Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by admin
In this article we’re going to cover some common mistakes owners make when owning a cat. Whether it’s ignorance or borderline animal cruelty the unfortunate reality is some people simply do not do their homework before welcoming a cat into their own home. Even though cats are mostly independent and might seem more like a room mate than a pet they still require care and attention. Another thing first time owners need to be aware of is that cats have a tendency to hide their weaknesses and will only make very subtle cries for help. If you are not paying attention to your cat, you might miss some signs of life-threatening illness or injury. When you find out it’s too late to help because you missed a crucial window for treatment you will bitterly regret not paying attention. It’s easy to get caught up with life and miss things if you aren’t aware.
Below are some common mistakes owners make along with some unusual ones that we are strongly against (like declawing, which is mutilation and animal abuse to put it mildly).
Feeding Your Cat Too Much
Most cats are good at maintaining their own weight but it’s best to measure out food or keep track of how much you feed them and adjust their calories as necessary. If you like to give your cats a snack this need to be taken out of their regular meal or compensated with more activities. There are basically two ways to feed your cat: free feeding and meal times.
Sure we’ve seen chonky cats dominate social media but when you look at how obesity impacts a cats life, it’s a form of animal abuse. The excess weight will mess up their joints and in general shaves 2-3 years off of a cat’s life expectancy, which in human years is 25-29 years.
With free feeding you basically top up their food bowl once a day and let your cat eat at its own pace. If you have more than one cat you need to make sure one doesn’t steal the other’s food. This can usually be accomplished by giving each cat their own feeding and watering station far away from the other cat. If you have a cat that steals another cats food both can end up with health problems since one cat will become obese while the other is malnourished.
Also, this method of feeding only works with dry food. Wet cat food can go bad if left out too long and lots of bacteria can grow on the food through out the day. It also requires you to clean the bowl with soap, hot water, and rinsed thoroughly to make sure the cat doesn’t get sick from germs. Even with the free feeding method, you still need to measure out the food. Most dry food packages come with a helpful chart of how much food should be given per pound of body weight.
When this type of feeding works, it can be less work for you and the cat gets to eat whenever it wants to. Also it’s easy to detect when your cat is lacking appetite which might be hinting at a different health issue. If your cat polishes off an entire bowl the second you refill it, you need to exercise discipline and not refill the dish until the next day. It’s also important to pick a time when you can refill the bowl throughout the week so the cat can expect regularity. Many cats will wake you up anyway and hold you to task so it’s better to train them to expect refills at a certain time but you also need to be consistent.
Fixed Meal Times
With meal times you divide feeding into several meals. Veterinarians recommended feeding kittens three times a day. For adult cats you can usually split it into two feeding windows but most adult cats do just fine being fed once a day. One con of fixed meal times is that cats might nag you for food between meal times.
With mixed feeding you give them wet and dry food at regular intervals. Wet food and dry food have their own advantages and can give your cat much needed variety in their diet. But this style of feeding requires more tracking and planning on the part of the owner. Most owners will want to stick to one type but might need to adopt mixed feeding for health issues. Wet food is particularly good for ensuring your cat gets hydrated and helps with urinary and kidney issues. Dry food is good for your cat’s teeth not to mention less hassle in storing since it doesn’t go bad easily.
Different Cat Breeds Usually Need a Special Diet
Although it’s not necessarily required, certain breeds thrive with a specially formulated diet. Many pet food manufacturers have a line of food formulated by experts designed for a particular breed. If you have a certain pedigree, consider feeding it cat food designed specifically for the breed.
Putting Your Cat on a Vegetarian Diet
Cats are true or obligate carnivores (meaning they have no choice but to eat carnivore due to their make up) and require a meat-based diet. Certain proteins cat need to stay alive can only be found in meat-derived food. Even though dry food might look like it could be made from plants it is an animal product. Feeding your cat a vegan or vegetarian diet can lead to damaged health](https://www.authenticapets.com/en/blog/vegetarian-vegan-diet-cats) and even death.
Be Careful with Raw Food Diets
Just because a vegetarian diet is bad for your cat doesn’t make a raw food diet automatically good. Unfortunately you will find all kinds of misinformation on this but the truth is there is no real consensus on if raw food is good for your typical house cat. If you really must try this diet with your cat, try to find a commercial offering from a reputable company that is formulated by a veterinary nutritionist. Also make sure to discuss it with your veterinarian and monitor your cat’s health closely and note any changes. Otherwise you might be doing more harm than good for your cat despite your intentions.
Giving Cats Cow Milk
This is a myth propagated by pop culture, especially old cartoons and movies. The truth is most cats are lactose intolerant and will only take to milk specially formulated for cats. Once cats are weaned off their mother’s milk they usually lose the ability to process lactose. Don’t give your cats cow milk.
Not Making Sure Your Cat is Drinking Enough Water
Ensuring your cat is hydrated is very important for your cat’s health. If it’s your first cat you might assume your cat’s water intake is optimal. There are some tips to ensure your cat drinks enough water. For water bowls, make sure you change the water daily and keep the bowl clean. If your cat is reluctant to drink from a bowl you might want to get a water fountain for your cat since cats love running water. However fountains are higher maintenance because they require regular cleaning and sanitation (bacteria grows inside pumps if not properly cleaned).
Not Taking Your Cat to a Vet Regularly
Even though there are lots of things an owner can do to keep their cat healthy, nothing beats getting your cat to the veterinarian regularly and having a veterinarian that knows your cat. Paying a regular visit to the veterinarian will pay off in the long run and may even help you prevent your cat from experiencing a major illness.
