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Cat Care

Learn about caring for your dog, including behavior, training, expert health advice from veterinarians, nutrition grooming and more.

cat in a crate

Spending time with your cat at home is a joy, but every now and then you’ll have to attempt the dreaded task of transporting your cat. Whether it’s just across town to the vet, across state lines on a road trip or a move, or—and this one is particularly harrowing—on an airplane, it’s difficult to tell who is more upset about the task at hand: you or your cat. 

To get your cat anywhere, you must first get them in a cat carrier. Humans and cats alike find these contraptions stressful. They’re bulky, uncomfortable, and for cats, often associated with unpleasant things like trips to the vet or hours spent in the back of a shaky car.  

Here is how you can relieve some of your cat’s unease about carrier travel in the few days leading up to a trip, and in the process, make your own life a bit easier.

Step 1: Give the Carrier a Makeover

If the inside of your cat’s carrier is unpleasant, your cat will feel unpleasant. The carrier by itself isn’t particularly welcoming. It’s just a hard shell with a hard floor! Remove the top of your cat carrier and the door. Inside, place a nice plush cat bed. Cat expert Jackson Galaxy says, “Consider using one of your sweatshirts as bedding. Your scent will always be a source of comfort to them.” Your kitty will feel better already. 

Step 2: Place the Carrier in Your Home

When not in use, it’s tempting to just keep the carrier in a basement or stored away somewhere in your house since they aren’t exactly the most aesthetically pleasing pieces of décor. But placing the carrier in a social area of your home where your cat frequents will help her get used to it. This could be near your bed or the couch. Being around the carrier will help your cat develop a positive association with it. 

Step 3: Reward Her with Treats

Travel is stressful! Be sure your cat gets an extra special treat as a reward for enduring it. Choose an extra tasty cat treat that’s more delicious than your cat would usually get and give it to her while she’s in the carrier. In the days leading up to travel, practice getting her in the carrier, and once she’s in, she should always get this treat. This will help her associate treats with travel. You might even see your cat climb into the carrier on her own at this point!

cat in carrierStep 4: Put the Lid Back On 

Once you feel like your cat has established her comfort with the bottom part of the carrier, put the lid back on. You might want to make sure you do it when kitty’s not around though, as it could be confusing to her.

Step 5: Put the Door Back on Too

Now it’s time to replace the door. This step can be stressful for cats because of the noisy sound the door makes when swinging open or shut. Try propping the door open for a few days so it doesn’t swing until your cat seems at ease again. Continue giving her treats when she’s inside the carrier. As she becomes comfortable, try closing the door while your kitty is inside the crate. 

Final Step: Picking Up and Putting Down

Eventually your cat will be comfortable inside the carrier with the door shut, and you can try picking it up and putting it back down slowly before opening the door again. Repeat this movement many times so that your cat grows accustomed to it. Randomly picking up the carrier and closing and opening its door will also help your cat understand that riding in the carrier doesn’t always result in negative experiences (like going to the vet). 

You might find that your cat actually turns to her carrier in emergency or scary situations, such as bad weather or earthquakes. By keeping the carrier in social areas like your living room, you’ll have immediate access to kitty and you’ll easily be able to find her. 

When you make your cat’s carrier a stress-free and inviting place, you’ll be surprised how stress-free travel with a cat can be.

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woman playing with cat

You’ve just brought home a new cat (or you’re about to) and you want to make sure they have all the toys and supplies. Without knowing what kinds of toys your cat will like, it’s a good idea to offer her at least one from each category to learn her preferences. Here are seven different categories of cat toys to try with your newest family member. 

cat tree

Climbing toys

The tree dweller versus the bush dweller: some cats prefer to explore vertical spaces while others like to stay low to the ground. If you think your cat might be the “tree” type, then give her some climbing options, like a cat tree, window perch, or wall installations so she can explore her new home from higher up.

cat tunnel

Hiding places

For the bush dwellers, be sure to offer hiding places. Your new cat might need a place she can feel safe, or if she’s confident off the bat, she’ll still love expressing her zoomies by darting through tunnels. Different types of hiding places that provide security and enrichment to a cat include tunnels, a ripple rug, and of course the classic cardboard box. Learn more about why cats like boxes.

