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Owning a ... cat

Care and attention

Grooming

Cats need grooming on a regular basis, especially long-haired cats. If cats don't get brushed often enough, their fur will become tangled and matted and in severe cases will have to be clipped off completely. Not only is this uncomfortable for the cat, it also causes considerable levels of stress, since cats are very clean animals and don't like to be messy. It can also cause other problems - if the fur around the bottom is matted, faeces will get caught up in the fur, which attracts flies and can lead to an infestation of maggots and in turn a nasty infection.

Grooming is very easy. A brush can be bought from a pet shop, or an old human hairbrush (washed and cleaned) can be used. A flea comb works well to get out tangles. As long as your cat gets used to it from a young age, you shouldn't have any problems grooming her and in most cases the cat will thoroughly enjoy a good brush. Brush the whole length of the cats body, firmly but gently. Brush in the direction that the fur is growing or your cat will not appreciate it! If your cat doesn't like being groomed and scratches, hisses, bites then runs off, you may have a problem, especially if it is a long-haired cat. The best way to get around this problem is to make grooming as pleasant as possible - start off by just stroking the cat, then gently introduce a tiny amount of very gentle brushing for a short while. Reward the cat with a treat, and continue this treatment, gradually increasing the length of time you brush for. If a short-haired cat hates being groomed, just don't groom her - it's not necessary if she doesn't like it.

Bathing

Cats HATE water (although they can swim if they need to) and since they are very clean animals, do not require any bathing. If for any reason your cat does need a bath, use a special cat shampoo. Bathing is a stressful experience and you will find it very difficult since the cat will escape given the smallest chance and continuously wriggle and scratch. You may need a second person to help you. Gently massage the dilute shampoo into the dirty area and rinse thoroughly in warm water. Be careful not to get water in the eyes or ears. Dry the cat off using an old towel.

Exercise

Most cats will get all the exercise they need while outside, wandering neighbouring gardens and stalking birds. However, many cats don't like going outside, whatever their reason. These house cats won't get the exercise they need without input from the owner and often get overweight. It is important that you spend time with a housecat, playing with ping-pong balls and other toys to encourage physical activity and also provide some mental stimulation. Some housecats may like to play in the garden for a short while each day - try to encourage this as much as possible.

Play

Play is also important for outdoor cats. Any cat needs some sort of mental stimulation from its owner. Take ten minutes each day to play a game with your cat. Most cats will have a ' wild half-an-hour ' in which they will charge around the house wanting to kill anything they see - this is the ideal time for a game.

Company

Most cats will like to have some company, curling up on your lap in the evenings or just watching you while you go about your business. Cats are very curious and will want to investigate everything they see. You will need to spend some time tickling and cuddling your cat as well as playing with her. Some cats don't like cuddling and tickling as much as others but still enjoy company.

Cat Main