Cats are curious animals, and because of it, they can get themselves into trouble at times. This list of dos and don’ts will help you be a more responsible guardian of your cat, and help to keep your cat safe from harm; free from unnecessary injury and accidents; free from unnecessary disease and suffering; and keep your cat as healthy and happy as possible!
DON’T let your cat roam free in the neighborhood.
DON’T leave your cat unattended in your car. NEVER leave a cat inside a car on a warm or hot day, even for one minute.
DON’T re-home or give your cat away. Always try to keep your cat even when life requires making unexpected changes or facing unexpected challenges. If you must re-home your cat, be sure to screen and interview the potential adopters in person for their experience and history with cats; learn everything about them and meet all family members that live in the home; check their work/landlord/school/personal references; and visit their home in advance to make sure the cat will have a safe and loving environment to live. Here is a list of tips for preparing to adopt a cat.
DON’T use “free to good home” ads to place kittens or adult cats into a new home. These ads are often answered by Class “B” dealers who buy cats and dogs and sell them to laboratories where they are used in harmful experiments. “Free to good home” ads can be answered by people who may neglect, abandon, abuse or harm your adopted cat. If you must find a new home for your cat, charge a fee (of at least $50-100+), which will improve the chances that your cat’s new owner will be responsible, take their commitment seriously, care about your cat and give them a good home.
DON’T leave your cat home alone while you are away for a weekend, a vacation, or a business trip. Here are some reasons why. Instead, interview and hire a qualified, experienced pet sitter to come to your home at least once a day; or board your cat with a veterinarian (that provides overnight kennel services); or board them at a professional boarding facility.
DON’T leave unscreened windows open that your cat can jump or fall out of. Install window screens so you can leave windows open for fresh air, while keeping your cat safely inside.
DON’T ever use human medications on cats. Most are toxic to cats and pets. If you think there is a medical problem, see your veterinarian for a checkup and get proper treatment.
DO spay or neuter your cat. Cats can get pregnant at 5-6 months of age. By spaying or neutering, you will reduce the risk of your cat getting into a cat fight; contracting a serious or deadly disease; and getting injured from being outside. Spayed and neutered cats are healthier, happier and live much longer lives.
DO keep your cat indoors. Indoor/outdoor cats or outdoor-only cats require more medical treatment, incur more injuries and have shorter life spans. Letting your cat go outside poses many serious and deadly risks including being: poisoned; exposed to toxic and harmful substances; hit by a car; killed by a dog or wildlife (if you live in an area with coyotes, cougars, etc.); trapped by a human, shot at or tortured by neighbors who are bothered by cats; can get lost; can contract a deadly virus or disease; and can get parasites, worms and fleas much more readily.
DO make sure your cat has identification. Microchip your cat to protect them from getting lost and to increase the chances that you will be reunited with them. Be sure your contact information is up-to-date with the microchip company, especially if you adopted your cat with a microchip, so the company can reach you. If you do put a collar on your cat, make sure it is a “Quick-Release” collar with a snap opening, so your cat will avoid getting injured and caught or hung up on something.
DO know the signs of pain in your cat and when your cat is sick. Cats are good at masking pain and suffering, so often the signs can be hard to detect for us humans. Learn how to recognize the signs that your cat is in pain and is suffering. Learn how to take your cat’s vital signs, so you can quickly get your cat to the veterinarian or emergency room for treatment. And don’t wait—it can be serious, and often by the time you see the signs they have been uncomfortable for awhile.
DO provide a safe and secure home—with fresh, healthy canned (for hydration, protein and fewer carbs) food daily, clean water and a clean litter box—located in a quiet, private and convenient (for your cat) location, and remember to clean it daily.
DO provide annual health checkups with a good veterinarian, and have your cat’s teeth and gums checked annually. Dental disease can cause serious and chronic health problems. Here is some help in finding a great veterinarian.
