As any devoted cat parent knows, our feline companions aren’t just pets; they’re members of the family. Yet, while their independence can make them seem low-maintenance, cats have specific needs and sensitivities. Making mistakes in their care, even with the best intentions, can lead to stress, illness, or even life-threatening conditions. Unfortunately, some of these mistakes are so commonplace that they’re often overlooked or dismissed. In an effort to educate and raise awareness, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of things you should never do to your cat. This guide aims to offer a full spectrum of advice, from dietary don’ts to behavior blunders, ensuring your cat leads a happy, healthy life.
Now, before diving into the list, it’s important to remember that every cat is unique, with its own set of likes and dislikes, tolerances and intolerances. However, certain general rules apply to the feline species as a whole: rules that are backed by veterinary science and years of collective pet care experience. My list covers not just the basics but also the lesser-known pitfalls in cat care. It serves as a roadmap, steering you away from common errors and guiding you toward best practices. Whether you’re a first-time cat owner or a seasoned pro, this list is your go-to resource for keeping your cat safe and content.
Things You Should Never Do To Your Cat
1. Forcing your cat to snuggle
It’s vital to understand that feline affection operates on different terms compared to human interaction or even other pets like dogs. Cats are known for their independence and, often, their aloof nature. Unlike dogs, who generally crave constant attention, many cats value their personal space and solitude. Forcing a cat to snuggle or receive attention when it clearly does not want to can lead to stress and even behavioral issues.
As a responsible cat owner, it’s crucial to learn how to read your cat’s signals. Signs like a tense body, flattened ears, or retreating movements are clear indicators that your cat is not in the mood for interaction. Forcing the issue can not only strain your relationship with your feline friend but could also trigger defensive behavior like scratching or biting. Instead, let your cat come to you when it’s ready. Respect its boundaries and personal space, this is one of the best ways to build a relationship built on trust and mutual respect.
By providing the basics like food, water, and a safe environment, along with the less tangible yet equally important gift of personal space, your cat is far more likely to reciprocate with affection and companionship on its own terms. Remember, a happy cat is one whose boundaries are respected.
2. Punishing your cat
Disciplining a cat is a nuanced process that requires a good understanding of feline psychology. Traditional punishments like spraying water, shouting, or physical correction do not work well with cats and can actually be detrimental. Unlike humans or even some other pets, cats do not have the cognitive ability to make the connection between their actions and the punishment they receive afterward. Implementing such punitive measures not only fails to address the undesired behavior, but can also lead to increased stress, fear, and even aggression in your cat.
The disapproval and frustration you may feel towards your cat’s misbehavior are best channeled into positive reinforcement strategies. The goal is to condition your cat to associate certain actions with positive outcomes. For example, if your cat scratches furniture, instead of punishing it, redirect its attention to a scratching post and reward it when it uses the post. Similarly, if your cat uses its litter box appropriately, offering treats or affection reinforces that behavior. This is based on operant conditioning, a learning process through which the strength of a behavior is modified by reinforcement or punishment.
It’s also important to note that when a cat engages in undesirable behavior, simply ignoring it can be an effective strategy. Cats are clever creatures and will quickly understand that certain actions garner attention and treats, while others do not. This will encourage them to naturally phase out behaviors that don’t result in positive attention or rewards.
In summary, the best way to correct your cat’s negative behaviors is through positive reinforcement, a method that strengthens the bond between you and your pet rather than weakening it through ineffective and potentially damaging punishment tactics.
3. Letting your cat play with yarn or string
The image of a cat playfully batting at a ball of yarn is a stereotypical one, often depicted in popular culture. However, this seemingly harmless activity can pose significant risks to your feline friend. While yarn and string might trigger a cat’s hunting instincts, making it an irresistible toy, they can also turn into dangerous, even life-threatening, hazards. Cats are likely to ingest yarn or string while playing with it, and that’s where the real danger lies.
