Cat care and maintenance By: Luke Chidress

There are several major components to raising a cat. One of the most important is feeding. Feeding

It is recommended to purchase high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food. Your veterinarian will be able to assess your new cat or kitten and determine the best diet. Factors such as age, activity level and health make a difference in what and how much a cat should eat.

Cats require taurine, an essential amino acid, for heart and eye health. The food you choose should be balanced for the life stage of your cat or kitten. Properly balanced foods will contain taurine.

You will need to provide fresh, clean water at all times, and wash and refill your cat’s water bowls daily.

Treats should be no more than 5-10% of the diet.

Many people feed baby food to a cat or kitten who is refusing food or not feeling well Please read labels carefully: If the baby food contains onion or garlic powder, your pet could be poisoned.

Take your pet to your veterinarian if signs of anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting or lethargy continue for more than two days.

By nature, cats are extremely fastidious. You’ve no doubt watched your kitty washing herself several times a day. For the most part she can take care of herself very well, thank you, but sometimes she’ll need a little help from you.

Grooming sessions should be fun for the both of you, so be sure to schedule them when your cat’s relaxed, perhaps after exercise or eating. You want your pet to remember grooming sessions in a positive way, so you never want to risk losing your temper. If you’ve had a stressful day or are in a bad mood, it’s probably not a good time to groom your cat.

Keep your first grooming sessions short-just 5 to 10 minutes. Gradually lengthen the time until your pet is used to the routine. You should also get your pet used to being handled. Get in the habit of petting every single part of your cat-including ears, tail, belly and back-and especially the feet!

And keep in mind, a little patience can go a long way. If your cat is extremely stressed out, cut the session short and try again when she’s calmer. Unfortunately, most cats do not like baths, so you may need another person to help. And remember to pile on the praise and offer her a treat when the session is over.

Brushing

Regular sessions with a brush or comb will help keep your pet’s hair in good condition by removing dirt, spreading natural oils throughout her coat, preventing tangles and keeping her skin clean and irritant-free.

If your cat has short hair, you only need to brush once a week:

First, use a metal comb and work through her fur from head to tail.

Next, use a bristle or rubber brush to remove dead and loose hair.

Be extra-gentle near her chest and belly.

If your cat has long hair, you will need to brush every day:

Start by combing her belly and legs; be sure to untangle any knots.

Next, brush her fur in an upward motion with a bristle or rubber brush.

To brush her tail, make a part down the middle and brush the fur out on either side.

If your cat’s coat becomes greasy and oily, or if she’s gotten into something sticky or smelly, she’ll benefit from a bath. Use a mild shampoo that’s safe to use on cats, and follow these easy steps:

First, give your pet a good brushing to remove all dead hair and mats.

Place a rubber bath mat in a sink or tub to provide secure footing.

Put your cat in a tub or sink that has been filled with about 3 to 4 inches of lukewarm water.

Use a spray hose to thoroughly wet your pet, taking care not to spray directly in her ears, eyes or nose. If you don’t have a spray hose, a large plastic pitcher or unbreakable cup will do.

Gently massage in shampoo, working from head to tail.

Thoroughly rinse with a spray hose or pitcher; again, avoid the ears, eyes and nose

Dry your pet with a large towel.

Cats are prolific breeders. Females take just 6 to 9 months to reach sexual maturity; but it is not unheard of for female kittens as young as 4 months to become pregnant. Males mature a bit later but both sexes can breed before they are a year old. Although female can become pregnant at any time of the year, there are specific mating seasons when cats become sexually active. In northern Europe it is usual for domestic female cats to come into heat (oestrus cycle) in January and then again in June.The oestrus cycle is the period in the female reproduction cycle when mating is most likely to occur. A heat period lasts about 4 to 7 days if the cat is mated, and longer otherwise. Female cats indicate their readiness to mate by calling for male company with a special type of yowl, which like the (highly vocal) mating itself has often disturbed the sleep of humans who live in the vicinity.

One of the most interesting features of the reproductive process of cats is a phenomenon known as induced ovulation. The male cat's penis has backward pointing spines which scratch the interior of its partner, and cause ovulation to occur. Because pregnancy will not take place without this stimulus, quite often the first cat to mate with a queen with not father any kittens. However, the super-fertility of cats means that once she gets started, the female is capable of having a number of partners, and bearing kittens from several fathers in the same litter. The mother's eggs are fertilised in the oviduct and arrive in the uterus 4-5 days after mating. Cats do not go about the process quietly, and to the unpractised ear the process sounds remarkably like a prolonged and very vocal cat-fight.

Pregnancy lasts between 56 and 71 days, with the average pregnancy taking 68 days. Litters are most commonly of 3-6 kittens, but a single litter may have as many as nine.

Credits:

Created with images by AllAnd - "cat siberian portrait"

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