Basic Cat Care
Information you can use to keep your companion
feline happy and healthy.
Before You Bring Your Cat Home You will need
food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat
collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
Feeding: An adult cat should be fed two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed
four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three
times a day. You can either feed specific meals, refrigerating any
leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food
out all the time).
Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name
kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day.
Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won't eat
kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby
food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food.
Cow's milk is not good and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. If you
feel that you should provide milk, get cat milk from your pet store.
Provide fresh, clean water at all times at least once per day. Wash and
refill water bowls daily.
Grooming: Most cats stay relatively clean
but benefit from an occasional bath, they do need to be brushed or
combed regularly. Frequent
brushing helps keep your cat's coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding
and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs. Avoid using scents in the litter or
litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
Housing: Cats should have a clean, dry
place of their own in the house. Line your cat's bed with a soft, warm
blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat
indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract
diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in
a fight or poisoned. Also cats prey on song birds, your neighbors might
not appreciate that.
Identification: If allowed outdoors (again, we
caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID
tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break
loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted
microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes
lost. When the cat starts to scratch furniture or rugs, gently say no and
lure her over to the scratching post. Praise your cat for using the
scratching post or pad. A sprinkle of catnip once or twice a month will
keep your cat interested in it.
Special Nutrition Care
Both dogs and cats evolved as carnivores, but
the cat is somewhat unique in that it is an obligate carnivore. That is,
it requires certain nutrients that are available only from animal sources.
The feline intestine is adapted for a high fat, high protein diet.
xcSome people tend to treat the cat like a small
dog, but the cat has very specific nutritional requirements. This is
because, unlike dogs, the cat is unable to synthesize certain essential
nutrients from other food components and, therefore, requires these
nutrients to be pre-formed in their diet.
Protein: Cats have the highest requirement for
protein of all domesticated species. When cats were evolving, a high
protein and fat diet was always available so cats never found it necessary
to conserve proteins. Cats always "waste" some of the dietary
protein by breaking it down for energy. Taurine: Cats require Taurine because they cannot convert other amino acids into
Taurine. Taurine is
important to prevent visual, cardiac and reproductive problems and is
found only in meat and fish. Fats: Cats also require both linoleic and
arachidonic acids to prevent skin and coat problems and poor reproduction.
Arachidonic acid is found only in animal sources of fat. Vitamins:
Pre-formed vitamin A must also be present in the cat's diet. Dogs can
break b-carotene into two molecules of vitamin A; cats cannot. Pre-formed
vitamin A is also found only in animal tissues. Cats are also somewhat
peculiar in their eating behavior. Cats will tend to eat and drink limited
quantities on numerous occasions, consuming up to 16 small meals during a
24-hour period when fed on an ad lib basis.
© 2004 ASPCA