When ingested, yarn or string can lead to a condition called a “linear foreign body” in the gastrointestinal tract. The string can get anchored around the base of the tongue or entangled in the stomach while the other end continues to move through the intestines. This can cause the intestines to fold in on themselves like an accordion, a phenomenon known as “intestinal plication.” This situation is a medical emergency requiring immediate surgical intervention. If left untreated, it can lead to intestinal perforation, sepsis, and eventually, death.
Instead of yarn or string, offer your cat safer alternatives like wand toys, plush toys filled with catnip, or puzzle feeders. These toys are designed to engage your cat’s predatory instincts in a safe manner. Keep yarn, sewing thread, dental floss, and similar items securely stored away in a drawer or container your cat can’t access.
By understanding the risks involved and opting for safer alternatives, you not only provide a stimulating environment for your cat but also ensure its well-being. It’s crucial to make informed decisions about even the simplest aspects of pet care, as the consequences of an uninformed choice can be severe.
4. Removing meat from your cat’s diet
Cats are hypercarnivores, which means their physiology is specifically adapted to a diet that is rich in meat. Unlike omnivores like humans, or even some other pets like dogs, cats require certain nutrients that can only be obtained from animal-based sources. Taurine, arachidonic acid, and vitamin A are some of the critical nutrients that cats require, and these are naturally abundant in meat. A deficiency in any of these can lead to severe health issues. Taurine deficiency, for instance, can result in heart problems, while a lack of arachidonic acid can cause skin issues.
It’s not just about the nutrients alone; the protein content in meat is also essential for a cat’s muscle maintenance, energy levels, and overall health. Thus, removing meat from your cat’s diet and attempting to substitute it with plant-based alternatives is not just ill-advised, it’s downright dangerous. Substituting meat with plant-based options can result in malnourishment, organ failure, and ultimately, could be fatal. Even the protein found in plants is not a suitable replacement, as it doesn’t contain all the essential amino acids that a cat needs.
If you’re concerned about ethical considerations such as animal welfare, it’s essential to remember that a cat’s dietary needs cannot be compromised. There are responsibly sourced and produced commercial cat foods that aim to be as ethical as possible while still meeting a cat’s dietary needs. Always consult with a veterinarian before making any significant changes to your cat’s diet. Your vet can provide advice tailored specifically to your cat’s health status and nutritional needs.
Removing meat from a cat’s diet is not an option if you want to keep your feline friend healthy and happy. The biological reality of their nutritional needs must be the primary consideration in their feeding.
5. Declawing your cat
Declawing a cat is a practice that is often misunderstood, with many thinking it is simply a permanent solution to unwanted scratching. However, it’s important to recognize that declawing is not a simple or benign procedure; it’s a surgery that involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. The impact on the cat is not just physical but also emotional and behavioral. Imagine having the tips of your fingers amputated at the first knuckle; that’s the human equivalent of what declawing does to a cat.
The surgery can lead to a host of complications, including infection, tissue necrosis, and nerve damage. In some cases, fragments of bone that were not completely removed can cause extreme pain and create additional problems. Pain from the surgery may also manifest in behavioral changes, such as increased aggression or reluctance to use the litter box, as the act of scratching in the sand can become painful. The removal of a cat’s claws also deprives it of its primary means of defending itself.
Moreover, there is an increasing ethical concern surrounding declawing. The procedure is viewed by many animal welfare organizations and veterinary associations as inhumane and unnecessary. It is banned or heavily regulated in several countries and in some U.S. states and cities. Ethical veterinarians strongly advise against declawing and recommend alternatives like regular nail trimming, providing appropriate scratching posts, and using soft nail caps as humane ways to manage a cat’s scratching behavior.
Given the severe consequences and ethical concerns, declawing should never be considered a routine or acceptable option for your cat. It’s vital for cat owners to educate themselves on the repercussions of this procedure and seek alternative, humane methods for dealing with scratching behaviors.
6. Feeding Human Food
Many pet owners might be tempted to share their meals with their feline companions, especially when those adorable eyes are pleading for a bite. However, it’s crucial to understand that not all human foods are safe for cats. In fact, several common foods that are completely harmless for humans can be toxic or even deadly for cats. For instance, foods like chocolate, onions, and garlic contain substances that cats cannot metabolize effectively, leading to poisoning.
