Unlike dogs that require more time from their owners to achieve proper exercise, cats are very much on their own when it comes to staying healthy and clean.
However, there are still important things a cat owner can do to help the cat stay healthy, properly groomed, well-mannered, and safe from accidents. Follow these tips on proper care for cats.
Cats are usually allowed the unlimited freedom of the house and because of their natural desire to climb are often found perched on some high and narrow ledge. There are certain conditions which must to some extent limit their range of movements. They must never be allowed in the room when meals are being served nor should they be left alone in the kitchen when food is within easy reach on the table, for cats are at heart born thieves — necessary to their existence in the natural state — and no matter how highly bred or well-mannered they may be, they are apt to fall into bad habits if the temptation is too great.
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Since cats are generally believed to be carriers of disease they should be forbidden from the sick room and nursery.
While it has not been our experience that cats are dangerous around babies, many mothers, nurses, and some doctors think that the cat through jealousy will seek to kill the newborn infant. This is hard for cat lovers to believe and they are likely to ridicule this idea, but there are cases on record where cats have apparently gone into the crib and curled up to sleep, and by getting too close to the baby’s face have smothered it.
While I believe this to be rather accident, it is still wise to avoid possible danger. Another reason why cats should be placed away from newborn babies is the possibility of allergy from the fur which at worse, can lead to asthma.
When the windows are open in summer, cats are prone to go out on the window ledge to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, and frequently when they venture too far they slip and fall to the ground.
Long-haired cats are bound to prove troublesome if allowed to use the chairs or other furniture at will, because of the great tendency of their coats to fall out. This may be avoided by supplying for their use a pillow or by covering some of the chairs with cotton pads which can be easily removed when a person wishes to use a chair. Except for this reason they do not need a special bed, but if it is desirable a box or basket may be provided for their use.
A pan of sawdust, sand, or torn bits of paper should be kept in some convenient place for their use in attending to their functions. They must have free access to this if they are to be cleaned with their habits. Ordinarily it is sufficient to clean the pan once a day, but there are cats that are so scrupulously clean that they will hesitate long before using the pan for a second time, and in such cases it is well to encourage the habit.
Since cats do not require the exercise that dogs do, the freedom of the house is usually sufficient for their needs and they are rarely taken out of doors. If a yard is available it´s good to allow the cat to go out, but in the crowded city there is great danger of them contracting disease from the alley cats.
The tendency of cats to climb often results in fractures or other injuries, while fights with other cats or with dogs account for a variety of wounds.
Keeping a check on the functions is of even more important on the cats than on the dogs. Being more closely confined there is a greater natural tendency toward constipation and in males there is a frequent stoppage of urination from calculi.
Since cats when sick hide away and brood rather than show any outward manifestation of illness, trouble is not quickly detected. But if the condition of the functions is known, sickness will be anticipated much more quickly.
In Persian cats the hair about the rectum becomes easily attached to the stool, which, as it becomes matted and dry, prevents further passages until it has been cleaned away.
Since the cat subsists largely on a meat diet, the feces are not very copious and there is rarely more than one movement a day. The stool when normal is black in color, cylindrical in shape and firm and moist in consistency. Very dry stools are abnormal, as well as very loose or watery passages. Diarrhea stools may be either yellow or black in color, and may be tinged with blood.
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Mucus may, at times, be present in the movements. Passages of urine may occur one or more times a day. They are usually abundant in quantity and of a strong characteristic odor.
The cat should not be allowed to go more than forty-eight hours without a movement of the bowels, nor twenty-four hours without a passage of urine. In male cats, straining attempts at urination without results are sufficient indication of trouble to require immediate attention.
The coat of the cat should receive daily combing and brushing. This is especially important for those long-haired varieties since their hair is readily snarls and mats.
If this happens, the mat must be removed, either by teasing it away bit by bit from the underlying hair, or by clipping it off. Bathing is rarely done. Since cats strongly object to water it is better to avoid. If you ever attempt to give your cat a bath, it should be thoroughly dried afterward to prevent its catching cold.
Teeth, Nails, Etc.
The teeth of the cat do not cause much trouble. They seldom become covered with tartar and so do not quickly decay. Cats rarely suffer from discharging eyes nor are they frequently subject to injury. The ears of the cat are often affected with canker and so it is necessary to clean them occasionally with a dry cotton swab.
The cat’s nails are exceedingly sharp and it is sometimes advisable to cut away or file the very sharp points. This operation, however, deprives the animal of a very effective weapon. Shedding of the nails is promoted by scratching on the carpets, chair legs, doorposts, etc. Occasionally the cat is supplied with extra toes which do not come into bearing on the floor. These nails are not subject to wear and if allowed to grow may penetrate the footpad and cause a very painful sore. They should be occasionally clipped or filed to prevent such an occurrence.