Caring For Your Kitty Cat by Ziggy Belle
Hello. My name is Ziggy Belle. I am an 11 year old domestic house cat. My mummy adopted me when I was a kitten. I was born underneath a house. My siblings and I were abandoned. We were found with ant bites and fleas all over us and my mother was nowhere to be found.
Luckily we were taken in by the Cat Clinic in Mt Gravatt and a lovely vet nurse named Shelley took care of us. She was a member at a gym called Fernwood and that is where my mummy worked at the time. Shelley would go to the gym on her way home from work and leave us in a travel carrier with the reception staff to look after while she did her work out. This is when my mummy met me. When we were big enough we were allowed to play with the staff. One day my mummy picked me up (at the time my name was Saffron) and I put my paws on her chest and looked into her eyes and that is when she fell in love with me and decided to adopt me.
My mummy and I have been through a lot together so we have experiences that we would both like to share.
We are writing this book for all fur mummies & daddies out there so that we can provide some information about the best way to look after your fur babies and maybe to help avoid some of the problems that we have had to deal with.
Found your Purrfect Fur Baby?
Sometimes the choice is easy - like it was for my mummy, or the choice can be hard. There are many breeds of cats to choose from. Small, big, hairy, hairless. The list is a long one. Also remember that there are a lot of kittens and cats that are abandoned that need good homes so don’t forget to check your local shelter or online for cats that might be available.
If this is your first time bringing a fur baby into your home then this list is going to come in handy for you!
These are the essential items you will need to help them get settled in to their new home:
- Travel carrier
- Collar/ID Tag
- Litter - litter tray, litter, scoop, bags
- Food - biscuits, canned meat, treats
- Bedding - bed, blankets
- Toys - interactive, chasers
- Grooming - clippers, brush, toothpaste
- Preventative treatments for Fleas/Worming etc
Throughout this book I am going to take you through all the essential things you need to know so that you can get your kitty cat settled and happy quickly and avoid any possible issues.
How will you get your kitty cat home?
The road rules in QLD do not specifically state that cats are to be restrained while travelling in the car, however there are a few things to think about.
I quite like travelling in the car and when we go to the Vet or when we have moved house I happily sit on the backseat.
This is me riding in the car on the way to the vet.
Some cats do not like travelling in the car and in this case it would be recommended to restrain them in a travel carrier. You can get these from pet stores.
If you don’t restrain your cat you must ensure that they do not wander in the front area of the car. The travel carrier should not be put in the passenger seat if your car has airbags. If the airbags go off during an accident this could be deadly for your fur baby.
Identification of your cat (in case the unthinkable happens!)
This is a must! It is the most reliable way of permanently identifying your cat. It is a tiny silicone chip that is placed just under the skin, just like a vaccination. This chip contains a unique number that stores your fur parents contact details in a National Pet Database.
Collar & ID Tag
Collars are a great fashion accessory, but they also serve other purposes. The most important, is that you can place an ID tag onto your kitty’s collar with your phone number on it. That way if your cat ends up down the street when they shouldn’t your neighbours can call you to come and collect your kitty instead of them ending up scared and alone at the pound.
Where will your cat poo & pee?
There are so many choices when it comes to litter and litter boxes it is a bit hard to know where to start. The best thing to do however is to continue the same routine that the breeder has used for your kitten that way there will be no accidents when you get home.
If you wish to change things in terms of the type of litter box and litter later on down the track, you will need to make these changes slowly over time otherwise you may end up with a confused little pussy cat who doesn’t know where they are supposed to poo & pee.
This has happened to me when my mummy forgot to put the litter box back when she cleaned it. I didn’t know where I was supposed to go so I pooped on the carpet instead. Whoops! My mummy learned her lesson after that!
Litter boxes come in many shapes and sizes. As simple as a plain rectangular box and as complex as a high tech self cleaning machine.The choice is completely dependent upon your budget and lifestyle.
I had a plain rectangle box when I was a kitty, it was shallow enough for me to step over the edge easily. As I got older my mummy got me one with a high edge so that I didn’t accidentally pee over the side. This one has been the best one by far.
Most cat experts will tell you to “keep it simple.” You don’t need a fancy litter box and fancy litter. Just a plastic box and natural litter is all a cat really needs.
Jackson Galaxy, who is a cat behaviourist, says that when cats start to pee & poo in places other than their litter box they are doing so because their litter boxes have not been set up right.
Here is some advice so that you can avoid litter box problems with your new furry friend:
Number of Litter Boxes
You need one litter box per cat plus one extra. Cats need their privacy too!
Humans tend to want to hide the litter box away in a dark corner like the laundry or basement which is totally understandable. However this is not the best thing for your cat. They need it to be in a position near to where they like to hang out and somewhere quiet. Ideal position would be in a bathroom or a room that isn’t used much.