Not Getting Pet Insurance
While pet insurance may seem like an extra, unwanted expense on your roster of monthly bills, it’s insurance that’s well worth it. One medical emergency will make up for months if not years of insurance premiums. Plus some insurance plans will make routine visits to the vet more affordable since it’s covered by the plan. If your uninsured cat ever experiences a serious medical issue, there is a chance that you will have no choice but to put your cat down because you can’t afford medical treatment. Think very carefully before you skip on this expense. Try to find an insurance plan that is affordable if money is an issue and be sure to red the fine print.
Declawing Your Cat
If you’re thinking of getting at cat you need to make peace with the fact that they will chew and scratch things no matter how hard you try to prevent it. Although some cats can be trained well with a mix of behavior modification you need to understand that this might not work for your cat. You can either pick your battles wisely and cat proof really important stuff or live in a house covered in bubble wrap.
Some cruel owners think declawing is the answer but declawing is a misnomer. It is limb amputation and nothing like pulling a fingernail off of a human. Imagine having your fingernails pulled out so you don’t “scratch” anything, this is way worse and akin to chopping off the first joint of all your fingers. Honestly this practice should be universally banned and any veterinarian that practices this barbaric mutilation should lose their license.
Not Paying Attention to Hairballs
Cats are very clean creatures and spend 30-50% of their day grooming themselves. If you’ve been around cats you’ll notice them licking themselves all the time. If they have a lot of loose fur that means they will end up ingesting a lot of fur, causing hairballs. Hairballs can not only cause a cat to vomit but can actually get stuck in their digestive tract leading to a medical complication. The best way to manage hairballs is to brush your cat and ensure they drink plenty of water.
Ignoring Excessive or Frequent Vomiting
A cat vomiting can indicate a health issue if it’s a frequent occurrence. Most isolated episodes of vomitting aren’t necessarily a health emergency. But if your cat is throwing up often or does so multiple times, even if the episodes are spaced out, you should investigate further. Do not ever assume, “that’s just the way they are” or “it’s just become a habit”. There is always a cause. Even if it’s caused by hairballs alone that means you need to find a way to reduce hairballs with regular brushing or occasionally feeding them with anti-hairball cat food. If your cat vomits frequently it can be symptom of a serious health issue.
Letting Your Cat become and Outdoor Cat
Giving your cat access to the outside world is a personal choice but it is not a no-brainer by any means unless you’ve adopted a stray and they’re stressed out by being locked indoors. On average outdoor cats only live 2-5 years versus 10-15 years for indoor cats (with many living even longer with great care and good luck with their health). Cats that roam outdoors are at risk of getting run over by cars, mauled by dogs, getting into fights with feral cats, bringing back worms and flees, get kidnapped, captured by pest control, and even harmed by malicious neighbors. It’s something you need to carefully consider.
Also if your cat isn’t neutered or spayed they can wander off looking for love when they go into heat. It’s really heartbreaking to read about missing cats on social media. Many of these owners will never know if their cat is alive and living a happy life away from them or if they became another statistic. Think carefully before you let your indoor cat get a taste of the outdoors, they may never be happy being locked in the house again.
Not Neutering or Spaying Your Cat
Neutering or spaying your cat will give it a longer and healthier life. It will also lead to a happier cat. You should seriously consider getting your cat fixed before it reaches sexual maturity. Cats that aren’t neutered are known to be escape the house to go look for love. Also if you have a female cat you can end up with an unwanted litter of kittens. Pregnancy complications will lead to a huge vet bill too.
Cat vaccines come with many benefits but you also need to be aware of injection site sarcomas (cancer caused by injection needles). If you plan to travel to foreign countries with your cat, it usually involves your cat getting vaccines. The more injections your cat gets the higher the risk of developing injection site sarcoma which usually requires surgery, amputation, and other treatment. Be sure to read up on the issue and discuss this with your veterinarian.
Not Protecting Your Cat from Fleas and Other Bugs
Just because your cat is indoors doesn’t mean they can’t get fleas, parasites, or other bugs. Even brief contact with other animals can lead to an infestation if they’re unlucky. Make sure you consult your veterinarian to make sure the issue never becomes a problem with good preventative measures and regular checkups.
Neglecting Dental Care
It’s best to brush your cat’s teeth regularly especially as they get older. Some cats will fight you to the bitter end if you try to brush your teeth so it’s best to start early. If not you should seek professional dental care from a veternarian or experienced pet groomer.
Not Keeping their Litter and Personal Space Clean
Unfortunately some people slack with keeping the cat’s litter clean. Cats hate filth and you can end up giving the cat constipation and other behavioral problems. Your cat might end up relieving themselves outside the litter box because they can’t stand the filth. Also unclean cat litter can become a breeding ground for germs and pathogens that are also harmful to humans.
Disciplining Your Cat with Verbal or Physical Abuse
Despite their mischievous nature cats are delicate beings. You should find ways to reinforce positive behavior while distracting them from bad behavior. If you frequently yell at your cat, it can traumatize them and cause deep psychological issues. Once you break that bond, they may never trust you or be constantly bombarded by stress hormones just being in your presence. You need to find creative ways to modify cat behavior without harming them psychologically. When cats act out they usually have a good reason, address the root cause and not punish the cat for being a cat.
Caring for a Cat is a Commitment
If you’re considering whether you should get your first cat, know that it’s a huge commitment. Although the list above might seem daunting, it’s nothing compared to the love and joy a cat can bring into your life. But that’s only if you are ready and willing to make the commitment to give them a long and happy life. If you are ready for the cat life and can provide these things you will be rewarded by the experience so much that you can’t imagine a life without cats.