Sunday, July 15, 2012

Facts about Domestic Cats

Cats are common house pets, having been domesticated over 9,000 years ago. In most modern cities the domestic cat is a common sight and they are often considered members of the family. In other areas cats are seen as helpful farm animals, killing mice and rats who would eat and contaminate food. Feral cats can be tamed though kindness, and food.

One of the reasons cats are so common, is there fast breeding rate.  Cats come into heat frequently, they are pregnant for about 57-65 days and can have 6 (or more) kittens per litter.  Unlike dogs, cats usually have no problems delivering their kittens and rarely require caesarian sections.  The biggest exception being cat breeds (such as the Persian) which have large round heads.

Kittens can be weaned at 6 weeks, but it is better to wean kittens at 8 weeks.  Homes should be kitten proofed before getting a new kitten.  There are many common household dangers to cats owners should be aware of.

You should have your kitten checked by a vet before bringing it home, it should be vaccinated and wormed too.  Note that it is not uncommon for cats to have heart murmurs - not all are severe.

Kittens usually know how to use their litter box with no problems, however kittens from a farm might not have used a litter box before so some additional training may be needed.  Kittens should not be allowed outside until they are older (or should be kept indoors always). 

When it comes to selecting a new cat, most people want kittens, and sadly few adult cats, and even fewer senior cats, find homes.  There are some concerns with adopting an older cat, but there are also many reasons why people may want to adopt a senior cat.

Many people worry if their cat can make them sick.  In general the answer is "no" but kittens can spread cat scratch disease.  Toxoplasmosis is a parasite that cats can catch from mice and this is a concern mostly to pregnant women.

Another concern among cat owners is that cats enjoy being awake at night, so it is a good idea to try to train them to sleep when you sleep.

Cats sometimes do not drink enough water and as such are sometimes prone to having urinary tract problems.  It is important that owners find ways to encourage their cat to drink more water to keep its urinary tract system healthy.  Pay attention to the magnesium content in dry food, select a food with a low magnesium content.  If your cat is not getting enough to drink it can get a urinary tract infection - a clue that your cat may have an infection is if it starts peeing around the home, not in the litter box.

Cats are obligate carnivores, they need meat.  People often debate about how to feed cats correctly.  Many agree they should have good quality dry food available at all times and be given small helpings of canned food as per their age and health needs.  Although many people think of tuna as being a favorite, it is a food cats should not have.

Cats can suffer from diabetes, as such, unless you want to be giving your cat insulin injections daily, it is important to keep your cat's weight under control.  Cats have many risks related to being obese.  It is a myth that spaying or neutering causes a cat to be lazy.  In general this is related to a lack of stimulation by owners who sometimes expect cats to exercise themselves. 

Be aware that many human medications are toxic to cats.

Cats sometimes vomit; in some cases this is related to hairballs (see below) in other cases this is related to food or health problems.

Cats generally prefer to live alone, not with other cats, however if selected correctly, and introduced correctly, cats can get along.  Cats can even get along with dogs too, but certain dog breeds are better with cats than others

Other Tips for Cat Owners

Not all cats like catnip; kittens rarely notice it, but you can try it for your cat after it is 6 months of age.

Hairballs are not "normal" but are common, try brushing your cat more to remove loose hair, feed a better quality cat food, and reduce stress to reduce shedding.

Polydactyl cats are cats with extra toes, and are considered to be lucky.

While most cats look somewhat similar there are a few unusual breeds, such as the Manx and Siamese cats.

Most cats you see are not specific breeds, in order for a cat to be called a Purebred, it must be registered.

Adopting a cat from an animal shelter is often cheaper than taking a "free kitten" to the vet for a check up, vaccination, and worming.  Animal shelters often have health guarantees and may give out many coupons and deals.

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