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Cat Supplies Checklist

Did you know there are now more cats than dogs in U.S. households? According to an American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey, there are over 86 million cats in the United States as compared to approximately 78 million dogs. Furthermore, cat owners are more likely to have more than one cat as compared to dog owners who are more likely to have just one dog. While cats have surpassed dogs in popularity in American households, sometimes it seems as though cats get short shrift compared to dogs when it comes to pet supplies. Cats are often seen as self-sufficient in comparison with dogs, but if you are one of the many households that already have a feline family member, or are just considering adding a cat to your home, you should be aware that cats have their own unique needs when it comes to pet supplies.

Feed a pet food formulated for cats

Pet parents with both cats and dogs may wonder if their pets can share the same food. The answer is no, since cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements. Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores and need a higher level of protein in the diet than do dogs. Another difference is that cats cannot manufacture taurine in the body, so their food must contain this amino acid to avoid health problems. When selecting cat food for your little carnivore, be sure to choose a high-quality pet food formulated specifically for felines.

Protect your cat from parasites

Like dogs, cats can become infested with fleas and ticks, and even indoor cats are not immune to these pests. Cats have a different metabolism than dogs, so a topical flea product meant for dogs should never be used on cats. In fact, certain topical flea and tick products for dogs can be very harmful to cats. Look for products formulated specifically for cats such as Advantage II or Frontline Plus.

Cats can get heartworms, too!

Most people are familiar with heartworm disease in dogs. However, while dogs are the most common host for heartworm, cats are also at risk for contracting heartworm. Surprisingly, even cats that are classified by their owner as "indoor" cats have been diagnosed with heartworm. Since there is currently no approved treatment for heartworm in cats, consider protecting your cat from heartworm disease with a heartworm preventative formulated for cats such as Heartgard Chewables for Cats or Advantage Multi.

A litter box is a necessity

Most pet parents nowadays realize that it is much safer to keep their cat indoors. This of course necessitates a litter box for your cat. Cat litter boxes come in a variety of sizes, designs and styles so you can find one that works best for your cat. You can even also purchase "cat washrooms" which not only hide the litter box, but complement your décor and may satisfy your cat's instinctive desire for privacy. Don't forget cat litter and a scoop. Many cats have specific likes and dislikes when it comes to litter, so experiment until you find a brand of litter that works for you and your cat.

Satisfy your cat's natural instinct to scratch

All cats have a natural desire to scratch on surfaces. Cats scratch for exercise as well as to remove the outer layer of the claw, to mark objects with their scent, and also to visibly mark their territory. If you don't provide a suitable spot for your cat to scratch, he or she will find a spot to use, such as your furniture. To avoid this unwanted behavior, provide your cat with a scratching post. Be sure to invest in a sturdy scratching post or tree that is tall enough for your cat to really stretch out when scratching.

Take good care of your aging cat

Like humans and other pets, cats may develop painful joints as they age. There are effective glucosamine supplements for cats that will help maintain and even restore your cat's joint health. Cats can be more finicky than dogs when it comes to readily taking supplements. If your cat will not eat a joint supplement in treat form, look for a product such as Cosequin for Cats which comes in a handy tuna and chicken flavored capsule that you simply open and sprinkle over your cat's food.

Don't neglect your cat's dental health

Admittedly, it can be more difficult to brush a cat's teeth because they usually have a much smaller mouth than do dogs, and they can sometimes be more fractious than dogs. If your cat will allow it, it is always best to regularly brush your cat's teeth using an enzymatic toothpaste formulated for pets, such as C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Kit for Dogs and Cats. For cats that do not tolerate toothbrushing, you can try a water additive, dental rinse, or a dental chew or treat which you can use as part of your cat's dental care program.

Playtime is important

Most cats love to play, so be sure to provide an assortment of cat toys. Chasing, pouncing, swatting and stalking are behaviors that mimic a cat's instinctive hunting behaviors, and playtime also provides good exercise for your cat. For added fun, try toys with catnip, or provide a sprinkle of catnip on the floor for your cat to roll around in and enjoy. Interactive laser toys are also a great way to keep your cat playful at heart.

Molly's Tip

Understanding the unique requirements of your cat will ensure the best of health for your feline.