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Top 10 Mistakes Made by Cat Owners

Mistake 1: Impulse adoption instead of careful selection
Because of their big hearts, many people take in strays, or other cats that no one wants. Sometimes a stray turns out to be the best cat imaginable. In other cases, there is a reason other humans choose to not share a space with this cat.
Every person is allowed to carefully CHOOSE a cat at some point in their life.

Inappropriate elimination is the number one behavior complaint for cats following by cat aggression as number two.

Mistake 2: Delaying neutering
These days spaying and neutering of both puppies and kittens can be done safely when the pet is only a few months old. Delaying this procedure results in unwanted reproduction in females and male objectionable behaviors like roaming and fighting. For both genders, roaming results in exposure to parasites and other diseases.

Mistake 3: Not completely following the veterinarian's advice.
Veterinarians typically recommend a physical exam for every pet with check-ups annually or more after that. Pets can't complain about physical discomfort like children do, so it is MORE important to get these exams done. There is an increasing realization that a physical exam alone may not be enough. Many veterinarians now routinely collect blood, urine and a stool sample at the routine exam. This "window inside the body" can find problems early before the damage is done, making them easier to resolve. If all is normal, you now have baseline values that can be very helpful down the road.

Mistake 4:  Skip diagnostic procedures and treat only symptoms "to save money."
Between exams, many people notice symptoms but delay going in, hoping the problem will correct itself. If in doubt, here are two simple rules: take the pet in if 1) a new symptom continues longer than 24 hours, or 2) you can recognize a progressive worsening of signs in less than 24 hours.

Skipping a diagnosis obviously makes it less likely to get a complete cure. In addition, what is saved at initial testing is lost by increased number of visits trying and different medications. It is usually necessary to come back and do the testing later anyway but now the previous symptomatic treatments have clouded the diagnosis, making everything more difficult. The bottom line is - if you don't trust the person, change vets but once you have someone you trust, follow his or her recommendations.

Mistake 5: Overfeeding "In the name of love."
Overfeeding creates obesity, dental disease, spoiled appetite, and begging. Overfeeding is offering even tastier foods to encourage eating (resulting in finicky cats).

Mistake 6: Unclean litterbox
Not cleaning the litterbox frequently enough (for indoor cats) often leads to inappropriate and misdirected elimination.  Not offering multiple types of litter and box size and locations often results in house soiling.

Mistake 7: Physical punishment
Physically punishing any feline act (verbal scolding or booby trapping is ok) tends to make it worse!  Allowing the cat up on the counters some times, then punishing other times confuses the cat and harms the relationship.

Mistake 8: Creating an aggressive cat
Playing slap-boxing games frequently results in cat aggressive toward people. Because of their genetics, some cats participate or tolerate these adolescent human games, and still don't become aggressive. Another way to create an aggressive cat is to physically punish the cat, creating defensive aggression. Ironically, some beloved cats become so spoiled, they turn "dominant" and attack their owners.  In this situation, the cat has taken over control of the situation.

Mistake 9: Insufficient grooming
A basic part of the social system for felines is grooming themselves and others. Some cats have been bred for unnaturally long full coats.  These require either daily grooming or periodic total body clips.  An important tip when grooming is to not "pull" out mats. Instead, put your fingers between the mat and skin and cut it out. Then gently tease out the remaining tangle. Another tip is to alternate the brush and hand. If you are doing it right, the cat will be purring and seeking more.

Mistake 9: Declawing
Declawing without first providing a scratching post and training is ignorant and cruel. We have to realize that all animals have natural instincts that require a suitable outlet. If all else fails, declawing is preferable to surrender to a shelter or euthanasia.

Mistake 10: Lack of sufficient exercise
Not giving sufficient exercise (string chasing, toy chasing, etc.) for indoor cats goes along with most Americans who don't get enough exercise themselves. A simple rule of thumb is try to engage cats in enough interactive exercise to cause the cat to pant or quit.

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