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You have decided to add a cat to your household. Great! Before you go any further, please make sure that it's completely clear to you and every member of the home that getting a cat is like adding a member to the family.

Your new furry friend will need food, medical care, proper housing and love for many years. If all that is agreed upon, you're ready to think about what type of cat to get.

Please keep in mind, "a cat is a cat" is not a true statement. They have personalities like you and me. Every cat has its own unique behavior. It's true, certain behavioral aspects, such as temperament and athletic ability, are manifested in certain breeds over others. But each cat will be his own.

No one knows exactly when cats were first domesticated but some of our earliest recorded instances of feline domestication come from ancient Egypt. Cats probably started out as useful servants, protecting the household from pests, but in Egypt they graduated into the role of pampered companions. Many Egyptian statues show sleek, well-groomed cats, often adorned with elaborate jewelry. As the civilization along the Nile evolved, so did the role of the cat. Cats became associated with a number of gods and goddesses, particularly Bastet. With its status in association with the deities, the cat began to be worshipped also. The murder of a cat was a capital offense, and cats were mummified at death.

With love and care, your cat can live 15-20 years. Cats can be complicated roommates. The more you learn about general cat behavior, the better you will become at understanding your own cat. Understanding your cat is essential to meeting her needs and nurturing a happy, healthy relationship.

  • Healthcare
    While you hold and pet your cat, gently look in his eyes, ears, under his tail and feet, and along his sides, belly, and legs. Get to know what is normal for your cat so you will know the signs of illness or injury immediately -- such as dull coat, loss of appetite, diarrhea, runny eyes or nose, vomiting, coughing, swelling, or straining while using the litter box.

    Just like people, cats need regular health check-ups, a proper diet, and they might even need nutritional supplements. Your cat's "unusual" behavior may be his way of telling you that something is wrong. A cat's behavior reflects not only their general well being, but also how they relate to their environment.

    Indoor vs Outdoors - It is safer to keep your cat indoors. Cats allowed outside can get lost, hit by cars, poisoned, hurt in fights, or may bother your neighbors and harm wildlife. Not to mention they may contract deadly diseases like FIV or FeLV. Outdoor cats tend to live shorter lives. In the house, cats should have a warm, dry, private place of their own away from drafts or direct heat.

  • Collar & tag
    Your cat should always wear a safety collar and identification. A safety collar has an elastic insert that will allow your pet to free himself if the collar gets stuck on something; a flea collar is not a safety collar. Identification makes it possible to return your pet to you if he becomes lost.

  • Grooming
    Cats rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed. Frequent brushing (at least once a week) keeps your pet's fur clean and reduces the amount of fur on the furniture and in your pet's stomach, which can form troublesome hairballs.

  • Handling
    To pick up your cat, place one hand under his chest just beneath the front legs and the other under his hindquarters. Lift slowly and gently to your chest or lap. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (the loose skin on the back of the neck and shoulders) or by his front legs or around the stomach. That hurts.

  • Scratching
    Nails grow continuously by shedding an outer sheath. Scratching on dense or textured surfaces facilitates the removal of the outer layer to reveal the stronger nail underneath. To direct your cat away from clawing your furniture, it's a great idea to provide them with a highly visible scratching post. Cats scratch for grooming and marking purposes. It's important to accommodate both aspects of this in choosing the right post for your home, and placing it where it will do the most good.

    Cats do not like getting stuck, that's why double-sided tape is a great deterrent, so you need to keep this in mind while choosing a scratching post. Plush carpets and similar surfaces can snare a cat's claw, discouraging the cat from using it. Some cats enjoy a piece of wood, a good 2 x 4 works wonders for them. You'll need to do some trial and error experimentation to find the scratching post right for your cat.

    Keep the scratching post out in the open, so that the cat will feel it has sufficiently established its territory. As unattractive as it may be, a visible scratching post will save your furniture from becoming the territorial marker.

    Clipping your cat’s nails on the front paws once a month will also reduce damage to furniture. There are also many deterrents that you can buy at pet stores to reduce scratching on furniture.

    Before taking the step to declaw your cat, please read about the procedure and possible side effects - http://www.cfa.org/articles/health/declawing.html

  • The Litterbox
    Cats are extraordinarily fastidious creatures. Outdoors, they tend to urinate and defecate in relatively open and previously unused areas. Unless they are spraying or marking - deliberately depositing the scent of their urine or feces as a chemical "autograph" for other cats - they carefully cover their waste and move on.

    When asking cats to use a litter box, you are teaching against their instincts. It's no surprise that the most common behavior problem reported by cat owners is urination and defecation outside the litter box. To minimize this:

    A good "rule of paw" is to have one litter box available for each cat, plus one extra. Litter boxes should be placed in accessible areas - avoid dark, damp basements, distant bedrooms, or areas unprotected from the noises of washing machines, furnaces, traffic, and the like.

    To accommodate the preference for open spaces (and dislike for odors), use as large a box as possible. A study of texture preferences has shown that cats prefer the clumping, scoopable litters to other types.

    Finally, try to keep your litter boxes as clean as possible, removing urine and feces at least daily. Also, place thick vinyl on those areas outside the litter box that your cat has been using.

    After cleaning with a urine odor-neutralizing product, it also is helpful to top the vinyl with items that smell clearly unpleasant to cats. Cats dislike odors such as cedar chips, perfumes, and citrus oils. If these measures are thorough, even the most challenging cat can be taught to use the litter box.

  • Myths
    There are many “Myths” about cats. Check out http://www.cfainc.org/articles/myths-facts.html

  • Facts of Life
    There are more cats alive than there are homes for them. Thousands of beautiful, healthy cats and kittens are destroyed each year in pounds and shelters simply because they are surplus. Thousands more are abandoned and die cruelly by starvation, disease, or under the wheels of cars. As a pet owner, you have a responsibility to control your pet's breeding. Have your female spayed and your male neutered. The operation will not hurt pet and will not make him/her fat and lazy. It will, however, make your pet healthier and happier and more home-loving.