My litter box is situated in the hall near the bathroom & toilet that the humans use.
Type of Litter
I have been using recycled paper pellets as my litter ever since I was a teeny tiny kitty. I think my mummy tried clay with me one time but we both did not really like it so we went back to the paper. It is environmentally friendly and very reasonably priced.
Here is a list of the types of litter available:
Easy to clean up
Not good for kittens because of the risk they may ingest the small pieces
Tracks and makes a mess
Can be expensive
The dust produced from the clay can cause health issues if inhaled
- Non-clumping clay-based
Can be very messy to clean up
The dust produced from the clay can cause health issues if inhaled
- Silica crystals
Can hold 40 times its own weight in liquid
Doesn’t need to be changed for up to 4 weeks
Silica is a known Carcinogen
You can get biodegradable litter made from corn, wheat, pine and paper.
Very economically friendly
Usually quite cheap
Not always very effective in absorption
- Scented litter
Smells pleasant for the humans
Cats are sensitive to smells and may avoid the litter box if they don’t like it
Amount of litter
There needs to be enough litter in the box for your cat to scratch and cover up their mess otherwise they can get frustrated and start scratching other things like the walls.
Litter Box Too Clean or Too Dirty
Ensure that waste is emptied from the box at least twice a day. Your kitty cat will not use a litter box if there is too much waste in it. Litter should be completely changed once a week. When changing the litter, refrain from the urge to clean and sanitise your kitty’s litter box. They will not use the box if the smells of chemicals remain.
My mummy learned this the hard way, when one time she was trying to get a urine sample from me. The vet told her to put the litter box down with no litter after sanitising it so she could catch my pee. I didn’t like the smell of the litter box after that so I decided to pee elsewhere. Luckily my mummy was watching me because she managed to put the urine cup under me and caught some of my pee and put the litter box there so my pee didn’t go on the floor!!
These seem to be a very convenient way of disposing of litter for humans, but most cats don’t like them. My mummy tried these once and I did not like them. Us kitty cats do not like the crinkly sensation when doing our business. It does not replicate natural behaviour and you might find your kitty avoiding the litter box because of that.
Covered or hooded boxes
When we moved house my mummy decided to try a wooden litter box cover. She put it together and then realised that my litter box with the rim wouldn’t fit so I had to go back to using the old green one. The only problem was that there wasn’t really enough room in there for me. There were three holes on the back of the box and quite often my bottom would be right up against those holes and my wee would end up going out there. The poo stayed in there alright. But after a few times of the wee accidents the wood on the box started smelling really bad so mummy ended up taking the back panel off. That worked for a bit but occasionally I would still miss because the box was still too small and I ended up leaving a puddle on the ground which mummy had to clean up.
It wasn’t for lack of trying!! But the reason I am telling you this story is that size matters. Your litter box needs to take the size of your cat into consideration and also mobility. If your cat has trouble with movement you need to get a litter box that is easy for them to get in and out of.
I have never tried one of these hooded self cleaning boxes and probably never will. One thing I can say about these is that I would be worried about the noise. If it was loud I wouldn’t like it. I have also heard that the filters that they use to keep the smells away for the humans can be bad for us cats.
You can buy “litter” mats that promise to stop litter from being tracked throughout the house. Some are good and some are not so good.
Us kitty cats have very sensitive paws and if the mat has deep, sharp grooves we won’t like standing on it and therefore we might avoid using the litter box because of it.
What to feed your fur baby
This is such a confusing thing for pet parents because there is so much on the market. If you are confused and need tips the best thing to do would be to talk to your vet.
My mummy has tried me on all sorts of things like canned food, biccies, raw kangaroo meat. But I did put on a bit of weight and got up to nearly 7kg!! Yeah I know I was fat! So the vet told my mummy that I had to go on a diet and I got special diet food and I have now lost a whole kilogram. I am on my way back to being back to my normal healthy weight which is about 5kg.
Ingredients & Budget
The main things to think about when buying food for your fur baby are the ingredients and also your budget.
My mummy likes to do a lot of research on this and she has found out that not all pet food companies are created equal. Some pet food companies are sneaky and don’t disclose everything on the ingredients list. You first need to check that the food you are buying complies with the Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food (AS 5812:2017.)
As with human food, the ingredients are listed in order of weight. So whatever ingredient is listed first that is what there is the most of in the food.
Felines are obligate carnivores, which means we must eat meat. It is an absolute biological necessity. So meat has to be the main ingredient of any food that you feed your cat. Some cat foods have extras like rice and vegetables but cats don’t really need that.
