeds and dirt and let you start growing from scratch. Whichever your choice your cat will probably enjoy a little patch of grass to munch on every now and then. If your cat has its own plant to eat, it will be likely to want to eat yours.

You should also make it a point to teach your cat that eating other household plants is off limits. One good solution is to put plant stakes around the outside of your cat’s favorite plants. This can create a barrier such that your cat can’t even get to the off-limit plants. Other aversion techniques include the following:

  • Give your cat a firm ‘no’ at the moment it does the unwanted behavior. Never ‘punish’ your cat or overly scream or scare your cat. This can make your cat scared of you and make it want to avoid you.
  • You can use a spray bottle to spritz your cat every time it does the unwanted behavior. The down side of this approach is that your cat may link you to the nasty squirt it receives.
  • Throw an object, like a sock near the cat, gentle letting it know that you want it to stop what it is doing. This will mildly frighten your cat and help it realize that the behavior they just exhibited is a no-no. This method also allows the cat to connect the bop on the head with the sock and not you.
  • Place double-sided sticky tape on the area surrounding the plant. Your cat will hate how this feels on it paws and soon stop going there.
  • Place aluminum foil on the area surrounding the plant. Most cats hate this feeling on their feet.
  • Purchase a cat repellant spray at your local pet store. Just make sure that the spray will be safe for your specific plants.

And you can also get rid of any plants that are in your cat’s reach or remove the plants while you are training.

Why does my cat urine mark and how do I stop it?

Urine marking can be a troubling behavior for cat owners and may be an indication of stresses in your cat’s life. Stress is probably the most common form of inappropriate elimination and is the number one cause of surrender of cats to shelters and pounds, which often results in their untimely demise. Recongizing these problems and finding a solution to them is not only important for you but for your cat as well.

All cats are capable of urine marking – both males and females, intact and neutered. The likelihood of urine marking is greatest in the intact male cat; neutered males are next most likely to urinemark, then intact females, and finally spayed females. Urine marking can be performed with the cat in a standing position or in a squatting position. The volume of urine passed ranges from small and almost insignificant to a large amount, and vertical surfaces are often the target. There is also a type of “virtual” marking behavior in which no urine is passed at all, so called phantom spraying, though owners do not usually regard this as a pressing behavior problem.

Spraying is the most common form of urine marking behavior. In spraying, cats back up to a vertical surface, tread with their hind legs, quiver the tip of their tail, and deliver a fine stream of urine onto the surface. The purpose of this behavior is to inscribe a urine-born pheromonal message for subsequent passers-by to detect. It is their way of marking their territory. Intact males have the greatest motivation to mark because of the behavior is testosterone enhanced, but neutered males will also spray if suitably aroused. Though females can spray, especially intact females in heat, they urine mark more commonly from the squatting position.

How to recognize marking

  • It typically involves interesting and varied locations, such as countertops, heating registers, stereo speakers, electric toasters, oven tops, refrigerators, windowsills, drapes, desks, screened porches, shopping bags, clothes or beds.
  • It usually involves multiple sites and often has a distinct pattern, such as on a person’s belongings or near sites of access to the outside world.
  • It often involves a small amount of urine deposited on a vertical surface.

Treatment and prevention
Marking used to be the most difficult behavior problem to treat. However, we now know much more about the reasons why cats mark with urine and have numerous treatment options are available.

How do I stop my cat from bitting me when I play with it?

When playing with your cat, do not play with your hands. Your cat needs to know that toys are for playing with, and hands are for loving. You can either buy toys, or make your own. Cats love to play with crumpled up balls of paper that they can bat around. Plastic drinking straws make wonderful toys and make a satisfying crunch when the cat bites them. Just make sure that your cat does not tear them up into pieces it can swallow. “Wand” toys are great as are socks. You can attach a piece of fishing line to a stick and tie a bit of paper to the other end of the fishing line. Your cat will play with this simple toy as long as you are willing to wave it around in front of it.

If your cat wants to bite your hands and ankles, slowly withdraw your hand and tell it “no!” sharply. For ankle and feet biting, simply walk away from it after telling it “no!” Sometimes behaviorists suggest a quick spray with a water bottle along with the verbal command, but the trick is to spray your cat without it knowing it’s coming from you. Some cat owners even hiss at their cats when they misbehave, much as the mother cat would do, and that does the trick.

How do I stop furniture scratching?

Cats love to scratch things. Unfortunately, the things they love to scratch are often the things around them such as table legs, sofas, stereo speakers, curtains, etc. There are some things you can do to prevent this behavior.

