What Mistakes Have You Made with Your Cats That You Regret?

This is a big question. It is a complicated question. Mistakes with cat caretaking are more likely to occur under certain circumstances. Mistakes are also likely to occur within specific areas of cat caretaking. Obviously, mistakes are also more likely to occur if the cat owner lacks sufficient knowledge in cat caretaking which must include knowledge of cat behaviour, cat nutrition and the hazards which can hurt a cat.

Made a mistake
Made a mistake
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Sometimes mistakes are just simple accidents. For example, your cat likes to hide (this is a very common domestic cat characteristic). If your cat hides under a duvet, you might sit on the duvet and hurt your cat. Nobody is to blame really but beware of the possibility. Sometimes cats hide in drawers. They like to be amongst your clothes because of the smell. If you close the drawer and it remains closed for a long time that could present a problem to your cat.

What about washing machines? We always read about cats being stuck in washing machines. Sometimes they even go through a full cycle and survive. Cats like to crawl into small spaces. My cat likes to go into the kitchen cupboards and if the cupboard is not blocked off at the back it could mean that he becomes trapped. Mistakes can occur under all these situations. They can occur very quickly (cats are surreptitious and quick movers). Cat owners should be aware of the potential of dangers around the house. Poisonous plants, new carpets embedded with a chemical which causes dermatitis, hot kitchen devices which could burn your cat, chemicals in garages which can severely harm your cat; all of these and more are potential hazards which can result in mistakes being made. By mistakes I mean the person is not aware of these hazards and does not take sufficient steps to prevent injury to their cat.

One of the classic circumstances from which a mistake can be made is letting your cat go outside. I let my cat go outside but the decision was made extremely carefully, balancing the benefits and detriments and the potential hazards. There was a risk. No cat should be let outside carelessly. The world’s largest domestic cat was killed when he “escaped” the home.

One of the great mistakes that Americans make with respect to their domestic cat companion is to declaw them. Very often they are unaware of what the declawing operation entails. It is much more severe than the description indicates. Some owners regret their decision to declaw.

Keeping the litter tray clean is important. Mistakes can be made in allowing it to become to dirty. This may result in a urinary tract infection.

Mistake in cat ownership
Mistake in cat ownership

Cat obesity is a major problem. Is this due to a lack of controlled feeding by their owners? Is it also due to a lack of exercise? Both are relevant as is the quality of cat food. People make mistakes about dry cat food. They fail to put down enough water to compensate for the fact that the cat is hardly receiving any moisture from the food. Or they just feed dry food. Mistakes are often made in assuming that commercially manufactured cat food is good and adequate when this is not always the case. Another mistake that is made by cat owners is that they feed their cat too much human food. The odd treat is alright but no more. Some human foods are plain poisonous to cats.

If a person wishes to train their cat, negative reinforcement (punishment) is absolutely forbidden. The only way to train a cat is through positive reinforcement.

Another situation under which people make mistakes is with respect to medication. Using human medication without sufficient knowledge and without your veterinarian’s input is very dangerous for your cat. I’m shocked to read that on the Quora.com website one participant says that he meets a lot of people who treat their cat with human medicine. He says that many people give their cat paracetamol because they believe that their cat is having a fever. This is shocking. It is absolutely out of bounds to do this. These sorts of mistakes come about because of a lack of education and a lack of common sense.

Returning to household hazards. Objects lying around the floor can be dangerous to cats such as short lengths of fine string or rubber bands. These sorts of objects can become lodged in the cat’s mouth, teeth or gut causing severe health problems which have to be resolved by veterinarian, sometimes at great expense. This would be a very expensive mistake for a cat caretaker.

It is a mistake to try and save money by not taking your cat to your vet. I think that it’s wise to take your cat in for a regular checkup, to keep vaccinations up to date if required (but don’t over vaccinate) and to be observant about your cat’s health. There are signs of ill-health and it is possible although difficult to detect when your cat is feeling pain.

In America the ASPCA 24 hour emergency poison hotline is a very useful number to keep by your telephone. It would be a mistake not to do so.

It is a mistake to believe that your female cat needs to have a litter before she can be a contented cat. Some people believe this. This mistaken belief leads to a lot of unwanted cats. Unfortunately, all cats should be neutered as soon as reasonably possible to avoid unwanted cats being produced. We all know it but not everybody acts upon this knowledge.

One person commenting on Quora.com says that he made a mistake when he rescued a cat. He raised the cat as a child almost and played with him with his hands. He believes that in doing this he trained his cat to believe that hands are something to play with. This caused problems in the future both with respect to the cat’s owner and guests. The cat had an inclination to attack the hands of guests.

Cats and cars are a source of mistakes. Cats sometimes hide under the hood (bonnet) of the car and in the engine compartment where they can be hurt. In cold climates, in winter, it is probably wise for a cat owner to check the engine compartment of the car or make that area out of bounds completely.

Finally, some people make the mistake in believing that as cats are meant to be independent they can be left alone for long periods of time. This is definitely a mistake. The domestic cat is just that; domesticated. They require our attention, our love and interaction in order to be contented and calm. It’s important to think about ways of ensuring that your cat is not stressed. It’s a mistake to ignore this aspect of a cat caretaking as it can lead to unwanted behaviour patterns and ill-health.

There are many other areas where mistakes can be made that I have not mentioned. Can you remember some that you have made? I’d like to receive some comment on the subject if at all possible. And I’m sorry that this article is so long and rambling.

