Fatema  Siamwala

This is first of the two part series on cat keeping. 

Every cat parent wants to be the BEST cat parent but do you know what it takes to be the best? Here are the top 8 things every cat parent must be aware of:

1. FOOD & WATER

We all want our cats to be fit and healthy. One of the most important ways is to ensure you’re feeding your cat with the right balance of nutrition such as proteins, fats, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. Remember a growing kitten and an adult cat requires different proportion of these nutrients. It is essential that your cat is fed a well balanced diet.

 It is important that you know the ingredient in your cat’s food, so while buying any packed food (dry & wet), check if the content includes the nutrition listed as it differs from brand to brand. Some cats remain faithful to a particular flavour all their lives while some cats are fickle and will refuse to eat the same flavour after sometime. Fortunately, you’ll find various flavours offered by top cat food brands. If your cat is a fussy eater then do not buy food in advance. Also, it is a myth that a cat should be fed the same food at all times. Try providing more than one or two flavour food. This will ensure a balance nutrition requirement is met.  When you change the brand or flavour of the food ensure it is done gradually so it does not affect your cat’s digestion.

Cats are natural carnivores their diet should consist of protein. They need a high proportion of protein (about twice as much as dogs). Your cat’s diet should also be rich in fat, as their digestive system is equipped to cope with easily. Some cat parents want to feed home-made food instead of brands. Making home-made food requires a good deal of time and effort and may not be as cheap as packed food. Ensure that the home-made food is prepared keeping in mind nutrition required for your cat. Additionally you will have to provide supplements for vitamins and minerals. If you are feeding fish or meat prepared meal then you need to give calcium & vitamin A & D supplements.

 Apart from knowing the nutritional factor in your cat’s food, you need to also look into the amount of food intake by your cat. You need to follow regular mealtime as cats prefer it. Feeding instruction should be as per the age and weight of your cat. Do take advice from vet if necessary. 

The next most important thing to look out for is “WATER” intake by your cat. In the wild, 70% of water comes from freshly killed prey and domesticated cat water intake comes from canned food. However you still need to provide fresh water to your cat at all times. A little water intake can lead to urinary disorder so water intake should also be closely monitored.

2. GROOMING

As the saying goes – “a clean cat is a happy cat”   

Grooming is a good opportunity to bond with your cat as it helps form a happy & trusting relationship. Grooming in cats depict caring attention that they experience from its mother while they were a kitten. 

All cat breeds require regular grooming. Shorthair breed require lesser time (once a week) compared to longhair breed (thrice a week). Even though cats are known to groom themselves you still need to devote some time every week to groom them. Practice grooming routine while they are kitten so that they get accustomed to it 

While grooming you can carry out a general check on the condition of your cat’s coat, skin, ears, eyes, nails and so on. Do invest in reliable grooming tools because you’ll be using it on them often. 

It is recommended you gently brush your cat regularly especially if they are long or medium hair breed. This helps remove dead hair from the coat which might otherwise end up as a hairball in your cat’s intestine or stomach. Using the right technique is the key; first the coat should be lightly combed then brushed gently with a soft brush – working down the body from head towards the tail. Mats are common problem in cats, usually found under the chin and between their front legs. To remove mats you need to slightly dampen and then gently comb it making sure not to pull.  Stubborn mats can be cut by carefully using the scissors. 

You need to keep in mind the season of the year while grooming your cat. Summer and Spring are two seasons when you’ll notice that your cat is shedding a lot compared to other seasons. This is due to change in temperature. 

A routine eye and ear check is required too. Eyes should not have any discharge and ears should be clean. Dirt from the ear can be removed using cotton swab by flapping their ear. 

It is best to choose a time to groom your cat, preferably when they are relaxed or comfortable – making it an enjoyable session for both you and your cat.

3. ACCESSORIES

Accessories required for cats are fairly minimal and need not be expensive. 

  1. Bedding: Most often your cat will love to sleep in a cardboard box than a fancy bed but still make sure that you’re providing a good bedding for your kitty which is comfortable and safe. Cats consider their bed as a place of safety and hence the placement of bedding should be in a quiet warm corner of the house yet within sight.
  2. Dishes: Choose a wide, fairly shallow-sided dishes as cat’s dislike poking their muzzle into deep, bowl shaped containers. Water should always be available and changed at regular intervals. Keep their dishes clean at all time and avoid plastic based containers.
  3. Litter Tray:Litter box is a must for every cat. It is advised to use one litter tray per cat in a multi cat household. As a cat parent, you need to ensure the litter tray is kept cleaned at all times. Soiled litter should be removed after use; there are few litter-sand that make it easy to scoop from the tray. The tray itself needs to be cleaned thoroughly once a week by emptying the sand and disinfecting it.

4. TOYS

Cats love some playtime, so take out some time everyday to play with your cats. This activity acts as a good form of exercise and helps in bonding with your cat. You can buy from store as they have a variety of clever and relative toys specially designed for cats or make use of some objects that you may find at home such as rolled-up sheets of paper, tissue rolls, table-tennis balls, bottle caps. Check the toy, it shouldn’t be easily torn apart & swallowed. 

Scratching pad / post is a must buy for every cat parent which should be strategically placed around the house. The scratching post helps cats to sharpen their claws and mark their territory too. Having multiple of these is always a good idea. If you train your cat to use the scratching post then it will help avoid any damages to your upholstery and curtain.

 

*Author is Cat Enthusiast.

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