Why do they do it?
It is important to understand just why cats scratch in the first place. In the wild, cats scratch around their immediate environment to signal their presence to other cats and to claim the area in question. It is another form of territory marking. The marking takes two forms: visual and olfactory. The visual mark is in the form of clawing marks and is so obvious that even we can recognize it. The olfactory mark is subtler, involving the release of pheromones. These are substances secreted from the body to be picked up by members of the same species, causing them to alter their behavior and recognize the presence of the cat leaving the mark.

Cats secrete pheromones from superficial glands in the skin of the cat’s paws through the process of kneading. The message is invisible to all creatures and is undetectable unless you have the right equipment (a super sensitive nose) and are close enough. Another cat will see the scratch marks and then smell the message that another cat has already claimed this place.

Scratching has additional functions, too. You might think your cat scratches to sharpen his claws, but it more likely it provides your cat with a form of physical therapy for the muscles and tendons of his paws. It also assists in shucking off old nail husks and cleaning its nails.

What is the solution
While healthy and natural to your cat, scratching can become a real problem for the owner. Even your fairly secure housecat will occasionally feel the need to leave his mark by scratching, and the most usual target is your furniture or something else that is vulnerable.

Faced with this problem, it is common for owners to consider declawing surgery. Many veterinarians believe declawing is a painful and unnecessary surgery and refuse to do it for humane reasons. Instead, they advocate training your cat to use a scratching post. However, some veterinarians still believe declawing is a safe procedure. Scratching posts can be a great solution for your situation and is one favored by many cat owners. Visit your local pet store and they can provide you with various solutions from scratching posts to furniture protectors.

Why does my cat lick me?

Your cat licks you for a variety of reason including the salt that is on your skin, other tastes that may be on your skin from a variety of sources and as a sign of affection. In most cases, it is for the later. Cats are very affectionate animals and they typically show affection by licking, gently bitting your nose and face and by just looking at you and blinking their eyes.

Why does my cat suddenly start hissing at me when I pet him?

There are going to be times when your cat may give you a hiss, or even try to scratch or bite you seemingly without warning right in the middle of a petting or stroking session with him. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that your cat no longer likes you. This behavior is typically just the only way he knows to signal to you that he has had enough of the petting and stroking and perhaps it has even gone on longer than what he enjoys. Chances are, you had actually continued the session longer than usual not realizing that your cat was getting uncomfortable and that so much time had passed. Give him a break and he will be back for more later.

My cat is always taking. Is that normal and can I do anything about it?

Cats communicate through a wide variety of vocalizations including meowing, purring, hissing. yowling, etc. They display their unique personalities through these vocalizations, a characteristic most people find endearing and also a trait expressed in humans as well. We all know people that talk all the trime and others that are relatively quite. When these vocalizations become excessive or occur at inopportune times, however, problems sometimes arise.

What is considered excessive?
Excessive vocalization does not have a strict definition as it is subjective. Some cat owners wish their cats spoke more and others less. What is considered too much depends on the tolerance level and likes of the individual listener, which may be influenced by many factors including their prior experience with cats, the type of vocalization, time of day and perceived reason for the vocalization. For example, a cat purring loudly for breakfast may be more tolerable than the same cat repeatedly meowing for no apparent reason in the middle of the night when you are trying to sleep.

When is excessive talking normal?
It is important to remember that all talking is normal as it is the natural way cats communicate with each other and with us. Normal increases in talking occur during mating season when female cats are in heat and tomcats compete for access to them. Increases in vocalization are also common when there are changes in the household such as a move or when cats are changed from outdoor to indoor pets. In these cases, the increases in vocalization may be transient. Certain cat breeds, notably the Siamese, are also known to vocalize more than others. It is simply the cats way of communicating, it is the language they speak.

What causes excessive talking?
The most common cause of excessive talking is attention seeking which is in many cases, a learned behavior. Many cats learn to meow to signal their wish to go outside or be fed. It is how they gain our attention. This technique is especially effective early in the morning when owners are tired; they readily bow to their cat’s demands to stop their vocalization. Once cats expect their owner’s attention, they continue to vocalize even if their owners attempt to ignore their behavior. Most cats have the will power to outlast their owners who eventually give in.

Excessive talking may also indicate the presence of a medical or more serious behavior problem.

What is the best way to train my cat?

If you are trying to train your cat to sit, stay, heel and speak, you probably should get yourself a dog instead. If your goal is to train your cat to do the basic things like use the litter box or to use a scratching post instead of the sofa, please read on. Cats are very independent by nature and that is one of the things cat fanciers like about them. Being behaved, however, is an important part of successfully owning and living with a cat.

