How To Keep Your Cat Happy & Healthy.

I think you all know by now that I was very inexperienced with cats until last year.

Ever a dog person, no one was more surprised than I was when our magical garden “fairies” (according to our then four-year-old) brought two lost kittens into our garden last June. They were very young and very homeless, and suddenly ours. Scarlet wasn’t surprised because she believes in magical garden kittens, and all that is magical and wonderful. Enter Dinah and Bella.

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Now for me, the transition was more difficult. Not only did I realize that these were cats were not given to us by magical fairies, but rather, were homeless and in need of shelter and care, I knew we had to research on proper cat nutrition and how to keep them clean and healthy. And of course you know what happened to the most reluctant cat owner, right? They took right to me, and are often found snuggled on my lap while I’m working, or even on or wrapped around my legs while I sleep.

They are always keeping me guessing, that’s for sure!

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Here are five tips I’ve learned about keeping cats healthy and happy along the way on my cat journey:

1. GOOD FOOD. Sorry I put that in all caps, but I believe in researching cat foods that contain real and quality ingredients, and it pays off with less illnesses and vet visits. We started Dinah and Bella on Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain pet food over the last month, and they LOVE it. The #1 ingredient is real whitefish – which is a tasty and highly digestible protein that helps to maintain strong muscles. A bonus is that it also helps to minimize litter box odors. The food has zero grains, zero glutens, zero fillers, zero meat or poultry by-products, zero artificial preservatives, and zero colors or flavors. It is the first zero grain dry cat formula from Rachael Ray Nutrish. Scarlet was so excited to help me integrate Nutrish into Bella and Dinah’s diet:

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We have very shy cats in our house. While they are bonded to me, they will often hide if all of the family members are home. I didn’t want to start them on Nutrish downstairs, because it’s dark down there, and blog photos are a priority! Dinah was so excited by the smell of the new food that she couldn’t resist sneaking around a corner for it. You can see her meowing for it!

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2. Toys! Cats love to play. We have toy mice, string, feathers, and cardboard boxes. Cat toys don’t need to be expensive, but they are important in keeping your cat happy and active. Nutrish gave us a fun fishing pole toy for our cats. Both of them loved it, but I’m not sure anyone loved it as much as Des did!

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3. Give them security. Cats need food, water and a litter box with quality litter. Covered litter boxes can allow your cats more privacy, and clumping litter is easier to clean up. Keep the litter box clean!

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4. The vet! Make sure you take your cats to the vet regularly. Before your bring your new kitten home, or right after adoption, take it for a checkup and immunizations. Schedule your cat to be spayed/neutered as soon as they are old enough.

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5. Grooming! I trim my cats’ nails as often as needed because I have two little kids who can easily get scratched. I also find that having a scratching post, or two, is very important for the cats, and for our furniture!

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6. LOVE! As my friend Michelle reminded me, cats need love and cuddles and scratches. And lots of them, in this house!

From Rachael Ray Nutrish“In 2007, with help from pet nutrition experts, Rachael Ray created Nutrish ultra-premium food and treats for dogs. In 2014, we were very excited to grow the brand into the world of cat food. Whether intended for dogs or cats, Nutrish recipes are made with simple natural ingredients and do not contain meat or poultry by-product meal or fillers. Real meat is the #1 ingredient in our cat food and all recipes were inspired by Rachael’s kitchen.

Even more impressive than our formula or position, Rachael’s personal proceeds go to Rachael’s Rescue, created to help shelter pets. As of today, over $9 million has gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for animals in need.

We pride ourselves on bringing pet specialty quality food to the masses. We are the first premium brand that is only available in your local grocery store, as well as mass retailers like Target, Walmart and Amazon.”

Connect with Nutrish here:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nutrish
Facebook: http://facebook.com/nutrishforcats
Instagram: http://instagram.com/nutrish

About Tamara

Tamara is a professional photographer at http://tamaracamera.com/, a mama of two, a writer/blogger at http://tamaracamerablog.com and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns. http://themotherofallmeltdowns.com, as well as Stigma Fighters Anthology (volume 1), and The HerStories Project: So Glad They Told Me. She is also a proud Community Lead/QA Reader with Sway, and a regular contributor to the SoFab Food blog, and the Target Made Me Do It blog. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son, dog, cat, and 11 chickens in glorious western Massachusetts.


Comments

How To Keep Your Cat Happy & Healthy. — 116 Comments

    • Oh yes. We have gotten one or two of those. Your comment inspired me to add a different section about love. How could I have skipped the most important step?

  1. I wish, wish, wish we could have a cat. But my husband is allergic (or so he says :)! Your kitties are so cute (and the kids aren’t bad either) :)!!!

