Category Archives: Raising a Healthy Cat

How Scratching Posts Keep Fluffy from Ruining Your Sofa

If there is one habit that annoys cat owners about their  furry felines, it must be their busy claws. Cats scratch.  It’s what they do.  It’s more than just exercising their claws. Scratching helps remove the dead outer layer of their claws and also allows them to mark their territory and stretch out their legs. Scratching is also a stress-reliever for cats. Cats do NOT scratch your belongings to get back at you or to willingly be destructive. However, their scratching can wreak havoc on your home. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the damage and redirect your pet’s need to scratch that will save your sofa and still allow Fluffy to exercise her claws.  The alternative would be declawing, which is a major surgery for your cat and cruel. Declawing essentially removes part of the toe and maims the animal for life.

Chico loves his scratching post.

Chico Loves His Scratching Post

Scratching posts are best for Fluffy only if they are tall enough. They allow the cat to stretch its entire body as it reaches for the top. The post below originally came wrapped in some kind of rope, which didn’t last. Cats can get their claws stuck in rope as it begins to fall apart.  Eventually, we removed the rope and replaced it with a piece of short-napped carpet and Chico loves it!  He can stretch out his entire body as he works his claws on it, and it is strong enough to remain upright when the big cat attacks it.

Scratching post

We also keep several scratching boxes around the house. These boxes are very inexpensive (under $5 at Big Lots and other discount stores) and a good alternative to a vertical post.  Our smaller kitty, Lucy, prefers the boxes.  Yes, they are messy but the cardboard that is scratched off easily vacuums up. I place boxes beside an upholstered chair and by each end of the new sofa. Neither cat has ever tried to scratch the furniture, and they did so on a regular basis with the old pieces.

With both the posts and the boxes, it helps to add catnip. We use the spray version on the vertical post covered in carpet and sprinkle a bit of catnip around the base to attract the kitties. Regular catnip is very appealing when sprinkled on the cardboard boxes and both of our cats will roll around on them.

We tried cat deterrent sprays but for various reasons, they didn’t help. Our new furniture has a stain repellent on both pieces, and I found that the cat deterrent would not adhere to it.  Nor would double-sided carpet tape. Many people use the tape, because most felines detest having their claws touch the sticky tape. It works as a good trainer, if it will stay on your upholstered furniture.  Some cat owners prefer to apply the artificial nails, or nail caps, that glue onto the animal’s own claws but don’t have sharp ends like a real nail. You can purchase those at most pet supply retailers.

Finally, offer a treat to your cat when he or she uses the scratching box or post. She will learn to associate that activity with something good to follow.



5 Symptoms that Indicate Your Cat May be Sick

Beautiful Ragdoll Cat

In memory of Bella

If you are owned by a cat, you may have experienced health issues with your feline friend. If so, you most likely realized that your kitty does not advertise her ill health.  An illness or injury will most likely reach serious before you become aware that she needs help.  We experienced this several times with various cats.  The most difficult and painful for me was Jake. Jake was my baby, an 18-month-old rescue that Jim brought home at age 3 months to heal from being run over by a golf cart. At that time, he suffered a broken jaw and an upper respiratory infection.  He stayed in our guest room while he recuperated, separated from our other two cats.  One of those was Chico, also 3 months old. They become acquainted by touching paws beneath the closed door and once Jake was released from quarantine, he and Chico became best buddies.  They played from dawn to bedtime and at night, Jake slept curled up beside me.


Jake at 1 Year

When he was 18 months old, Jake didn’t come to bed with me for the first time ever!  Next morning, Halloween Day, we found him hiding in a corner of the breakfast room.  I headed to work and Jim took Jake straight to the vet’s office.  A few hours later, Dr. Carlos called to tell me that Jake was really struggling to breathe, that he was working with him but wasn’t sure he would make it.  Said he would keep me posted.  Later in the afternoon, I received the dreaded call that I needed to allow him to euthanize my boy. I was locked in to work.  The street was closed off for a children’s Halloween celebration and I could not get my car out to drive to Jake.  Heartbroken, I agreed to let Jake go and learned later that he had a congenital heart condition and it was surprising he had lived as long as he did.  We never had a clue that anything was wrong with him.