cat digger toy

Puzzle toys

Challenge your kitty’s brain with a puzzle toy that requires some extra effort to produce a tasty reward. Some puzzle toys can be filled with treats or dry cat food and provide obstacles for your cat to reach her reward, while others consist of balls or toys suspended in a maze that keep your kitty busy.

cat with feather toy

Toys to chase

From feather toys to mice to plastic balls with bells inside, there are a plethora of options when it comes to toys your cat can independently bat around and chase. These kinds of toys can keep your cat entertained even when there is no one around. If your cat is technically inclined, try an electronic toy to satisfy her inner hunter.

cat feather pole toy

Wands and teasers

Though these are also toys your cat can chase, unlike the types mentioned above, these require a human’s participation. Wand toys, teasers, and laser pointers are all exciting toys that give your cat the opportunity to get good exercise and spend quality social time with her human.

catnip toy

Catnip toys

All cats deserve to try catnip at least once in their lives. For some, it’s a quick energy boost, while others enjoy relaxing and zoning out. Catnip loses its potency over time if you don’t store it in a tightly sealed container, but many toys can still be fun to bat and chase even after the ‘nip wears out. What exactly does catnip do to cats? We explain.

cat scratcher toy

Scratchers

All cats need a good outlet for their scratching energy (lest they take it out on your furniture) which is why we recommend a good cat scratcher. Scratching is an instinctual behavior that also helps to file down those sharp claws. Some cat scratchers double as a toy, others also make a nice place to lounge and hide; there are options galore.

Why cats need toys

Though it may seem like cats just sleep all day long, the truth is that they still need plenty of physical activity. Toys and playtime help your cat get exercise which helps her maintain a healthy weight. They also provide mental stimulation to keep her from becoming bored and finding other (more destructive) outlets for her energy. Plus, cats are natural hunters, and toys give them an appropriate outlet to put their hunting instincts to use.

What kind of toy do you think will be your cat’s favorite?

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cat in a box

No doubt you’ve seen it, whether with your own kitty or one on the internet: a cat lounging in a sink, bowl, vase, or especially a cardboard box. Cats are drawn to containers and tend to adopt the “if I fits, I sits” mantra. They’ll even try to fit into boxes that are far too small for them, because box. But why do cats like boxes so much?

Feline instincts

It only takes a quick internet search to find photos of big cats (like lions and tigers) at the zoo also enjoying appropriately sized cardboard boxes. This proves that cats and boxes go together like peanut butter and jelly. And the reason may partly have to do with the instincts of a cat. In the wild, cats appreciate a good hiding spot that can protect them from predators while at the same time allowing them to sneakily stalk their prey. Sitting in a box means they are protected from the bottom and all four sides from anything that might want to sneak up on them.

Using a box to stay warm

At 100.5 to 102.5 degrees, a house cat’s body temperature runs a bit hotter than humans which averages around 98.6 degrees. The temperature to which most of us set our thermostats is actually a little chilly for cats who would be most comfortable in an environment set to 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a 2006 study by the National Research Council. Because cats are always seeking warmth, a box can be a great option. Fitting snugly into a cardboard box can help provide insulation — it’s like a cardboard sweater for your kitty! Committing a fashion faux ‘paw’

Boxes are cozy and reduce stress

Some experts suggest that the secure feeling of a box might mimic the snuggly warmth a kitten feels while cuddling her mother and littermates. This relaxing, comforting feeling can encourage a pleasurable feeling and help reduce stress. In fact, a 2015 study supports the theory that boxes help reduce a cat’s stress levels. Researchers from the University of Utrecht randomly divided new shelter cats into two groups: one group received boxes and the other group did not. 

“Stressful experiences can have a major impact on the cats’ welfare and may cause higher incidences of infectious diseases in the shelters due to raised cortisol levels causing immunodeficiency,” the researchers explained.

After only a few days, they reported that the group of cats that were given boxes recovered faster and adapted to their environment more quickly than the cats without boxes.

It appears to be all pros and no cons when it comes to boxes for cats. Now that you have a peek into the workings of your kitty’s mind, you may not want to be so quick to toss your empty Amazon boxes into the recycle bin!

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cat on counter

Cats like to observe their kingdom from high places so your cat may enjoy exploring your kitchen counters, the top of your favorite bookcase or he may even like to perch on top of your refrigerator. This can pose a danger to him and you if he decides to leap down on you, claws blazing, when you least expect it.

