Be A Responsible Cat Owner

How hard can it be? Cats take care of themselves. Think again. Living with a cat may not require as much work as getting involved with another type of pet, but it doesn't mean you are task free.

Being a responsible cat owner is simple. Keep your cat indoors, provide him with companionship, have him (or her) neutered or spayed, keep a collar and ID tag on the cat and meet his basic needs of food, water, love and veterinary care.

Keep Your Cat Indoors

When most people hear the words "animal nuisance", they tend to think of dogs. But cats are often just as bad. When allowed to roam, they can get into garbage, defecate in flowerbeds and sandboxes, cause traffic accidents, and contribute to pet overpopulation. In addition, they can have a devastating effect on local wildlife - killing dozens, even hundreds, of songbirds and small mammals every year.

Of course the most important reason to keep your cat inside is for his own safety. Unlike dogs, cats don't need much space to exercise and a litter box will meet those other needs just fine. In other words, cats don't need to go out and face disease, catfights, dogfights, poisons, parasites, cruel people, and the biggest cat killer of all, traffic.

Cats who live inside from the start will never have the urge to roam outside. Even cats that have previously been indoor/outdoor cats can be trained to accept being inside all the time.

Keeping cats happy inside is simply a matter of creating a healthy and stimulating indoor environment. Some good ideas are giving your cat toys that feel fuzzy or feathery or have catnip inside, providing him with a scratching post at least two feet high, planting pots of indoor greens for him to chew on, adopting another animal to keep him company, and most importantly, playing games and spending time with your companion.

If cats have their owner's love and attention and lots to do inside, they won't miss the great outdoors, which, after close examination, isn't so great for cats after all.

A One-Time Surgery-A Lifetime Benefit

Spaying and neutering are words you are probably familiar with. What you may not know is that these procedures are the most essential part of being a responsible pet owner.

To spay your female cat is to have her ovaries and uterus surgically removed. To neuter your male cat is to have his testicles removed. The result of both operations is that your pet will no longer be able to bring more homeless animals into the world. That's significant indeed when you consider the fact that nearly twelve million dogs and cats are euthanized each year for lack of good homes.

Spaying and neutering are also better for your pet. Spaying eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer, particularly when your cat is spayed before her first estrous cycle. Neutering reduces the incidence of prostate cancer and prostate disorders. Neutered cats are less likely to spray and mark territory and spayed cats will no longer go through annoying heat cycles. In addition to living longer, healthier lives, cats that are spayed or neutered make better, more affectionate companions.

Spaying or neutering is a one-time surgery with a one-time cost. Both procedures offer a lifetime of benefits. If you can't afford to have a cat spayed or neutered, then you can't afford to have a cat.

Collar And Tag Your Cat

No matter how careful cat owners are, there is always the chance their companion may slip out the door and become lost. An ID tag is a lost cat's ticket home. The tag should include your address as well as daytime and evening phone numbers. It should be attached to a collar of the breakaway type so that the cat can escape in the event the collar becomes snagged.

Keep Your Cat Healthy

Cats, like their canine counterparts, require basic care to stay healthy and happy. A regular, nutritionally balanced diet is as important for your cat as it is for you. If you don't yet have a veterinarian, it is a good idea to establish a rapport with one soon after you adopt a cat. Keep your feline companion up-to-date on vaccinations and maintain a periodic examination schedule.

A Lifetime Commitment

Beyond the essentials, the rest should come naturally. You can look forward to many years of companionship with your four-footed friend. Remember -- any pet is your responsibility to love and care for from the day he arrives until he day he dies. It is up to you to provide him with a lifetime guarantee.

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