Most cat owners know the basics of furry feline care. The basics include proper nutrition, fresh water, and a clean cat litter box enclosure. And of course, equally important is spending quality time with your cat. However, do you know how to care for your cat’s health beyond the basics? If you don’t, it’s smart to learn now, as well as practice so that you’re prepared for when it’s necessary. You will not want to struggle and try something new for the first time when you need to get it done efficiently and painlessly. The Refined Feline has compiled a list of 3 important things every cat parent should learn how to do.
How To Trim Your Cat’s Nails
Being familiar with trimming your cat’s nails will come in handy no matter what. Most cats’ nails will be shed on their own with whatever scratchers you have available to them in the house. Be sure to provide a few scratching posts so they have choices, preferably at different heights. Indoor cats should have their nails trimmed despite having scratching surfaces though. Trimming nails can prevent them from getting stuck on things like furniture fabrics and keep them from scratching themselves or others too deeply.
It’s fairly straightforward to trim a cat’s nails as long as your cat isn’t too fussy with the process. To make the process easier, start practicing and touching their paws when they’re younger. There are shaped trimmers for cats available at most stores, but a regular nail clipper is fine as well.
To begin, make sure your cat is calm and the environment is relaxed and free of distractions for both of you. The best position for you and your cat will depend on what’s comfortable and gives you a good angle of their paws. It may be sitting them on your lap like a human or laying them on their side. Sometimes your cat will let you trim their nails while they’re on your lap as it can provide comfort. Try keeping a pair of nail clippers nearby if you know your cat is going to lay down with you. Once your cat gets relaxed and settled in, gently pet them and see if you are able to sneak in some clips.
You’ll want to press gently on one of their pads to get their entire nail. You will want to trim the nail’s curved end, but avoid the “quick”, or pink part of the nail further down. The quick is highly sensitive and if you cut it by mistake, it will most likely bleed & your cat may decide they are done with nail trims. If you do accidentally cut the quick and it starts bleeding, use some styptic powder to control the bleeding.
Keep trimming each nail until you’re all finished, or trim as many as you can if your cat needs a break. Be sure to reward your kitty with treats or pets any time you’re able to trim their nails. Continue checking their nails every couple of weeks to make sure they’re not getting too long, and trim accordingly.
How To Take Your Cat’s Temperature
Hopefully, you won’t need to take your cat’s temperature too often, but it’s vital to know how when there’s an emergency. It does need to be taken rectally, so cats are typically not fans of getting their temperature taken. Only feeling your cat’s face or ears isn’t enough to know if your cat is running a fever or not. To stay safe and do it properly, you may need a friend to assist you in holding your cat. Purchase some water-based lubricant or gel, and a quick reading thermometer with a soft rubber tip for safety. How you hold your cat is going to be dependent on each of your comfort levels.
Apply a small amount of lubricant to the end of the thermometer and lift up your cat’s tail. Slowly and gently insert the thermometer into their rectum, about an inch deep, while keeping it straight. Wait for the thermometer to beep or signal it’s done to make sure you have the most accurate temperature. A cat’s ideal temperature is going to be between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees since they run higher than a human. A higher temperature for your cat can mean many things, including fever or infection. A significantly lower body temperature along with lethargy is also a sign that something is off. Contact your veterinarian right away if their temperature is below 100 degrees. You can reward your cat with treats afterward, but they may not eat them if they really are under the weather, so don’t be alarmed. If your cat simply won’t cooperate to get a proper temperature reading and you’re worried about their health, it’s best to go to a vet just to be safe.
How To Give Your Cat Medication
As cats age or develop an illness, they may require medication off and on. Depending on your cat’s overall temperament, there are multiple ways to give cats medication. You can try putting the pill in their food, directly pilling them with the medication, or using a pill syringe to help. The medication your cat receives can be in either liquid or pill form, although most medications will be in pill form. If you are having better luck with one over the other though, you may be able to request a certain type from your vet.
Pill-shaped treats, often called “pill pockets”, allow you to stick the medication inside or to cover it up. Some cats may realize it’s different from their normal treats and not go for it. But if your cat loves treats, putting the pill into one of these “pill pockets” may be an easier and less stressful way to go. You can try crushing up the pill and putting it in something tasty your cat loves. Just make sure to use a very small amount of the food along with the medication to make sure they eat it all. This will usually entice a cat enough to eat it and you won’t have to directly medicate them. Crushing a pill is a less effective method, though, as they will not get 100% of the medication, or they simply won’t eat it and the medication is wasted. You can try a small drop of the tasty food first, and if they are happy to eat it, then they may be more receptive once the medication is in it.
If you do end up having to pill your cat directly, it may take a few tries to get the process down. It’s typically easier to place the pill into their mouth with one hand, while the other is holding their head and mouth open. Start by placing your hand on top of their head, with your index and thumb towards their face. Move your thumb and index finger down to the corners of their mouth and gently push in to get them to open their mouth. When your cat opens their mouth, safely and quickly drop the pill into their mouth, as far down the tongue as you can. As soon as you do that, close their mouth with your hand so they can’t spit out the pill. If need be, you may have to rub their throat or blow gently into their face to ensure they swallow. It’s always recommended to follow a pill with either a treat or water. This will ensure the pill goes down smoothly and quickly, especially if it’s a larger size.
This technique will take some getting used to as your cat may not be a fan either, so be patient with yourself and them. To get the pill into their throat faster and easier, there are syringe-shaped tools that can help. You can use the same method mentioned above to open their mouths or utilize the pill gun instead of your fingers. Place the pill gun along the corner of their mouth instead, and once open, go about half an inch down with the pill shooter and dispense the pill. To avoid scratching or irritating their throats, don’t go too far down their throat with the pill shooter. Utilizing a pill syringe usually lowers the chances of your cat spitting the pill back up.
Take Even Better Care Of Your Cat By Learning These Tasks
Performing these three vital tasks can help you be better prepared for anything that may come up. Your cat may not be super excited by any of these tasks, but you’ll know that you’re ensuring their health and happiness for years to come!