While you want your cat to have fun places to perch, you may not want him on your nice, clean kitchen counters. But how do you discourage him? Remember that deterrents, not punishment, are the answer.

Find Out What He Wants

By determining why your cat is jumping on the counter, you can work to prevent it. Is there food that he wants? Is he interested in what you are doing in the kitchen and wants to help? Is the counter a good vantage point to see outside?

A high perch: If you don’t have enough “good” high places and sleeping areas available to your cat, this is the first place to start. Install a tall cat tree or kitty condo that offers climbing opportunities and a place for your cat to survey his territory from up high. The condo could also include a cubby or hammock where your cat can enjoy a nap up and out of the way of household commotion. If your cat likes to look out the window, you could also buy a shelf that attaches to the window for kitty to enjoy a snooze in the sun.

Hungry: If your cat is surfing the counters in search of food because he’s just hungry all the time, the answer may be to feed him more, or to feed him more often. Be sure to remove all food from countertops so there’s nothing to tempt him to jump up.

Thirsty: If he’s jumping up on the counter because he likes to get a drink from the faucet, it may be that he likes the running water. There are a number of cat fountains on the market that continuously cycle water which may be more enticing to your cat than a bowl of still water.

Attention: It may be that kitty jumps up on the counter to be closer to you. Maybe more playtime with him is the answer to his “naughty” behavior.

‘Environmental’ Deterrents

Punishing your cat by yelling or swatting at him for jumping onto the counter is not an effective way to discourage him. He won’t understand why you are punishing him, and he will just grow to fear you. Instead, use “environmental punishers” so he will learn by experience that the countertop is not a fun place to be.

Cookie sheets: Place thin cookie sheets on the edge of the counter. When kitty jumps up, the sheets may fall to the floor and clatter – something kitty will not like, and he may make a quick retreat.

Double-sided tape: Another form of environmental punishment is double-stick tape. Stick it on plastic placemats, sticky side up, for easy removal when you need to use the counters.

Aluminum foil: Cats don’t like to step on it because of the crinkly sound it makes. Attach it to the counter with scotch tape, which is easy to remove when needed.

The advantage of these methods is that your cat will experience this “punishment” whether you are around or not. Kitty will discover that the kitchen counter isn’t such a great place after all.

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puppy meeting a kitten

Cats and dogs don’t have to be sworn enemies, and by properly introducing them, a cat and a dog can live in harmony. If your cat and/or dog have previously lived with others of the opposite species, you might be inclined to rush the relationship between the two. However, every situation is unique and it’s best to take it slow and follow the steps to ensure success.

Create a safe space for the cat

The first priority is safety, especially for the cat, regardless of who is the newcomer. In a separate room, create a safe, dog-free zone equipped with all the supplies your cat needs. For a kitten, use a large crate with enough room for a litter box and dishes for food and water. Prepare this cat haven before the new pet comes home so the resident dog or cat to get used to this new arrangement.

Prepare for dog and cat introductions

Keep your pets separated by confining the cat to the spare room for the first few days so the new pet can adjust to its new home and human family members. Introduce each pet to the other’s scent by exchanging bedding and allowing both of them to thoroughly sniff it over. While the dog is outside, allow the cat to explore the dog’s space.

The first meeting

Before proceeding to the next stage, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise (a run, a long walk, a round of fetch, etc.) so they aren’t entering the situation full of energy. Keep the kitten in its crate, or for an older cat, create a barrier with baby gates. Before the first meeting, leash the dog to curb any instincts to chase. Open the door to the spare room and allow your pets to see each other at a distance, with the barrier of the gate or crate between them.

Watch your dog’s and cat’s body language

Pay attention to the body language of each pet—ideally, both should be loose and relaxed. Praise your dog with a treat and a soothing voice if he remains calm. Dogs with a strong prey drive will be stiff and on high alert and may start barking or whining. If your dog locks into a stare or is excessively focused on the cat, distract him with a treat or take him away and close the door.

Don’t force your cat to approach the gate—just allow her to move toward the dog on her own time. If she is hissing, attempting to scratch, or trying to flee, separate the pets and try again later. Keep these meetings short at first and repeat them regularly until both pets become more comfortable with the presence of the other.