Let’s discuss how cats learn. Cats learn by experience. If the experience is good, they will try to repeat it. If the experience is unpleasant, they will try to avoid it in the future. They enjoy scratching the furniture with their claws, so they continue to do it. But if they touch a candle flame, the experience is remembered and never forgotten.

The key to training is to make sure that whatever you want your cat to do is rewarding and pleasurable. Whatever you don’t want your cat to do must not be rewarding or fun but rather it must be unpleasant.

Sometimes we unintentionally reward our cats for the bad behavior we are trying to eliminate. A common complaint among cat owners is that their cat pounces on them at five in the morning and meows continuously and wakes them up. What many owners do in these situations, however, is get up and feed them, play with them or let them outside. Your cat has just learned that its behavior results in something rewarding and as a result, it wil repeat the bad behavior.

Many owners become frustrated because they can’t catch the cat in the act of the crime, so instead they show the cat the evidence (usually a wet spot on the carpet or pieces of shredded drapery) and discipline the cat at that time. A common bad practice is taking the cat, pointing out the wet spot on the carpet, then dragging it to the litter box and forcing it to dig in the litter. What the cat is learning here is that being picked up by its owner is a bad experience and that the litter box is a bad place. It is usually difficult if not impossible to catch the cat in the act because most cats have already learned that being caught is not a good thing.

Reprimands simply do not work when training your cat. If you catch your cat in the act, it will only misbehave when you are not around. If you punish the cat later, it will not associate the punishment with the crime as it does not remember what it did. In either case, the bad behavior continues.

How do I help my cat deal with seperation anxiety?

There has been a lot of publicity in recent years about pet separation anxiety. Cats with separation anxiety don’t howl and bay like dogs and they don’t chew on doors and windowsills in frantic attempts to escape. Their misery is far less obvious and it sometimes takes a detective of an owner to appreciate what is going on. Separation anxiety in any species implies a lack of confidence and an over dependence on others. It is likely that genetic factors play a role in increasing susceptibility to separation anxiety though environmental factors are ultimately responsible for its expression. Genetic factors include emotional sensitivity and a predisposition toward anxiety. Certain oriental breeds, such as Siamese and Burmese, may be more prone to develop separation anxiety than cats with more robust temperaments, like Maine coons.

Environmental factors often involve improper bonding experiences when cats are young. Orphaned kittens, early-weaned kittens, and pet store bought kittens are probably at the greatest risk of developing this stressful condition. Combine the sensitive personality with inappropriate early lifetime experiences and you have a recipe for disaster of this kind.

Signs of feline separation anxiety.

  • Over-attachment to the owner, following that person from room to room around the house.
  • Distress as the owner prepares to depart, known as pre-departure anxiety. This can take many forms but some of the more common presentations are meowing, sulking, apparent depression, slinking away, and hiding.
  • Vocalization (crying, moaning, meowing) right after the owner has left. You might need to set a tape recorder to check to see if this is happening with your cat
  • Anorexia as the affected cat is often too anxious to eat when left alone.
  • Inappropriate elimination in the form of urine marking. Deposits of urine or feces are often near to the door from which the owner has departed or are on that person’s clothing, bed sheets, or other personal effects. This is your cats why of communicating to you.
  • Vomiting in the owner’s absence.
  • Excessive self grooming. This starts as a displacement behavior but can progress to compulsive self grooming, if unchecked. In the latter scenario, excessive self grooming no longer occurs only when the owner is away but will also be expressed during the owner’s presence.

What vaccines does my cat need?

If you have a indoor cat it is generally recommend that it receives the 3-way vaccine which includes feline rhinotracheitis-calici-panleukopenia viruses (FRCP). If you have an outdoor cat or one who lives both inside and outside, it is generally recommend that you give it the FRCP, Feline Leukemia & Rabies vaccines. Outdoor cats run the risk of coming in contact with these diseases as they come into contact with other cats and wild animals. Always check with your Veterinarian to find out what they recommend for your specific situation, location, etc.

Should I test my cat for FeLV & FIV viral diseases?

It is a good practice to conduct viral testing for all cats. Viruses in cats can lay dormant, similar to AIDS in humans, and can cause problems in the future as your cat ages. Viruses in cats can be spread during cat to cat contact. This situation can occur both in the household environment and when your cat is exposed to other cats, so it is safest to screen any new cat before exposure to other cats.

When should I sterilize my cat?

