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Cat Tips

To avoid unwanted disasters such as meaty bones causing splintering and bleeding, never feed your cat table scraps. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, chocolate, grapes, raisins and other foods are also poisonous for kitties.

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The Daily Cat Tip Archive

Shelter Follow-up

Many animal shelters provide follow-up assistance after you adopt your cat. Check with your local shelter to see if pet parenting, behavioral training or other classes are offered.

Cat Travel in the U.S.

With proper documentation, cats can travel freely throughout the United States. Hawaii is the only exception, requiring all entering cats to be quarantined for 30 to 120 days. Check with officials prior to your trip or move.

Birdfeeder

To make your cat's day, set up a birdfeeder outdoors and then provide your feline with a comfortable, sunny window seat to watch the avian action.

Vitamins Aren't Always Good

Vitamins can often do more harm than good, especially as quality commercial cat foods provide the correct balance of vitamins, nutrients and calories. Check with your veterinarian before considering supplements.

Litter Preference

Don't overfill your cat's litter box, as most cats prefer to dig through approximately two inches of material. Fine-grained litters, such as scoopable and clay varieties, also appear to hold kitty appeal.

Nose to Tail Exam

Give your cat a nose-to-tail exam, making sure that its ears and teeth are clean and odorless, fur is free of parasites, skin is lump- and bump-free, and weight has remained stable.

Illness Symptoms

Common symptoms of kitty illness include hiding for more than a day, loss of appetite, change in litter box routine and lack of grooming. If you detect any of these behavioral changes, meet with your veterinarian.

Fun Toys

Many cats enjoy playing with light, bouncy ping-pong balls or plastic practice golf balls. Keep a few on hand for your cat.

Warm Food

Entice your feline to eat soft food by placing it in a microwave-safe dish and heating it until warm to the touch. The produced aromas and added warmth often appeal to kitties.

Hairless Cat Maintenance

Hairless cat breeds, such as a Sphinx or a Peterbald, don't necessarily mean less maintenance. Although these cats are beautiful, unusual and affectionate, their exposed skin often requires more care than that of a typical furry feline.

Helping a Stray

If you find a stray but cannot keep it, try socializing it before finding it another home. Train it to use a litter box and to be petted and held, since socialized kitties stand a better chance of being adopted.

Toxic Milk

Although milk is not toxic to cats, it can cause digestive upset in many felines. Look instead for special cat milk, which has been treated with an enzyme that prevents stomach problems.

Kitty Obesity

Obesity can lead to many feline health problems. If your cat no longer has a proportional figure (it loses its "waist"), check with your veterinarian whether your tabby is too tubby.

Scratch Acceptable Objects

To train your cat to scratch acceptable objects, sprinkle catnip and a few food treats on a sisal-wrapped scratching post, a corrugated cardboard scratcher or even a non-treated fireplace log. Place it next to the object you wish to protect.

Mediating Kitty Fights

Cats can't "work out" problems, because they're territorial animals. Stop fights between house cats by blowing a whistle, squirting a bit of water or by tossing a soft object, like a pillow, near them.

Dangerous Toys

Cats love to play with rubber bands, milk rings, string, pins, needles and even dental floss, but these tiny “toys” can be dangerous for your pet. Be sure to keep them out of paw's reach.

Breed Doesn't Determine Behavior

A cat's gender and breed do not always predict the individual's temperament. Keep your options open when deciding upon whether or not to adopt a particular breed or gender.

Can't have a Cat? Volunteer!

If you cannot own a cat due to household restrictions, consider volunteering for a local shelter or animal rescue group. You'll meet new friends who share your fondness for felines, and you'll spend quality time with kitties.

Widen Your Search

Local animal shelters often work together within a community, so don't restrict your pet search to just one type, such as a "no-kill shelter."

Adult Cat Adoption

Consider adopting an adult cat. They require less “startup” time than kittens, are usually spayed or neutered and are most often up-to-date with vaccinations.

Feline First Aid Kit

Assemble a feline first-aid kit. Be sure to include hydrogen peroxide, hydrocortisone ointment, absorbent cotton, a pair of tweezers, sterile eyewash solution, and a syringe for giving oral medications.

Creating a Lap Kitty

Cats that don't like being held can become lap kitties. Hold and pet your cat while offering treats, which will teach your feline to associate holding with pleasant things: you, attention and food.

Breed Determines Health Issues

Try to determine your cat's breed (or breeds), as certain health conditions have genetic links. For example, Persians and Abyssinians tend to be at risk for kidney problems, which are manageable if diagnosed early.

Specific Breed Rescue Groups

Animal rescue groups that focus on particular cat breeds are a great adoption resource. Follow-up counseling is often thorough, and fees are usually minimal.