What you need to look for in the ingredients are Meat, Meat Meal and water. Meat meal is meat that has been cooked to remove water. It is an excellent source of protein which is highly concentrated and easily digestible. Water is vital for life and if included within the ingredients, this is a good thing as it helps with hydration. However if there is say 75% water in the food this could dilute the nutritional value
I have always been a chicken lover myself. So when looking at the back of the biscuit packet and the tins of food I get my mummy always looks for chicken and chicken meal to be on the ingredients list.
Confusing Ingredients List
If the ingredients list is confusing and contains words like “meat and meat by products” or “chicken, beef and/or lamb” this means that the manufacturer may use a mix of all three or each one individually or a mix of two. Cats are fussy eaters and I certainly would be able to tell if I suddenly got a meal that contained lamb rather than the chicken I have come to know and love.
It really does pay to do your research. My mummy read an article on the Pet Circle website (this is where we get our food from) and it did a comparison between a cheap food and a more expensive one. When you look at price per feed the cheap one ended up costing more over the span of a year because you end up having to dish out more because your cat is still hungry. If you pay a little extra up front and get quality food you don’t need to feed quite as much because the ingredients are more digestible and therefore your pussy cat is satisfied and doesn’t come looking for more.
Something else that can be confusing for pet parents is whether or not to feed fish to your cat. I have never been much of a fish eater myself, but that is because my mummy doesn’t like it either. But when my other mummy came into our lives she got me trying salmon, tuna and prawns. I liked the salmon and tuna but I did not like the prawns. My favourite is still chicken though and always will be!
The important thing to remember about fish is the mercury it can contain. It is also not a balanced diet so should only be given as a treat. Also feeding your cat too much fish could put them at risk of a thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is a water soluble vitamin necessary for normal carbohydrate metabolism in cats. Deficiency in this important vitamin can lead to serious neurological problems.
Milk & Dairy
One last thing that is a confusing matter for pet parents, is whether us cats should drink milk. Obviously as kittens we drink milk from our mothers, or in my case, from a very lovely vet nurse who saved me and fed me and my siblings with a special kitten formula. As kittens we have the ability to digest the lactose in milk. As we grow into Adult cats, we stop developing the enzyme lactase and therefore are unable to digest milk products. Essentially most cats become lactose intolerant.
Despite this, we furry felines still love dairy. I have been known to lick the milk out of the bottom of my mummy’s cereal bowl. I have also done this when my mummy has had ice cream and custard. I also quite like the milky froth from the top of my mummy’s cappuccino and a bit of yoghurt every now and then. Actually one time when I had a dodgy tummy my vet said that a good quality yoghurt with lots of probiotics would be helpful. But only a small amount.
So the general consensus from most veterinarians is that milk is not a good choice as a staple part of our diet. You can buy special cat milk if you really wish to give your cat a milky treat. There is no nutritional value of milk past kittenhood.
Other things cats like to eat
Green things like grass - this can actually be helpful for cats digestive systems and help eliminate hairballs. My mummy tried to grow cat grass for me once but I ate it all!!
Cheese - I quite like a bit of cheese every now and again. But as I have to watch my weight this is a very occasional treat.
Eggs - scrambled not raw - I remember one time that one of my mummy’s friends came round and offered me some egg, she said that her cat loved it, but I am not a fan.
Meat - ham, turkey - My mummy S is a vegetarian so when my mummy K came into our lives she started to give me ham and turkey treats. I really love them!
These foods are toxic and should never be fed to your cat:
Alcohol, onions, onion powder, garlic, chocolate, coffee or caffeine products, mouldy or spoiled foods, compost, avocado, bread dough, yeast dough, grapes, raisins, sultanas (including in Christmas cakes etc), currants, nuts (including macadamia nuts), fruit stones or ‘pits’ (e.g. mango seeds, apricot stones, avocado stones), fruit seeds, corncobs, tomatoes, mushrooms, cooked bones, small pieces of raw bone, fatty trimmings/fatty foods, salt and roughly-cut vegetables.
How Often to Feed your Cat?
Given that cats are natural hunters, feral cats may eat 8-12 small meals in a 24 hr period. Some think that this is why you should leave food out for your cat to graze on throughout the day.
However cats can become addicted to biscuits (or kibble) because of the carbohydrate content. This also leads to a risk of overeating which can cause all sorts of health issues.
Most veterinarians recommend feeding adult cats a minimum of twice per day and four times a day is better if possible. Kittens also need to be fed four times a day.
When I went on a diet a while ago, my mummy put me on a strict schedule and she weighs my food. This is recommended, because if I put on a kilo, it is like 8 kilos on you! That is a lot!
So my food regime is:
7am Chicken meat for breakfast
8am Chicken biccies
7pm Chicken meat again for dinner
8pm I have more of my chicken biccies.