4 thoughts on “What Mistakes Have You Made with Your Cats That You Regret?”

  1. During the last 21 years that I’ve been keeping and caring for cats, I cannot think of a serious mistake I’ve made that I can’t blame on a lack of available knowledge – most importantly: nutrition / good food. I’d like to offer an URL to a consumer organization that finally came to our rescue and has helped me in this respect http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com. I also subscribe to the affiliated petsumer report to actually find good food and avoid the worst (see Special Pages). Whether the foods tested are sold in the UK I don’t know, but I believe a large number of PoC followers are here in the U.S.

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  2. I’ve had several cats over the years, during my working years, and now that I’m retired. I feel fortunate that none of the cats were ever seriously ill, except for one who got cancer at 12 years, and I euthanized. If I’d know about CBD then, I would have tried that. There have been many successes in treating animals with cannabis. I’ve helped someone with a cat that wasn’t eating by giving little bits of canna butter, which stimulated her appetite.

    My biggest mistake overall was not educating myself about cat care. I never thought about it. That may be due to having healthy cats. All my cats were indoor/outdoor, but always kept in at night.

    When I had to transport my cats from Hawaii to California, I never investigated the dangers of airline cargo shipping. Maybe it’s better that I didn’t, since I had no other option!

    Overall, the most important mistake I made was giving them cheap food, canned and dry. Of course, they probably supplemented with live prey that could be easily found on 5 acres in Hawaii. (They left body part clues in the house.)

    Now that I’m retired and am home most of the time, I keep a close watch on my cat, who I rescued from a feral life. Since taking her in 7 years ago, I came across Susan Thixton’s website on TruthAboutPetFood, and took a serious look at giving Mitzy a higher quality food. Since then, even those have had recalls.

    Mitzy has had more health issues than any of my previous cats. Some of these have been constipation, ear infection, urinary tract infection, and serious drug reactions. In addition there was a recent insect bite in her ear that I treated with cortisone cream for the itching, and Neosporin for healing. It was resolved in less than a week.

    Because of my negative experience with the vet over constipation issues, I decided to do some serious research. Since intestinal problems are usually associated with diet, I began to look into raw foods as a solution, in addition to regular de-shedding sessions since I could see fur in her small hard stools. For some mysterious reason, she’d also stopped drinking water though I had several bowls and even a fountain. Since the fountain was plastic, I’m thinking that may have been the reason she didn’t like it. Now, she’s drinking from all of the various ceramic and metal bowls.

    From the first day of raw feeding, her stools improved. I knew I was on the right track. Constipation can be life threatening. The vet had told me that she’d have to take Lactulose for the rest of her life! She hasn’t had that since she started eating raw.

    Another mistake I made was getting regular vaccinations, and using spot on flea treatments. I had no idea of the potential health problems. Fortunately, none of my cats reacted. Mitzy doesn’t get regular annual Rabies vaccinations even thought they are required by law, in our city. I have a way to get around it. The odds of a bat coming in to my house is pretty low.

    Now, that I’ve learned not to automatically trust vets, I prefer to use home remedies, and will continue unless it’s something I really can’t treat, like a broken bone.

    Mitzy is my roommate and cuddle partner. She never was much of a lap cat, until this last year. I’m not sure what caused that, except for her health issues which led to an increase in holding and comforting her.

    My intention of educating cat guardians has given new energy and purpose to my life. I get calls and emails from people who’ve heard that I’m a Cat Advocate. I don’t promote my Facebook page, but it’s getting more views. There are many places to go for cat information, but I’m doing my part. I hand out my business cards for Cat Advocate, though it’s not really a money making endeavor. I also promote POC, and other cat sites. It’s a labor of love, and I’m grateful that Mitzy has inspired it.

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    • Superb comment Sandy. You cover some nice points. At the root of cat caretaking mistakes is a lack of knowledge and we learn as we go along. Sometimes that can be too late. As we become more sophisticated in our knowledge about caring for cats we avoid hazards and our cat is in the best place possible in terms of welfare that can be had.

      My biggest mistake was letting my cat outside. She died as a result and it hurts a lot to this day. It happened 22 years ago. I still let my cat outside but I have ensured the location is as safe as it can be. That was a lesson I learned too late and it cost me a lot of anguish and the life of my cat. I was careless. I am much more careful and thoughtful these days.

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      • Me too, Michael. We lost the best cat who ever lived to traffic in 1987. Her name was Tippy. It was so very early in the morning and no one saw her get hit, but we think the onwer/operator of a semi tractor trailer who lived down the road from us probably went by in the early morning hours and Tippy avoided the front wheels of the tractor but didn’t realize where the trailer wheels would be. I’m so much more careful with Monty, keeping him in his enclosure. I live in a city now and would have to be careful anyway, but it just shows that even if you live on a quiet street (it used to be) any road is a risk to a cat. If I had it to do over again I would have only let Tippy out when we were out with her, instead of letting her out alone to hunt in the early morning hours. But hindsight is 20/20. I also would have taken her to the vet when she had ear mites instead of trying to treat that condition with home remedies that were not working, as my parents were doing. Maybe she had stopped to scratch her ear and didn’t see the trailer wheels. But there is nothing to be done for it now except to look out for Monty’s safety and say that Tippy was quite a remarkable, wonderful cat. She should have been feral. We took her from Grandma’s barn at well past the age I found Monty. She walked right up to us. All the other cats were wild and fearful. Tippy wanted to be with us. She chose us.

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