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All cats come from their cousins, the wild cats; tigers, lions, bobcats, mountain lions and companion cats are all related. Cats have been domesticated for more than 5,000 years. There are more than 41 recognized breeds of cat.

Before You Bring Your Cat Home:
You will need food, a food dish, a water bowl, interactive toys, a brush, a comb, a scratching post and a litter box which can all be obtained from your nearest pet shop or pet supplies dealer.

Premium-quality dry and canned cat food provides a healthy diet for your pet. Fresh, clean water must be available at all times. The water bowl should be washed and refilled daily.

An adult cat should be fed one large meal or two smaller meals each day. Kittens aged 6-12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens aged 12-24 weeks need to be fed three times a day. Feed specific meals. Throw away any leftover food after 20 minutes. Avoid free feeding (keeping food down all the time).

Cats should have a warm, dry place of their own in the house. Line the bed with something warm and soft ó a towel or blanket. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Itís safer to keep your cat indoors. Outdoor cats can get hit by cars, poisoned, hurt in fights and are more apt to pick up disease and parasites.

To pick up your cat, place one hand under its front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by its front legs.

Your cat should see the veterinarian at least once a year for an examination and annual shots. Take your pet to a veterinarian if it is sick or injured. Carefully go over your catís body at least once a week to check for fleas, ear mites and any bumps or cuts.

Litter Box:
All indoor cats need a litter box. The bathroom, utility room or back porch make good places to put your petís box. Always keep it in the same place. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent and refill at least once a week. Cats wonít use a messy, smelly litter box!

Your cat will keep itself relatively clean. Most cats rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed/combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your petís coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs.

If allowed outdoors (and we donít recommend it!), the cat should wear a collar and I.D. tag. A safety collar, one which has an elastic panel or is made out of popper beads, will allow your cat to free itself if the collar gets stuck on something. An I.D. tag makes it possible to return a lost pet to you.

All cats need to scratch to loosen old nail sheathes and allow new nails to grow, Cutting your catís nails every two to three weeks will keep them relatively blunt and less likely to harm armsóof both humans and furniture. Provide your cat with a sturdy scratching post, at least 3 feet high, covered with rough material such as sisal, burlap or tree bark to further prevent household destruction. A sprinkle of catnip once or twice a month will keep your cat interested in it.

All cats delight in stalking imaginary prey. The best toys for cats are those that can be made to jump and dance around, those that look like they are alive. The cat acts out his predator role by pouncing on toys instead of peopleís ankles. Warning: Do not use your hands or fingers as play objects with young kittens or your cat may have biting and scratching problems as he matures.

Additional Information:

Indoor cats live for 15 to 20 years.

It is important to spay (females) or neuter (males) your cat since it can breed up to three times per year. This operation prevents your cat from having unwanted litters and protects it from diseases of the reproductive organs. Neutered cats seldom spray urine around the house to mark territory and are generally easier to live with.

If your cat has fleas, try using flea powder and/or frequently flea combing your cat. Flea collars for cats can irritate the skin on their necks.

See also: Advice on Moving your cat