A budding friendship between your dog and cat

When both pets seem comfortable and relaxed in the presence of the other, you can allow them to meet and sniff each other through the barrier. Keep the dog leashed to be safe. After these interactions have been consistently going well, your pets can be around each other without a barrier while the dog is still leashed, then eventually, off leash. Always provide supervision when your pets are around each other without barriers, otherwise, keep them separated until they have developed a solid relationship and you can trust both pets with the other.

Tips

  • This may be your dog’s first time living with a cat, so make sure that the litter box and cat food are inaccessible to your dog.
  • As the mediator, it’s important for you to stay relaxed and patient, especially since pets can pick up on your stress or nervousness.
  • Don’t rush the process and understand that it may take days or weeks for both pets to adjust to this new dynamic.

Extra help for introducing dogs and cats

For particularly challenging situations, consider the following options to help a nervous pet.

  • Calming wraps such as a Thundershirt
  • Feliway pheromone diffuser
  • Calming nutritional supplements– use as advised by your veterinarian
  • Contact an animal behaviorist for assistance
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cat scratching couch

Whether your cat likes to do his scratching on a horizontal surface, a vertical surface, or both, he can do damage to furniture, carpet, and other items in your house. While you can’t really keep your cat from scratching, we’ve got some suggestions on what to do to protect your furniture (and redirect your cat’s claws!).

Why is my cat scratching?

Scratching is a natural activity for your cat – he doesn’t do it to be “naughty” or to get back at you for not letting him sleep on your head. He scratches to remove the dead outer layer of his claws and to mark his territory with his scent. He also scratches as part of play or for a good stretch. Notice when your cat scratches he’s not just working his nails, he’s stretching his entire body. He may want a nice scratch after a nap, or when he’s feeling particularly frisky. When you come home from a long day at work, he may scratch as part of his welcome home ritual.

How can I prevent my cat from scratching the furniture?

You can take several steps to prevent your cat from scratching in the wrong places by providing a scratching post, which can be made of wood, sisal, carpet or cardboard.

  • Locate the places kitty normally likes to do his scratching and place scratching posts right in front of those off-limits spots (the corner of your couch is a good example). You can gradually move the scratching posts after your cat has gotten into the habit of using them.
  • Cats like a sturdy post, so make sure his scratching posts are stable. Sprinkle a bit of catnip on and around the scratching posts to make them more attractive.
  • Be sure to place scratching posts near his favorite sleep spots, and maybe near his litter box. And place them on all levels of your home—you want to be sure he has one whenever he gets the urge to work his nails.
  • In addition to a post, a sisal clothes hamper with a lid can serve as a fun place for your cat to work his claws, plus you get the extra storage. He will love the textured surface and he can even enjoy a nice nap on top of it.

Discourage your cat from scratching in the wrong places by covering forbidden spots with double-sided sticky tape or aluminum foil (both get the paws down from cats—they don’t like the texture). On carpets, you can use a plastic runner with the nubby side up instead of down.

If you catch kitty in the act of scratching in the wrong place, clap your hands loudly to distract him, then redirect him to the acceptable scratching spot. Do this as a last resort because you don’t want your cat to fear you or associate their natural behavior as “wrong.”

Remember: As part of responsible cat ownership, it’s a good idea to clip your cat’s claws regularly. If they get too long, they can grow into the delicate pads of the foot, causing pain and infection. If kitty won’t let you near his claws with the clippers, your vet tech can take care of it for you.

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siamese cat

The Siamese is talkative, curious, and great for families with children and/or other pets. The breed is known for suffering from progressive retinal atrophy.

  • Weight: 6-14 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 15-20 years
  • Temperament: social, intelligent, affectionate
  • Energy Level: 5
  • Ease of Training: 2
  • Grooming Requirements: 1

History of the Siamese breed

Siamese cats have a long and detailed history. They are so old, they can be traced back hundreds of years. Tamra Maew, a Thai poetry book written around the 14th century, includes an illustration featuring the breed. In 1878, a Siamese cat was sent as a gift to Lucy Ware Webb Hayes, wife of U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes. Named “Siam,” she is known as America’s first Siamese cat.