I also have these yummy treats called “greenies” They are actual dental treats to help keep my teeth healthy. But they are so yummy that your cat wouldn’t know unless you tell them!! My mummy gives me these treats after she has clipped my nails or given me flea treatments which are things I don’t like. Sometimes my mummy also puts them in to my puzzle box so I have to poke through all the toys and holes to get them out. It is a lot of fun.
It is best to place your “feeding station” in a quiet location where your cat can eat in peace without being disturbed. I have my own little spot in the dining room where my 3 bowls sit on a cute little placemat.
- Bowls for meat, water and biscuits.
- Kitchen scales/measuring cup
- Separate utensils - fork/spoon
- Can covers
- Airtight container to store biccies and/or treats
Where should your kitty cat sleep?
Considering that cats like me sleep about 16-20 per day, having a nice place or even several nice places to sleep is quite important.
There are so many types of bedding to choose from. Cat cubes, donut beds, cat sofas, teepees. I am a fan of the donut bed myself and have had this one for a long time. My mummy puts a fleecey blanket in there for me so it is then easy to keep it clean and then just chucks the blanket in the wash.
My mummy also recently made this teepee for me, it is really awesome, sometimes I have a really hard time trying to decide where to sleep because I also like sleeping on the end of mummy’s bed!
Your cat will generally let you know where they like to sleep, so monitor their favourite positions as you may need to move things around a bit until your cat is used to the new bed that you are trying to get him or her to sleep in.
Sometimes your cat will not want to sleep in their bed and will just want to cozy up with you either on the couch or on your bed. If this is the case I recommend having several blankets that are reserved just for your kitty cat and you can place these in places that you know your cat likes. This way your cat gets a familiar scent and you don’t end up with fur everywhere.
I have about 5 or 6 different places that I like to sleep. The two pictures above show my donut bed and my teepee. I also like to sleep on the end of mummy’s bed. I used to like sleeping on the ottoman in the lounge room and mummy made me a lovely crochet blanket to lie on. But for some reason I don’t like the lounge room in our new house as much. My mummy is still trying to work out why.
When I go outside for the day there are two places out there I like to sleep. The red dining chairs, which annoys my mummy a bit coz I leave so much hair on them and on the sofa bed, which is ultra comfy.
How to keep kitty happy at home
Understanding the way us kitty cats think and behave will help to ensure that you provide us with the best home environment and avoid behaviour problems.
One of the many decisions cat parents are faced with, is about whether to keep their kitty indoors/outdoors or a mixture of both.
When making this decision it is essential to keep in mind that cats are natural hunters. You will never be able to eradicate this behaviour, as it is an instinct that all cats are born with.
My mummy does not personally like the idea of cats being outdoors full time. We both know first hand what happens when cats are left to their own defenses, from living next door to cats that have had this type of lifestyle. They become aggressive, they have no boundaries and they are much more prone to killing wildlife such as possums and birds.
With that being said, here are some tips on the different types of living arrangements you can provide your cat to keep them safe and happy:
Indoors with Outdoor access
I have always lived in houses with my mummy that have had a garden with a fence. So I have had the opportunity to explore and climb trees and roll in the grass which has been great.
The only time that was not so great, is when we lived in a house that had just a chicken wire type fence. The neighbours cat could come straight into our yard and also the house because there were no fly screens in this house. He would nick my food, which wasn’t really his fault because his parents weren’t feeding him properly. He was so skinny he was just doing what he could to survive. So my mummy felt sorry for him.
But one day when she was at work, we ended up having a fight and he scratched my eye. Luckily my mummy came home from work sick that day and found me crying under a chair. She took me straight to the vet but they were unable to save my eye.
This is me hiding in the bushes!
This is the safest way for your cat to live. My mummy considered keeping me indoors-only, after my accident, but she knew that I would not be happy unless I could go out exploring, like I was used to doing.
To be truly happy, indoor your kitty cat needs to have a lot of mental stimulation and human interaction. We need lots of playtime to satisfy our natural hunting instincts. Failure to do so can result in behavioural issues.
Indoors with Outdoor Enclosure
This is a great option if you have the money and space. It allows for your cat to play outdoors and interact with nature but keeps them completely safe from other cats and other predators.
In our last house we had a courtyard and a balcony rather than a garden. There was a small patch of dirt that I could lie in and a tree that I could scratch on, it wasn’t covered but it was completely enclosed so that I was safe from other cats. There was also an enclosed balcony upstairs that had a screen which was a bit like the cat enclosures I’ve seen. It allowed me to sit up really high and I could watch all the birds fly past. It was very safe for me.
This is a catio that is made by a company called Somerzby.
If you have a deaf cat, they should always be kept indoors. White cats need to be kept out of the sun as they are more prone to skin cancer.
There are lots of toys available on the market that encourage your cat to work at getting their food from them. These are great to help lessen boredom especially if your cat is left alone for long hours during the day.