When our son’s Ragdoll, Bella, reached the end of her life she, too, found a corner to hide in and refused to come out to eat.  Michael knew when he took her to the vet the next morning that the end had arrived because of Bella’s advanced age.  Our permanent foster, Abby, behaved the same way. She hid under my desk until we dragged her out to visit the vet.

Cats in the wild know not to call attention to any infirmities to protect them from enemies. Apparently, that instinct transfers to domestic animals, as well.  However, there a few warning signs to watch for to alert you when problems arise.

Diarrhea.  By itself, diarrhea would be something to watch, not worth a trip to the vet.  However, if it continues and you cannot find a cause such as change in food, talk to your veterinary professional.

Listlessness.  If your pet is normally active and engages in regular activities, you should be concerned if she shows signs of lethargy or hides from everyone.

Stops eating.  You know your kitty’s eating habits. If they change, or she stops eating altogether, it’s time for another opinion.

Vomiting.  It goes without saying that if your cat vomits frequently or you see projectile vomiting, take her to the veterinarian pronto!  Occasional vomiting isn’t usually a concern and often involves trying to hack up a hairball.

Coughing and sneezing.  Together, these two could signify an upper respiratory infection. Because we had seen it before, when our Chico began sneezing recently and it went on for 2 days, we called vet.  We were told that as along as it wasn’t accompanied by fever or other symptoms, we should buy some Lysine.  We found some chicken-flavored chewable Lysine tablets and crumbled them over Chico’s food.  He gobbled them up and within 2 days, he stopped sneezing and wheezing.

These are 5 simple ways to determine if your cat is sick.  You may run into others.  Just remember that it’s always better to call your veterinary professional if you are in doubt.

Keeping Fluffy’s Ears Healthy

When your cat constantly scratches her head and/or ears, you may have a problem.  Cats don’t seem to get ear infections as often as dogs, probably because many dogs have those loppy ears that easily harbor bacteria in those ear canals. But the itching and irritation cause just as much trouble in kitties.

Cats are also prone to ear mites.  Mites are tiny parasites that attach themselves inside the ear and leave brown or blackish, coffee-ground-like debris behind.  Watch for excessive scratching of the ears and neck that usually signal that something is wrong.

One hint:  If you dog is treated for ear mites or ear infections, treat your cat as well.  Just assume that if one is affected, all are affected.

Feline ear infections are likely caused by one of three things:  Bacteria, yeast or foreign debris caught in the ear canal. (

The first time you experience such ear problems with your cat, I suggest having your veterinarian diagnose the problem and teach you how to care for your kitty’s ears.  Once you know what to look for and feel comfortable making the diagnosis yourself, check out the aspca link above for instructions on proper feline ear care.

If your cat suffers from repeated ear problems due to years infections, think about her diet.  Feline food allergies or sensitivities often display with ear infections.  Grains may be the culprit, especially corn or wheat.  Switch Fluffy to a grain-free cat food, preferably canned, and you may see a world of improvement.

Why Declawing Your Cat Is a Bad Idea

This cat is not declawed


One of the most important decisions you have to make as a cat owner is whether or not to declaw your pet.  Most people do so to protect their furniture, but cats can be trained not to scratch your belongings. Others declaw their cats because they live in apartments and don’t want to risk Fluffy damaging carpeting or doors with her claws. Whatever the reason, I’m not going to tell you not to do it, but I am going to explain the process and alternatives to you.

The usual process of declawing a cat is inhumane at best.  It is outlawed in many European countries but is legal in the U.S. Many veterinarians refuse to do the surgery. The cat claw is not really like a human toenail.  It is so close to the bone that the last bone of the toe has to be removed along with the nail. This is not a surgery to be taken lightly. Some cats suffer lifelong problems and pain from declawing. The older the cat, the bigger the problems, as a rule.

Should your cat spend any time outdoors, it needs those claws to defend itself in the event of an attack by dogs or even other cats. Without claws, it cannot scratch and may not be able to climb trees.

