Table of Contents
*PLEASE NOTE: If you are currently feeding your cat Meow Mix, Kit N Kaboodle, Deli Cat, or any generic grocery store brand, please read the ingredients on the labels. Cats are strict carnivores and need a viable source of protein in the main (first five) ingredients, such as fowl, beef or fish.
We highly recommend Nature’s Variety Instinct, Natural Balance, Taste of the Wild, Wellness, California Natural, Blue Buffalo and Innova/Evo, which can all be purchased at pet stores or online at www.petflow.com/ You can also check the ingredients in any pet food on the Petflow site.
Cats were originally desert dwellers, and their system is designed to absorb most of its water from food. Therefore, it is best to feed only canned food, which provides the additional moisture necessary to help to prevent urinary blockages, as well as other serious health problems such as renal failure. Please read the labels to ensure that there are no preservatives or artificial colors, which can cause health problems for some cats. In addition, fresh water should always be available for your cat-be sure to rinse out the bowl and change water daily. Supplementing the diet of young kittens with a bit of whole milk Lactaid, KMR, or cottage cheese can also be a good idea if they are no longer nursing. Adult cats should be fed a measured amount of food twice daily in order to monitor intake and make sure that your cat is eating only enough to maintain a healthy weight, which means that you should easily be able to feel your cat’s ribs but not be able to see them. If your cat is having loose stool, sprinkling some acidophilus (available in capsules at most pharmacies) on the food once daily may help. If not, please consult a veterinarian.
Set out a selection of foods to encourage them to start eating. It will be easy enough to transition them back to their regular food later, so please do not feel that you are “spoiling” your cat by doing this-it is only temporary! Try any or all of the following: canned tuna fish in water, plain cooked chicken, cottage cheese, dried bonito flakes, Evo 95% meat canned food (turkey), all-meat baby food (no onions or veggies), or Fancy Feast canned food (tuna, chicken or turkey). Sprinkling some FortiFlora (Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets) on food can also serve as a very effective appetite stimulant. If none of these have your kitty eating normally in a day or so, please consult a veterinarian.
We recommend using a large, open litter box as some cats don’t like covered ones. One litter box for each cat in the household is best. Conventional clay litters produce silica dust, which can be inhaled by your cat while digging in the litter box. Small kittens have been known to eat cat litter, and clumping litter can cause death by blocking up the stomach and/or intestines. Two much healthier choices are wood pellets (Feline Pine) or corn crumbles (World’s Best). When introducing wood pellets, it is very important to start out using a small amount of pellets in the bottom of the box covered with regular cat litter, and gradually decrease the amount of regular litter each time you change the litter box until you are only using pellets because it takes cats time to adjust to the texture of pellets. Some cats do not adjust well to pellets, so use the corn crumbles if your cat decides to stop using the litter box. Both litters can be purchased at pet stores and some grocery stores. INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVES (available at your local feed & grain stores, Tractor Supply Company and Agway): Woody Pet, Equine, Top Bedding, Boreal Pellet or any wood pellet bedding for horses (same as Feline Pine) typically cost $8-$12 for a 35-40 pound bag, and $6 for a 40 pound bag of the Tractor Supply Company’s own brand. Nutrena Gamebird Feed crumbles (same as World’s Best) typically costs $20 for a 50 pound bag. If your cat is not using the litter box, consult a veterinarian to rule out urinary tract or bladder infections. If nothing is physically wrong with your cat, try using Cat Attract cat litter, which can be purchased at Pet Supplies Plus and Petsmart. Bach’s Rescue Remedy (which can be purchased at health food stores or The Vitamin Shoppe) or HomeoPet Anxiety Relief (available at Pet Supplies Plus or online) added to food once daily in conjunction with the litter may also help to alleviate stress, which is a common cause of litter box problems.
Make sure to provide scratching posts with various textures for your cat to scratch on. Some popular surfaces are cardboard, sisal, wood, and carpet (Ocean State Job Lot has great prices on scratching posts and condos). Having several different textures is a good way to find out which one is your cat’s favorite. We highly recommend the Cosmic Catnip Alpine Scratcher and the Turbo Scratcher cat toy, both available at pet stores. Sprinkling a bit of catnip on the scratching posts will make them even more attractive to your cat. Most cats prefer scratching posts to furniture, but if your cat develops a habit of scratching on a particular piece of furniture, cover the area being scratched with heavy duty double-sided carpet tape (or Sticky Paws, available in most pet stores) and place a scratching post directly in front of the area or right next to it. You can also cover the furniture with a sheet or something else with a texture that is no fun to scratch.
Some signs that your cat is not feeling well are: diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, drinking a lot, frequent urination or straining in the litter box, blood in the stool or urine, and/or a greenish or yellowish discharge from the eyes/nose. Please consult a veterinarian immediately as soon as you notice any of these symptoms, as some of them can be life-threatening. Call the nearest pet emergency clinic if it is outside of normal business hours and describe the symptoms.
It may seem that cats have more fun if they are allowed to go outside, but actually most cats are perfectly happy to stay inside, not to mention SAFER. There are many dangers lurking outside, such as cars, diseases, parasites, other animals, and worst of all-people who may not like cats. Your cat could be poisoned, shot, beaten or otherwise seriously injured or killed by someone who is tired of seeing your cat walk through their yard, hunt birds, defecate in their flower beds, spray, fight, etc. You may think that you can supervise your cat outside while you are in your yard or on your deck, but an attraction (such as a butterfly or small animal to chase) or a sudden loud noise can easily send your cat running out of your yard and out of site. It is nearly impossible to catch a cat once it has started to run. If you do manage to catch up with your cat and corner it, many cats will panic and may violently scratch or bite until they can get away. You may think that having a fence will keep your cat in your yard, but most cats can easily climb over almost any fence. Cats can become disoriented after being spooked out of their yard, and can easily be mistaken for a stray if they have no collar with an I.D. tag and/or a microchip. Cats will often find somewhere to hide and will be too traumatized to return home or even to leave their hiding place when their owner is standing in close proximity and calling to them. There is no reason for a cat to go outdoors, as they can get all of the exercise they need inside the house. Make sure to have plenty of toys available for your cat to play with, and spend at least an hour playing with your cat every day. If your cat enjoys the company of other pets, having a friend to play with might be a good idea. You may think that it is safe to take your cat outside on a leash, but cats can panic and back out of a harness if startled, and may also become seriously injured if they get tangled in a collar, leash or harness. If you want a pet to accompany you on walks, adopting a dog may be a better option.