There are others that mimic the movement of small rodents which will stimulate the hunting behaviour in your kitty cat - stalking, chasing, pouncing and finally catching.
All kitty cats are different so not all cats will react in the same way to toys. It is a matter of trial and error.
To help you find the right type of toy for you kitty cat I have put together a list of the kinds of toys that are available:
- Tunnels/Boxes - because cats love hiding
- Toys made of natural materials like sisal and wood
- Rattling toys - mice, balls
- Crinkly toys - balls, fish
- Wand toys - with feathers, spiders, ribbons
- Climbing - cat towers
- Puzzles - your cat has to work to get their treats
- Catnip toys - some cats go crazy for catnip
- Cardboard scratchers - instead of scratching the furniture
- Chewy toys - cats love to bite and chew
These are some of my favourite toys
Other considerations when buying toys for your cat is whether you are looking for your cat to play by themselves when you are out, or whether you will be initiating play. Things like wand toys require you to initiate play. But other toys such as balls and mice can be left around the house for you kitty cat to hunt and bat whenever they want.
Some of my favourite toys have actually been made by my mummy. She likes to crochet so she made me some mice that have bells inside and catnip. The catnip doesn’t really do much for me but I like the jingly sound they make.
I love boxes!!!! My food gets delivered to me, so anytime we get a new box I just have to inspect it. A simple pleasure for a pussy cat like me, and you don't need to spend a cent! When we moved house my mummy actually made me a cat castle out of the moving boxes. It is pretty cool. It has 3 levels and I can sit on the top level and look out the window at the birds.
The other toy I love that mummy made me is a crochet wand. It is a long dangly rope with some knots on the end. I love that one. Mummy swings it around and I love chasing it!!!
I also really like simple things like bottle caps, rolled up tin foil balls and sweet wrappers!!! I am easily pleased. My mummy has spent some money on toys before that I haven’t really used so most of the time she makes things for me now!
How to Identify Behavioural Problems
Scratching is a natural behavior for us kitty cats. It helps us to remove the worn out outer sheaths of the nail. We also do it to stretch and strengthen our upper bodies.
Between our toes are scent glands which is how we mark our territories.
To avoid your furniture being destroyed you need to give us something else to scratch on like cardboard scratchers or cat trees. I really like scratching on the cardboard scratchers. Apparently mummy says that you can buy them really cheap from places like K-Mart.
If we don’t get the hint right away you can try discouraging the behaviour by covering the place where we have been scratching with double sided tape like sticky paws or tin foil.
My mummy tried the double sided tape when we got new furniture. I was just trying to leave my mark on something that smelt unfamiliar to me. Then when she covered the places I marked with the tape it felt horrible because my paws got stuck.
If you are getting new furniture my advice would be to have a plan of action in place about how you will discourage the natural scratching behaviour and be consistent with it until you know that the problem has been resolved.
Your pussy cat will mark their territory by spraying small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces. The reason we do this is to enhance our sense of security. It’s our way of leaving a familiar scent around the home so that we feel comfortable.
If we already feel safe in our environment we will leave our scent by rubbing the glands of our heads and under our chin on things. I always do this to my mummy’s and if there is something new in the house I rub my face on it.
If we are stressed however, we might start to distribute our scent by spraying, middening or scratching. In case you didn’t know middening is similar to defecating but is done deliberately in a strategic place.
The triggers for these behaviours can be identified by looking at the home environment through your cats eyes. You need to look at changes or threats from within the household and outside the house.
Here are some things to consider:
- A new house
- Re-arranged or new furniture
- Refurbished or renovated home
- Conflict with another animal or person in the house
- New pet or person moved into the house
- Strange smells
- Invasion of a cat from another household
- Aggression from other cats
The above needs to be taken into consideration to ensure the safety and security of your feline friend. Us cats are very sensitive creatures and changes within the house are very unnerving for us. We need for you, our pet parents, to take our comfort seriously to ensure that we are happy.
If your pussy cat starts to show any signs of territory marking DO NOT scold your cat as it is not their fault. You need to look at the environment and look at ways you can make life more comfortable for them.
Grooming your kitty cat
Grooming is important for all cats especially long haired cats. You should start grooming from an early age so that your kitty gets used to it. Otherwise they may end up growing up to resent it and it becomes a painful process for you as a cat parent.
My mummy has always done a pretty good job at keeping me clean and well groomed. She is very patient and gentle. She is also good at knowing when I am getting irritable so will stop when I’ve had enough.
This is a list of what my mummy does with me on a regular basis and probably should be included within your grooming routine:
Lucky for [a]my mummy I only have one eye for her to look after (just jokes!) Us kitty cats are just like humans in that we can get sleepy dust in our eyes and we can get eye infections. Generally it is a good idea to wipe our eyes with just a cotton wool ball or paper towel and some warm water.
