Animal companions are an important part of many peoples’ lives. Whether you prefer cats, dogs, birds, or smaller reptiles, it is vital that you know what food and other pet store fixtures to buy for them. Here are four common pets and some ways to properly give them care.
There are over 88 million pet cats in the United States, making them the most popular pet by number besides fish. Cats are generally low maintenance in terms of grooming and rarely if ever need to be bathed. It is recommended to brush cats regularly, especially ones with longer or thicker fur. Hairballs, or fur swallowed during the cat’s grooming process, can occur if too much fur accumulates and is not brushed off the cat. Keeping a cat indoors reduces their likelihood of contracting fleas or ticks, as well as other infectious diseases.
Feeding a cat two times per day is appropriate for most adult cats, for an average of around 200 calories a day. Cats enjoy the security and predictability of a routine and prefer a regular feeding schedule. Experts recommend feeding cats at dawn and dusk to align with when they would be out catching prey in the wild. Obesity is an issue often seen in housecats, since they are not good judges of how much they should eat. Avoid leaving food sitting out if your cat starts to gain an unhealthy amount of weight.
Playtime is an essential part of a cat’s routine. The natural instinct of a feline is to hunt, and housecats are generally deprived of this. Playing with your cat also helps to form a bond between you and your pet. Useful toys and fixtures to have available include feather wands, cat trees, and scratch pads.
Indoor cats should have free and easy access to a litter box in a quiet location in the house. Make sure to clean waste from the box at least once per day as cats greatly dislike using a dirty litter box.
While the overall number of cats kept as pets in the United States is higher than that of dogs, there is a greater number of households with dogs. Dogs should be bathed every three months, or more if the dog spends a lot of time outside. Regular brushing helps keep their hair healthy and provides an opportunity to check for fleas and other irritations on the skin.
The number of times you should feed a dog greatly depends on their age and ranges from four meals per day for puppies to one meal per day for most adults. Dogs can also eat some “people food” such as cottage cheese and peanut butter, but limit their intake since these foods do not contain the correct balance of nutrients for dogs.
Dogs need regular exercise to engage their minds and stave off boredom, which can lead to unhappy dogs and detrimental behaviors. Aim for playtime that satisfies their instinct to herd, chase and retrieve. Particularly after exercise, make sure your dog has access to plenty of clean water.
Personalities and the amount of care required varies greatly by dog breed. If you are getting a dog for the first time, spend some time researching different breeds and decide which breeds would be most compatible with your lifestyle. For example, golden retrievers are an intelligent breed that do well with children, and bulldogs are lower energy dogs that may not require as many walks throughout the day as other breeds.
A less common pet than dogs and cats, birds are social animals in the wild and will interact with people in similar ways. A bird’s instinct is to be in a flock, so a pet bird will come to see you and your family as its flock. It is best to keep a bird in a large cage with room to exercise, climb, and stretch its wings. Some types of birds such as finches and canaries will even fly within their cage, so ensure that they have enough space to do so without injuring themselves. Birds can be fairly messy despite their small size, so it is necessary to clean the cage once every day or two as solid waste will begin to build up on perches and the bottom of the cage.
Birds require a balanced diet with grains, fruits, and vegetables. Bird feed from the store usually contains a specially formulated mix of seeds, nuts, and dried fruits. Also, keep a supply of clean water available to your bird at all times. Before committing to a bird, remember that they can have long lifespans as a pet, with cockatiels living on average between 15 and 20 years and some parrots living even longer.
Rabbits can live in either a cage or roam around in a bunny proofed room. If kept in a cage, make sure the cage is large enough for them to hop in and let them out for at least a couple of hours per day for exercise, mental stimulation, and human interaction. Rabbits eat hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables and should have a fresh supply of water daily. Like cats, rabbits can use a litter box that is lined with rabbit-safe pellet litter rather than the clay litter typical of feline litter boxes.
Whichever pet you decide is best for you and your family, make sure to do some research on how to care for your new companion throughout its lifespan.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!