Proper bathing, feeding, and grooming of your cat can lead to a longer, happier relationship. Here are details:
- Cats normally don't require bathing, but if your cat does need a bath, get a friend to assist. Place a small washable rug or towel over the side of the basin or tub for the cat to cling to. A cat gets panicky on a slippery surface where it can't get a foothold. Hold the cat with one hand and lather quickly with the other.
- Before bathing a cat, put a drop of mineral oil in each eye to prevent irritation from soap.
- Make certain the water temperature is roughly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer or cooler water will cause your cat distress and may make it difficult to handle.
- Wash the head, ears, and neck first. If you don't, any fleas that are on the animal will take refuge there while you clean the rest of its body. Be careful not to get shampoo in the eyes.
- To avoid colds, keep your cat inside for several hours after a bath.
- Never offer your cat bones -- they can splinter into sharp pieces and catch in your pet's throat.
- If moist pet food is not eaten within two hours, refrigerate it. Dry food and biscuits are the only foods that can be left out for any length of time.
- Do not feed dog food to a cat.
- If you're going to change your pet's diet, do it gradually. A sudden change may be a shock to the animal's system.
- Don't worry if your cat eats grass; many animals actually graze.
- On a hot day, be vigilant about a cat's water supply. Fill your pet's bowl with cold tap water and freshen it often.
- When your cat starts to shed hair, usually after the cold-weather months, massage its coat with your hands, then stroke the animal from head to tail with your palms. You'll have less hair all over the house.
- If you encounter matted or tangled fur when combing a long-haired cat, use your fingers, not a comb, to separate the tangles.
- When brushing short-haired cats, be sure to brush between the shoulders where the cat can't reach to groom itself.
- Your cat's claws will be easier to trim if you press the paw to expose the nails. Use special clippers from the pet supply store -- never use human nail clippers on a cat. Cut the nail well clear of the quick -- the pink line you can see running through the nail.
- Your cat's ears should be cleaned monthly. Clean only that part of the ear canal that you can see, using a cotton swab soaked in mineral oil or alcohol.
- Don't leave your cat in a car in hot weather, even if the windows are open. Heat builds up very quickly in a car and can cause collapse or even death.
The final section of this article focuses on important health issues you need to consider when caring for your cat.