DO make your home more comfortable for your cat by giving him a stress-free environment, with vertical spaces, indoor cat trees to climb, window ledges to look outside, cat beds in quiet spaces, cat toys like catnip, and quiet music or TV to watch while you’re away. Here are some ways to de-stress your cat and make your cat more comfortable.
DO block off any areas where your cat can become trapped and potentially injured. Keep washer and dryer doors closed or out of reach; keep cabinet and cupboard doors closed; keep all doors to the garage closed; keep fireplace screens closed; and keep the toilet seat down.
DO keep floors clean and vacuumed to avoid your cat ingesting any small objects that might be left on floors like loose threads, string, pins, clips, broken glass, sharp objects, parts of toys, tinsel, ribbon, etc. Cats are curious and playful, and ingesting anything other than food can cause choking, intestinal blockages, internal bleeding and irreparable damage to tissues. See your veterinarian or pet emergency hospital if you think your cat has swallowed something harmful, don’t wait! Keep all small objects off of floors and countertops.
DO check with your veterinarian during routine checkups about preventing fleas and parasites, and use ONLY veterinary-approved medications that are considered much safer than over-the-counter products that can be very harmful, toxic and even deadly for your cat.
DO safeguard all human medications, human NSAIDs and aspirins, household products, cleaning agents, chemicals of any kind, disinfectants, garden baits and poisons, lawn and garden products, auto products, human foods that are toxic to cats, and plants and flowers that are poisonous for cats. See our list of poisonous plants, toxic household products, and top dangers for cats in the home.
DO provide a safe, dark place for your cat to hide and be quiet anytime of day or night—away from people and activity. Place one or multiple cat beds, a cathouse or blankets in a variety of places inside of a closet (keep doors cracked open) or under the bed, or in a quiet room. Provide some type of multi-level climbing platform (attached to back of door), shelving along walls or windowsills, or one or two tall cat trees where your cat can feel safe off the floor.
DO consider getting pet health insurance if you need the peace of mind and the financial security in case you receive an unexpected serious diagnosis or an emergency arises.
DO know the locations of pet emergency hospitals in your area and have their numbers handy, and posted near your phones. Keep your veterinarian’s phone number alongside it—and keep them with you at all times. Have them listed in your cell phone under “Favorites.” Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside your immediate area as well, and keep the list in a handy location, in case of disaster.
DO display a pet rescue decal on the front of your home—near your front door or on the window, so emergency first responders know there is a cat(s) inside to evacuate. If you do have to evacuate, and time permits, write “EVACUATED” across the sticker. Get stickers from your local fire department, Red Cross or ASPCA.
DO consider providing an outside pet enclosure or kennel for your cat to enjoy the outdoors safely and protected. If you have a house, you can build an enclosure in a weekend with a cat-safe door that provides access from your home to the enclosure. Make sure it is protected with a roof and screening from the sun, heat and cold.
DO screen off your deck or balcony with invisible mosquito or pigeon netting that will keep your cat from jumping or falling. You can buy netting at most hardware stores, and secure the netting from floor to ceiling. Or don’t let your cat have access to your deck or balcony, by keeping your screen door closed at all times.
DO be prepared in case of an emergency or disaster. Have a disaster kit ready for your cat that includes a pet first aid kit, routine medications, extra cat food (refresh every 6 months), large cat carrier, blankets, litter box and scooper, extra litter, and cat identification — all ready to go. Keep photos and written descriptions of your cat handy too. Have a list of friends, local pet-friendly hotels and motels, as well as nearby boarding facilities and veterinarians who may be able to shelter your animal in case of an emergency.
DO identify a neighbor (and a relative or friend) who knows your pet, and can enter your house to take care of your cat in case you have an emergency and can’t get home. A neighbor can provide immediate support and a relative or friend can provide long-term support, in case you will be away from home for a period of time. Make arrangements well in advance and provide the neighbor and friend/relative with a key and instructions for the care of your cat.
Credit: Photo is courtesy of Pixabay, www.pixabay.com.