How to keep your cat in the best possible health
Keeping clean will promote good health and will help to keep your cats free of diseases and ailments. Good hygiene is high on my list of priorities.
Food & Bowls.
Dry food should be stored in a cool, dry place, preferably in a cupboard. It can either be stored in the bag it came in, or in a suitable container which is preferably airtight. It is fine to mix together different brands and flavours of dry food, as long as they all within the use by date.
Wet food comes in pouches or tins which should be fed all at once. Keeping food in tins causes bacterial growth. If you must keep some food from a tin, put it into a suitable container and store in the fridge until needed (not for longer than 48 hours).
All feeding / water bowls should be washed with warm water and washing up liquid daily to keep them fresh and clean. Bacteria can grow in stale food and water bowls.
Dry food can be left down all day and remain fresh, wet and raw foods shouldn’t be left down for more than a few hours, it will dry up, become smelly and attract flies.
Don’t choose plastic bowls, they become scratched and can harbour bacteria which can cause or worsen feline acne. I have heard of cats suddenly refusing to eat from a well used plastic bowl, then eating with gusto from a new bowl. I believe this is down to bacteria ingrained into the plastic emitting a smell and / or taste.
A placemat is a great idea, and something that I always use. They are wipe clean and protect floors.
Litter & Trays.
A hooded tray is the best as it keeps smells to a minimum and greatly reduces the tracking of litter. They also look nicer than open trays and can provide a comfortable & safe place for your cat to use. You may have to remove the swinging door if your cat won’t use or doesn’t like it.
Open top trays are good for kittens as they are shallower than hooded ones and are easier to use. They will smell more than hooded ones, and tracking can cause a problem, especially if you have more than one cat.
Position of the tray is also important. Make sure that your cat knows where the tray is, and don’t move it around, unless absolutely necessary.
Litter trays should be kept as clean as possible. Solids should be removed as soon as they are noticed, sooner the better, these can easily be flushed down the household toilet. Take care not to flush too much litter, it can cause plumbing problems. The entire tray needs to be completely emptied AT LEAST once every 4 weeks and washed out with warm soapy water, a good, animal safe disinfectant can be used every few months. Virkon is a good one to use.
Make sure that you have one litter tray per cat, and that they are large enough to accommodate your largest cat comfortably. Some cats don’t like hooded trays. Try to get the one your cat prefers.
Litter liners are pretty useless and will end up scratched to pieces.
The type of litter you use is down to personal choice, and that of your cats. Some cats refuse to use certain types of litter so it may require you to try several types before you find the right one for you.
If you like non-clumping litter, I personally like wood-based litter as it is long lasting and has a natural woody smell which disguises any urine smells. This litter also doesn’t “track” as much as other types. It comes in pellet form. Pets at Home sell a really good one (white and green bag). It’s very cost effective if your cat will use it. Asda also sell a wood-based litter (smart litter). A similar litter to this is Bio Catolet & Yesterday’s News. These are paper based litters and work in a similar way to wood based, without the woody smell. They can become rather wet and need changing frequently, ok if you only have one or two cats.
The most popular litter type is that made of small stones. It is non-clumping and semi-absorbent and is very widely available. Popular brands are Catsan, Sophisticat, and Pets at Home Ultra White / Antibacterial. This litter does track a bit, a deep tray is best, it can also be a little dusty and requires regular cleaning as it starts to smell quickly, ok again for only one or two cats.
Clumping litter is usually clay based and forms lumps when the cat urinates on it. These lumps can be scooped out and put into the bin, or toilet depending on type. This litter is a good option and is what I use. It costs a little more but you don’t have to empty out the entire litter tray as often, you just top up what was removed. If you use this type of litter, you will be doing a lot less litter tray maintenance. This option is best if you have more than 2 cats.
Good brands are Clean N Tidy & World’s Best, my personal favourite is Cat’s best oko plus. This is brilliant for one or two cats, for more cats then Cat’s best nature gold is best.
It can take some time to get litter type and tray type right, be patient.
Please note that pregnant women should not touch any used cat litter, or be responsible for changing trays, unless well protected by gloves. It’s best to be cautious so get someone else to change the trays if you are pregnant.
Coat & General Care.
Short haired cats, such as the British don’t require much maintenance. A fine-toothed comb once every 2 weeks is sufficient. Claws can be clipped every 6 weeks. Take care only to cut the very tip off to prevent any pain or bleeding. Human nail clippers are good to use, or scissor style clippers.
Bathing isn’t required for this breed, unless the coat becomes soiled with something such as faeces. If you wish you can bathe your cat every 3+ months to keep him/her smelling fresh and looking great.
A suitable shampoo should be used for this. Excellent ones are available from Anju Beaute, although there are plenty you can find that are suitable for cats.
Bathing can be very useful for people who show their cats.
It is useful to clean out the ears when you clip the claws. Use wet wipes suitable for this, or baby wipes and gently remove any yellow or brown deposits from the ear. NEVER push a cotton bud into the ear canal! Sticking to wet wipes is much safer and more comfortable. Very dark brown wax, or a lot of wax could be a sign of ear mites, get it checked at the vets.
You can also clean the eye area very carefully to remove any sleep from the eye corners but be very gentle and never touch the surface of the eyes. Any greenish discharge, excessive watering, or redness should be checked by a vet.
Regularly check your cat’s skin. You shouldn’t feel any lumps, scratches or abrasions. Have anything found treated straight away.
Hair loss, matting and a change in hair texture (adults only) should be investigated.