Sterilization surgery can be performed anytime over the age of 8 weeks, but it is generally recommend that you wait until your cat is six months of age. Cats usually do not reach puberty before 6 months. It is not better for a cat to go through a heat cycle or have a litter before being spayed. A spay is an ovariohysterectomy – the ovaries and uterus are removed. Male cats generally do not spray before reaching puberty. The smell of their urine and undesirable marking behavior is prevented with neutering. When a male cat is neutered, the testicles are removed.

Why should I keep my cat indoors?

Generally speaking, keeping your cat inside ensures that it will have the best, happiest, and longest life possible. Research shows that outdoor cats average about 8 years and indoor only cats often reach 15 or more years of age. The indoor or outdoor choice is one that is dependent a variety different factors and one which should be made with the best interest of your cat in mind.

How often should I change the litter?

It is best to remove feces and moistened litter daily. Regular scooping will keep the box from becoming an odor source for your home and maintain it as an attractive place for your cat. Depending on the buildup of soiled litter and odors, completely clean out the box and replenish it with fresh litter every so often. When changing the litter, you should wash the box with warm, soapy water, but remember to rinse it thoroughly before refilling it with litter. And never, clean the box with harsh chemicals, as doing so will likely cause your cat to stop using the box.

What is the best way to hold a cat?

It is best to hold a cat or kitten by putting one hand under his chest and supporting the rest of his weight with your other hand. Kittens, in particular, must be handled gently as their bones are fragile. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck as it can be very painful to the cat.

How do I know if may cat needs dentistry?

One way to determine this is to raise the upper lip of the cat’s mouth and look towards the sides of the teeth. If the teeth are not white but are yellowish, brown, or look like they have tartar and plaque, they need cleaning. If a bad odor exists, this is usually due to bacterial overgrowth in the gums and is a sign of gingivitis. A raised red line above the teeth is another sign of gingivitis.

Cats like dogs, need regular dental care to prevent gum, tooth and bone disease and the bad breath that results. Without good dental care, cats will show signs of oral disease and it is a commonly diagnosed health problem is cats. Left untreated, chronic mouth infections are not only painful but also spread bacteria and toxins to the kidneys and other organs.

    To prevent dental disease:

  • Clean your cat’s teeth on a regular basis, once or twice a week.
  • Do NOT use human toothpaste; it is too foamy and will upset your cat’s stomach. A simple salt-water solution works just fine, or you can get enzymatic feline toothpaste from the veterinarian.
  • With a soft children’s toothbrush, scrub the teeth and gums vigorously. Concentrate on the canines and upper back molars and the outer surface of the gums and teeth. The inner surface collects tartar much more slowly, so if your cat resists, remember it’s not a priority.

If your cat simply won’t let you introduce a toothbrush into its mouth, rub a gauze-covered finger across its teeth and gums, scrubbing gently in a circular motion. Work up to this by doing a little bit at first with something your cat likes and gradually increase the amount of rubbing and brushing you do.

While brushing is a very important component of dental care, there are now commercially available products that can be added to your pets drinking water. They effectively prevent microorganisms such as bacteria and yeasts from accumulating and also improve your pets breath. They should be used as part of your pets overall oral care program.

How do I prevent or treat hairballs in my cat?

Cats are very clean animals. So clean that they lick their fur and bodies to rid themselves of dirt and loose hair. When a cat grooms themselves, the hair that they swallow passes through their gastrointestinal tract and exits in the their feces. However, this hair can get lodged at times in the stomach or intestine where larger clumps of hair can build up. Generally this does not cause a problem and the cat will eventually pass the hairball in its stool or vomit. If the hairball is not passed normally the hairball can actually create a blockage and cause a variety of problems including blockage of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine or colon. If not treated these problems can become serious. In severe cases surgery may be necessitated to remove the blockage. If you suspect your cat is having trouble passing a hairball consult your veterinarian.

    Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss or decreased appetite (if the hairball isn’t passed)

Treatment:
Most hairballs pass normally. If your cat is having trouble with a hairball consult your veterinarian. Generally feeding your cat a bit of catnip, a bit of cat grass, fiber or a vet-approved laxative (usually petroleum based) will be enough to help your cat remove a hairball. However, in more extreme cases surgery may be needed to remove the hairball but this is rare. Also be aware that other illnesses which cause vomiting are often mistaken for a hairball problem. When a cat vomits, any hair which is already in the stomach will be expunged. This sometimes leads owners to think the vomiting is simply the result of a hairball and that may not be the case. If your cat has persistent vomiting or vomits often consult your veterinarian as there may be another cause.