  2. We used to have a cat, and I really do miss him. We used to say he was like a dog though. Not sure if he was insulted by that – but it was because he was super needy which meant quite loving and affectionate. Amazing how they quickly become our family!

  3. I love cats – I used to have 2 at a time – but that got too much – now just am doing one at a time.

    They are adorable. My cat is very picky on what kind of food she eats. Hope they like their new food πŸ™‚

  4. Girl, you ended up loving them, didn’t you! Good on you to take such good care of them. I figured as soon as the kids fell in love with them that you would too. Now that Des character, he is so adorable, I could just scoop him up! And it sounds like he is a character!

    • I love them, but I’m not sure I’m in love with them. Don’t I sound like a bad 80s movie? You can’t imagine how much they love on me, but at other times, they can be so annoying in the middle of the night!

      Des is quite a character in person!

  5. Oh it is so nice to see Dinah and Bella! It has been a while. It is so important to feed pets quality food. I can almost hear them purring from here!

  6. I’ll be honest–I don’t know much about kittens but those are some really adorable cats πŸ™‚ And I agree re: proper nutrition. So important for any animal. Looks like your garden fairies found you wonderful fur friends to introduce to your home πŸ™‚ XOXO

  7. Awwww, your kitties look very healthy and beautiful. I’d be reluctant to take in strays too but I think it’s because I have animal hording tendencies (ie, I can see myself having 100 pets one day). LOL!

    Hope all is well with you, Tamara, and that you had a nice weekend!

  8. This post makes me feel all warm & cuddly inside (but not that kind of warmth you feel when you pee your pants).
    I will look into his cat food for Kitty, the feline beast that resides in my home. Cats are very special. If you’re ever feeling sad, just talk to the Dinah or Bella. Cats are good listeners and can understand your pain on a very therapeutic level. They will help feel better. I know this from first hand experience. Trust me.

  9. You may not naturally be a cat person, but your kittens are definitely Tamara lovers. I wonder if a food like this would have helped our kitten more. Though the most likely scenario is that she was just an ornery old thing that was upset about us having kids.

  10. They are so cute! I love that one of Dinah meowing πŸ™‚ We recently switched Leo to a healthier cat food. It’s pretty gross what’s in some of them! I wouldn’t eat the human equivalent of it, why would I give it to my poor cat?

  11. Your cats are so adorable. And you are totally right, they always take to the ones that (seemingly) don’t care or don’t like them πŸ™‚ But I know you secretly like them. I agree with all of your points, well, minus the nail grooming. I did not do that while I had cats, but they sure loved their scratching and climbing pole.

    • For some reason, the cats have the sharpest nails ever! And since the kids are not as gentle as I am, they get scratched. I’ve never seen my cats hiss or bite, though.

  12. I did not know Rachel Ray had a pet food line!That woman is amazing! Animals are such an important part of our lives and add so much to our mental and emotional well being, so I agree that taking care of them is equally important. Your kitties are so cute, sadly though my allergies act up when i get in proximity to one. Believe me when I say that little reaction of mine makes my kids very grumpy that we don’t have a cat in house!

    • I was just telling someone that my dad used to tell us he was allergic and he isn’t! He just didn’t want a cat. Clearly I never did that to my kids. I definitely love the emotional health aspect of having pets.

  13. I’m planning a dog-themed post soon! And I think I’d like to come to your house and have you do some Juno portraits because you just have the most amazing light! It’s unbelievable. (I’m not a stalker…) πŸ˜‰

  14. I’m allergic to cats, but I still love them. I always forget – when I am in a cat house – that I can’t just put something up high to keep it away from the cat! It’s like “boom..” kitty at eye level:)

  15. Awww, I just realized your cats are soo cute! That’s coming from someone who’s never a cat-lover. Hahaha. I also think that good food is necessary and not just any food.

    • Dinah is totally cute. Bella is very cute too but always hiding!
      I think two can be easier than one, depending on the personalities. They are really there for each other a lot, which is sweet. I always wonder if we only had one, they’d be bonded more to us than each other, but you can never really tell.
      In terms of food, water, litter, I don’t think two is that bad when you already have one.

  16. Your cats are beautiful! We sadly can’t have pets in our house because one of my kids is allergic. So great to have a company like this that offers such great quality food for the kitties!

