We all want the very best for our cats but sometimes it is easy to make common mistakes which can be detrimental to your cat’s well-being. This article looks at some of the most common mistakes made by cat owners as well as looking at their basic needs.
Getting a cat without thoroughly checking out its health and personality:
When a household decides to adopt a cat, a great deal of time should go into selecting the right animal. Do you want a purebred or a mixed breed cat? What kind of personality are you looking for? Is the animal in question in good health, appears friendly and sociable. Only buy purebred cats from registered breeders. Ask if the cat comes with a health guarantee. When visiting the cattery check out the overall health of the animals. Have everything put in writing, including the final cost of the cat, health guarantees etc. If you have put down a deposit, make sure you obtain a receipt. For further information on buying a purebred cat.
Buying purebreds from pet shops or backyard breeders:
This is an expensive exercise. Pet shops charge more for purebred kittens than a registered breeder and there will be no history of the cat’s parentage or registration papers. Some breeds of cat have genetic problems which breeders can screen for. If you buy from a pet shop or a backyard breeder there is no chance that this screening has taken place. As You may end up with substantial medical bills in the future.
Not seeking veterinary help:
Sometimes people don’t realise the seriousness of a medical condition and fail to take appropriate action and get the cat to a vet. This may be because the owner doesn’t have sufficient funds at the time, they don’t have the time, or they don’t believe the condition to be serious. It is advised that cat owners either set up a special cat fund where they can deposit $5 or $10 per week, only to be used in the case of an emergency or have pet health insurance. Cat owners should be aware of their cat’s physical and emotional state of being at all times. Look out for signs of illness such as loss of appetite, increase in appetite, coat condition, general appearance, changes to toileting habits, the presence of wounds or injuries and seek appropriate veterinary help. It is better to be safe than sorry and delaying veterinary care may result in prolonged suffering for your cat, greater expense as untreated medical conditions may be more complex to treat or even death.
Not looking after your cat’s teeth:
Periodontal disease is the number one disease in cats under ten and it can be easily prevented with regular dental care. This may come in the form of regularly brushing your cat’s teeth with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste (never use human toothpaste on your cat), or feeding him raw chicken necks/wings several times a week.
Not meeting their fluid requirements:
Cats are not big drinkers, in the wild, they get most of their fluid needs via their food. The popularity of dry food (kibble) has soared over the past decade or so, and many cats don’t make up for this shortfall by drinking more water, making them chronically dehydrated. To make up for this, feed more wet type food and/or encourage water consumption by increasing the number of water bowls in the house or investing in a water fountain.
All cats should receive at a minimum the F3 vaccine as per your veterinarian’s guidelines. This vaccine protects against a number of potentially life-threatening diseases.
Not meeting their instinctive needs:
Cats are not furry children, they have their own individual needs such as playing (which may include hunting a wand type toy), scratching, climbing and stropping their claws. Pet guardians should provide an enriching environment for their cat by offering a range of interactive cat toys, places to climb (a tall cat tree is perfect for this), and somewhere to strop/scratch their claws.
Physically punishing a cat:
A cat should never be physically punished. Cats don’t understand this type of punishment and it induces stress and fear in your cat and doesn’t teach your cat anything. If you have a specific behavioural problem which needs to be addressed, behaviour modification done with kindness and respect will have a far greater success rate than smacking or hitting your cat.
Not having enough litter trays:
Cats are fastidiously clean, and this is especially true when it comes to their litter tray. A rule of thumb is you should have one litter tray per cat, plus one spare. So if you have two cats, there should be three litter trays. Solids should be removed twice a day and the entire contents should be removed at least once a week.
Using the wrong flea product:
Unless stated by your veterinarian, cats should be treated with a cat flea treatment only. Some pet owners think they will save money by using a dog product on their cats. This can prove fatal. Cats are extremely sensitive to pyrethrins and pyrethroids which are often in dog flea products. The use of these on cats can result in death.
Not feeding an appropriate diet:
Cats have very specific dietary needs and as such need a balanced diet. There are many commercially available brands of cat food available which will fulfil your cat’s dietary requirements. Don’t attempt to feed your cat a homemade diet unless you have spent a great deal of time researching.
Letting your cat roam:
There are so many risks to free-roaming cats and their lifespan is considerably shorter than that of indoor-only cats, or cats with limited/supervised access outside. Risks include being hit by a car, attacked by another cat or dog and infection. The best solution is to either keep your cat indoors or provide it with a cat enclosure or cat proof your yard. That way, your cat can enjoy the outdoors without the dangers.
Giving your cat non-prescribed medication:
One of the most common causes of poisoning in cats is from the administration of human medications such as painkillers. Cats are unable to synthesise many drugs which humans can safely take. Do not medicate a cat unless your veterinarian has told you to do so.
Letting your cat get fat:
Obesity is one of the most common causes of premature death in cats. It causes a range of diseases such as diabetes.
Failing to desex (spay/neuter) a cat:
Every year millions of cats are euthanised in shelters due to a chronic shortage of homes. Every cat owner to do his/her part and have their cat desexed to prevent the creation of more unwanted kittens. Entire female are at risk of developing the following conditions: breast cancer, pyometra, tumours of the uterus and ovaries. Male cats have a risk of developing testicular cancer
Obtaining a cat without considerable thought:
This is another common problem. People see a cute kitten and immediately decide to adopt it. Once home they realise they have made a mistake. They are not prepared for the responsibility of a cat, not all members of the family are happy to have a cat, resident pets don’t adapt well to the new addition or it just doesn’t fit into your lifestyle.