Chocolate contains theobromine, a stimulant that can cause rapid heart rate, seizures, and even death in cats. Onions and garlic contain compounds that can cause gastrointestinal upset, damage red blood cells, and lead to anemia. Other human foods like grapes, raisins, and certain artificial sweeteners like xylitol are also toxic to cats. Symptoms of food poisoning in cats can range from mild discomfort to severe health issues requiring immediate medical attention.
The best practice is to stick to a diet that is specially formulated for cats, which ensures they get all the essential nutrients they need without any of the risks associated with human food. Always consult your vet before introducing new foods into your cat’s diet. If you want to reward your cat, opt for treats that are specifically designed for them or small amounts of plain cooked meat. Remember, what’s good for you is not necessarily good for your feline friend.
It’s not just about avoiding harmful foods; it’s about understanding that cats have specific nutritional needs that human food simply can’t meet. A balanced diet that is specifically designed for cats is the safest and most effective way to keep your cat healthy and happy.
7. Using human medication
It’s a common misconception that human medication can serve as a suitable substitute for veterinary drugs when it comes to treating pets. Many cat owners might think that a little aspirin or antihistamine can’t hurt and could even help their feline friend, especially when it comes to relieving pain or allergies. However, the reality is far more complicated and potentially dangerous. Using human medication for cats without veterinary advice is a risky proposition that can result in severe health problems, including toxic reactions that may be fatal.
For example, even a tiny dose of paracetamol, a common pain killer, is fatal for cats.
Human medications are formulated based on human physiology, which can be significantly different from that of cats. For example, cats have a much faster metabolic rate than humans and can be sensitive to even small doses of human medication. Substances like acetaminophen, which is generally harmless in humans, can cause severe liver damage in cats. Similarly, common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can result in kidney failure. Even some seemingly benign over-the-counter remedies like antihistamines or decongestants can be extremely toxic to cats and can lead to symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal distress to cardiac issues.
The principle to adhere to is clear: Never administer human medication to your cat unless you have explicit guidance from a qualified veterinarian. If your cat appears to be in distress or suffering from an illness, consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan tailored specifically for your feline’s health needs. The best approach to keeping your cat healthy is to stick with veterinary-approved medication and avoid the impulse to treat symptoms with human medication, no matter how harmless they may seem to you.
8. Tugging on their tail
While tugging on a cat’s tail might seem like innocent play to some people, it is important to understand that this action can cause significant stress, discomfort, or even injury to the animal. The tail is an extension of a cat’s spine and is full of sensitive nerve endings and muscles that help the cat maintain balance and communicate with other animals and humans. Tugging on it can result in sharp pain, muscle strain, and potential damage to the vertebrae. Additionally, such an act can cause stress and lead to behavioral issues or a breakdown in trust between the cat and its human companions.
It’s not just the physical pain that makes this a dangerous practice; it’s also the psychological distress it can inflict. Cats use their tails to communicate various emotions like happiness, irritation, and excitement. Forcing physical manipulation of this sensitive organ not only hurts the cat but also sends confusing signals, thereby leading to stress and potential behavioral problems. It might also make the cat more guarded or skittish in the future, affecting its overall well-being and relationship with you.
Tail-tugging should never be used as a form of play or discipline. The potential for both physical harm and psychological stress far outweighs any momentary amusement it might bring. Always treat your cat with the respect and gentle care it deserves. Understanding a cat’s body language and respecting its physical boundaries is key to a healthy and positive relationship between you and your feline friend.
9. Holding by the scruff
Many people believe that holding a cat by the scruff of the neck is an acceptable way to control or carry them, drawing upon the observation that mother cats often carry their kittens this way. However, what works for kittens does not necessarily translate well to adult cats. When kittens are scruffed by their mothers, they go into a sort of “immobilized” state, which is an instinctual response that helps the mother move them safely. Adult cats, on the other hand, do not have this same response and can find scruffing extremely uncomfortable, stressful, or even painful.