Before you make the decision to declaw Fluffy, try training your cat. Buy a deterrent product that you can spray on furniture and any place the cat is likely to scratch. Cats generally avoid citrus odors, like lemon or orange. Buy Fluffy a sturdy scratching post to use.  If she heads toward a place you don’t want her to scratch, immediately pick her up and place her in front of the scratching post and holding her front legs, making a scratching motion against the post.  A few times of this, coupled with the spray to deter her, may be all you need to convince your kitty where to sharpen her claws.  If a good scratching post is not in your budget, you can buy cardboard scratching boxes that work quite well.  Sprinkle some catnip on the boxes to encourage Fluffy to use it.  You can spray the posts with a liquid catnip to accomplish the same purpose.

Clip your cat’s toenails every week.  You’ll only need to clip the tips off to keep her comfortable. Cats scratch in order to smooth their sharp nails. I use small human toenail clippers and they work just fine.

A product called Soft Paws is available to glue onto the cat’s nails.  I’ve never used this one but I’m told they work quite well. The problem with these nails is that they have to be replaced when they fall off.

Declawing a cat is a serious solution to a problem that can most likely be handled in other ways. Research this surgery before committing to it. Fluffy will thank you.


Tips for Bringing Home a New Kitty

So you’ve decided to bring home a new feline friend for Christmas.  This is not the best time to add pets to your household.  With all the hoopla surrounding the holidays, a newbie to the home could undergo significant stress.  It’s much better to wait until after the holidays when the guests are gone and the decorations are put away to bring home a new pet.  That said, here are some suggestions to make the early days easier for you and your new cat.

Will it be an adult cat or a kitten? If an adult feline is in your future, consider any other pets in your home.  Are they likely to accept an older cat? Will your other pets eventually accept a new addition? For example our Lucy, a rather small tabby, will not accept another cat in our home. She is ok with Chico who arrived when she was a year old, but she has no use for other felines. Our son’s cat, Bella, came to live with us for awhile and Lucy never did play nice.  Bella was larger but she was front-declawed and we worried about her safety.  Fortunately, Bella was smarter and always got the best of Lucy but it did get ugly at times.  Three years later, Lucy’s attitude had not improved.  Don’t set your family up for this kind of stress.  Know your pets and how they might react.

Older cats make great pets.

              Older Cats Make Wonderful Pets

Expect that an adult cat will need time to adjust to your home, your family and your existing pets. Be patient with any mistakes she might make.

The advantages of choosing an older cat versus a kitten are many. A mature feline will be fine if left alone for a few hours, whereas a kitten will find all manner of trouble to get into. Kittens need more attention and it isn’t wise to leave them alone for long. Kittens needs socialization and plenty of it! An older cat doesn’t require the supervision that is necessary for a baby. If a calm, quiet pet is important to you, choose an adult cat. Kittens tend to be rambunctious and busy.

If you are adopting (or purchasing) an adult cat, very little preparation is required before you bring her home. Buy a litterbox and quality litter, food and water bowls, a few toys and a bed and she’ll be fine, as long as you include a lot of love as your gift to your new arrival.

Avoid poisonous plants with kittens.

              Kittens Destroy Plants


Kittens, on the other hand, require a great deal of planning before you bring one home. Go through your home and try to think like a curious kitten would. Hide all those electrical wires throughout your home. Sharp kitten teeth could chew through those cords and burn or even kill a nosy kitten. Check your house plants and any located in a room or screened porch your new baby can access. Many are poisonous to cats. You’ll find a list of poisonous plants at Visit a pet store and buy the basics of litter and litterbox, food dishes and add a scratching post to your purchases. You’ll want to train a kitten from the beginning not to scratch your furniture.  The best way to do that is to immediately remove the kitten from offending furniture and place her in front of the scratching post and hold her paws on the post while you mimic the scratching behavior.  Be sure to provide plenty of toys for the little one.