Take your kitty to the vet immediately if there is a yellow or green discharge coming out of your cats eyes, if you are having to wipe your cats eyes more than once or twice a day, or if they are squinting and the eyes are red.
I know from personal experience that anything to do with eye health is super important.
Us cats have very interesting eyes. We have very large corneas (the transparent part) and that is why we can see at night without any lights on. We also have a third eyelid which provides extra protection. Our eyesight is very important.
The third eyelid is there to protect the eye from dirt and bacteria. But we can still suffer with things like conjunctivitis.
I have had a couple of instances with waxy build up in my ears and the way my mummy knows, is that I shake my head in a funny way and I rub my ear a lot with my paw.
Ear problems are something that generally affect long haired cats more because of the extra hair around their ears. But it can happen to any cat.
As a cat parent you should get into the habit of checking your pussy cats ears regularly for any signs of waxy build up, redness or mites.
You should not try to remove anything from your cats ear if it is lodged within the canal.
To clean your cat's ears use some cotton wool balls and warm water to wipe away any wax or dirt.
Visit your veterinarian if there is anything you are concerned about. My vet gave me some drops that my mummy put in my ear for a few days and my ears were as good as new.
In an ideal world we would let our cat parents brush our teeth every day. I watch my mummy’s do it every day but when my mummy comes to brush my teeth it just feels weird!!
My mummy has been brushing my teeth for a while now. She didn’t start when I was a kitten but she wished that she had. She probably started brushing my teeth when I was aged about 2 or 3 years.
The first ever toothpaste I got was chicken flavour and gosh it was yummy. My vet recommended to use a baby toothbrush, but it was really too big for my mouth. So mummy rubbed it all over my teeth instead.
The toothpaste I use now is still chicken flavour but it is more liquidy so it is easier for mummy to get it on my teeth. My mummy did try using those finger brushes you can get but they are too big for a cats really small teeth. So she just makes sure that her hands are really clean and does it with her finger.
I went to the cat dentist for the first time when I was 11 years old earlier this year. The vet nurse told me that I had great teeth for an 11 year old and it was all because my mummy looks after my teeth.
My poor cousin fudge did not have good teeth, his parents did not brush his teeth ever and he started dribbling. If you notice that your cat is dribbling then it is probably a good idea to get their teeth checked because it could be a sign of dental disease.
Dental disease, if left untreated can lead to serious health problems.
There are a couple of things you can do to help with your cats dental health. One is to add an oral dental rinse to your cats water which will help to prevent buildup of plaque and tartar.
You can give your kitty cat dental treats. My mummy gives me these. I have the chicken flavoured ones. They are called Greenies and they are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.
If you have never brushed a cat's teeth before the best thing to do would be to get some advice from your vet or watch a video on youtube to see how it is done.
Step 1. Find a comfortable place for you and your cat. This might be a bit of trial and error until you can figure out what works for you and your kitty cat. I now do this in the bathroom. I put Ziggy on the bench where I can hold her and brush at the same time.
Step 2. Use special toothpaste for cats. Never use human toothpaste. You can also use a special toothbrush. Again this is trial and error to see if the toothbrush works for you. Otherwise use your fingers and make sure you have thoroughly cleaned them beforehand.
Step 3. Let your cat sample the toothpaste so they get used to the taste. Put a bit on your finger so they can lick it off or sniff it.
Step 4. This one takes a bit of practice - You need to lift the lip to expose the outside surfaces of your kitty cats gums and teeth.
Step 5. Brush gently around the teeth and gums using the same sort of motions as you would clean your own teeth. It is nearly impossible to clean the inner surfaces of a cats teeth so concentrate on the outside surface of the back molars and gums which is where plaque and tartar build up are most common
Step 6. Reward your kitty cat with a dental treat. It is important that your cat has a positive association with teeth cleaning. Regular cleaning will avoid expensive dental treatments and health issues later in life.
Cats who have access to the outdoors will most likely be able to take care of their claws themselves by scratching on trees. I love scratching on trees. Luckily in all the houses I have ever lived in I have had trees that I can scratch on. Cats need their claws for defense and climbing so it is NEVER a good idea to declaw a cat!
Cats who live indoors may need their claws trimmed. It would be a good idea to discuss with your vet before you attempt to trim your cats claws for the first time to ensure that it is appropriate to do so. They can also give a demonstration on how to do it.
My mummy cuts my claws because sometimes even though I scratch on trees and my cardboard scratchers they are still a bit long and sharp. Also my back nails can get really dirty, especially if I have been rolling around in the dirt. Giving them a trim helps to get rid of this dirt. I don’t like it very much but my mummy S always give me a treat after so it is always worth it!