As cats grow, they gain weight, making the skin on their scruff less able to support their body mass. Lifting or holding adult cats in this manner can put undue stress on their neck and back, potentially causing muscular strains or even spinal injuries. Furthermore, scruffing an adult cat can trigger stress or fear responses. Prolonged stress in cats has been associated with a variety of health problems, ranging from digestive issues to increased susceptibility to infections.
In a clinical setting, some vets may use scruffing as a last resort for brief control during certain procedures, but this is typically done in combination with other safe handling techniques and should not be replicated by pet owners without proper training and context. If you need to lift or control your cat, it’s recommended to do so by securely cradling the body with both hands, one under the front legs and one under the hindquarters, to distribute their weight evenly and minimize stress.
It’s crucial to dispel the myth that scruffing is an acceptable way to handle adult cats. The act can cause physical pain, and emotional stress, and lead to a breakdown in the trusting relationship between a cat and its human caregivers.
10. Giving your cat milk
The image of a cat contentedly lapping up a saucer of milk is a common one, often perpetuated by cartoons and popular media. However, the reality is that most cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack sufficient quantities of the enzyme lactase needed to properly digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. While it may seem like a treat, giving your cat milk or dairy products can lead to digestive upset, including diarrhea and stomach cramps. In some cases, these symptoms can be severe and lead to dehydration or other health issues.
Lactose intolerance is not a minor inconvenience; it can lead to significant gastrointestinal distress. The unabsorbed lactose remains in the gut, drawing water into the intestines, which can result in diarrhea. Additionally, undigested lactose can ferment, leading to the production of various gases that can cause flatulence and discomfort. Even if your cat seems to enjoy milk, the potential risks and discomfort far outweigh the momentary pleasure it may experience.
In light of this, it’s advisable to keep your feline friend on a lactose-free diet. If you’re keen on giving your cat a liquid treat, there are specially formulated “cat milk” products available that are lactose-free and safe for feline consumption. But always remember, these should be given in moderation and should not replace a balanced, meat-based diet that meets all of your cat’s nutritional needs.
11. Using dog flea products on your cat
It’s a common misconception that flea and tick products are interchangeable between dogs and cats. In reality, using a dog-specific flea or tick product on a cat can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. One of the primary reasons for this is that many dog flea treatments contain ingredients like permethrin, which is highly toxic to cats. When a cat is exposed to a substance like permethrin, it can suffer from severe symptoms, ranging from tremors and seizures to respiratory failure and death.
In cats, the toxic effects of such substances can manifest rapidly, sometimes within just a few hours. Symptoms may include extreme salivation, muscle tremors, and seizures, all of which require immediate veterinary intervention. In some severe cases, the toxicity can lead to long-term neurological issues or even death. Moreover, the risk isn’t only associated with directly applying the wrong product; cats can also be exposed through contact with a recently treated dog.
When it comes to flea and tick control in multi-pet households, it’s crucial to read all product labels carefully and to consult with your veterinarian for advice tailored to each individual animal’s needs. Even when using cat-specific products, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for weight and age restrictions to ensure that the treatment is both effective and safe.
So, in summary, never use dog flea or tick products on your cat. Always consult your veterinarian for the most appropriate and safe flea and tick prevention methods for your feline friend. A small mistake in this area can lead to devastating consequences, making it imperative to be cautious and well-informed.
12. Exposing to loud noises
While cats are known for their keen senses, their acute sense of hearing is particularly remarkable. Cats can hear a broader range of frequencies than humans, which makes them highly sensitive to noises in their environment.
However, this also means that they can be easily stressed or frightened by loud sounds. This could include noises from fireworks, loud music, construction, or even a noisy vacuum cleaner. Exposure to such high-decibel sounds can result in stress, anxiety, and even long-term behavioral issues in some cases.
