Life of a Cat: Care at Every Stage
We know you love your cat, and that’s why we’re on a mission to provide the best care from one stage of life to the next. According to Dr. Elsey, “You miss more by not looking than by not knowing.” Specialized care and routine visits to the veterinarian for hands-on care are necessary for making sure your cat is in good health. We’re breaking down the fundamentals of each stage of feline life and sharing how you can help keep them happy and healthy throughout their journey with the right care routine.
Kittenhood is the very first stage in the life of a cat, and arguably the cutest! As the fastest growing stage of a cat’s life, kittens require proper nutrition and enrichment for a healthy foundation. With kitten season typically lasting between April and October, there may be a number of you welcoming kittens into your homes for the first time. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about this tiny stage of life, from proper litter box training that piques a kitten’s interest to introducing your kitten into a multi-cat household.
Litter Box Training
Luckily, many kittens arrive at their new homes with a basic understanding of how to use the litter box from watching their mothers. Even if they’re not experts yet, cats are born with a strong instinct to bury any evidence they leave behind.
Kittens will start to discover the litter box at about four to five weeks old, and this is when they will go through an oral or “litter tasting” stage. During this period, it is best to use a non-clumping litter like conventional clay litters. At roughly eight weeks when a kitten is weaned and eating on its own, you can then switch to Dr. Elsey’s Kitten Attract®. Kitten Attract® contains a natural herbal attractant that piques a kitten’s interest in using the litter box, and is also soft and comfortable on small kitten paws. If you happen to live in a multi-cat household, make sure to assign your new kitten their own litter box to use. Learn more about creating the right training routine by reading our guide to kitten’s litter box habits for a smoother transition into pet parenthood.
When your kitten first arrives home, be sure to place out water and cleanprotein™ in non-plastic bowls. Inspired by the protein levels found in natural prey, Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein™ naturally optimizes your cat’s appetite and body mass through simple, high-quality ingredients. After being weaned off of milk, an introduction to soft foods like cleanprotein™ canned paté is best. Food fuels growth, so keep in mind a kitten’s diet requires up to two and a half times the recommended amount for canned paté. Your kitten will continue to gain weight rapidly until 6 to 7 months of age. After that, weight gain will continue slowly until about 10 months of age.
Remember to check your cat’s weight quarterly throughout adulthood. Loss of weight could be a sign of an underlying illness, so it is important to monitor weight at home in addition to regularly scheduled visits to the vet. In addition to a diet of cleanprotein™, enrichment hunting for treats using food puzzles can be beneficial to both feline development and a useful tool for pet parents.
Introducing Other Cats
Have another cat in your household who might not be as keen to the concept of a new sibling as you’d hoped? Keep in mind that the slower the introduction period, the better the chance of the cats adjusting to one another. We recommend confining the new kitten to a room of its own for the first week.
During this time alone, you can help them acclimate to the other’s smell by wiping each cat’s fur with a towel and placing the towel under the other’s food bowl. After a while, switch the rooms out by letting the kitten explore the whole house while the existing cat spends time alone. When they’re finally ready to cohabitate, try setting up a dinner date for two. Feed them on either side of the partially closed door, with an opening big enough to see and smell each other. This association between food and the other’s presence can help to calm any lingering anxieties with the pleasurable activity of eating.
Learn more about what to expect when bringing home a new kitten by reading our complete guide to kitten care.
Throughout the adult years in the life of a cat, certain health and behavioral changes can begin to surface. As cats pass through this period accounting for a majority of their lifespan, they reach full growth and an increased activity level with a need for enrichment and play. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about this intermediate stage including solving inappropriate elimination, grooming techniques and how to care for health-related sensitivities and conditions than can begin to develop.
Inappropriate elimination is the number one behavioral reason cats are abandoned or surrendered to shelters. If your cat begins to urinate or defecate outside of the litter box, it could be a sign they are trying to communicate to you that something is wrong and that a trip to the vet is needed.
While inappropriate elimination can be a challenge to pet ownership, we’re here to help with Cat Attract®—a premium clay-based litter blended with a natural herb attractant that lures your feline back to the box. Created through years of observing and testing with cats in shelters and in Dr. Elsey’s clinic, Cat Attract® is the first litter to specifically address inappropriate elimination and provide a clinically tested and proven solution. Learn more about how to solve this dilemma with our guide to inappropriate elimination.