Precautionary measures:
Here are some things you can do to prevent or limit hairballs:

  • Brush and groom your cat regularly
  • Feed your cat catnip, cat grass (sold a pet stores), or a high-fiber diet (dry cat foods are usually a good source of fiber as compared to wet foods) on a regular basis to keep your cat’s digestive system in check and healthy.

Always consult your veterinarian before giving your cat any home-based medication or over-the-counter medication. And never give your cat any made-for-human medications without the expressed authorization of your veterinarian.

How do I train my cat to use a litterbox?

One of the first things that you will need to do when you bring a new cat into your home is get them to use a litter box. This is not as important (if at all) if your cat is an outdoor cat, but if your plan to keep your cat indoors, it will be essential. Here’s what you need to know.

How many boxes do I need?
You should plan to have one more litter box than you have cats. That is, one cat gets two litter boxes. Two cats get three. If you have a two-story home keep one litter box on each floor.

How big should the boxes be?
Size is an important factor. The litter box should be roomy enough for your cat to turn around in it. If the box is too small, your cat simply won’t use it and will eliminate elsewhere in your house. But if the litter box is too big, you may also have a problem, especially if you have a very small kitten. Don’t buy a huge box and expect your kitten to scale it every time she has to “go to the bathroom.” You should buy a smaller litter box for your kitten and purchase a larger one as it grows.

Should I cover it or not?
That is a common and good question. There are covered litter boxes as well as open ones. If you use a covered box, make sure your cat can get in and out easily. The best types of covered box also have overlapping seams so that sprayed urine will not leak out. Remember, though, that many cats hate being enclosed when they are at their most vulnerable. They often like to see who’s coming and going, in case they need to beat a hasty retreat. And cats really don’t like surprises so if their boxes are covered they may not use them. It is a safer bet that the uncover box is generally the best way to go.

Where should I place the box?
A general rule of cat ownership is to never put your cat’s litter box next to her food bowl or bed. Cats do not like to eliminate where they eat or where the sleep and rest. If you place a litter box too close to a cat’s bed, it may well pick a more comfortable spot, such as behind the couch, far away from its bed or food bowl.

Put the litter box in a quiet low-traffic area, such as in a spare bathroom. A corner location is better than out in the open because a cat needs to feel secure. If your cat has only two directions to watch instead of four, it will feel more relaxed and subsequently use the box.

What kind of litter should I use?

Cats, by nature, dig and scratch in soft soil out of doors, often burying their waste. The litter you provide substitutes for the dirt outside. The big question is: What is the best material to use? There are a number of litter materials to choose from, including clay-type litters and those made from plant materials. Some cats will refuse to eliminate on certain substrates while others prefer different materials for urination and defecation. It’s all a matter of taste – both yours and your cats. Does your cat prefer fine sand or chunky pellets? Do you prefer clumping or non-clumping litter? Do you prefer a litter that’s ecologically friendly? Is tracking or odor control your most important concern? Either way, there’s probably a litter to suit but you will have to give it some thought and experiment a bit until you find the best solution.

Clay is a good absorbent of moisture and odor and a reasonable substitute for fresh soil from the yard. Large granular clay, though economical and absorbent, is often dusty and tracks about the house. Small granular “clumping” litters (also made of clay) have become popular recently due to their excellent absorbency, clumping properties – which lead to the formation of firm balls when moistened – and their ease of disposal. These litters also make litter boxes easier to keep clean.

Environmentally friendly litters are often made of recycled waste products, such as newspaper. They can also be made of biodegradable material, including wheat, corn and wood chips that break down easily in landfills. Some of these litters have the consistency of fine sand while others come in pelleted form. But how do you choose? You may not like the dust of fine litter and your cat may not like the extra work of covering stool with, what amounts to, small rocks. Some choices can be tough.

Silica gel litters have become increasingly popular. These clear plastic beads are neat to look at and absorb odor well. When your cat urinates in the box adorned with these litters you can actually hear a snap, crackle and pop as the beads soak up the liquid. This litter is good for extended periods, about 3 to 4 weeks in most instances. But remember, the litter can only hold so much moisture and must be changed eventually. Also, the beads have a tendency to bounce around the room once they are knocked out of the box.

Once you find a litter your cat likes, stick with it. Don’t buy whatever is on sale this week.

Why is good nutrition important for my cat?

It’s vital that your cat eats a complete and balanced diet consisting of good quality meat products. Unlike dogs (and people), cats are strict carnivores. They require essential nutrients such as taurine, arginine, vitamin A and essential fatty acids that plant food lack. They also need plenty of fresh water. Your cat should be fed amounts sufficient to meet energy and caloric requirements based upon your cats individual activity levels, etc. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful.

