Caring for Cats: Mistakes Owners Make

I’ve had the pleasure of living with cats most of my life. During that time, I’ve made a lot of mistakes—things like setting my black wool pants on the bed during shedding season, taking a bubble bath with the bathroom door open, and daring to leave important papers on my desk. While these errors in judgment led to inconvenience, cat owners make many mistakes that can actually endanger the lives of their pets. Here are a few of the most common cat mistakes:

1. Using the same products on dogs and cats. According to veterinarians, you should never assume that a shampoo, flea medicine or other pet care product designed for dogs is equally suitable for cats. Only use those specifically labeled as safe for cats.

2. Giving a cat medicine intended for humans. If Fluffy is stung by a bee, suffers from allergies or gets a cut or scrape, don’t get out the Benadryl, Sudafed or antibiotic ointment without consulting your veterinarian. Many human medications are fatal to cats, and those that aren’t will require specific dosages.

3. Letting a cat become obese. Being overweight is as dangerous for cats as it is for humans. Unfortunately, veterinarians report that 58 percent of their feline patients are overweight or obese—a 5 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Consult your vet about proper feeding amounts and play with your cat daily to encourage exercise.

4. Skipping wellness checkups. Few cats find a trip to the veterinarian fun, but regular checkups are essential to long, healthy feline lives. Schedule a visit at least once each year, and contact your vet immediately if your cat’s behavior changes—it could be an indication that she’s not feeling well.

5. Avoiding tooth brushing. Dental disease causes many trips to the veterinarian and is very costly, as well as painful to your kitty. Start brushing at an early age—with an appropriate feline tooth paste, of course—and you’ll prevent decay of her teeth and gums.

As a pet owner, what mistakes have you made? How have the results changed the way you care for your furry family members? Share your stories in the comments.

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