3 Things Every Cat Parent Should Learn How to Do

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By JeraldDossantos

Every cat owner knows the basic care of their furry felines. Tasks like providing proper nutrition, fresh water, and a clean litter box are considered the basics. Spending part of your day with your cat is almost equally as important, as they crave quality time. However, do you know a few more advanced skills necessary for basic care? If not, it’s smart to learn the basics and know now so that you’re ready for when it’s necessary. You don’t want to be doing something new for the first time when it needs to be completed quickly and efficiently. With this in mind, The Refined Feline has collected a list of 3 things every cat parent should know how to do. 

Learning To Trim Your Cat’s Nails

Being able to trim your cat’s nails will come in handy no matter the situation. Depending on what your cat has to scratch on in the house, their nails will most likely shed enough on their own. By providing a few scratching posts, preferably at different heights, you’ll increase the chance of their nails shedding. And while these scratching posts definitely help, most indoor cats will still need their nails trimmed. Maintaining a good nail length will prevent them from getting their nails stuck on furniture fabrics and keep them from injuring each other. 

It’s quite simple and easy to trim a cat’s nails as long as your cat doesn’t squirm around too much. Keep in mind when bringing home a new cat, the younger they are when you start practicing and touching their paws, the better your chances will be that they’ll behave. There are trimmers made specifically for cat’s nails that are available at most stores but a regular nail clipper is fine as well.

Most importantly, the first thing to do when starting is to make sure your cat is relaxed and the environment is quiet and free of distractions. The position of your cat may be different each time you trim their nails, depending on what’s comfortable for them and you. It may involve laying them on their side or having them sit on your lap like a human. If they are already snuggled on your lap, trimming their nails will work because it can provide comfort. To make this method successful, It’s best to keep a nail clipper nearby if your cat is about to lay down with you. Once your cat gets relaxed and sleepy, gently pet them and see if you can begin trimming their nails.

You’ll want to press gently but firmly on one of their pads to reveal their nail fully. Make sure you are trimming the nail’s curved end and not the “quick”, or pink part of the nail. The quick is highly sensitive and if cut into, it will most likely bleed, leaving your cat irritable and unwilling to continue. If you do accidentally cut the quick don’t worry, you can use some styptic powder to help stop the bleeding. 

Continue to trim each nail until complete or just do a few at a time if your cat needs a break. Any time you’re able to trim their nails, even just one at a time, reward your kitty with treats. To ensure they’re not getting too long, check back on their nails every couple of weeks.

Learning To Take Your Cat’s Temperature

Hopefully, you won’t need to take your cat’s temperature too many times, but it’s a necessary skill to have in case of an emergency. Cats are usually not going to enjoy the process as it does need to be done rectally. Just touching your cat’s ears or face isn’t enough to check if your cat is ill or not. You most likely will need a friend to assist you while taking your cat’s temperature to ensure everyone stays safe. Buying a quick reading thermometer with a soft rubber tip is best for safety, along with a water-based lubricant or gel. The position your cat is in will depend on what’s best for you, your friend, and your cat. 

Put a small amount of lubricant or gel onto the thermometer’s end and lift your cat’s tail. Gently and slowly insert the thermometer into their rectum as straight as possible, and about an inch deep. Wait for the thermometer to signify that it’s done to ensure you have the correct temperature as it can still take a few seconds. A cat is going to be warmer than a human, so their ideal temperature is going to be between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees. A higher temperature reading typically means a fever or infection. A lower body temperature reading can signify that something is off with your cat. And if their temperature is below 100 degrees, seek veterinary treatment right away. If you give your cat a treat once done and they don’t touch it, don’t worry as they are feeling under the weather and may not go for it. If your cat is simply refusing to get their temperature taken and you’re worried about your cat’s health, it’s best to visit your vet just to be safe.

Learning To Give Your Cat Medication

Your cat may require medication as they age or get sick every so often. There are multiple ways to give cats medication, it all just depends on your cat’s overall temperament. You can try giving them the pill directly, putting it into some tasty food, or using a pill “gun” or syringe to assist with pilling. The most common form will be the pill form for your cat’s medication, but you may receive a liquid form too. You may be able to request a certain type from your vet if you are having a difficult time with one form over another. 

Pill-shaped treats or “pill pockets” are treats that you can place the medication inside to cover it up. Some cats may realize these are different from their normal treats or not care for the taste of the “pill pockets”. If your cat generally prefers treats, using these pill-shaped treats may be an easier and less stressful way to go. You can also crush up the pill and put it in their favorite wet or liquid treat, like chicken broth. Be sure to use a very small amount of the food for the crushed pill to make sure they eat it all and then give them the rest of the treat. This will typically entice a cat enough to eat the treat completely so that you don’t have to directly give them the medicine. This method does end up being less effective, though, as they may not get all of the medication, or become wasted as your cat may not want to eat it one day. You can test their likelihood of eating it by offering them a drop of the special food first, without the medication in it and see if they are responsive to it.

If you do need to pill your cat directly, it may take a few tries to get the process down. It’s best to hold their head and mouth open with one hand while you place the pill in their mouth with your other hand. Place your hand on top of their head with your index and thumb towards their face. Next, move your index finger and thumb down to the corners of their mouth, gently pushing in to open their mouth. Once your cat opens their mouth, quickly and safely deposit the pill into its mouth, as far down the tongue as you can. To ensure they don’t immediately spit the pill out, you’ll want to close their mouth right away. You may need to rub their throat, even blowing gently into their face to ensure they swallow. It’s also best to follow the pill up with either a treat or water as this can help ensure the pill goes down smoothly. 

Remember to be patient with yourself and your cat through this process as it will take a few tries to get down. Using syringe-shaped devices can also help you get the pill into their throat faster and easier as well. You can also use the same method for opening their mouths or you can rely on the pill gun. Place the pill gun along the corner of their mouth and once they open, go half an inch down with the pill shooter to deposit the pill. Avoid going too deep or you may scratch or irritate their throats. Employing a pill syringe will help lower the chances of them spitting up the pill. 

Being prepared for anything that may arise will most likely include these three vital tasks. Your cat may not be the biggest fan of these tasks, but you’ll know that you’re keeping them healthy and happy for years to come!