Bringing Up Fluffy

March 2, 2015

When you get your new kitty – be she a kitten or an adult cat – have her examined by a licensed veterinarian.  He or she will advise you about necessary vaccinations.  Ask your vet for recommendations for heartworm or flea and tick preventatives.  Some medical professionals don’t believe that heartworm preventatives are necessary for totally indoor felines, but others disagree.  Weigh both sides and decide for yourself.  The same goes for flea and tick preventatives.  If you live in a colder climate and your cat never leaves the house and you don’t have dogs that could bring fleas or ticks inside with them, you may be able to skip those medications.  But if you live in a tropical climate, as I do, they are a necessary fact of life.

Because we have dogs and our cats have access to the screened lanai, we feel they should be kept on Revolution year around.  But you may take a more organic approach to preventing parasites, and there are plenty of options available.

Choose a healthy cat food for Fluffy!  Cats are true carnivores and need a diet based on real meat.  Avoid food with corn in any form, because many cats are allergic to it.  For a quick primer on what to look for in Fluffy’s food, click here.

When deciding on your cat’s diet, be sure to include some wet – or canned – food in her meals.  Cats don’t always drink enough water, so the canned food is necessary to provide that extra liquid.  We feed our cats both wet and dry.  We no longer leave a large bowl of dry food out for Chico and Lucy because Chico was beginning to gain extra weight.  Instead, they each receive ¼ can of wet food at each meal and once they eat that, we put out a serving of dry food as a “chaser.”  Jim always gives them a small bowl of dry food at bedtime.  This seems to work better than allowing them to graze all day as they please, and it ensures that they eat the canned food.

Another important part of raising any pet is training and discipline.  Both are necessary if you want your kitty to behave.  There are those who believe that cats can be trained like dogs, and I’m sure there are some felines that might actually cooperate.  But in general, when no one is around, Fluffy will do as Fluffy pleases.

Kittens must be trained not to bite.  A firm “NO” and a tap on the nose was all it took for mine to learn that I didn’t appreciate their nips.  Whatever method of training or discipline you use, NEVER hit, spank, kick or in any way try to inflict pain on a cat.

Kitty-proof your home!  Create a safe environment for your cat or kitten by using only natural cleaning products, removing live plants that could pose a hazard, hiding electrical cords and window blind cords and make sure that all potential dangers are out of Fluffy’s reach.  Remove your precious breakables.  Cats don’t know the difference between a valuable antique vase and a $2.00 bowl from a discount store.   For more information on providing a safe environment for your pet, read this.

If your new pet is to become an active family member, you will need to spend time playing with her every day.  Interactive play between a cat and her owner is crucial to creating a well-adjusted kitty.

Groom your cat daily!  While daily brushing is necessary for medium to long-haired felines, even short-haired kitties enjoy the soothing ritual of a soft brush.  If your new friend is a kitten, get her used to having her nails trimmed and being bathed while she is small.  While cats don’t require frequent baths, occasionally, it might be necessary.  Be sure your pet will tolerate it.

Cats are easy to raise and so much fun to own.  They develop their own personalities and attitudes.  As long as you take the time to get Fluffy off to the right start, she will quickly gain a place in your family and in your heart.

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