  17. I’m not a cat person, but your kitties are cute. I am an animal person, so I totally think we should take the best care of our animals. My tugboat of a dog is on a grain-free diet, his food may cost more, but it’s worth it for his health. Some companies (cough cough Beneful) claim to be healthy for our animals but the crap they’re putting in their healthy food is killing them. I’ll take crapless food for the furbabies, please.
    I love Rachel Ray πŸ™‚
    XOXO

  18. Okay, so I’m still reading through, but “magical garden kittens?” That’s my daughter, exactly!

    We don’t have any cats (yet) but we love our dog and consider him a member of the family. He eats fresh veggies, meats, and kibble – at almost 20 years old, our dog is definitely one pampered pup.

    Love the pic of fishing in the Halloween bucket!

  19. I love these kitty pictures. I am more of a cat person. Dogs tend to tick me off as your cats tend to tick you off. My husband would LOVE a dog, but I’m like, “I can’t do it.” But another cat? Yes please!

    My cat eats a special hairball formula food because he yaks a lot.

    • My cats don’t really throw up at all. Maybe once or twice in the last year, and I always blame the gray one. As far as I’m concerned everything is her fault!

  20. Our cats are on special food for inactive, unhealthy old cats. The label doesn’t say that, but it’s what it’s for! My cats also haven’t played with anything since 2007. There sure do fill up a litter box, though.

  21. I’m a dog person (but I think mostly because I’m very allergic to cats). Your cats are gorgeous though. I LOVE tuxedo kitties – they are my favourites. Your garden fairies are beautiful – thanks for sharing your tips.

    Wishing you a lovely evening.
    xoxo

    • I’m a dog person too! Don’t tell the gray one, but the tuxedo cat is my favorite. Cassidy is away right now and she was sleeping on my legs this morning.

  22. Both of your cat’s are cute. It’s funny that your cat couldn’t resist the smell of the new food. It sounds like it is super healthy for them.

  23. Um yeah. Sorry. Will never own a cat unless it’s one of those ugly hairless ones (very allergic) but OMG Tucker wants one. Maybe he should move in with you because I suck at the cat thing.

  24. Great tips! I miss having a kitty around the house. We rent but are looking at home to buy. As soon as we become home owners again I promised the kids that we would get a cat. Your kitties are adorable.

  25. Enjoyed your blog immensely! The kitties are absolutely adorable. I am writing this with my cat, BooBoo, napping beside me.

    Cats are my life. They are proof of how good God is.

  26. Aw these kitties are SO cute! We have a cat, and she is pretty much only my cat because she doesn’t like ANYONE but me. The kids was another one but my cat would definitely not be thrilled with that πŸ˜‰

    • The black and white one has adopted me as her own. She pays no mind to ANYONE else. The gray one will but mostly lives outside and is afraid of all of us. She cuddles with me but is afraid of me too.
      It’s strange!

  27. Aw, kitties! They look so pretty in your pics, but I’m honestly not really a cat person. We live out in the country and have had a few mousers, but I am devoted to dogs. If I were to ever change my mind, though, it might be because of your photos! πŸ™‚

    • Oh yeah – I get it. I’m NOT a cat person. The black and white one is my buddy and the grey one is quite cute, but she mostly lives outside.
      Thanks about the photos!!

  28. Your kittens are so adorable! Thanks for sharing the tips and heres to a long healthy life for those tiny kittens

  29. How cute!! I love cats…used to have one, but after 19 years she passed away. Now I only have dogs because my husband’s allergic to cats. Thanks for sharing those adorable cuties!

  30. I love my cat Ritzy! I would love to get another, but I don’t think he would take to kindly to share his home of 7 years with a newbie!

    • I can imagine that would be tough! Our kittens came to us and we already had the two kids and the dog, so they knew their place soon in. A third cat might upset that balance, though!

  31. What cute Kitties πŸ™‚ Awww … I agree with Food and Toys. Cats are so playful and once you dangle something on a string that has catnip they get all excited. I’m sure you will grow into being a cat parent πŸ™‚

  32. Aww, they’re sweet. We thought we were going to have a cat a few years back. An adult cat that kept coming to our front door and window and meowing. We fed him and gave him milk a few times, and were ‘this’ close to calling him our own, when we found out it was a neighbor’s cat who just went door to door to get more food, lol

  33. I’ve never fed my cat Rachel Ray because I didn’t know that she made cat food. I know about her dog food but not this one. I might just have to check this out because I know her dog food is good even though I don’t use it. My cats aren’t picky at all so I know that they’ll love it.

  34. Oh what cuties you have. We were in the same situation not to long ago with a stray cat who we found out later was pregnant. Now we have 4 new kittens to love and cuddle.

  35. I think it’s so funny (but not at all surprising) that your kitties took to you immediately, even though you were the most reluctant. It’s like they wanted to prove to you that cats are lovable! And as it turns out, they are! I didn’t know Ms. Ray made cat food…too smart

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