Online Veterinary Education Library
Our team of veterinarians and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with their health. Please use our educational library to learn more about health problems and treatments available for your pet. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
- Small Animals
Even if you plan to allow your pet to sleep on your bed or any other soft surfaces in your home, you need to set up a dry, warm place that is just for your cat. Bring home a cat bed that has one, lower side so that you cat can easily get in and out of it. Line the bed with soft towels or blankets. Be sure you use washable materials because you'll need to clean the bedding every week. Place the bed in a quiet area. Some people like to place their cat's beds in their bedrooms. However, cat's are nocturnal animals, so if their activity will disturb you or you keep the door to your room closed at night, you'll have to find a different location for your cat's bed.
A carrier is the safest way to transport your cat. Many carriers are designed to fit under a seat in airplanes allowing your cat to travel with you on flights. Carriers are also useful ways to transport your cat to and from the vet. Carriers are made from a variety of materials. Wicker baskets look attractive, but are susceptible to scratching and shedding, and, therefore, are not the best choice. Hard plastic carriers are durable, but must include wire or mesh screens for adequate ventilation. When using your carrier, place a blanket inside for warmth and comfort. Throw a toy in the carrier to keep your cat occupied. Make sure the carrier is large enough for an adult-sized cat to stand and stretch on all four legs and that the entry is large enough for your cat to enter and exit easily.
Making your cat a valued member of your household may largely depend on its success in dealing with a litterbox. Cats are naturally clean creatures and are very particular about their waste processes. They need privacy and a clean environment. Make sure you place your litterbox away from other spaces in which your cat will sleep, play and eat. Most pet owners find a utility room or a corner of the bathroom is ideal. Regardless of the type of litterbox you buy or the material it is made from (ranging from cardboard boxes to plastic or metal), make sure it is low enough or has a wide enough entry for your cat to easily enter and exit. It should be about one-and-a-half times the length of an adult-sized cat to provide enough space for your cat to kick litter over its soiled areas. Because cats use scent to mark areas for different activities, once you've established one location for the litterbox, it will be very difficult to get your cat to adjust to any change. So be sure you place the litterbox out of your way.
When you go to the store, you'll find a lot of options for cat litter. Your cat will make the ultimate decision about which one suits its purposes best. Research indicates that most cats prefer clumping clay litter, which makes any area soiled by urine or feces turn into an obvious clump that can easily be scooped out and removed. Many people are experimenting with new environmental options that include recycled newspaper, corn cob, peanut shell meal and wood shavings. But research indicates that cats prefer the clumping clay litter over these as well. Most cats prefer unscented litter. The size of the particles can also make a difference, because you want something that doesn't stick in your cat's paws. Generally, cats respond well to a litter that has texture and coarseness and a slightly larger particle size. You can decide whether or not it is worth the expense to buy a flushable litter as this does not impact your cat. Finally, there has been concern about the safety of litter for kittens who may ingest it. Though eating litter may lead to some temporary gastrointestinal discomfort, research shows that commercial clay litters, both clumping and nonclumping, are not dangerous to your pet's long-term health.
How many litterboxes will you need? The accepted rule is that there should be one litterbox per floor plus one. If you have more than one cat, each will need its own litterbox on each floor. Also, be sure to scoop out the litterbox at least once every day. Once a week, throw out all the litter and clean the litterbox with soap and water. Then refill it with a fresh layer of litter.
Cats need to scratch. It isn't just a habit, but an important way for them to make sure they fully stretch out their bodies and eliminate the dead sheaths from their nails. Scratching is simply part of your cat's makeup, so if you don't want furniture and other household items to suffer, you need to purchase a scratching post. You want a scratching post that is at least three feet in length and covered with either carpet or sisal. Be sure that it is sturdy so that it won't fall over when your cat jumps on it or scratches against it. Some cats prefer their scratching post to be placed vertically, while others like theirs horizontal or on a diagonal incline. Your cat will let you know its preference. Be sure to place the scratching post in an active room or area. Also, don't throw away a scratching post when it is badly worn, unless you want to face a challenge. When you do need to introduce a new scratching post, set it up next to the old one and give your cat a chance to get used to it. To get your cat to try out the new one, rub some catnip on it. Cats go wild for catnip and the scent alone will capture their interest. Once the cat starts using the new scratching post, then you can get rid of the old one.