Once you have the go ahead from your vet there are a couple of items that you will need to complete this task:
- Special Clippers for cats
- Styptic Powder
How to trim your cats claws:
- Choose a time that you and your cat are relaxed.
- Ensure that you have good lighting - this is so that you can clearly see the quick
- Gently press on the toe pad to extend the claw
- Using the clippers, cut off the transparent tip
- If you do happen to cut to close to the quick and cause bleeding, apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding
Brushing your kitty cat is often an overlooked part of cat care. Not only does brushing keep us looking good it also gets rid of dirt, dead hair & dander. It also helps to stimulate blood circulation and keep our skin and coat in great condition.
Before and whilst brushing your fur baby you should always be on the lookout for signs of bald patches, wounds, fleas and ticks. Anything unusual you should take your kitty cat to the vet to get checked out.
There are many types of cat brush on the market:
- Metal comb/rake - these tools are good for long haired cats whose hair may need to be detangled prior to brushing
- Deshedding tools - these are a must for cats that shed a lot. Helps to keep hair shedding under control especially during change of season.
- Grooming mitts and gloves - these are great for cats who hate to be brushed. The glove covers your entire hand so you can give your cat a gentle massage at the same time as grooming them.
- Rubber - These are great for cats who are sensitive to other brushes.
- Bristle Brushes - you can get these with natural or synthetic bristles. Great for smoothing the coat after using a deshedding tool. These often come double sided with pin bristles or a lint brush to grab any loose hair.
- Slicker brushes - thin wire brushes help to keep coat nice and smooth.
The type of brush that you need will depend on your kitty cat. I have medium length hair and I shed a lot, especially when the seasons change to warmer weather. Perhaps it might be an age thing too but my mummy has recently found that all the other brushes she has for me aren't working as effectively. That is why she invested in the deshedding brush. It works really well at helping to get all the hair from the undercoat which means I have less work to do and there is less chance of me coughing up a hairball. Also it means that there is less hair left on me to fall around the house and get up my mummy k’s nose. She has allergies and my hair makes her get sick.
The other brushes that we have tried are rubber, bristles and metal comb.
When you are ready to give your kitty cat a grooming session here are some tips to ensure that it goes smoothly.
Step 1. Make sure you and your cat get comfy. Whether it be in your lap or while they are sitting in their favourite chair. Give them a few gentle pats to ensure they are receptive to being groomed. Offer the brush to them to let them have a sniff. Your cat will be less fearful if they have had a chance to smell the tool that you are going to use to groom them.
Step 2. Begin with gentle strokes of the brush. Start in places you know that they like to be petted like on the head, under the chin or on the back. My favourite place to be petted is on the head between my ears so that is where mummy S always starts brushing me. Brush in the direction of the fur in short gentle stokes. You should not put too much pressure on the brush.
Step 3. Once your kitty cat becomes more comfortable and used to the brush you can start to move to other areas. Be careful around sensitive areas like the belly. Also trying to brush the front and back legs can be tricky. Don’t force the issue if your cat won’t let you near certain areas. My mummy really only focuses on brushing my head and back as that is where most of my hair sheds from anyway.
Step 4. Finish a grooming session with a treat so that your cat will learn to associate a grooming session as a positive experience.
To bathe or not to bathe - that is the question!!
My mummy has never actually bathed me. I have always been really good at keeping myself clean, except for the odd occasion I decide to roll around in the dirt!
If you are going to bathe your kitty cat this is something you really need to start doing when they are a kitten. Some cats naturally like water. I like to drink it but I don’t like being completely wet.
According to Jackson Galaxy cats spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming themselves. Unless your kitty cat has trouble grooming themselves due to illness or old age there is no need to bathe your cat.
Hairless breed cats may need to be bathed as their skin produces excess oils. The only other time a bathe is actually necessary is if your cat has managed to get into something really yucky or funky like mud or poo.
The most important thing to remember about cats is that when they are grooming themselves they are covering themselves with their own scent. By bathing them you are essentially washing away their identity. Your cat could then start to have negative associations any time you handle them. This may then lead to defensive or aggressive behaviour which is a much harder problem to deal with.
It is much better to leave the bathing to the expert!! That is after all why we have such special tongues!!
Preventative Health Care
The best medicine is prevention! This is relevant for humans and us kitty cats.
There are now many vaccinations that your cat should get once a year starting from the age of 8 weeks. I have had all mine done.
The F3 vaccination protects against:
Feline Enteritis - potentially fatal gastroenteritis virus.
Calicivirus - part of the cat flu which causes sneezing, runny nose, sore joints and mouth ulcerations.
Rhinotracheitis virus - another type of cat flu virus which causes sore throat, sneezing and watery discharge from the eyes.
