Veterinarians told Insider about a few things they think all cat owners should be doing.
Experts said getting your cat vaccinated is a top priority and should be done in a timely manner.
Make sure your cat has access to water and scratching posts at all times.
Taking care of a cat isn't always easy, but proper pet care can help keep your feline happy and healthy.
Here's what every cat owner should do for their pet, according to veterinarians:
Get your kittens and cats vaccinated on time.
Amanda Landis-Hanna, veterinarian and senior manager of veterinary outrace at PetSmart Charities, told Insider that following the recommended vaccination schedule for kittens is crucial to helping your cat have a long and healthy life.
"Kittens need several immunizations during their first year to protect them against serious diseases," said Landis-Hanna. "After that, they'll only need annual boosters."
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recommends that kittens receive their first round of vaccinations at nine weeks and their second round at 12 weeks.
Try to keep your cat indoors whenever possible.
Veterinarian Matthew McCarthy, owner of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in New York, told Insider that owners should keep their cats from roaming outside.
"Indoor cats can't get hit by cars, are less exposed to infectious diseases, and less likely to get into altercations with other animals," said McCarthy.
McCarthy also pointed out that cats are opportunistic predators who will hunt and kill even when they are not hungry, impacting the local environment.
"Domesticated cats are not a native part of most ecosystems and can have the same devastating effect on the environment as so many other non-native invasive species do," said McCarthy.
Give your cat plenty of designated scratching areas.
Providing multiple scratching posts with a cat-friendly texture, like as sisal rope or natural wood, can help prevent furniture destruction and keep your cat healthy.
"Cats need to scratch," said McCarthy. "It allows them to mark their territory with both scent and visible markings. It also helps sharpen claws, remove dead nails, relieve stress, and stretch muscles."
McCarthy said that posts should be placed in locations where your cat already likes to scratch and where new scents might appear, such as entryways.
Cat owners should try to mimic how their pets feed in the wild.
McCarthy told Insider that people should consider how cats eat in the wild when feeding their pet at home.
"In the wild, cats are solitary hunters that eat up to 20 small meals a day," said McCarthy. "Try to simulate some of these hunting behaviors through the use of food toys or puzzles, tossing kibbles, or hiding kibbles around the house."
Cats also prefer eating out of sight of other cats, so moving their food bowl to a more sheltered spot can help prevent gorging behavior and allow them to feed at a more relaxed pace.
Make sure your cat has access to water at all times.
It's important to make sure your cat is well-hydrated by giving them constant access to water in a way they find appealing.
"Cats in the wild drink water in locations separate from food," said McCarthy. "With this in mind, provide water dishes in multiple locations and away from food."
Canned food also contains water that may help keep cats hydrated, and kitty fountains can tempt felines who prefer running water to still.
Owners should always have more litter boxes than cats.
Cats prefer to use the litter box away from other cats, so providing enough boxes is key.
"The litter box recommendation is one per cat, plus one. So if you have one cat you should have two litter boxes," said Landis-Hanna.
Ideally, litter boxes should be spread throughout a home with at least one per floor.
Make sure the litter box is big enough and isolated enough for your cat.
If you're struggling to get your cat to use their litter box, the problem could be with the box itself.
"Cats need to be able to turn around, dig, and eliminate in their litter box," McCarthy told Insider. "The box should be 1.5 times the size of the cat from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail."
In addition, cats don't want to be bothered when they're using the bathroom.
McCarthy said that litter boxes should be placed in quiet, isolated locations in the house away from food, water, and sleeping areas.
Pet cats should be spayed or neutered.
Sara Ochoa, veterinarian and consultant for Dog Lab, told Insider that cat owners should spay or neuter their cats in order to prevent unwanted litters.
"There are many cats in shelters and rescue groups waiting to be adopted. By spaying and neutering, you are helping to control the pet population," said Ochoa.
Give your cats stimulating toys to play with.
Though they may not be as active as dogs, cats still love to play with interactive toys that challenge their brains and bodies.
"Cats love to bat toys around the house. Providing your cat with toys will help keep them happy and healthy," said Ochoa.
Puzzle toys and toys that move or jerk unexpectedly will tap into a cat's natural hunting instinct and can help keep their mind occupied.
Consider microchipping your cat.
A microchip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, is a permanent form of identification for your cat. The chip is placed under your cat's skin and stores a unique ID code that can be detected by a special scanner at animal shelters and veterinary offices.
Landis-Hanna said they recommend microchipping pets, especially cats that spend time outdoors.
"Microchips better the odds of being reunited with lost pets," said Landis-Hanna. "By microchipping your cat, you increase the chance that you'll be contacted if they're found."
All owners should have their cats screened for feline leukemia.
"You should get your cat screened for FeLV," said Landis-Hanna. "This dangerous virus is contagious and can spread from cat to cat."
Although there's a vaccine for feline leukemia, it's still best not to expose vaccinated cats to other pets that haven't been tested for it.
Read the original article on Insider