How much should I feed my cat?

The amount your cat needs to eat depends upon many factors including: life stage (kitten, adult, pregnant or lactating), lifestyle (active versus the “coach potato”), size and general health condition. Select a high quality food as they can and do vary greatly, weigh your cat and then read the feeding guidelines provided on the package. Remember though that every cat is unique, so you might have to adjust your feeding accordingly to your particular cat and it unique factors. Many cats like to nibble throughout the day. That’s okay as long as they are simply eating their day’s meal over the course of the day . If you are constantly refilling their bowls, however, your cat may be at risk for obesity and the negative health factors that go along with feline obesity.

When should I change from kitten to adult food?

Growing kittens have different dietary requirements than adult cats and should only be fed a high quality growth-type diet. You can allow your kitten to eat as much as she wants, because overeating is not a significant concern in kittens, like it is in puppies. Supplementation with vitamins and minerals is not usually recommended for kittens as it can cause serious illness.

For most cats, leaving dry food out to nibble on through the day and offering small amounts of canned food twice daily should work. If your kitten does not eat the canned food within 20 minutes, remove it and offer it in the evening as normal. Soon your kitten will catch on and eat when the canned food is offered. Even if your cat does not like canned food, the dry food that is left out is sufficient.

Once you have chosen a good quality kitten food, continue feeding it until your cat reaches 80 to 90 percent of his anticipated adult weight. For most cats, this occurs around 9 months of age.

Once your kitten is ready for his new diet, gradually begin changing by feeding 1/4 adult food and 3/4 kitten food for a few days. Then add 1/2 adult food and 1/2 kitten food. After a few more days, feed 3/4 adult food and 1/4 kitten food. Then, you can feed straight adult food.

Why is my cat a finicky eater?

This is a more common issue than you might think. Cats can become finicky eaters for a variety reasons. If you cats bowl is too small or light, for instance, it may have trouble eating its food. The placement of the bowl may be a factor and also other pets in your household could be intimidating your cat as well. Medical conditions can affect your cats appitie and eating behavior such as teeth and gum related problems.

There are a number of strategies to help overcome a finicky eater but they will require some pattionants on your part and general understand of your cats personallity. Try to determine what it could be that is casing the problem and look to try and test different things until you issolate what the problem is. Refer to your veterinarian for guidance as they usually see this in many of their patients.

Can my cat eat dog food?

The answer is no. Cats and dogs are two very different species of animals, and each has its own nutritional requirements. Cats are true carnivores; they need lots of protein that meat provides. Dogs, on the other hand, get some nutrients from eating plant matter, which cats cannot digest. Dogs also don’t require taurine in their diet, so it is not added. In cats, a lack of taurine can lead to blindness and heart disease. It is best to find a high quality cat food that your cat likes and follow the directions on the label. For help deciding which cat food is the best for your cat, you might want to contact your veterinain for suggestions. Once you find a coulple of good cat foods, shop around for the best prices, etc.

What is in cat food?

Cat food contains a variety of agricultural ingredients, such as meat, poultry and seafood. (Byproducts are parts of an animal or plant not used for human consumption. They still must meet federal standards for safety and nutrition.) Vitamins and minerals are sometimes added to complete nutritional needs. Preservatives are added to keep cat food fresh during shipping and while on the shelf, and color is added to make the food look more attractive (to the cat’s owner that is). The coloring and preservatives are the same used in food for people and have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the Association of American Feed Control Officials publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” pet food. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards and this will be highlight on the label. Read the label.

What to do if your cat is overweight?

  • Regular exercise will help your cat lose weight. Try increasing the amount of time you spend playing with your cat and/or the type of playing you do with your cat. You can also buy some toys for your cat that it will play with by itself and when it is left alone.
  • Make sure that you are following the proper feeding guidelines as stated on your cat food packaging.
  • A cat’s weight at one year of age often reflects the animal’s optimal body weight, although this is not true of cats who are already obese at one year. A veterinarian can provide proper weight guidelines.

Warnings:

  • Visible ribs or excessive thinness could be a sign of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) in cats, especially in those over 12 years of age. Consult a veterinarian if your pet is chronically underweight.
  • It’s crucial not to let your cat become overweight. Obesity can lead to hepatic lipidosis (a fatty liver), diabetes, arthritis and other serious medical problems.

It’s also crucial to work with your veterinarian on a weight-reduction program, because a cat who loses weight too quickly can suffer from life-threatening complications.

Can I feed my cat table scraps?