There are 3 other vaccinations that are recommended by Vets in QLD:
Feline Leukaemia Virus - This is a deadly virus that can cause immune suppression, anaemia and various cancers. It is spread via bodily fluids through casual contact, bite wounds and nursing. Infected cats may suffer from anemia, immune suppression, and cancer. All kittens should be vaccinated against FeLV during their first year of life.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (Cat AIDS) - this is much like the human aids. The immune system is compromised which leaves the cat at risk of infectious diseases. Cats can be infected through being bitten or scratched by a cat with the disease during a fight. All cats that go outside should have this vaccination.
Feline Chlamydia - this is a bacterial infection that can cause conjunctivitis and upper respiratory infections. It is of no risk to people.Desexed cats can be treated with antibiotics. This is only recommended for breeding cats.
Other states and countries may have different vaccination protocols so you need to check with your vet.
It is recommended that your cat be treated for intestinal worms once every 3 months. This will protect your kitty cat from roundworm, hookworm, and flea tapeworms.
Another worm that needs to be treated for is heartworm. This is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes a range of symptoms from a chronic cough to sudden death. Indoor and outdoor cats are equally at risk of infection.
These are both easily treated with a spot on treatment.
The age old issue of Fleas!! Horrid little things!!! This is now a relatively easy thing to control with a monthly spot on treatment.
The best way to check if your cat has fleas is with a special flea comb which will catch and fleas and their droppings between the teeth. (pic of flea comb)
Tick bite paralysis is caused by a deadly toxin that is released through the saliva of the female tick, which is passed into the bloodstream of the cat as the tick burrows itself beneath the skin.
The bite of a paralysis tick can cause toxicity, paralysis and even death in cats if veterinarian attention is not sought in time.
The products my mummy uses on me for these things is Revolution & Bravecto. There are many things on the market you can buy so just ask your vet for advice about what is best for your fur baby.
General Health Care
Cats are very good at hiding the fact that they may be unwell. By the time you notice any symptoms your kitty cat may have already been unwell for a few days. This means that as cat parents you need to be very observant of your cats behaviour, posture, appetite. Then if your fur baby is acting out of the ordinary you can do a health check to see if there is anything you should be worried about.
A home medical examination should be performed on a regular basis. If you get to know your cat it will become easier to notice any unusual lumps or bumps.This can be done at the same time as a grooming session.
The things to look out for are:
- Scratches, fleas, wounds, baldness, discolouration of the skin and increased shedding of hair.
- Brown wax, discharge, swelling, redness of the ear. Or if your cat shakes their head or holds it to one side.
- Discharge or inflammation of the eyelid or third eyelid.
- Drooling, inflamed gums and bad breath.
- Look for signs of straining to poo or pee, diarrhoea. Check base of tail for abscesses.
- Lameness, swelling or abnormal gait.
- Discharge from the nose, laboured breathing and persistent sneezing.
It is impractical to take your kitty cat to the vet every single time they seem a little out of sorts however if your fur baby is exhibiting any of the above symptoms it is best to get them checked out.
If you are not sure or you think it is something not quite so serious you can always call your vet and talk to a vet nurse. They may be able to give advice about what to do over the phone and save a trip to the vet.
Yearly Vet Visits
You should also maintain a regular once yearly visit with your vet for yearly vaccination boosters and a general check up. Our vet is very kind and sends us yearly reminders about what is due and when.
Once I turned 10 though the vet said that I now have to see the vet twice a year because I am now classed as a “senior” cat. Thats ok, I don’t mind. The people at the vet we go to are always really nice.
My mummy really likes taking me to the vet too because she says it’s the only time that I will give her “proper” cuddles!!
The signs of a healthy cat are:
a shiny coat,
ease of movement,
a good appetite &
enjoyment of petting.
These are all indications that your
kitty cat is happy and well!!
I hope that this book has given you some useful insights that will help you to take the very best care of your fur baby.
Thank you for reading.
After all that writing...i’m off to have a cat nap!!!
We would like to acknowledge the following books and websites:
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Photographs are credited to:
Hills Science Diet food & Breeders Choice litter - Pet Circle - https://www.petcircle.com.au/cat
Catio - Somerzby - https://www.somerzby.com.au/cat-enclosures/
Cat Claw anatomy - https://www.eastportvet.com/manicure-for-your-cat-do-you-have-what-it-takes/
Cat Licking & Cat Eyes - Pixabay from Pexels
Greenies Picture - Greenies - https://www.greenies.com.au/how-they-work-feline/
Cat Teeth - Serena Koi from Pexels
Paralysis Tick - The Cat Clinic - http://www.thecatclinic.com.au/medical-and-health-info/tick-toxicity
All other photos are taken by Ziggy Belles Mummy - Sonya Jackson