SpencerFebruary is National Cat Appreciation and National Cat Health Month as well as Responsible Pet Owners Month, making this the purrfect time to discuss the basic tenets of conscientious cat care. Here are CatCentric’s top five favorite traits of responsible and caring cat owners:

    They ensure the cat is a fit for their family before they bring her home and they commit to her for life.

    A cat’s age, personality, activity level, special needs and background should all be carefully considered when choosing the right one – or two! – for your family. Lifestyle, current pets, landlord restrictions and potentially allergic family members, roommates or close friends should also be considered. Responsible cat owners know what they’re getting into, understand the potential financial costs, and commit to their cats for life.

      They understand their cat’s basic needs.

      Proper feline care involves more than just providing quality nutrition, fresh water and clean litter boxes. The best cat caretakers understand species-appropriate diets, why feeding frequently is important, the best locations for and types of food and water dishes and litter boxes. They also recognize and accommodate their cat’s unique environmental needs for scratching posts, safe zones, climbing surfaces and opportunities to engage in play and hunting activities.

        They study feline behavior and communication patterns and recognize what’s normal for their cat.

        Responsible cat owners are driven to understand their cat’s motivations and thinking processes. They learn how cats interact with one another and their environment, why routine reduces anxiety levels, and the many ways cats communicate their moods. Within that framework, they become intimately familiar with the habits and behaviors normal for their own cat and – despite the cat’s penchant for hiding pain and illness – can tell when something is off. They know that cats don’t engage in acts of revenge and that elimination issues are often a sign of stress… and they take steps to address the root cause of their cat’s unhappiness. They pay attention as their cat transitions from kitten to adult to senior and modify her environment – litter boxes, ramps, toys, etc. – as appropriate.

          They protect their cat.

          Caring cat owners work with and socialize their cat to visitors, noisy appliances and other potentially upsetting situations. They educate their guests on non-threatening interactions and supervise younger visitors. Their cats are kept safely inside, and they routinely replace worn toys and frayed rugs, draperies and cat furniture. Their homes are cat-proof and all medicines, household chemicals and poisonous plants are kept out of reach. Thoughtful pet parents develop working partnerships with their vets, research care plans thoroughly, take their cats in for annual physicals, and conduct home health checks every week or so. They also create disaster plans, including emergency and first aid kits, and ensure their cats are provided for in their wills.

            They love their cat.

            Finally, the best owners love their cats unconditionally and think of them as part of the family. They play with their cats daily and spend quiet time together often. Their cats’ favorite perches are placed in living areas where family members spend most of their time. These owners take into account the needs of their cats and the potential impact of their decisions when considering lifestyle changes, vacations and other major disruptions to daily routines.

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                Adopting a cat requires forethought and preparation, and caring for one properly is a lifetime commitment. The reward, however, is a priceless gift of gentle purrs, warm face rubs and loving companionship.

                  A cat's love is a priceless gift.

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