Table scraps are too fatty for your cat’s digestive system. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea or, over a period of time, obesity and other health conditions. Furthermore, chicken bones, or bones from rabbit or fish can splinter and become lodged in her esophagus or digestive system. It is best to find a high quality cat food that your cat likes and follow the directions on the label. For help deciding which cat food is the best for your cat, you might want to contact your veterinain for suggestions. Once you find a coulple of good cat foods, shop around for the best prices, etc.

How often should I feed my cat?

There is no simple answer to this question. There are many factors and variables involved including your home environment, your cats activity level and the type of food a cat eats. For example, a stay-at-home caregiver will be able to feed canned food to kittens or geriatric cats several times a day. On the other hand, a single, working owner or a two-income family will rely more on dry cat food, with early-morning and late-night supplements of canned food. Below are some general guidelines but should you have specific questions, please refer to your Veterinarian for more specific advice based upon your specific situation.

Feeding Kittens

Kittens need roughly twice the nutrients of adult cats, for both growth and energy. Obviously, their stomachs cannot handle large quantities of food all at once and therefore need frequent feedings at first, tapering off as they grow. It is important during this time to weigh kittens frequently to ensure they are gaining regularly, but not becoming overly fat. Their hunger will usually be a pretty good guideline for determining if they are getting enough nutrition. These general guidelines refer to canned food.

  • 6 Weeks: Four or more small feedings, spaced regularly throughout the day.
  • 12 Weeks: Increase amount of each meal and gradually space them out to three meals a day.
  • 6 Months: You may gradually space out the meals to twice daily.

Feeding Adult Cats

Unless a kitten is showing excessive weight gain, it is considered an “adult” at the age of one year. For the next nine years or so, it can be fed an adult “maintenance” food twice daily. Whether or not you choose dry food or canned food is a personal preference. One can also feed a combination of both types which provides your cat sdome variety as well. Always refer to the feeding guidelines on the food packaging.

Feeding Older and Special Needs Cats

Older cats and cats with conditions requiring specific dietary needs may need to be fed more often. It is best with these cats to follow your veterinarian’s directions for feeding, both to schedule and type of food.

What do cats need to eat?

Good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential elements for good health for all animals. The ideal diet for your cat includes a good quality food and plenty of fresh water. Your cat should be fed amounts sufficient to meet energy and caloric requirements. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful.

Dry cat foods have greater caloric density which means simply, there is less water in a 1/2 cup of dry food as compared to a canned food diet. Overall, the choice of “dry” vs. “canned” vs. “semi-moist” is an individual one, but most cats enjoy eating a combination of a dry food along with supplemental canned food. Variety and moderation are a good thing when it comes to feeding your cat.

Cats in the various life stages, including kitten (“growth”), adult and senior (“geriatric”), require different amounts of nutrients. Special situations such as pregnancy and nursing kittens can dramatically affect nutritional needs. Working cats need more calories, while the “couch potato” needs less (just like us).

Cats as a species, have particularly unusual nutrient needs. Some of these include:

Vitamin A
Your cat doesn’t have the ability to convert the carotene found in plants to vitamin A. His source of vitamin A must come from liver, kidney and other organ meats. If a cat lacks vitamin A in his diet, poor growth, weight loss, damage to cell membranes and decreased resistance to disease are among the possible consequences. More importantly, female cats may fail to cycle, the embryo may fail to implant or the pregnant cat may abort or produce kittens with abnormalities, such as a cleft palate.

Niacin
Your cat is unable to synthesize niacin from the amino acid tryptophan, due to an excess of a certain enzyme. Therefore, unlike other animals, his requirement for niacin must be met entirely from niacin present in animal tissues (plants are low in niacin). Deficiencies include weight loss, loss of appetite, unkempt fur and wounds around the mouth.

Essential Fatty Acids
Your cat requires sufficient arachidonic acid, a fatty acid found only in animal tissue. Therefore, he requires some animal fat in his diet. Dermatitis and poor reproductive performance are among the deficiency symptoms.

Taurine
Your cat’s taurine requirement is quite high. Naturally he’d obtain taurine, an amino acid, from muscle meats. Fish and shellfish are also exceptionally good sources.

What should I feed my cat?

After bringing your cat home, one of the first decisions to make is what to feed, how much to feed and how often. Once you have decided on the best food to feed your cat, deciding between canned food and dry food can be difficult.

