Columnists,Amra Yooseph,Top Story l by Amra Yooseph l 27 Oct 2020     - 33

101 Guide to your Purr-y friend


8 months. That’s how old my son is. My feline son.

My entire life I’ve cared for cats from a distance. I’ve only ever petted and Instagram-ed about everyone else’s cats. I had no idea as to the amount of pressure and stress one could possibly undergo when owning your very own. Somewhat like babies; cute to look at, but a nightmare to bring up. These past 8 months have been an absolute pleasure, only to balance it out with many sleepless nights. That would mostly be my fault given how I’ve literally spoilt my cat child. If you’re new to the world of parenting your purr-y baby, this guide will do right by you.

Eating Habits

Kittens get hungry. Crazy hungry. I’ve had to feed my kitten every 2 hours. This is not only impractical but definitely burns a hole through your wallet. Get them used to whatever meal you have lying around. This will do wonders when they grow older. Mix their diet up with cat food as a treat every now and then. As my kitten got older, I incorporated bones into his meal. At first, I was dead against the idea, afraid that he would choke on it, but he sure loves his fish and chicken bones.

I used to give him fresh milk only to learn that cats, are in fact lactose intolerant. Just leave a bowl of water lying around. Unlike dogs, cats barely drink water, but they do need it. It’s important to refill their bowl with fresh water because who likes stale water? Another tip I learnt is to keep your cat’s food and water bowl away from its litter box. No one likes to eat where they potty.

Apart from their meat, cats can also have a weakness for other types of food. In my case, I cannot bake with my kitten in the house. Icing and chocolate would be his biggest weakness; meowing and rubbing his body on me till I offer him some of what’s on my plate. While this might not be the healthiest choice of food, it won’t hurt to offer a tiny bit.

Something else I’ve noticed when it comes to my kitten’s diet is that despite the meals provided, nothing excites him more than creepy crawlies. At first, I thought he just liked playing with the cockroaches and geckos outside until I saw him devour one in mere seconds. Gross. While some might not approve of this, my kitten has been perfectly healthy irrespective of his uncultured food consumption.

Sleeping Habits

I have to rock my kitten to sleep. If that doesn’t work, he will meow me to death until I brush him to sleep. The smartest move would be to not get your kitten used to a certain type of comfort because it can only cause inconveniences to your way of life. Trust me, you do not want to be woken up at 2 am to brush a cat to bed regardless of how much you love it.

Get your kitten used to a specific spot for his/her naptime. They aren’t the biggest fans of enclosed spaces so it’s best to give them a nice warm carpet or a cat bed to sleep to their heart’s content.

Cats also have a built in habit of waking up much earlier than we intend to. I’ve woken up at 4am for the past 8 months and it is definitely not something I want to be doing. Try getting your cat to sleep outside your room and ignore his/her early morning cries of attention. Now that’s something I wish someone taught me.

Litter Habits

Littering won’t be big of an issue if you have the garden space for it. You can easily train your cat to potty in some sandy corner. However, in the absence of an outdoor space to litter in, a litter box is the most ideal solution.

Cats like to dig their way through so that the smell is sealed. Always get a litter box with quite a bit of depth so you won’t have to clean it every other hour. Unscented litter is their choice, but you can always just opt for using sand instead.

You can always have a single litter box or have a few around the house in specific spots. Make sure your cat knows his/her way around and knows exactly where potty should happen.

It is also important to monitor your kitten’s bowel movement to detect any health defects. If your cat’s poop is anything but solid, you might need to consider a trip to the vet after a day or two of observation. Lack of pooping can also mean something is wrong.

Vomiting is quite common with cats. As a cat owner, you’ll witness them throwing up every now and then. Just have a washcloth or mop at your beck and call because trust me, you’ll be doing a LOT of cleaning up.

Grooming Habits

Cats are extremely clean and hygienic animals. They spend their day cleaning themselves and do not require being washed. However, it doesn’t hurt to give them a nice bath once a month. They are cats, not humans so stick to shampoos for cats and nothing else. Since cat’s dislike water, giving them a shower can be quite the task and definitely not a one man job. Try gearing up yourself with clothing to avoid any scratches.

Constant self-grooming can cause a hair ball to grow in your cat. Try brushing your cat every now and then to avoid the possibility of this happening. While hair balls are not fatal in most scenarios, it could be deadly if your cat has trouble spitting it out.

Every cat owner has bled through scrapes and scratches. While you have the option of declawing them, the smarter option would be disciplining your cats to avoid scraping. You can always trim their claws yourself or get your vet to do it for you.

Mating Habits

A female cat’s shrill mating call might be the worst thing your ears can endure during mating season. If you’re not looking to house more kittens, it is best to get them neutered at a young age. It may take a few weeks for them to recover. However, male cats might still get the urge to mate whether neutered or not.

This process should be discussed with your vet to understand better.

Trips to the vet

I’m guilty of rushing my cat to the vet for the slightest issue. While I try my best not to make this mistake as much now, I do slip up. Ensure your cats are given the right vaccine and are dewormed as suggested by your vet.

It’s best to call your vet up and clarify if you notice any difference in your cat’s behavior patterns. It’s always better to be safe than sorry in matters such as your pet’s health.

Disciplining your cat

Your cat might have all kinds of bad habits such as scratching furniture, jumping on to the table during meals, playfully biting, etc. Hitting and scolding your cat will only just aggravate him/her further. This can be easily avoided by parenting them in a more cat friendly manner.

If your cat has a habit of scratching furniture, or biting, get him or her a scratching pole. This could give your cat somewhere else to release tension rather than taking it out on your home decor.

Another way to get your cat to play by the rules is get a water spray. Every time your cat does something, he/she should not do, spray a little water. That way they know where to draw the line.

Having a kitten or cat in your household can only be joyous, no matter how irritating they can get. Spend time with them through means of play or petting from time to time. This strengthens your bond with your pet and can only mean happiness for you and it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amra Yooseph

Amra is a full time sustainability auditor who makes time to follow her passion in journalism as a part time writer and presenter. Something she loves doing is meeting people and learning what their outlook on a given situation is. She also happens to be a big foodie and is always down for a good meal.

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