Bored With Food

If your cat seems bored with its food, offer a wet food with a different texture and flavor. Experiment by placing a few different types side by side to see which one your cat likes best.

Meowing Checkup

Increased meowing may mean that your cat is suffering from hyperthyroidism, a common condition among older felines. Schedule a checkup with your veterinarian to have this checked out.

Two Instead of One

What's better than adopting one cat? Adopting two! They will keep each other company, and two felines means double the love and affection for you.

Too Young for Catnip

Kittens are usually immune to catnip, so if you have a kitten, refrain from purchasing catnip until your pet is at least 6 months of age or older.

Shelter Disappointments

Most shelters take in new animals on a daily basis, so if you don't find a feline that fits your household on your first try, don't get discouraged.

Adoption Homework

Many cats wind up in shelters because the prior owners had unrealistic expectations about the time, effort and money involved in caring for pets. Do your homework before taking the cat adoption plunge.

Avoiding Feeding Disasters

To avoid unwanted disasters such as meaty bones causing splintering and bleeding, never feed your cat table scraps. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, chocolate, grapes, raisins and other foods are also poisonous for kitties.

Brushing Teeth

With a child's toothbrush, a finger brush or a special cat toothbrush, brush your feline's teeth with cat toothpaste on a regular basis. Start slowly and very gently, offering tasty treats to discourage squirming, before attempting to increase brushing times.

Washing the Cat Box

When washing your cat's litter box, use mild soap and water. Harsh chemicals can be harmful for your cat, and their odors could discourage future litter box visits.

Adopt From a Shelter

Animal shelters must screen their cats for health and temperament, whereas pet adoption ads posted on the Web or in newspapers by individuals are usually unregulated. Adopting a new cat from a shelter is therefore often the best, safest option.

Different Toy Stimulation

Cat toys stimulate different types of behavior in felines. Choose at least one toy to fulfill each of these desired, feline-inclined activities: carrying, wrestling, rolling and cuddling.

Too Many Minerals

While spring and purified water are OK, do not quench your feline's thirst with mineral water. Excess minerals can, over time, promote health problems, such as feline urinary tract disease.

Toxic Medication

Never give human medications to your cat unless you have been told to do so by your veterinarian. Most people pills, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), are toxic to felines.

Indoor Cats Live Longer

Cats live healthier, safer and longer lives indoors. Keep your cat inside at all times, making sure to offer plenty of opportunities for exercise, play and mental stimulation.

Human Medications are Toxic to Cats

Never give human medications to your cat unless you have been told to do so by your veterinarian. Most people pills, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), are toxic to felines.

Purchase the Freshest Catnip

Try to purchase the freshest possible catnip for your cat and rub it between your fingers to release warmth, aroma and the essential oils that catnip-sensitive felines love.

Calicos Mostly Female

If you're looking for a calico cat, be aware that these multicolored felines are almost always females. If you're looking for a male cat, consider an orange-and-white tabby.

Vet-Approved Book

Keep at least one veterinarian-approved book on cat care in your home at all times. Make sure it contains a section on emergency first-aid procedures.

Health Records

When you adopt a new cat, be sure to ask for its health records. Then schedule a general checkup with a veterinarian to ensure your kitty has a clean bill of health.

To Each His Own

Each cat in your household should have his or her own food and water dishes. The dishes should be shallow and heavy enough to avoid floor movement as your feline eats.

Kitty Household Hazards

Survey your home for common kitty household hazards, including dangling electrical cords, poisonous plants, garbage disposal switches, drapery cords, open clothes dryers, ripped screen doors and breakables to ensure that your cat is truly safe.

Positive Reinforcement

"Punishment" is not in your cat's vocabulary. Positive reinforcement of good behavior -- with treats, attention and verbal praise -- solves most kitty behavioral problems.

Donate Unwanted Toys

If your cat snubs a new food or toy, consider donating the unwanted items to a local shelter or animal rescue group. Call in advance to confirm that such donations are accepted.

Limit Treats

Limit treat intake for your cat. Treats should never exceed more than 10 percent of your pet's daily diet.

Help Prevent Hairballs

Fur balls occur when cats clean themselves, ingesting their own fur. While these are common, be sure to brush your cat's coat on a regular basis so that this doesn't lead to serious, and even fatal, problems.

No Nipping

Mother cats teach their kittens to inhibit biting, so kittens removed from mom at a young age may nip more. Encourage acceptable behavior by offering toys to pounce on instead.

No Bus or Train

Neither Amtrak nor Greyhound allows pets, so consider flying or driving to your destination. Check with your carrier before the trip, as each airline has its own policies regarding pets.

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