When exposed to loud noises, cats may display signs of stress or anxiety such as hiding, restlessness, vocalization, or even destructive behavior. Persistent stress can compromise a cat’s overall well-being and lead to more serious health issues like digestive problems, lowered immunity, and chronic anxiety disorders. Loud noises are not just a momentary annoyance for cats; they can have a lasting impact on their emotional and physical health.
If you anticipate a situation where there will be loud noises, such as a home renovation or a holiday known for fireworks, it’s advisable to prepare in advance to minimize the stress for your cat. Create a ‘safe space’ in a quiet part of your home where your cat can retreat, complete with fresh water, a cozy bed, and some of their favorite toys. You might also consider playing soft music to mask the disturbing sounds.
13. Letting the litter box get dirty
Maintaining a clean litter box is more than just a courtesy to your cat; it’s a critical component of their overall health and well-being. A dirty litter box can lead not just to unpleasant odors but also to a host of potential problems for your feline friend. When a litter box is left unclean, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites, which can result in urinary tract infections or worse. Cats are particularly sensitive to their environment, and an unclean litter box could cause them to develop litter box aversion, a behavioral issue where the cat avoids using the litter box altogether.
When a cat develops litter box aversion, it may begin to relieve itself in inappropriate places around the house, such as carpets, corners, or furniture. This can create a vicious cycle, as the cat may continue this behavior even after the litter box has been cleaned. In addition, some cats may hold their urine or feces, leading to medical issues like constipation or urinary retention. For multi-cat households, it’s essential to have an adequate number of litter boxes, generally one per cat plus an extra one, to avoid territorial disputes that can arise from having to share an unclean litter box.
To break the cycle of litter box aversion and prevent the associated health risks, consistent cleaning is crucial. Experts recommend scooping the litter box at least once a day, completely replacing the litter weekly, and washing the box itself with soap and warm water during every litter change. The use of unscented litter is also recommended, as some cats can be sensitive to fragrances.
14. Bringing harmful plants to the home
Bringing house plants into your home can add beauty and improve air quality, but it’s crucial to remember that some plants are toxic to cats. Even if you think you’re placing the plant out of your cat’s reach, never underestimate a cat’s agility and curiosity. Lilies are one example of a common household plant that can be extremely toxic to cats, even in small amounts. Ingesting even a small part of the plant can lead to severe kidney damage, and without prompt treatment, it can be fatal.
If you’re a plant lover and a cat owner, the responsible approach is to ensure that you only bring non-toxic plants into your home. Before making a purchase, always research the specific plant species to confirm its safety for cats. Several organizations provide verified lists of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to cats, offering an easy reference for concerned pet owners. Neglecting this important step could put your cat’s health and life at serious risk, leading to a potential emergency that could require costly veterinary treatment.
15. Shaving your cat
Shaving your cat might seem like a quick solution for shedding problems or overheating, but it’s important to understand that a cat’s fur serves multiple critical functions. It not only helps regulate body temperature but also provides a protective layer against the environment. Cats have developed their fur over thousands of years of evolution, and it serves as a natural barrier against both heat and cold. Shaving can disrupt this natural regulatory system, making your cat vulnerable to temperature changes and skin issues.
There are some specific medical conditions where shaving could be recommended by a veterinarian, such as extreme matting that can’t be resolved through brushing, or for certain surgical procedures. However, in such cases, the shaving should always be performed by a professional and under the guidance of a veterinarian. If you’re considering shaving your cat for any reason, consult your vet first to discuss whether it’s an appropriate solution for your specific situation. Doing it yourself without professional advice can cause your cat discomfort, stress, or even injury.
16. Not brushing your cat
Neglecting to brush your cat’s fur can lead to a range of problems that go beyond mere aesthetics. Cats have sebaceous glands near their hair follicles that secrete an oil known as sebum. Brushing helps distribute this natural oil, thereby conditioning the fur and keeping the skin moisturized. This is crucial for maintaining a healthy, shiny coat. Moreover, brushing helps prevent painful matting and tangles, which are especially problematic for long-haired breeds.