While cats are natural grooming experts, certain breeds require extra assistance to help maintain their soft coats. Regularly combing and brushing your cat will prevent any mats or tangles from forming within their fur while also helping distribute natural oils throughout their coat for a shiny appearance. Grooming your cat can also help reduce hairballs and prevent excess fur from covering your furniture and clothing. Create a relaxing environment by grabbing a brush or comb and cuddling up on the couch together while you detangle your cat’s fur.
With multi-cat households on the rise, cat owners are increasingly becoming aware of the behavioral issues that can accompany two or more sets of whiskers. Make sure to have a dedicated litter box for each cat, plus an extra for community use. This will ease any territorial issues within the home by allowing each cat to have their own private space.
Whether you’re welcoming a new kitten to the family or looking to improve your home environment, Dr. Elsey’s Ultra is our #1 non-tracking litter with superior odor control perfect for multi-cat families. With excellent clumping power, Ultra makes cleaning multiple litter boxes a breeze with litter formulated to prevent moisture from reaching the bottom of the tray. Create a home environment that encourages your cats to coexist happily by reading out complete guide to owning multiple cats.
Learn more about what to expect throughout your cat’s life by reading our complete guide to owning a cat.
Have you noticed your furry companion starting to slow down during playtime? The senior years in the life of a cat often require specialized care. From feeding a protein-rich diet for muscle loss prevention to reconfiguring the litter box to accommodate limited mobility, senior cats need our assistance during their aging stage. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about this elderly stage of life and how you can help prevent kidney failure and urinary tract infections while keeping your cat clean and comfortable.
Senior cats are more prone to have a urinary tract infection as a result of having more dilute urine and struggling to keep their genital areas clean. The growth of E-Coli bacteria on feces along with reduced natural body defenses in your senior cat can escalate to issues such as kidney failure over time. It’s important to monitor any changes in litter box behavior. An increase or decrease in frequency of use of the litter box or larger litter clumps could be an indicator of health issues and should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Dr. Elsey’s Senior Litter offers owners a solution to contending with these issues through a litter that works to coat and dehydrate cat feces, reduce odor and prevent bacterial growth of E-Coli, while not sticking to the coat of your cat. Fine and soft in texture, Senior Litter consists of amorphous silica gel and is pleasing to cat’s paws. It is safe if inhaled or ingested, and does not cause silicosis because it has no crystalline silica. Learn more about overcoming litter box difficulties by reading our guide to senior litter box care.
Energy requirements for your feline friend progressively increase starting at 10-12 years of age. If daily caloric intake is not raised, progressive weight loss may result due to the loss of muscle mass in your cat. It is very important to regularly monitor the weight of your senior cat, as weight loss could be a sign of illness. Routine visits to the vet are necessary to make sure your senior cat is in good health. In the short digestive tract of cats, plant proteins are far less digestible than meat proteins. This issue becomes of the utmost importance when selecting the right diet for a senior cat.
Senior cats absorb and metabolize protein less efficiently—therefore, it’s essential to feed high-quality animal-based protein such as Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein™ to aging cats. Inspired by the protein levels found in natural prey, over 90% of the protein found in cleanprotein™ is animal-based with high-quality meat or fish as the first ingredient. A low carbohydrate and high protein diet like cleanprotein™ can provide the right urinary PH level needed to keep your cat healthy. A high-protein diet will improve your senior cat’s muscle and bone health, ease digestion and improve bowel movements for a better litter box.
Loss of Senses & Mobility
As your cat ages, they may develop sight or hearing loss. When coping with the loss of these senses, it is important not to startle or disorient your cat. When approaching a cat with hearing problems, approach from the front rather than from behind to avoid alarming them. Similarly, if your cat suffers from vision problems, always call them by their name before approaching to announce yourself. Placing nightlights around your house can help cats with poor vision navigate in the dark. If your cat is blind, keeping items like the litter box and food bowls in a consistent spot can help your cat learn to navigate the home.
If your senior cat is struggling to climb inside their litter box, it could be a sign your cat is suffering from pain or discomfort associated with arthritis. For arthritic relief, try providing a shallow litter box that is easy for their delicate frames to step inside. If your senior cat has to climb or descend stairs to reach their litter box, try placing an additional box in a quiet area near where they spend the most time.
Additionally, senior cats may begin to yowl if they have dementia. This sound can also signal that your senior cat may be suffering from issues such as hyperthyroidism and high blood pressure. If you suspect something may be wrong, schedule a visit to the veterinarian for professional care and treatment.
Learn more about keeping your aging cat healthy and happy throughout their senior years by reading our complete guide to senior cat care.
Dr. Elsey’s is here to help with veterinarian-formulated food and litter designed for every stage of feline life. Explore our line of products to discover which litter is right for your cat’s needs.