Speaking of Pets: Caring for your cat

You will find that cats are fun, entertaining, curious, and loving companions that can bring you joy for years to come.
Raul Varzar, Unsplash

You have just welcomed a new kitten into your family – this is great! Whether you are new to the cat world or an old hand, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to keep your new furry friend happy and healthy.

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Most importantly, read the label and look for foods that list meat, poultry or fish as the first ingredient and that do not contain any by-products, fillers, or artificial colors or flavorings. While you will appreciate the convenience of dry food, cats typically prefer moist food, which is generally more digestible than dry food. I recommend feeding a premium food instead of grocery store foods: you pay more, but it will give your cat a longer, healthier life. And make sure the food is appropriate to your cat’s life stage and health.

Litter box

It is important that your cat has a clean litter box that is large enough: at least one and a half times the length of the cat, with sides between 5-7 inches. (Kittens need a box with shorter sides to make it easier for them to get in and out.) Keeping the box clean is important, so you need to shovel out the trash at least once a day.

Toys

Most cats – kittens especially – love to play, so make sure you have a supply of toys on hand. These can be bought in the store or built yourself: Most cats love to explore things as easily as an empty paper bag or box. Toys that wobble or move are especially intriguing to most cats and can provide hours of exercise and entertainment.

Health

First of all, make sure your cat has been spayed or neutered by the age of 5 months. Second, take your cat to the vet once a year for health checks and to make sure your cat is and will remain healthy. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for regular vaccinations, which should include FVRC (commonly referred to as “dust vaccination”) and rabies vaccinations. (Rabies vaccinations for cats are required by law in Colorado.)

You will find that cats are fun, entertaining, curious, and loving companions that can bring you joy for years to come. (And if you are considering adopting a cat, please visit your local animal shelter.)

Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her Golden Retriever Joey and Maine Coon cat Indy. She emphasizes that she is not a veterinarian or a behaviorist, just an animal lover who has been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach them at joan@joanmerriam.com.