Additionally, regular brushing sessions can serve as health checks; they allow you to examine your cat’s skin for any signs of fleas, ticks, or skin infections. Not to mention, brushing can also help in reducing hairballs, a common issue for many cats, by removing loose hairs that would otherwise be ingested. The frequency of brushing will depend on your cat’s fur length and individual needs. Short-haired cats might require brushing once a week, while medium to long-haired cats benefit from being brushed multiple times a week or even daily.
17. Bathing your cat
Bathing a cat is usually unnecessary and can even be distressing for your feline friend. Cats are meticulous groomers and spend a significant amount of time each day grooming themselves, thereby reducing the need for human intervention. Furthermore, their natural oils serve to condition their skin and coat, and a bath can strip these oils away, disrupting the natural balance. If cleanliness is a concern, there are alternative methods available such as cat-safe grooming wipes that can be used to spot-clean the fur or paws.
If your cat has a medical condition that prevents them from grooming properly or has gotten into something that necessitates a thorough cleaning, a bath may be in order. However, these instances are exceptions rather than the rule. It’s always advisable to consult a veterinarian before resorting to bathing your cat, especially if the cat has skin issues or other health concerns. In these rare cases, specialized shampoos designed for feline skin may be recommended.
18. Leaving your cat alone for long periods of time
Leaving your cat alone for prolonged periods is not advisable, despite their independent nature. Cats form attachments to their human caregivers and require regular interaction for their emotional well-being. Additionally, they need to have their basic needs met consistently, this includes fresh water, food, and a clean litter box. Failing to provide these necessities can lead to stress, anxiety, or health issues for your cat.
If you’re planning to be away for more than a day, it’s crucial to arrange for a trusted person to check on your feline friend, replenish food and water, and provide some companionship. Extended absences without oversight can result in not only psychological distress for your cat but also potential risks such as accidental injuries or medical emergencies that require immediate attention. It’s not enough to simply leave out extra food and water; proactive care is necessary for your cat’s well-being.
19. Not providing enough water
Failing to provide sufficient water for your cat can have serious health repercussions, especially as some cats are prone to urinary tract issues that can be exacerbated by dehydration. Water is vital for a range of biological processes including temperature regulation, digestion, and waste elimination. Without consistent access to clean water, your cat is at risk for developing complications like urinary tract infections, kidney stones, or even life-threatening conditions like kidney failure.
Not having enough water can also negatively affect your cat’s overall well-being, making them lethargic, reducing their appetite, and increasing stress levels. Even if you’re feeding your cat wet food, it’s essential to ensure that fresh, clean water is available at all times. Utilize a clean bowl, or even better, invest in a cat water fountain that encourages your feline to drink more by keeping the water fresh and aerated.
20. Letting your cat roam outside unsupervised
Letting your cat roam outside unsupervised poses significant risks to its safety and well-being. The outdoors is a perilous place for domestic cats, fraught with dangers such as traffic, predators, toxic substances, and even the risk of being stolen. Outdoor cats are more susceptible to infectious diseases like feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and various parasites like ticks and fleas. They’re also at a higher risk of injuries from fights with other animals or accidents. All these factors make the outdoors a hazardous environment for your cat, one that could result in severe injury, illness, or even death.
Instead of letting your cat roam freely, consider safer alternatives like supervised outdoor time in a secured backyard, leash training, or even building a “catio” which is a protected outdoor enclosure where your cat can safely enjoy the outdoors. If you absolutely must let your cat outside, ensure that it’s microchipped and wearing a collar with your contact information. Even with these precautions, however, the risks of unsupervised outdoor time are significant and generally not worth taking.
21. Ignoring your cat’s dental health
Ignoring your cat’s dental health can have far-reaching consequences, leading to a range of issues including dental disease, bad breath, and even severe infections that can spread to other parts of the body. Dental disease in cats begins with the buildup of plaque, which eventually hardens into tartar. This can cause gum inflammation known as gingivitis, and if left untreated, progresses to periodontal disease which affects the supporting structures of the teeth. Not only is this painful for your cat, but it can also lead to tooth loss and has been linked to other health conditions like kidney disease and heart problems.
