Responsible pet ownership means providing adequate water, food, shelter and veterinary care for the animals in your family. Spaying or neutering your pet also helps control pet overpopulation.
Companionship, observing your pet's behavior and giving your pet exercise are also important to ensure a healthy and stable relationship between your pet and your friends and family.
Cats naturally seek out a clean place to use the bathroom. If your cat has started going to the bathroom in places other than the litter box, he or she may be trying to tell you the litter box is too dirty. You should have at least one litter box per cat in your home, and they should be cleaned daily. Use low-dust, odorless litter. Keep the litter box where your cat can easily use it in a low-traffic area. If you need to change the location, do it gradually. Keep dogs and children away from the litter box. If your cat has urinated somewhere outside of the litter box, you may want to make that place unattractive to the cat.
It's also important to talk to your veterinarian to rule out an infection or other medical cause if your cat is urinating somewhere other than the litter box.
Read more on our printable flyer for the litter box.
Cats learn best from consistent training and positive reinforcement. Consider using food, treats, praise, petting and favorite toys and games as a reward for doing something correctly.
There are a number of methods to discourage your cat from engaging in unwanted behaviors. You can help this by surrounding or covering areas you want your cat to avoid with an material it doesn't like to feel on its paws like sticky shelf paper, double-sided carpet tape, heavy plastic carpet runner with the pointy side up or irregularly shaped rocks or chicken wire outside. Use items that make things taste bad if your cat likes to eat things he or she isn't supposed to.
All cats use their claws, so you have to teach them where it is OK to scratch. Start by providing a scratching post made of material your cat likes. Rope is an example of a good scratching material that has a different texture from your furniture or carpet. Put the scratching post near where the cat likes to do its scratching, rub it with catnip, place favorite toys nearby and encourage your cat to use it.
Cover the places your cat has scratched with plastic or sickly paper to discourage more scratching, and keep your cat's claws short by clipping them weekly.
We discourage de-clawing your cat, because it may cause other negative behavior.
Playing too roughly with an animal can inadvertently lead to a bite. Make sure you use appropriate toys instead of hands when playing with your cat. You can tell if you pet is overstimulated by watching their body language, eyes and ears. Most cats are unhappy when you rub their stomach, so watch for signs of distress and stop the play immediately if your cat is nipping or biting.
Many cats play too roughly with people when they’re excited. Keep playtime in control and always use a toy as the play target. Never use your hand or foot as a toy. When your cat becomes overexcited, freeze and firmly say NO. Slowly remove yourself from the situation and redirect your cat’s energy by throwing a toy to chase. Encourage your cat to play with the toy.
Stop all play and ignore your cat for at least 15 minutes if the rough play persists.
Always consult with a veterinarian to rule out a medical reason if your cat is overly talkative. Sometimes cats talk to get attention, so you can discourage the behavior by ignoring your cat when he or she makes too much noise but rewarding your pet for being calm and quiet.
Most of the thousands of pet bites in the U.S. each year can be avoided. Learn to read animals' body language and how to control your own. Don't wait until a bite occurs to teach your children and yourself how to stay safe around animals. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Humane Society have more information about bite prevention.
Cats scratch for many reasons, but you can train them to scratch acceptable objects. Find objects that have a similar texture to ones they seem to like and make them available for scratching, and cover other objects with something your cat won'e like. This could include sticky tape, foil or sandpaper.
Aggressive behavior towards people or towards other animals needs to be addressed in person by a professional so that he or she can see exactly what is happening. Until you can get help, be sure to use caution and never break up a fight with your hands. It's your responsibility to keep your cat safely confined if he or she is aggressive.
Introduce cats to each other slowly. Make loud noises to stop fights, and prevent future fights by keeping cats separated during situations likely to trigger a fight. Don't try punishment.
Some pets need more grooming than others, but they all need your help to be healthy and comfortable. Before you acquire a pet, be sure to consider how much time you are willing to spend brushing and bathing.
Cats with longer or thicker coats need to be brushed several times each week to prevent painful knots from forming. Some pets need to be professionally groomed every six weeks or so. How often you need to bathe your pet can also depend on the type of fur it has and how often it gets dirty, but regular bathing is important and healthy. Claws also need to be trimmed regularly, and you can ask a veterinarian or groomer to show you how.
Ticks and fleas are common problems that can make your pet sick, so it's important to keep your pet free of them. Brush or comb your pet regularly to find and remove any ticks or fleas. If it's a recurring problem, you must If you find that you have a continuing problem, you must take a four-step approach to control it: Treat the inside of your house, treat your yard, treat your pet and use a prevention product.
Treat your yard and home with an appropriate flea- and tick-killing product, and bathe your pet in a flea- and tick-killing shampoo the same day. Be careful to select the right shampoo for your pet's species and age. Then consult with your veterinarian about long-acting prevention products to help your pet avoid fleas and ticks in the future.
All pets need physical and mental exercise. It can lead to destructive behavior if a pet has nothing to do and no one to do it with.
Cats may be scared of strangers, particular people, other animals, children, loud noises as well. After consulting with a veterinarian to rule out a physical problem, make sure your pet has easy access to its food, water and litter box, and always leave your cat alone and them hide safely until he or she is ready to come out. Keep contact to a minimum with whatever causes the fear, and try to gradually desensitize your cat.
Machine wash clothes as normal, but add a one-pound box of baking soda to the regular detergent. Air dry the items if possible. Use products specifically for pet odor removal when cleaning carpeted areas and upholstery.
Many landlords and housing associations have restrictions regarding pets, but don’t be discouraged. When you are planning to move, it is important to give yourself enough time to search for a place that will allow your pets. Make sure your animal is spayed or neutered, vaccinated and has basic training to help your landlord see you're a responsible pet owner.
Whether it's a common cold or a more serious illness, caring for pets when you're sick presents challenges. It's important to keep your pet as healthy, clean and groomed as possible. Assess your challenges and ask for help from family or friends if you need it. Always wash your hands after handing your pet and its food, toys and waste.
Have someone else clean your cat's litter box daily if you're pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Feed cats only commercially prepared cat food. Keep claws trimmed and work with your pet on getting used to a new member of the family and new routines.