Despite their age, they remain a favorite, known to people around the world. Elizabeth Taylor presented James Dean with a Siamese kitten in the 1950s. In 1961, the strange behavior of two Siamese cats at the Dutch Embassy in Moscow, Russia, led to the discovery of 30 microphones hidden in the walls.

Siamese cat personality traits

Siamese cats want to be the center of attention. If they are left alone for too long, they could become anxious or upset. Adopting a second cat can help keep these feelings at bay. They generally get along with children and other pets.

No matter where their owners are, this breed must be nearby. They are famous for their “talking,” filling the house with sounds all day. People seeking a quiet, calm pet should avoid this breed.

Because of their intelligence, with some patience, they can be trained. Some will walk on a leash like a dog.

Grooming requirements for the Siamese cat

Because these cats have a short coat, grooming is only necessary once or twice a week. Nails should be trimmed every 10 days. Siamese cats come in a variety of colors, including blue, chocolate, cream, and red.

Health concerns

  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Bladder stones

When a Siamese cat has progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), they suffer from poor eyesight. As they age, it worsens considerably. They eventually go completely blind. There is no cure and treatment options do not exist.

Bladder stones are mineral deposits that grow inside an animal’s bladder. The “stones” rub against the walls of the bladder and block the urinary tract, making urination difficult and painful. Cats with this problem should have access to plenty of water and eat a special diet selected by a vet.

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cat hissing

Cat hissing is an instinctive survival response typically prompted by a perceived threat. Your cat might hiss when she feels startled, afraid, vulnerable, or in pain. Hissing is a sign that aggression will ensue if the perceived threat doesn’t back off, and further provoking a hissing cat will likely get physical, leading to scratching and biting. 

Where does hissing come from?

Many behavior experts believe cats in the wild developed the hissing sound to mimic that of a snake. Mimicry is a common survival behavior in the animal world. Some animals will mimic a predator as a deterrent and there’s no mistaking the distinct waring of a hiss.

Why do cats hiss?

A cat will react with a hiss to communicate fear, aggression, displeasure, or pain. With kittens, this might be as innocent as responding to a sudden loud noise or rough kitten play with a short hiss. Older cats will hiss in response to the undesirable presence or actions of another, whether it’s a “stranger” visiting your home, another pet, or even a current family member.

In the case of a visitor or welcoming home a new cat or dog, your cat may feel that her safety or resources (food) are threatened. With current pets or family members, she is likely trying to communicate displeasure, such as the sudden arrival of a playful dog. A cat may also hiss when she is in pain–being petted or getting a veterinary examination can trigger that response.  

What to do when your cat hisses

In the short term, the safest thing to do is back away from a hissing cat to avoid getting scratched or bitten. Make sure your cat has plenty of escape routes and places to hide so she can retreat and calm down. If your cat hisses after you’ve been petting her for a while, she may have a low tolerance for physical contact, causing her to feel overstimulated and in need of a break. 

Alleviating your cat’s fears and hissing

For the long term, it’s important to make sure your cat feels safe and comfortable. Give her time to acclimate to a new situation, whether she was newly adopted or you’re bringing home a new cat or introducing a new dog. Tell your guests and visitors to ignore your cat and allow her to approach them on her own time. If your cat’s hissing appears to be a pain response when you pet her in certain areas, it’s a good idea to visit the vet. Understanding your cat’s triggers (like being bothered by the dog) will help prevent unnecessary injuries.

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fluffy cat getting pet

You’re well aware that bringing a young kitty into your life is a long-term commitment, but you may be wondering: how long do cats live? Of course the answer will vary, but a cat’s lifespan is affected by a number of factors, including overall health and whether they stay indoors at all times or get to explore the great outdoors. 

All factors taken into account, it is said that cats generally live to be anywhere from 10 to 20 years of age, but the average lifespan of a cat is 15.1 years. 

Every cat is different, and some may face unforeseen accidents or health conditions whereas others can stretch their nine lives to reach their twenties (in human years). According to the 2010 edition of Guinness World Records, the oldest cat ever recorded was named Creme Puff who lived to be 38 years old. 

Outdoor cats face more risks

If your cat is an outdoor explorer, the risk of an unexpected life-threatening accident increases. Getting hit by a car is not the only threat; outdoor cats may also face off with predators such as coyotes, hawks, or even other cats or the neighbor’s dog. Other risks include parasites and pests like fleas and ticks, ingesting pesticides, rat poison or other toxins, getting stuck in a tree, or contracting a disease from another cat such as feline leukemia virus. Due to these unpredictable variables, the average lifespan of an outdoor cat according to Catster is only 5.6 years. 