It’s essential to implement a dental care routine for your cat that includes regular teeth brushing with cat-specific toothpaste, dental chews, toys designed to reduce plaque, and yearly dental check-ups by a veterinarian. Ignoring dental health not only compromises your cat’s quality of life but can also result in costly medical bills for advanced dental procedures or treatments for associated health issues.
22. Lack of regular vet check-ups
Neglecting regular veterinary check-ups is a mistake you don’t want to make as a cat owner. Annual vet visits are not just about vaccinations; they provide an invaluable opportunity for a comprehensive health assessment of your feline friend. These check-ups often include thorough physical examinations, and dental evaluations, and may include diagnostic tests like bloodwork or urinalysis to screen for underlying issues. Failing to schedule these appointments means you may miss early signs of health problems that are easier and less costly to manage when detected promptly.
The consequences of skipping regular vet visits can be severe, ranging from preventable illnesses to a shortened lifespan for your cat. Conditions like dental disease, diabetes, or kidney issues can advance rapidly, turning what could have been a manageable situation into a complex, expensive, and emotionally draining ordeal. Therefore, consider annual vet check-ups as an investment in your cat’s long-term well-being, an act that pays dividends in the form of a happier, healthier pet.
23. Overfeeding your cat
Overfeeding your cat is a mistake with long-term ramifications that can severely impact its health and quality of life. Obesity in cats is a growing concern, leading to a myriad of health issues like diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular problems. It’s not just about the immediate extra weight; the metabolic changes associated with obesity can set your cat on a path toward chronic illnesses. If your cat is constantly eating more than it needs, you’re essentially fast-tracking its journey to multiple health complications.
It’s crucial to adhere to vet-recommended portion sizes and nutritional guidelines when feeding your cat. Overfeeding may stem from a misunderstanding of feline nutritional needs or from the emotional satisfaction of seeing your cat eat heartily. However, the best way to show love isn’t through excess food but through responsible care. Be mindful of caloric intake, including treats, and engage your cat in regular physical activity to prevent weight gain. Weigh your cat regularly and consult your veterinarian for a tailored dietary plan.
24. Lack of enrichment
Lack of mental and physical stimulation is a serious but often overlooked issue that can significantly impact your cat’s well-being. Cats are curious and playful animals with innate hunting instincts. When deprived of proper enrichment like toys, scratching posts, or interactive activities, they can become stressed, bored, and exhibit behavioral issues. A cat’s environment should engage its senses and provide opportunities for problem-solving, hunting simulations, and physical exercise.
Not providing these forms of stimulation can lead to a cascade of problems, ranging from minor nuisances like scratching furniture to severe issues like stress-induced urinary problems. Cats may also become lethargic, anxious, or depressed without proper mental stimulation. Therefore, make sure to provide a variety of toys, scratching posts, and perhaps even puzzle feeders to keep your cat mentally and physically engaged. Also, spend quality time interacting with your cat; whether it’s playtime with a laser pointer or string, or simply sitting together while you read, your cat will benefit greatly from your attention.
25. Not spaying/neutering
Choosing not to spay or neuter your cat is a decision that can have a multitude of consequences, many of which are preventable through these simple procedures. Unspayed female cats are at risk for unwanted pregnancies, which contribute to the overpopulation of cats, straining animal shelters, and rescue organizations. They are also at risk for medical complications such as pyometra, a potentially life-threatening uterine infection, and mammary tumors. Male cats that aren’t neutered are prone to developing behavioral issues like spraying to mark territory, and they may become more aggressive.
Moreover, unneutered male cats have a tendency to roam, putting them at greater risk for injuries from fights, accidents, or predation. Both sexes can also be more prone to certain cancers if not spayed or neutered. Considering these risks, many veterinarians and animal welfare organizations advocate for the spaying and neutering of cats as a preventative healthcare measure. It’s a straightforward procedure that can usually be done in a day, and your cat will likely recover fully in a short amount of time.