Canned or Dry
Dry cat foods have greater “caloric density” which means simply, there is less water in a 1/2 cup of dry food as compared to a canned food diet. Overall, the choice of “dry” vs. “canned” vs. “semi-moist” is an individual one. When dry or canned food is fed in the proper amounts based on age and size of the pet, either should meet the nutritional requirements of your cat. Some medical conditions, such as dental disease, may benefit from dry food. Other medical conditions, such as urinary disorders in which increased water consumption is desirable, encourage the use of canned foods. Discuss these alternatives with your veterinarian. Most cats enjoy eating a combination of a dry food along with supplemental canned food. This allows you to observe your pet’s behavior during the canned mealtime.

How Often
There are various methods of feeding cats. Sometimes, the age and size of the pet plays a role and sometimes the habits of the cat. There are two common methods of feeding; free choice and limited time feeding.

Free Choice
Free choice feeding is recommended for kittens under 6 months of age. At this young age, kittens should be allowed to eat as much as they want and their food bowls should be kept full with dry kibble. Many people continue to keep the food bowl full throughout the cat’s life. For some finicky cats, this method may work.

However, many cats do not fare well on this method. Keeping the food bowl full allows the cat to eat whenever he wants and as much as he wants. By keeping the bowl full, you cannot monitor the amount of food your pet is eating, leading to obesity. Alternatively, if you have multiple cats and one becomes ill, often you cannot tell if he is eating or not. For cats that enjoy nibbling through the day, fill the bowl each morning with the day’s ration. Regardless of when the bowl is emptied, no more food is to be added to the bowl until the following day. This will allow you to monitor your cat’s intake as well as help to prevent growing a chubby kitty.

Limited Timed Feeding
Another method of feeding is to feed small meals, several times through the day. This can be beneficial for regulating the intake of obese pets

How do I know if my cat is overweight?

  • You should be able to easily feel your cat’s ribs, but not see them sticking out. This indicates that your cat is at a desirable weight, not overweight and not under weight.
  • Some indentation between the rib cage and the hips (that classic hourglass figure) indicates that your cat is at a desirable weight.
  • Take a look at your cats stomach. If the belly protrudes, the cat may be overweight. (A protruding belly on a cat is called refered to as an apron.)
  • Feel your cat’s hips. Anything more than light fleshiness indicates that your cat is above normal weight.
  • Always consult a veterinarian before putting a cat on a diet. Your veterinarian can recommend the right diet for your cat, and can examine your pet to rule out the possibility that a serious medical condition is causing the obesity.

Should my cat drink milk?

While it is very common to see cats drinking milk in tv commercials, the fact of the matter is that most cats are lactose intolerant. That means that they can’t digest the sugars naturally found in milk. Milk also has very little to no nutritional value for cats and if your cat were fed only milk, it would die of malnutrition. However most cats LOVE the taste of milk, so what do you do?

As a necessity, cats should always have fresh, cool water available to them. As long as your cat isn’t lactose intolerant, milk is not bad for cats if it is given as an infrequent treat. The first step is to determine if your cat likes milk and then if your cat is lactose intolerant. If your cat is lactose intolerant, it willl have a little diarrhea and a little stomach problems for a few days after drinking milk. In this case you will definitely want to give your cat a milk substitute created for cats or avoid milk altogether. Such a substitute is created to have some nutritional value for cats while not upsetting their stomachs. Milk substitutes can be found in your local pet store or grocery store. Many veterinarians suggest that if your cat does like milk and even if it isn’t lactose intolerant that you should get a milk substitute anyhow as it is better for the cat.

What kind of treats can I give to my cat?

Cats enjoy a good treat every once in a while. Many cat owners give treats after some sort of good behavior (treats and food in general can be a very large motivational factor when training any animal) like going to the veterinarian, scratching in the right place, using the litterbox, etc. Treats are also given at random times to surprise and please the cat.

There are dozens of different treats on the market to choose from. Some are hard, some are soft, some are purely for taste, while others promote good dental hygiene and other benefits. Try to give your cat different types and brands of treats till you find the ones that your cats love. Variety is always good if your cat will tolerate a variety of different kinds of treats.

Remember that cat treats are generally junk food and should not be given as a staple or as a substitute for a meal. Although some will help reduce tartar or bad-breath they still do not have the nutritional capabilities to be a meal. Also giving too many treats can cause your cat to become overweight. A good rule of thumb is to only give your cat a few treats once or twice a week. You should also try to not reward your cat for begging. So don’t give your cat a treat every time it crys or wants to play. If your cat has become a ‘beggar’ try to not reward that behavior but redirect that energy into some playtime or petting time.

Examples of cat treats include:

  • Commercially available treats
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp (only give your cat cooked seafood)
  • Moist food
  • Heavy whipping cream or half-n-half
  • A bit of chicken, meat, or fish (always cooked)