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Quick & Complete How-To Guide on your Feline's Maintenance

Maintenance

While cats are generally thought to be independent and require little to no care, this misconception could not be farther from the truth. Multiple different skills and supplies will need to be acquired in order to maintain the healthiest and happiest companion possible. There is no substitute for learning how to care for a cat’s grooming, dental, and sanitary needs. 

A Complete and Well-Rounded Routine

Dental

        A frequently overlooked aspect of animal care is their dental routine. Over seventy percent of cats by the age of 3 years old will develop a dental disease. This means that any step taken towards proper dental hygiene is a step in the right direction. The reason behind dental disease being such a prevalent issue with cats, is that their digestive system is entirely different from ours. A cat’s digestion will start in their stomach, as opposed to their mouth such as in humans. Any food particles stuck inside of a cat's mouth will not be broken down by their saliva, therefore allowing for the development of bad bacteria as well as eventually lead to buildup of tartar that calcifies into plaque. It is recommended that cats should have their teeth brushed twice a day as to that of a human. The brushing should also be accompanied by cat-safe toothpaste to aid in the breakdown and removal of built-up plaque or tartar. A step further into the dental routine suggests that water additives and oral gels should be incorporated to ward off bad bacteria and further help to remove bad buildups. Unfortunately, it is not frequently considered on how a cat's dental hygiene can have a direct correlation to their overall health. Multiple different dental diseases, if left untreated, can allow the infection to spread from the mouth into the whole body of the animal. The event that this may happen is referred to as sepsis. The infection originally started in the mouth starts a chain reaction, rapidly spreading throughout the whole-body causing tissue damage and organ failure along the way. If entirely neglected, sepsis can and will lead to death. Knowing the apparent risks of sepsis, further emphasizes the utmost importance of a proper dental care routine. The most common way to determine if your cat already has a dental disease would be bad breath. As simple as it may seem, cats will adapt to the pain of living with a dental disease and hide all symptoms, leaving you to smell their breath in the name of good health. As with the vast majority of things in this world, prevention is better than treatment. Take it upon yourself as a diligent pet owner to prevent, identify, and treat any issues big or small that can occur with your feline. That all being said, an additional consistent way to provide dental care would be the inclusion of natural chews and toys that promote the use of a cat's teeth. This typically incorporates a gnawing motion helping to scrape off plaque and tartar and keep their teeth clean. Outside of the home setting, your cat should still be receiving routine dental cleanings from your preferred veterinarian. The combination of all techniques provides a complete rounded dental care routine that, when used frequently and consistently, will promote a healthy way of life for your feline friend. Downstream this encompasses a healthier life, less costly trips to the veterinarian, and even a longer life for your cat.

