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Steps On Caring For Indoor Cats

Updated on September 29, 2012
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My brother and sister-in-law (along with my nephew) occasionally go to visit her parents in Arizona. While they are gone (usually for about a week) they ask me to look after, and care, for their three cats.

All three of the cats are house-bound and don’t go outside, which is a positive things since they live in an apartment / condo complex. Of course, as housecats, they need to be looked after in a manner that is a little different than “normal” outdoor cats.

So, while my brother’s family is out of town, I look after the cats like spoiled children: cleaning up after them, feeding them and making sure they have everything they need to entertain themselves for a while (a 24-hour day) while no one is there to pay attention to them.

So, if anyone out there has ever had the problem of not knowing how to take care of a cat when not totally housesitting, I have a few tips to share.

The following is a list of steps that you can use when you are cat-sitting; (NOTE: these steps are for people who only show up once a day—not spending all day at the house):

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Step 1: Make Sure They Are Safe

First things first: make sure they are still alive. It might sound morbid (or even a little bit funny), but it is very important if you are looking after someone else’s cats to make sure they are safe and well.

For my part, the three cats I look after usually hid when someone is there (even my brother and sister-in-law), but I know how to find them to check up on them.

If you encounter the same problem, the best thing to do is look in all the nooks and crannies where they might hide or call out their name (most cats are not like dogs, so they might not come running, but you should here them rustling around).

Heaven forbid they are stuck somewhere and you have to rescue them.

Luckily, when a cat is in such a predicament, they cry out so you can hear and locate them.

An Electric Water Fountain. It cycles the water to keep it fresh.
An Electric Water Fountain. It cycles the water to keep it fresh. | Source
Unlike dogs, cats will eat only when they are hungry not whenever food is around.
Unlike dogs, cats will eat only when they are hungry not whenever food is around. | Source

Step 2: Feed and Water Them

Cats and other animals are much like people: They need to eat on a daily basis, and depending on what kind of food they are given (dry or wet), it is important to make sure there is food and water out and readily available for them to eat and drink.

But in some other ways, they are not like people who can go into the refrigerator and fix themselves up a meal.

If you are feeding them dry food, the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember to do is give them PLENTY OF WATER.

They are just like us humans: we can go two weeks without food, but can’t last three days without water.

Not that you should let it even go that long, but I know from personally experience / observation, that people make the mistake of thinking that when their pet is “crying” for something they think they just want food, (and just fill their bowl with more dry food) when many times they really just want a drink of water.

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Step 3: Clean The Litter Box

This in never a fun step and nor should it be. However; it is one of the most important steps around, even more for cats.

Cats tender to relieve themselves in the same place on a regular basis (unlike dogs, which look for a new place to go every time).

The main reason to regularly clean out the litter box (once a day at most, every other day at least) is because of the smell.

Just like human waste, there is toxic gas that can seep into the cloth and fabrics of clothes and furniture around the house (and stay there forever).

Also, there is the issue of the litter box becoming full (or overflowing) and the cats will go in the corners of the house or under the bed (or even in the back of the closets).

Anyone who has ever had a cat urinate on the carpet or a rug knows that that is pretty much the end of that covering.

A tidy cat makes an unhappy kitty, but happy parents!
A tidy cat makes an unhappy kitty, but happy parents! | Source

Step 4: Clean Up After Them

This step is more for the homeowners than the cats, but it does help keep the cats in line. Cats can be like children.

Like the old saying goes, “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.” The same thing goes for the cats when mommy and daddy are away.

They will happily get into everything and make a huge mess.

The last time I went over to look after the cats was during the week of the Fourth of July. I was greeted by a wonderful gift of “fur ball vomit” all over the coffee table.

I couldn’t just leave it there; it was disgusting.

Plus, cats are the curious types and if they are confined to the inside of the house, they will find something to play with (and it ends up being the last thing they should play with).

When you cat-sit for someone, you don’t have to make sure the house is spotless, but you don’t want them to come home to a war zone either.

Just tidy up after the kittens and all should be fine.

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    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 4 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear edgararkham,

      Thank you for a useful and well written article. My wife and I have three Siamese indoor cats and we know just what a handful they are.

      Kind regards Peter

    • Edgar Arkham profile image
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      Edgar Arkham 4 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Thank you for reading! I'm glad you found it informative!

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