Any cat under the age of 12 months should have access to dry kitten food at all times, and cats over 12 months should have similar access to dry cat food (this is known as “free feeding”). It is also very important that you have clean water available at all times for your cat. Be sure to wash food and water dishes frequently, since bacteria can build up rapidly. This is also the reason we recommend using only glass, ceramic, or steel bowls. Plastic scratches easily and those small scratches can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Our veterinarians also recommend feeding canned wet food several times a day, depending on the age of your cat. At the rescue center we feed all kittens under 3 months and geriatric cats over 12 years a small amount of wet food 4 times daily. Kittens between 3-5 months are fed a small amount 3 times daily. Cats between the ages of 5 months and 12 years are fed a small amount twice a day. Do not give your cat cow’s milk. It can cause diarrhea, since many cats are lactose intolerant.
The #1 reason that cats are relinquished to shelters for euthanasia is inappropriate elimination issues. Once a cat begins to have these issues, it is VERY hard to correct. Following these guidelines can help ensure that you will never have to experience this heartbreak:
- A litter box should be accessible at all times.
- If you have more than one floor in your home, make sure you have a litter box for each level.
- One box per each cat, plus one is a good guideline to follow when deciding how many litter boxes to have.
- Cats do not like messy, smelly litter boxes and tend to not use them unless they are cleaned often. Many cats also do not like lids on their boxes. Litter boxes MUST be cleaned at least once and preferably twice per day. A lot of cats do not like heavily perfumed litter, so the best way to avoid litter box odors is to scoop frequently.
- Be sure litter boxes are not too small. They need room to get in and turn around. A kitten won’t stay small for long, so buy litter boxes to fit an adult. Rubbermaid totes make excellent litter boxes!
- Keep litter boxes in quiet, low traffic areas. Cats like privacy!