Choose the healthiest cat or kitten food you can afford.  Cats thrive on a diet of mostly canned food supplemented with a small amount of high-quality dry kibble.  The same goes for treats. Not all pet foods and treats are good for Fluffy. Remember to check the BARKS & MEOWS page at the top of this site before your shop and then read the ingredients label before you buy.

If your budget allows, purchase a tall climber for your cat or kitten.  Felines love to climb to high places and will spend a lot of time on a climbing “tower.”

One other important purchase is a solid cat carrier.  Cats and kittens should always be confined to a carrier when you leave the house.  They should never be allowed to roam free in a car, and a visit to the veterinary clinic is much safer if Fluffy is confined when there are other animals around to frighten her. You can find inexpensive, cardboard carriers or spend a lot of money on fancier models.

If this is your first pet, choose a veterinarian recommended by someone you know and trust and plan the first visit within a day or two after bringing your new kitty home.

If you have other pets in your home, plan to isolate your new cat or kitten until that first vet visit occurs and she has a clean bill of health. Then only allow her access to the other animals with close supervision in case there is trouble.  Introduce animals carefully and slowly over several days to weeks to avoid problems.

Be prepared to train your new cat. If your choice was an older pet, she may have some habits you don’t like. A quick spray of water from a bottle works with most felines to stop a bad behavior. Be sure she knows where the littler box is located and how to find her food dishes.  Kittens do well being confined in a bathroom or small room for a couple days until they get used to the new smells and people around them.  Take them out to socialize but when you cannot watch them, return them to the safe room.

Now bring that new baby home and shower her with love and playtime!



How to Make Life Easier for Aging Kitties

Experts vary about the age at which a feline is considered a senior, but we can assume that Fluffy is approaching senior status at 8 – 10 years of age of age.  She could still have many healthy, active years ahead of her, as long as a bit of care is taken.

Cats approaching senior status tend to slow down, although that doesn’t apply to all kitties.  Our Lucy is 9 years old and still runs and plays like a kitten.  She greets everyone at the door and shows no sign of her advancing years.

As a cat ages, those annual veterinary exams should increase to twice yearly wellness checks, so that any physical changes may be more easily diagnosed.

Older felines may experience hearing and vision loss.  Accommodations should be made to deal with either of those conditions. Be patient and remember that Fluffy may not hear when you call her. If your kitty no longer hears well, approach her carefully so that she isn’t frightened.

Cats often suffer from arthritis as they age. Joint and muscle pain could slow her down and make jumping and climbing difficult and painful.  You might talk to your veterinarian about adding a supplement to her diet to address that problem.  There are several such supplements on the market that deal with joint stiffness.

Felines that reach 16  years of age or older may develop a wide array of age-related health issues.

Abby came to us as a foster when she was 14 years old.  Friends who own a very upscale restaurant in Punta Gorda, FL, said Abby belonged to the owner of a nearby shop.  Over the years, she had become mostly an outdoor kitty, eating many meals at the back door of the restaurant.  When Abby’s owners closed their business and left Abby on the streets to fend for herself, our friends took her to their vet for some much-needed dental work and to treat a pre-cancerous condition on her nose.


After living with us for a few months, we realized that Abby’s age would make her difficult to place in an adoptive home, so we kept her.  A year or so later, she showed signs of confusion and possible dementia.  She would stand at the refrigerator yowling just after she had eaten a meal.  I often found her standing in the middle of a room, looking all around like it was unfamiliar to her. At night, she would wander the house, crying for no apparent reason. Abby clearly wasn’t functioning on all cylinders.

If your pet displays signs of such cognitive dysfunction, be prepared. Make accommodations to ease her muddled mind.  If she seems hungry when she shouldn’t be, make sure there isn’t an underlying health problem at the root of her behavior.  Then keep some low-calorie treats on hand for her. Comfort your cat when she seems disoriented and make her feel loved and more secure. Cats may also need extra assistance with bathing as they age.

Be sure to feed your senior pet the best diet your budget allows. Go easy with treats to keep her weight under control.

Ask your veterinarian for suggestions to improve your aging cat’s life. There are medications available to help with night prowling and crying.

Seniors cats still have plenty of love to give, and it’s up to you to return that affection by making her last days as comfortable as possible.

