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Pet Cat Care Hints
Cats can be a real handful sometimes. Although their independence is wonderful, it can make them difficult to train. But yes, with patience they can be trained.
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Cats and exercise? Isn't that an oxymoron? It would seem so. But actually cats do need exercise. Unlike dogs, cats need short bursts of intense exercise, rather that long bouts of mild exercise.
Cats love to chase and bat at things. There are some toys available that are fun for both you and your cat. You can get a pole with feathers on a string on the end. That is tons of fun. There are other contraptions with balls inside them that can be batted but won't come out. Wind-up mice that run around the floor are usually a hit.
But you do not need to spend money on a toy your cat may not play with. There are plenty of things around the house. For some reason cats all seem to love to bat around the plastic ring from the top of a milk jug. Just be sure your pet doesn't swallow it. String is always a big hit. They love to chase the end of it. But, again, be sure it is not swallowed. Anything light that moves around when batted works. Things like balled up pantyhose or paper work.
They love to climb into things. Empty boxes or large paper bags are free and fit this bill perfectly.
Scratching posts or pads (simply set on the floor) exercise a cat's shoulders and back muscles.
Cats, of course, do a good job of grooming themselves. But they do need regular brushing to keep the hairballs down. Most cats can do without a bath. (They wouldn't argue with you on that.) But if they need one, put cotton in their ears to keep the water out. You can get an ointment from your veterinarian for their eyes to prevent burning from the shampoo.
In addition to the obvious benefit of trimming your cat's toenails (less furniture and people scratching) it also benefits them. Toenails that are too long can drag on the ground and become uncomfortable and result in soreness traveling up their legs. Dewclaws, the sixth toenail found higher up on the leg, can curl around and dig into their skin if not kept trimmed.
Trim your cat's toenails about once a month or more. Use special clippers designed for cats or a human nail clipper. Never use a scissors.
To make the process easier, it helps to take some time to prepare your cat. Before ever trimming the nails, spend time gently lifting, handling and petting the feet. A cat's nails retract. In order to trim them, you need to gently press on the pads. So before doing the actual trimming, get them used to you doing that.
When you're ready to do the actual trimming, be relaxed with it. You may want to do only one or two at a time, especially at first.
How much to cut the toenails.
Cut only the curved part of the toenail. If you cut too high, the nail will bleed and be quite painful to your cat. In white nails, the part with the blood is easy to see. It’s pink. If the nails are dark, you can't see it, so err on the safe side. If bleeding occurs, apply some corn starch to help with the clotting. You may need to apply gauze until the bleeding stops.
Inspect your cat's ears regularly. They should be pink inside and look and smell clean. If you notice an odor or any discharge (yellow, black or brown) or if the ears are sensitive, take your cat to the vet for a check-up. If all looks good, clean the ears with a cotton ball. Clean only the parts you can see.
Your cat's teeth should be examined by the vet once a year. There is evidence that dirty teeth and infected gums can lead to kidney and secondary heart disease.
How to train a cat to use a toilet.
Cats can be trained to use the toilet. This effort can be well worth the time. Kits and books abound on the subject, but here are the basics.
Take Your Time
Toilet training your cat is not hard. It just takes time and patience. You cannot push your cat too fast or it will give up altogether and leave you a puddle where you do not want it. Small steps with a waiting period of 1 - 7 days in between are the key.
The very first step is to train yourself and all the members of the family (guests, too) to leave the lid up and the seat down. And make sure the bathroom door is open all the time.
The next step is to move the litter box next to the toilet. Be sure to show your cat where it is. Leave it there 1 - 7 days until your cat seems comfortable.
Next, raise up the litter box in stages, about an inch at a time, resting 1 - 7 days between steps. You can put newspapers, a cardboard box or a phone book under it. Magazines are slippery and do not work very well. You may need to tape the litter box in place so it does not slide or fall off. (That could put you back to step one.) Keep this up until the bottom of the litter box is even with the top edge of the toilet seat.
At first, you cat will be able to step up into the litter box. Later it will jump. Toward the end, it will probably jump onto the toilet seat and step into the box. That's good when it happens as the cat will get used to being on the toilet seat.
Next, put the litter box right over the toilet. You may need to do this in two stages if your cat is hesitant. Just put it half way over the seat and wait until it is comfortable, then move it all the way over. You probably will need to secure the litter box in place with duct tape or something. Remove the pile of newspapers or whatever you used.
Now, lift the lid and measure the inside diameter of your toilet bowl at the widest point. Purchase an aluminum roasting pan that will fit the opening. A plastic bowl will not work because it will bend and fall into the toilet under the weight of the cat.
Next, remove the litter box, lift the lid and insert the aluminum pan. Put down the lid. Add two inches of kitty litter and there you go. Well, maybe not. There's still more to do. And this part can be the hardest, not to mention the most inconvenient for you and the rest of the family since that litter box has to be removed every time someone wants to use the toilet. But this is a monumental step.
If you are not already using flushable kitty litter, this is a good time to start.
The trick now is to teach your cat to place its feet on the toilet seat and not in the kitty litter. Watch your cat when it uses the litter box as much as you can. If it puts all four feet in the litter, gently raise the front two and place them on the toilet seat. You may have to repeatedly put them on the seat until your cat gets the idea. Praise your cat profusely and/or give it a small treat when it is successful.
After it gets into the habit of putting the two front feet on the seat, gently raise one of the hind feet and place it on the toilet seat - on the outside of the front feet as the proper squatting position is the two front feet in the middle and the hind feet on the outside. This may be a difficult step since it is an awkward position. Keep placing the hind foot in the proper position. Don't give up. Do it as often as necessary until your cat gets used to it. You will have to teach it two squatting positions as they are different for urine and bowel movements. More praise/treats.
The next step can be rather unpleasant. This is where you gradually reduce the amount of kitty litter in the pan. And things can get rather smelly. But the end is in sight. It is better if you start this step when you have at least a weekend where you will be home to speed up this process.
Reduce the litter a little at a time until you are down to a very small amount. Try to be there each time the cat uses the toilet so you can dump out the litter immediately. Otherwise, your cat may try to cover up the smell with litter that isn't there and track urine or worse throughout the house.
When you get down to just a tiny amount of litter, rinse out the pan and put a small amount of water in the bottom. If your cat gets nervous at this point, back up and move slower. Increase the amount of water each time until it is up to a couple of inches. Then - take away the pan. You're done!
Alternatively, and this, I think, works better, don't put any water in the pan. Rather, cut a small hole in the middle. Gradually increase the hole until there is not much left of the pan. Then remove it.
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