7 Common Mistakes Cat Owners Make
7 Common Mistakes Cat Owners Make
We all make mistakes. Oftentimes we’re not aware of the consequences of our statements (and actions) with respect to our feline friends, but read on to learn what you might be saying and doing that could make life dangerous for your cat.
“I think a few houseplants would really brighten up the room!”
Cats like to chew on green things, and if they live indoors they’ll often turn to your houseplants to satisfy that drive. And while most aren’t deadly, many can cause irritation to the oral cavity if chewed, and vomiting if swallowed.
There was a study done a few years back in which routine household potting soil was tested for intestinal parasite eggs, and they were found in about 30% of the samples. What do to if you already have houseplants and cats, living peacefully together? Just make sure your cats can’t get to the plants, and it’s likely everyone will live happily ever after.
“The cat can’t reach this vase of lilies way up here.”
I had a cat that actually enjoyed spending his free time on the top of the bedroom door. That’s right – the edge of a standard door, a surface approximately 2 inches wide and 7 feet from the floor.
Cats are nimble and can jump more than 5 feet off the ground. Lilies are highly poisonous and it only takes drinking a bit of water from the vase or licking a little pollen from your fur before you are one sick kitty. Even if you see your cat ingesting some part of the lily plant and rush him right to the veterinarian, you’re looking at anywhere from 2 – 3 days in the hospital for a chance of healing his kidneys.
So take the high road – don’t even bring lilies into the house. There is virtually no safe spot for them.
“The litter box can wait until tomorrow.”
Cats are magical creatures who are just visiting our planet from another, more advanced, world. Somehow they seem to just “know” how to use a litter box without really being trained, until they don’t, and that’s when the problems start.
Think of it this way: as you peruse the long row of stalls in the airport bathroom, do you choose, or pass by the ones that aren’t clean? Your cat has similar feelings about its litter box, and if you go too long between cleanings, your cat will become more and more likely to look elsewhere for a spot to “go.”
The experts recommend daily cleaning, and one more litter box that the number of cats you have, to ensure harmonious litter box habits.
“But she still seems hungry, so….”
Cats learn that vocalizing around their food bowl gets them fed. But heeding the siren song of supposed feline starvation is dangerous, because obesity is one of the most serious medical problems facing our feline friends today.
Obesity causes diabetes in cats, and makes it harder for them to breathe, harder for them to poop, and harder for your veterinarian to find problems. Work with your veterinarian to determine an appropriate feeding amount, and then spend time playing with your cat, to keep it at a healthy weight.
“Canned food is too stinky and messy!”
Canned cat food does tend to smell like Fisherman’s Wharf at the end of a busy tourist weekend, but it’s got a major advantage over dry food in that more than half of it is water. Cats tend to be less-than-enthusiastic water drinkers, and when we feed them a diet that is solely based on dry kibble, we aren’t doing them any favors in the water department.
Why does this matter? Because the lower the water consumption, the less urine is produced by the kidneys. And the urine that is produced tends to be extremely concentrated – something akin to a very strong cup of coffee. And that contributes to urinary issues, including life-threatening blockages in male cats and bladder and kidney stones in both sexes.
So make all of part of your cat’s diet canned food, and you’ll ensure that they receive adequate moisture.
“She acts like she’s healthy, so there’s no need to see the vet.”
Cats are exceptionally good at acting like they are just fine, until they’re not. And unfortunately, they can’t be easily bought off like dogs can, with treats and praise at the veterinarian’s office. So we tend to take them in to see the veterinarian less – about one-third less than their canine counterparts.
But there’s just so much that we can learn about how our cats are doing by visiting the veterinarian regularly – once yearly for cats under 7, and twice yearly for those over. With a simple physical examination, we can detect dental disease, heart and lung disease, skin problems, and problems with abdominal organs. And lab work tells us even more.
Don’t put off going to the veterinarian with your cat until you’re concerned there is a problem. With routine visits, you can likely avoid many problems completely.
“Declawing is the only way to save my couch!”
Cats have an innate urge to scratch things. They need to stretch the tendons in their toes, and they need to remove brittle, flaky material from the ends of their nails. Cat owners should provide their cats with suitable scratching surfaces – horizontal or vertical, depending on the cat’s preference – in order to satisfy these natural urges.
Declawing is the amputation of the last phalanx of the toes – it would be like cutting your finger off right at the last joint. It causes pain, and it often causes lifelong discomfort. There are many humane ways to deal with your cat’s scratching, and all of them are superior to declawing.
****ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR VET******
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- Thiago Ferreira