Grooming

        The all encompassing term of grooming applies to many aspects of proper feline care such as: brushing, nail trimming, bathing, as well as ear and face cleaning. All core principles to a well groomed animal give them a stark advantage for overall health and well being. While it is true that cats will groom themselves, that should not be an excuse to neglect the further grooming needed for your feline. Frequent brushing helps to remove loose or matted hair and dead skin cells, keep their coat free of dirt, debri, and parasites, as well as to distribute natural skin oils along their hair shafts. Key areas to monitor for mats while brushing include behind their ears, underneath their armpits, and in the groin areas. Different coat types will require different brushes to be used in this process. Generally, a great type of brush to use for a cat with a shorter coat would be anything that consists of stiff bristles to remove loose hair. Cats with a long coat will benefit more from a brush or comb with long off-set teeth that are made out of metal. Ideally, a cat’s coat should be brushed out on a daily basis for health and cleanliness, reducing hairballs, as well as cutting down hair and dander floating around your home. In continuation with coat care, consistent bathing and blow drying will dramatically improve your cats coat quality, reduce allergens, and keep them as clean as possible. The brushing should always be done prior to a bath, as tangles can be much harder if not impossible to remove after they become wet. Whilst bathing, it is key to remember to always use warm water paired with a quality shampoo. The warm water will be beneficial in the aspect of keeping your cat calm and comfortable while simultaneously allowing the shampoo to do its job properly in cleaning their coat. It is concurrently important to remember the importance of a medicated shampoo, such as one containing chlorhexidine for its antimicrobial properties. Antimicrobial shampoos help to fight bacteria and fungus, relieve dry itchy skin, rashes and hot spots, and to heal skin infections and wounds. The mild scent from such shampoos should also help to eliminate odors caused by bacteria and fungus on your cat's skin. Though bathing should be frequent, bathing more twice a week or more would facilitate the necessity of a quality conditioner. The quality shampoo used in bathing will do exactly what it is designed for by removing contaminants in their coat, while simultaneously stripping some of their natural oils or moisture. The conditioner comes in to help replace moisture lost in this process and aid in the continuation of a healthy and shiny coat full of luster. A key point to remember when carrying out a bath, is to always ensure that all shampoo is removed from the coat as not doing so can lead to matting, skin irritation, and infection in extreme cases. Attention to detail should also be paid to your cat's face, ears, and nails. The ears and face of a feline, especially that of a Brachycephalic Cat breed such as the Exotic Shorthair, are common places to become unruly and require special attention for cleaning. Products such as tear stain wipes are a great product to help clean a cat's face without having to worry about irritation. Another integral part of the head is that of their ears. Products like Zymox allow the pet owner to apply ointment inside of the ear while concurrently balancing the pH of the ear, reducing the risk of ear infections, and even treating mild ear infections before they accelerate. With no need to pre-clean the ear, Zymox is a very convenient, effective, and consistent product to support proper hygiene. Lastly, trimming cats nails are equally important as every other aspect of responsible pet ownership. Overgrown nails can eventually curve underneath the cat's paw and into the pad, leading to excruciating pain and even risk of infection. Keeping nails the proper length with frequent trimming every couple of weeks will completely negate this issue and let you and your pet live worry free.  The trimming of your cat's nails to proper length will additionally lead to a less destructive member of your family by reducing the urge to scratch. The nails themselves will be less destructive by being less sharp as opposed to an untrimmed nail. Scratching is, however, a natural behavior for your cat, so adequate arrangements for them should be made by providing them with a quality scratching post. Be sure to use scissor-like trimmers as cats are typically most comfortable with that style of trimmer. Never trim into the pink part of the nail, also known as the quick, as that can be very painful. In the incident that you accidentally hit their quick, be sure to have Styptic Powder on hand to stop the nail from bleeding as swift as possible. Taking the time to learn the appropriate animal care principles, products, and procedures, will without a doubt be the determining factor of your animal's long term success.

Litterbox Hygiene

        Cats, as clean as they are, still can’t figure out how to clean their own litter box so that we don’t have to. Keeping their litter box clean is crucial for establishing good hygiene for your cat, yourself, and your home in general. For fairly obvious reasons, a litter box should be scooped out every day. After a litter box has been cleaned out, the next step would be to tackle the bacteria inside and around the litter box. The use of a probiotic spray can help to resolve the issues associated with the bad bacteria. Probiotic sprays such as BoxieCat have beneficial bacteria that help to neutralize bad bacteria living and growing in the litter box. This will help to improve the sanitation of the toileting area, areas around your home due to decreased tracking of bacteria, and to also help neutralize negative odors typically associated with a litter box. More extensive measures, such as completely disinfecting the litter box, should be taken when doing a litter change. How often the litter needs changed is highly dependent on what litter you use, and how many cats you have in your home. Typically, using a quality litter like World's Best Cat Litter allows you to achieve 45-60 days per litter change in a single cat household. When conducting the change, it is essential to disinfect the litter box with a cat-safe disinfectant. Taking both steps will promote an overall healthy environment by balancing the ratio of good to bacteria within the litter box. This practice will greatly reduce the risk of your cat developing any sort of infection, as well as protecting your other animals, yourself, and your family.

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