How to promote a long life

Taking special interest in your cat’s health over the course of his life can help you buy a few extra years with your feline pal. While keeping him indoors all the time is the first step to ensuring a longer life, these other cat care tips can also promote longevity:

  • Feed a healthy diet: Make sure your cat eats a high-quality diet and gets proper hydration each day. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight puts your cat at risk of certain health conditions that can shorten his life. Many of these are easily preventable by keeping your cat at a healthy weight.
  • Regular exercise: Keep your kitty active and healthy by playing with him every day.
  • Tune into your cat’s behaviors and body language: Get to know what is normal for your cat so you can recognize abnormal behaviors or body language that could be signs of a health problem. Being able to catch these early will ensure that your cat gets prompt veterinary care before a medical condition gets worse. 
  • Visit the vet annually: Even if you are well-tuned into your cat’s behaviors, your vet is an expert at catching the initial signs of medical issues that you may not be able to see. Regular checkups will help catch health problems early or give you peace of mind that everything is in tip-top shape.
  • Reduce stress: Just like with people, stress can have negative effects on your cat’s health. Maintaining a predictable schedule with dedicated time for bonding each day can help your kitty live a low-stress life.

Ensure good health for all nine of your cat’s lives by making sure you can give them the best veterinary care when they need it. Insuring your cat with a pet insurance plan from Healthy Paws can help cover unexpected veterinary costs.

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cat in a tree

Your cat (or someone else’s) appears to be stuck in a tall tree and refuses to make attempts to come down. What do you do? We’ll explain how cats get themselves into this type of predicament and how you can help them come back down.

Why do cats get stuck in trees?

Some cats particularly enjoy the views from up high and may see a tall tree as the perfect vantage point. Others may find themselves caught up in a tree after chasing prey such as a bird or squirrel, or they may have been chased up the tree by a dog.

Going up a tree is easy for a cat because their claws are shaped like hooks that make it easy to climb up. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy for them to get back down.

How to get a cat down from a tree

When it comes to getting a cat out of a tree, you have a few options:.

Wait it out

Before you try anything else, give the cat some time to try and come down on their own. In many cases, cats will do just that. Sometimes a cat will first cry and get their pet parents all worked up, and then come down on their own.

You can wait up to a full day before it’s time to try something else. However, you should seek help sooner than later if:

  • It’s a kitten
  • The cat is declawed
  • The cat is injured
  • It’s an indoor cat
  • There’s threat of a predator (like hawks, eagles, or owls)
  • The weather is creating poor conditions for a cat to stay out for very long

Bribery

If the cat is content to sit in the tree, then they may not make attempts to come back down until they get hungry enough. You can encourage them to come down on their own by offering yummy (and especially smelly) food or treats. 

Make it easier for them to get down

Cats that are especially high up may be frightened to try coming back down. You can help make their descent less daunting by offering assistance. One suggestion is to lean a ladder against the tree – this may make it easier for the cat to come down.

For your safety and the cat’s, it’s important that you do not climb the ladder and try to rescue the cat. This puts you at risk of injuring yourself and/or the cat, as well as of scaring the cat further up the tree.

Call a professional

If it comes to this, then the first call you should make is to your local animal control department. They will be the best equipped to rescue an animal in need. Additionally, Cat in a Tree Rescue has a great list of resources by region with contact information.

Contrary to old folk tales, the fire department should not be your first call. Most fire departments do not rescue cats, and may not want to devote resources to animal rescues when a human rescue may be at stake.

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Cat at the vet

Just like humans, cats might experience an unexpected health issue during the course of their lives. As a loving cat parent, you can help your cat live his best life by making sure he stays healthy and happy. By educating yourself on the most common medical problems, you’ll be equipped to avoid preventable conditions, as well as spot concerning symptoms early on so that your cat can get swift treatment.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD encompasses a variety of conditions that affect a cat’s bladder and urethra. Symptoms include straining to urinate, blood in the urine, licking the area or crying due to pain, and urinating outside of the litter box. FLUTD is often seen in cats that are overweight, get little exercise, and eat a dry diet. It can be brought on by stress or other sudden changes. Any issues with urination should be taken seriously and require immediate veterinary care.