How to Feed Your Cat for Optimum Health

Beautiful Bella


When I was younger, I bought a bag of whatever dry cat food was popular at the time.  I didn’t worry about ingredients, just blindly assuming that the manufacturer knew better than I did what cats were supposed to eat.  I certainly didn’t know anything about natural, organic foods, and I had never heard of genetically modified ingredients in pet food.  At home, I would fill up the cat’s bowl with said kibble, so she could munch on it all day long, if she so desired.  I didn’t worry about weight gain, diabetes, kidney issues or urinary infections in my cat due to a bad diet.  The idea of paying more for premium cat foods never entered my mind, and I doubt I ever read a pet food ingredient label.

My cats today are more fortunate! Because I educated myself about the pet food industry, I am now in a position to take much better care of my feline friends and have a far better understanding of what they should and should not eat.

Cats today live longer lives and are generally healthier that those of 20-30 years ago, because they receive better care and healthier food.  Helping your cat to live longer is relatively easy. Just learn what to feed them, be sure they receive regular veterinary checkups, and keep them indoors.

Read the BARKS & MEOWS page at the top of this website to learn what should and should not go into a cat’s diet. Take that information with you when you shop and purchase the best commercial cat food your budget allows.

I realize that some of this article sounds like a rehashing of articles written when this website began 3 years ago. But some information bears repeating. New readers may not go back and read the oldest articles, and sometimes we forget information that should stay with us.  Certainly, knowing what to feed your pet fits that last category.

If your cat has allergies, try eliminating certain ingredients from her diet for a couple of weeks to see if there is a change for the better. Occasionally, certain common proteins will cause sensitivities. If your kitty has trouble with beef or chicken, switch to a salmon-based diet. There are other novel – or unusual proteins you can try with finicky kitties.  Avoid grains because they are frequently the cause of allergies in cats. Trial and error will help  you find a diet that works best for your four-legged friend. Just follow the tips on the BARKS & MEOWS PAGE for best results.


Black Cats: The Myths and the Truth



With the approach of Halloween, it seems like a good time to look at some of the myths, legends and superstitions about black cats.  It has been my experience that solid black kitties are sweet and especially affectionate animals, but the folklore going back to the Middle Ages suggests otherwise in some cases.  At the very least, those myths tend to direct people toward cats of other colors in shelters.

For hundreds of years, cats starred in superstitions and legends.  They were thought to be the familiars (or assistants) of witches in the Middle Ages, and some even suggested that black cats were actually witches in disguise.  We all know the superstitions about black cats bringing bad luck; i.e., “Don’t let a black cat cross in front of you or you’ll have so many years of bad luck.”  Every country has its own myths and stories about black felines, whether good or bad.

In Scottish folklore, a stray black cat on your porch signals prosperity for the owner.  In 16th Century Italy, people believed that if a person were sick, he would die if a black cat lay on his bed.  In England and Japan, black cats mean good luck is on the way.  Germans believe the opposite.  In China, many think that black cats bring famine and poverty.

black-cat-1389799-639x656Because cats are nocturnal, we often associate them with witches and Halloween.  During the Middle Ages, witches were believed to keep black cats as “familiars,” or demons.  Black cats were treated badly by people who feared them. Today in the United States, there are still those who will mistreat black kitties and shelters often won’t adopt out black cats around Halloween.

I don’t want to debunk anyone’s superstitious beliefs but truly, black cats are just like any other color feline.  It’s a shame that some believe they are evil or subjects of the devil.  But since there is such evil in our world, it’s very important to be especially careful around Halloween.  If you own a black cat, please don’t let him outside, ever!  He could become part of a satanic ritual and abused or killed.

Why Is Fluffy So Afraid?

Chico, a Scaredy Cat

Chico, the Anxious Cat

Chico and his littermates were found behind a garage and when their mother did not return to care for them, they were taken into rescue to a foster home.  The babies were so small, their eyes were still closed, and they had to receive frequent bottle feedings.  After taking on a few of the feedings and watching him grow, I took Chico home at 6 weeks.  Our barely one-year-old kitten, Lucy, quickly adopted the newcomer and gave him the mothering he had missed.

