How To Be Your Cat’s Best Friend

June is Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat-Month, so if you’ve been thinking about adding a cat to your family – and you have the time, money (, and patience it takes to care for an animal – visit your local shelter or to find a find a feline friend. (Go to to read the ASPCA’s top ten list of things to do before you bring your new cat home.)

If your cat is not already spayed or neutered, it’s important to have him or her sterilized to help combat animal overpopulation and to prevent certain health and behavioral problems. A fertile cat can produce three litters in one year; each litter can consist of four to six kittens. In just seven years, it’s possible for one female cat and her offspring to produce 420,000 cats.

Female cats (and dogs) should be spayed soon after the age of eight weeks. Males should be neutered at eight weeks of age, but both spaying and neutering can be done safely through most of adulthood.

Spaying reduces the stress and discomfort females endure during heat periods, eliminates the risk of uterine cancer and greatly reduces the chance of mammary cancer. Neutering makes males much less likely to roam or fight, and helps prevent testicular cancer.

Here are a few other basic things that you can do to make sure your cat is safe, healthy, and happy:

* Keep Your Cat Content Indoors: Cats may seem independent, but they do depend on us to keep them safe. If your cat is allowed to roam outside alone, he or she could get hit by a car, exposed to a deadly disease like feline AIDS or feline leukemia, attacked by other animals, or stolen by “bunchers,” people who comb the streets looking for animals to sell to research laboratories. Combined with the possible dangers from unfriendly neighbors and poisonous substances and toxic antifreeze spills, the safest place for your animal companion is indoors with you.

Provide plenty of toys, cat grass, and other treats to keep your cat’s mind occupied. Cats love peering out of windows at birdbaths and feeders; it’s like kitty TV. Some cats even enjoy watching special “cat entertainment videos” on television.

Some companies, including KittyWalk Systems (, Cat Fence-In ( and Purr…fect Fence ( make outdoor enclosures or cat fences so that cats can safely commune with nature. Cats can also be taught to walk on a leash, especially when they’re young. Just be sure to use a lightweight leash attached to a harness, not a collar. Make sure your animal friend always wears proper identification in case he or she does become lost.

*Don’t Declaw: Declawing is a painful and permanently crippling procedure that involves the amputation of the last joint of each toe, including the bones. After surgery, the nails may grow back inside the paw, causing pain. Declawing reportedly results in a gradual weakening of leg, shoulder, and back muscles, and because of impaired balance caused by the procedure, declawed cats have to relearn to walk, much as a person would after losing his or her toes.

Cats have claws for a reason. Declawing robs them of the ability to scratch, a vital natural behavior, and to defend themselves. It can even make routine behaviors like using the litterbox uncomfortable. The lack of claws, a cat’s first line of defense, makes many cats feel so insecure that they tend to bite more often as a means of self-protection. Because declawing is so inhumane, it is banned or severely restricted in nearly two dozen countries and some areas of the U.S.

Regular trimmings, scratching posts, and nail caps (like Soft Paws) are effective ways to control scratching without causing your cat pain and trauma. Double-sided tape, such as Paws Off, also discourages cats from clawing furniture. Of course, if you’re extremely concerned about your upholstery, than perhaps a cat is not the best companion for you.

* “Flush” Frequently: Dirty, smelly cat litter is not nice for anyone’s nose, and cats don’t want to walk in their waste anymore than we’d want to walk in ours! Change your cat’s litterbox at least twice a day and avoid clumping litters which can pose a serious health danger to cats. You may want to try Swheat Scoop (, a wheat-based litter that dissolves in water and does not cause intestinal blockages in cats when swallowed.

For more tips on about making your feline’s life more enjoyable, visit or read Ingrid E Newkirk’s book 250 Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You ( For more information about Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat-Month, and ways to help your local shelter, go to

Robyn Wesley/PETA


Donna L.
Donna L8 years ago

A few other comments...

I also learned about the environmental impact of clay mining. It's mind-blowing! Check out some of these sites...

Also, for all you rescuers out there...consider not adopting out to people who will declaw. I have done this with all of my fosters. Just be cautious in your tactics. Ask general questions of the adopter and nonchalantly ask whether they want a cat who is declawed and then just let them talk. Sometimes a bit of education will be enough to see their minds changing, but if they don't care, you can tell. Once their perspective is established I let them know I won't adopt out if declawing and reject their application, or direct them to wher they can adopt an already declawed cat. So far, I still manage to adopt out all my rescues and educate a lot of people along the way. I even have brochures I give out to anyone, but especially to adopters to remind them of their promise to kitty. I can't find the brochure link, but you can contact someone from this site

Thanks for listening! :)

Donna L.
Donna L8 years ago

Crystal T - I'm not sure why your Swheat Scoop is not flushable for you, but I have been using it for about 6 years and have been flushing it without a problem, both when I had a septic tank and now with a city sewer system. Sometimes I don't even have to wait to flush it. The bag recommends waiting 20 minutes before flushing.

Also, it has been great with multiple cats. I have 12 cats, plus any fosters at any given time, and I've never had a problem with odor. People are always shocked when they come over and learn how many cats I have because they expect my house to stink.

I also support NO DECLAWING! Cats come with claws...period. It's time we start respecting them (and other animals) for who they are. I also think vets need to take more responsibility for educating people. I have numerous encounters with vets who immediately recommend declawing and some even include it in packages for new adopters. It's shocking! With my 12 cats, I have yet to have anything destroyed from their claws.

Tracy T.
Tracy T8 years ago

I always try to educate people on the inhumanity of declawing. I really think that many people just dont know how horrible it really is. I have never declawed any of my cats (although all are spayed). It is very easy to train if you have several scratching post. Bottom line, if you dont want to train a cat not to scratch; dont get a cat!

Rebecca Young
Rebecca Young8 years ago

thank you for this great info and reminder to everyone to adopt shelter animals! you can always go to or to find an animal in need of a home near you. there are so many sweet kitties out there who just need someone to love them...

Crystal T.
Crystal T8 years ago

Just in case anyone is hesitating to try Swheat Scoop -- I started out with Feline Pine which is my favorite to deal with and that worked for a couple of years until my cats refused to use it anymore. I changed over to Swheat Scoop and they are much happier... and I like its naturalness too. Only thing is that it is not flushable like it says on the label.

Helen T.
Helen T8 years ago

Spaying and neutering creates nicer pets.

Katie Moore
Katie Moore8 years ago

The number of possible cats in just seven years from one cat, 420,000, is mind blowing. I witnessed a good hearted cat shelter, and saw first hand that it didn't work. I know from my dog, spaying is good for all. I also agree with keeping your cat indoors and certainly not declawing them.

Suzanne C.
Suzanne C.8 years ago

I was always a "dog person," until I adopted a cat who had been dumped in my yard. Bingo was semi-feral after life in the streets, but once he grew to trust again, this rescued cat became the joy of my life. He would tuck himself in the small of my back when I sat in my easy chair!

Now I'm a "cat AND dog person." Why would anyone not adopt a homeless cat? The rewards are immeasureable.