As a cat owner, you know how to take care of your furry felines’ basic needs. Proper nutrition, fresh water, and a clean litter box are the ground foundation for basic cat care. Spending quality time with your cat is just as important as well. However, do you know how to care for your cat’s health beyond those foundation basics? If not, it’s a good idea to learn the basics and start practicing now so that you’re prepared. You don’t want to be trying something new for the first time when you need to do it efficiently and safely. So, The Refined Feline has compiled a list of 3 things every cat parent should know how to do.
Learning How To Trim Your Cat’s Nails
One of the handiest skills to learn is trimming your cat’s nails. Most cats’ nails will be shed on their own, especially when they have something to scratch on in the house. Be sure you are providing a few scratching posts, preferably at different heights, to help with their nail health. And while scratching posts can help tremendously, indoor cats will still require nail trims periodically. This will prevent them from getting their nails stuck on things in your house like furniture and your clothes, while also keeping them safe from injuring each other.
It’s quite simple to trim a cat’s nails as long as your cat isn’t putting up too much of a fight. The earlier you start practicing and touching their paws, the easier it will be as they grow up or time goes by. There are trimmers for cat’s nails specifically, available at most stores, but a regular pair of nail clippers is fine as well.
Before you begin, make sure your cat is relaxed and the environment is quiet and free of distractions. The position of your cat will depend on what’s comfortable for them and you. You may find it easier if your cat is laying on their side or sitting on your lap like a human. You can always wait and try trimming their nails when they’re comfortable and relaxed on your lap too. Keep nail clippers nearby if you know your cat is about to lay down on your lap. And once they get sleepy, start by petting them and then sneak in some nail clips.
To reveal their full nail, you’ll need to press gently on one of their pads. Be sure to trim the nail’s curved end, but be sure to avoid the pink part of the nail, commonly referred to as the “quick”. The quick is highly sensitive and if you end up cutting into this area, it will most likely bleed, leading to your cat refusing any more nail trims. Using some styptic powder will stop the bleeding if you do happen to cut into the quick.
Continue trimming their nails until you’re all finished, or if your cat needs a break, do a few at a time. When you are able to trim their nails though, reward your cat with treats or pets to show them it can be a good activity. Check back on their nails periodically, around two weeks, to make sure they aren’t getting too long again.
Learning How To Take Your Cat’s Temperature
It’s always a good idea to know how to take your cat’s temperature in case of an emergency, even if you rarely have to do it. Since taking their temperature is done rectally, cats are typically not fans of getting it done. Feeling your cat’s face or ears simply isn’t enough to know if your cat is ill or not. You may need to ask a friend to assist you in holding your cat to make sure you are able to safely and quickly take their temperature. Getting a quick reading thermometer with a soft rubber tip is ideal for ease of use, as well as purchasing a water-based lubricant or gel. The best position for taking a temperature will again vary on you and your cat’s comfort level.
Drop a small amount of lubricant on the thermometer’s tip and lift your cat’s tail. Insert the thermometer slowly and gently into their rectum, about an inch deep. Be sure to wait for the thermometer to signify that it’s done, usually with a beep, to ensure you have the correct temperature. A cat’s ideal temperature is going to be between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees as they run higher than a human’s temperature. Fever or infection is possible with a higher body temperature. A sign that something is amiss is when your cat’s body temperature is lower than normal. If it’s below 100 degrees, be sure to seek veterinary treatment right away. You can reward your cat with treats when done, but they may not eat them as they may be feeling under the weather. If your cat won’t let you safely take their temperature and you’re concerned about your cat’s health, don’t hesitate to visit the vet to be on the safe side.
Learning How To Give Your Cat Medication
Your cat may require medication as they age or get sick on occasion. There are multiple ways to give cats medication, which are usually dependent on your cat’s temperament. You can try tasty food with their pill hidden inside, directly pilling them, or using a pill shooter or syringe to help. Most medications commonly come in pill form, but you may also receive a liquid form. If you’re finding better success with one form over the other, you may be able to request a certain type from your vet.
Pill-shaped treats often called “pill pockets”, are treats that allow you to stick the medication inside to form a tasty treat. Some cats may notice this is different from their normal treats, especially if the pill is fairly large. If your cat is a treat fiend though, using these “pill pockets” with their medication may be an easier and less stressful way to go. You can also try crushing up the pill and placing it in some of their favorite wet food. Just make sure to use a very small amount of the food to make sure they eat it all and don’t walk away with some of the medication still in the bowl. This method usually entices a cat enough so that you don’t have to directly give them the medicine if they are feeling good overall. In some cases though, it can be a less effective method as they may not get all of the medication, or simply refuse it and the medication is then wasted. You can test their appetite beforehand by putting the medication in the treatment and offering them a drop first, and gauge their enthusiasm for eating it.
If you have to give your cat a pill directly, it will most likely take multiple tries to get the process down. An easy method is to hold their head and mouth open with one hand while dropping the pill into their mouth with your other hand. Place your hand on top of their head with your index and thumb towards their face, then slide that finger and thumb down to the corners of their mouth, gently pushing in to open their mouth. Once open, as quickly and safely as you can, drop the pill into their mouth as far down the tongue as you can. Close their mouth quickly too, so they won’t be able to spit the pill out. To ensure they swallow it, you may need to rub their throat or blow gently into their face. It’s best to follow up any pilling with either a treat or water. This can help ensure the pill goes down smoothly and that your cat actually swallows it, especially if it’s larger.
Pilling your cat can be challenging and will take some getting used to, so be patient with yourself and your cat. There are pill shooters or guns that can help you get the pill into their throat faster and easier as well. You can use the same method to open their mouths or you can utilize the pill syringe as it will be faster overall. Place the pill gun instead of your fingers along the corner of their mouth and once open, go about half an inch down with the pill syringe. Be careful not to go further down than that, as it can scratch or irritate their throats. Using a pill gun helps ensure your cat is swallowing the pill as it gives you a faster opportunity to drop the pill where it needs to go.
Being able to accomplish these three tasks can help prepare you for anything that may arise. Your cat may not be grateful right away, but you know you’re only ensuring their health and happiness for years to come!