Chico was a bundle of energy, sweet, friendly, and cuddly.  Two months later, another kitten arrived at our home as a foster, and the two little boys of similar age became completely attached to each other.  You didn’t see one without the other.

Chico and Jake

Unfortunately, we lost Jake at 18 months to a congenital heart defect, and Chico immediately turned into a different cat. Our friendly, adventurous boy became aloof, fearful and paced the house for days, all the while crying for his missing buddy. This kitten who had once considered our young grandson to be a fine playmate now feared him.  He would no longer allow us to pick him up or hold him.  It was as though he feared someone might take him away and never return him.

By contrast, Lucy behaves like a puppy.  She wants to be friends with anyone and everyone who comes through the door.  She interacts with the family, loves a warm lap, will sit up and beg for treats.  Poor Chico skulks around corners looking for danger.  He will sit on the sofa beside me as long as I don’t try to pick him up or restrain him in any way.  He even likes belly rubs.  But if someone knocks on the door, Chico disappears and won’t come out of hiding until the visitor is gone.

So what causes a cat to feel such angst?  In Chico’s case, we can pinpoint the start of the fearful behavior.  With many felines, there is no rhyme or reason to their anxiety, but there are some common triggers to an animal’s scaredy-cat behavior.

  1. A major change in the animal’s environment.  Did you recently move to a new home? Or did you purchase new furniture?  We once had a pair of chairs delivered to our home, and Lucy was climbing in and out of the boxes as soon as they were emptied.  Chico, on the other hand, waited under a bed until the delivery man left.  Then he walked all around the chairs and hissed at them.  His ears were laid back and he was clearly afraid and anxious.  Cats can freak out at any change in their environment.  Did you buy a new type of litter box or move it to a different area?  Fearful kitties may behave badly over something this small.  Try to create as little chaos as possible for them.
  2. A new pet in the house. A few cats will readily accept new cats and dogs but most will not.  While many will accept other pets if they are introduced slowly and carefully, the fearful, anxious kitty may not.  Watch out for aggressive behavior by either animal, although hissing and posturing or even hiding may occur as each animal tries to establish boundaries.
  3. Beware of strangers.  Some cats love everyone they meet and others are afraid of everyone they meet.  When someone new appears, a fearful kitty may react by hiding or aggressive behavior.
  4. Loud noises.  Some cats can be very afraid of fireworks, yet others are not bothered by the noise.  Emergency vehicles can trigger an anxiety attack in some pets.  Get to know what noises freaks out your cat.
  5. Loss of a loved one.  When a cat loses either human or another pet, that loss may trigger a complete change in personality, as it did with our Chico.
  6. Abuse.  Obviously, if an animal is beaten, starved or otherwise abused, it will become a fearful, anxious cat.
  7. Poor socialization.  Lack of socialization by the mama cat or human owners will usually result in fearful cats who or become aggressive when cornered.  In Chico’s case, he and his littermates were mostly the products of a feral mama cat.  Such babies can grow up to wonderful, friendly pets and others like Chico may hold some genetic component that triggers feral behavior when stressed.

Whatever the reason for a cat to become afraid and anxious, solutions must be found if the animal is to function as a family pet.  If noises are the cat’s trigger, watch out on holidays like July 4 or New Year’s Eve when you can expect fireworks to go off.  Find a safe place for your cat to hide during those times.  Be especially careful of doors to the outside, as a frightened feline may try to escape.  Ask your friends to visit and try to play with your fearful kitty.  A beloved treat in the hands of a stranger might make it easier for the animal to accept that unknown human’s presence.  During storms, you might try giving your cat extra attention and treats to calm him or her.  If the cat enjoys brushing, that would be a good time to bring out the grooming tools.

Whatever triggers your cat’s fear and anxiety, look for ways to calm him. Talk to your veterinarian. There are medications to help soothe Fluffy. Let her knows he is loved, regardless of her unusual behavior.

Bringing Up Fluffy

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.