With a cat or two around the house, even the most dedicated pet parent may slack off and take Kitty’s presence for granted. Even the simplest oversight may have big consequences on your cat’s wellbeing and quality of life. Here are 8 things you should NEVER do to your fave feline.
1. Skip Flea Treatment
Your cat stays indoors and rarely comes in contact with other animals. Why bother with a cat flea treatment for an indoor cat? Believe it or not, fleas and ticks can easily enter your home and cause problems for cats. You may walk fleas into your home after visiting a friend with a dog, or bring in a tick on your clothing after hiking in the woods. Keeping your cat free of fleas and ticks has never been easier, with plenty of products available. (Not-so-fun-fact: If your cat ingests a flea, she could be infected with a health-zapping tapeworm, which can live in her small intestine for years.)
2. Put Your Cat Outdoors Unsupervised
Think your cat longs to explore all of springtime’s splendors on her own? Hey, she knows where she lives and she’d never wander off, right? Wrong. Your indoor kitty’s reaction to the great outdoors might be curiosity, confusion or fright. She may dart away into traffic, or cower under a bush when a strange dog happens by. Keep Kitty safely harnessed and reassured by your presence when outdoors, for her peace of mind—and yours.
3. Leave Windows Open
Even screened windows can pose a hazard to curious cats. Excitement over a robin’s fly-by may cause your mellow tabby to accidentally dislodge that screen and plummet to the ground. If you’re at work when the incident happens, hours could pass before you realize your cat is hurt or missing. Opt for sturdy double screens, and limit window openings to an inch or so when you’re not around to monitor Kitty’s whereabouts.
4. Put Off Vet Visits
Your cat seems healthy. She eats well, looks good and hasn’t changed her activity level. But cats, like the rest of us, can experience subtle health shifts, from vision to kidneys. Felines are masters at concealing their ills and compensating for problems. A periodic vet exam can pinpoint the start of any health concerns and treat minor issues. “At the very least, you’ll have a baseline for comparison if any problems crop up,” said Dr. Brad LeVora of Little Seneca Animal Hospital in Germantown, Md. “With the cat’s health history documented, there should fewer surprises.”
5. Hold Your Cat On Your Lap While Driving
Most cats dislike traveling, and resent being cooped up in their carriers, but a free-range cat in a moving vehicle can become a terrified, furry missile. An unconfined cat is distracting to the driver, and vulnerable to injury or escape. With your cat on the loose, ping ponging around the car, your final destination is disaster. So buckle up that secure cat carrier for a safe road trip.
6. Toss Your Cat Off the Counter
An inquisitive tabby poking her nose into that roasted chicken cooling on the countertop may be annoying, but she does not deserve to be treated like a feline Frisbee. Grabbing and throwing your cat in frustration can harm your cat, both physically and in spirit. Always handle your cat with gentle care, and your cat will respond to your wishes.
7. Forget to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth
Cats are not fond of anyone touching their precious pearly whites, and your cat’s reluctance to open wide has convinced you that dental-heath treats are enough to protect Kitty’s smile. But plaque buildup, resulting from food particles and saliva, can turn to tartar, which can lead to tooth loss down the road. Professional dental cleanings for cats are costly, so DIY cleaning your cat’s teeth daily, or at least a few times each week, to keep Kitty’s gums and teeth healthy.
8. Ignore Those Hairballs
Felines are self-grooming, and their constantly busy tongues capture loose fur and dead skin particles. When they hack up a hairball, you probably just sigh in annoyance—that’s how cats are, right?—and clean up the mess. But lending a hand in grooming can greatly reduce the amount of hair your cat ingests, which means there’s less to be processed or spewed up. Cats don’t enjoy hurling those hairballs anymore than we enjoy removing them from the living room carpet.
Kathy Blumenstock is owned by cats, loved by dogs, writes about both, and still longs for a horse.