Vomiting and/or Diarrhea

Tummy troubles can be caused by a number of issues, including sensitivity to medications or a new food, eating a non-food item or toxin, or a medical condition like parasites, liver problems, or cancer. If the vomiting or diarrhea is persistent, gets worse, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, be sure to get in contact with your veterinarian. 

Fleas

Though they are a nuisance, fortunately flea problems are easy to treat. A flea problem is relatively easy to spot: your cat will be scratching frequently and may experience some hair loss or hot spots, plus you’ll see the fleas which look like little black specks. Treating your cat for fleas requires either an oral medication, bath, powder, or topical medication; ask your veterinarian for advice. Once the fleas are gone, start your cat on a flea prevention regimen to protect your cat and avoid this issue in the future. 

Dental Disease

The best way to prevent dental disease is by regularly brushing your cat’s teeth–as often as possible and ideally every day. Without regular dental care, your cat can develop gingivitis, ulcers, and loose teeth. Symptoms include bad breath, red and swollen gums, excessive drooling and pawing at the mouth. Dental issues are painful and no fun for your kitty, so seek veterinary care if you notice these symptoms.

Obesity

Carrying extra weight puts your cat at a greater risk of several health issues, including diabetes, joint pain and liver issues. Your veterinarian can tell you if your cat’s weight is concerning and how to manage it, but you can also do a quick assessment at home. A cat at a healthy weight should have a discernible waistline when viewed from above and a tuck at the tummy when viewed from the side.

Upper Respiratory Infection

Commonly caused by a viral infection, cats can experience respiratory issues ranging from mild to serious. They often involve a runny nose, sneezing, cough, teary eyes, and fever. Many of these viruses are contagious among cats. If left untreated, some respiratory infections can progressively get worse, so it’s best to consult with your veterinarian for the best course of treatment.

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cat looking out the window

After bringing home a new cat or kitten, it can feel scary leaving them alone for the first time. You’ve spent every waking minute together, save for the 15-minute shower breaks. But now that it’s time to go back to work or take a quick overnight trip, you’re wondering how long you can actually leave your cat alone.

How long cats can be left alone

The answer isn’t straightforward because it varies depending on your cat’s age.

  • A young kitten shouldn’t be alone for more than 4 hours at a time.
  • Once they have reached 6 months of age, your kitten can tolerate being alone during an 8-hour workday.
  • Adult cats, especially those that are independent, can be left alone for up to 24-48 hours.
  • Senior cats or those with special needs or timed medication might rely on a schedule and cannot be left alone for as long.

What to consider before leaving your cat alone

There are several considerations to keep in mind before leaving your cat for the day. Here are ways you can help set your cat up for a successful alone time.

  • Food: If your cat is used to free-feeding then she shouldn’t have any problem with your extended absence so long as you provide plenty of food. However, food gobbling cats might greedily chow down on their entire supply in one sitting. In that case, consider purchasing an automated feeder or shortening your absence.
  • Water: Your cat should have access to plenty of fresh water. If she accidentally spills her bowl 10 minutes after you walk out of the door, she’ll find herself very thirsty much sooner than you expected. To prevent your cat from becoming parched, leave out multiple water dishes or pick up a cat water fountain.
  • Litter box: When the litter box becomes full, your cat will find another place to do her business. The last thing you want to return home to is a present on your pillow, so provide extra litter boxes for longer absences.
  • Entertainment and companionship: Though often independent by nature, cats don’t necessarily like to be isolated and they need regular stimulation. In a multi-cat household, cats will fare better during your absence. Otherwise, leave the TV or radio on, or set up a perch so your cat can watch out the window.

Extended trips

If your absence will be longer than 48 hours, it’s best to get your kitty some supervision, whether it’s a boarding facility, a house sitter, or someone who can drop in each day. Cats need companionship and stimulation, and if your kitty is the “only child,” she’ll especially feel the effects of your absence.

Having someone to regularly check in with your cat is also a wise safety precaution in case something should happen, whether it’s an empty water dish, the air conditioner breaking on a hot summer day, or if your cat starts showing symptoms of a health condition.

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