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Common Mistakes Made by New Cat Parents

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6. No Identification on Your Cat

If you don’t have identification on your cat you stand a very low chance of ever getting her back if she gets lost. While the common form of identification is an ID tag on a collar, the safest method is to have your cat microchipped. This is a small chip injected under the skin that contains your contact information. Veterinary clinics and shelters have the handheld scanners used to read these chips. Microchipping can be done at your veterinary clinic. It’s a very quick process.

7. Not Taking the Time to Train Your Cat

If you’ve lived with cats in the past and you shudder to think of the memories of trying to get them to the veterinarian without getting scratched or bitten, then hopefully you now realize how important it is to start training your cat from the very beginning. Spend time getting your cat comfortable with being in a carrier, car travel, being handled, etc. It will be much easier when it comes time for the trip to the veterinarian’s office. Additionally, take the time now to train your cat regarding her environment. Is she allowed on the kitchen counter? If not, get started training her to where she can and can’t go. If you don’t train her and then just end up punishing her when she does something you don’t like it’s truly unfair to the cat. Be consistent and do appropriate, positive training from the very beginning.

cat's claws on scratching post

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8. Poor Litter Box Maintenance

You don’t want to use a dirty bathroom. Your cat doesn’t want to either. The most common reason people call my office with a cat behavior problem is because the cat isn’t using the litter box. In many cases the reason is because the human family members aren’t keeping the box clean enough. Make sure you provide your cat with a litter box that is the right size, filled with the type of litter most appealing to her, locate the box in a convenient spot (for kitty) and keep it clean! Scoop at least twice a day. If you have more than one cat, make sure you have enough litter boxes and that they’re located throughout the house so one cat doesn’t have to pass through another cat’s area.

CatWise book and a quote from Dr Lore Haug


9. Declawing

Don’t put your furniture ahead of the emotional and physical health of your cat. Declawing is essentially 10 amputations. It would be the equivalent of having your fingers amputated at the first joint. Your cat’s claws are a vital part of her physical and emotional health. Scratching serves multiple vital functions in a cat’s life. If you take the time to understand how this instinct works and why it’s beneficial for a cat, you’ll realize how inhumane it is to declaw.

black and white cat on side

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10. Not buying the Right Scratching Post

If you bought the cute little carpet-covered scratching post from your local pet product store you’re going to be very disappointed because the cat will prefer your furniture to that useless object. Cats need to scratch on a rough material. The post also needs to be tall and sturdy. Do your homework and buy (or make) a scratching post a cat can lean her full weight against and get a good scratch and full body stretch.

scratching post

Photo: Fotolia

11. Failure to Pay Attention to Your Cat’s Behavior

A cat is a creature of habit. When she changes her behavior it can be an indication of a potential medical problem or the reaction to a stress trigger. If your cat’s litter box habits have changed, her food or water intake has changed, activity level is different, etc., view it as a potential red flag that something isn’t right. Contact your veterinarian to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical condition. If your cat gets a clean bill of health then begin an investigation to see what is going on in the environment that might be causing anxiety.

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