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Cat-Care Questions with Kat Miller

The Martha Stewart Show, Episode 5128

More than 3 million cats and kittens will likely end up in shelters this year due to overpopulation and owner negligence.

To help bring this number down, ASPCA animal behaviorist Kat Miller shares these tips for keeping your kitty healthy and safe.

Why Is It Important to Spay or Neuter Cats?
Almost 2 million cats are euthanized every year in this country because there aren't enough homes for them all. That's equivalent to the number of pet cats in New York City. Spaying and neutering are simple procedures, and lots of affordable spay/neuter options are available.

Spaying or neutering also has benefits for your cat. Sterilized cats may be easier to keep safely indoors because they have less desire to roam. Spaying or neutering can also greatly reduce the likelihood of mammary cancer and other life-threatening conditions, and it can reduce spraying by males, which, incidentally, is another reason people put cats outside.

What's the Problem with Letting Cats Outdoors to Explore?
Studies show that cats kept indoors can live longer lives than cats allowed outdoors, where they don't get wholesome food and are exposed to the risk of cars, predators, parasites, and diseases. Often, people don't think about these risks, or maybe they think that the cat's litter box is too dirty or smelly, so they allow their cats outside. That's where they run into trouble.

What About That Smelly Litter Box?
About 25 percent of cat owners say that litter-box odor is a drawback to having a cat. But it's really easy to control by choosing litter with a good odor-control ingredient, by scooping the box every day, and by cleaning the whole box every few weeks with plain soap and water.

What Do You Suggest for Keeping a Cat's Body and Mind Active Indoors?
You want to have plenty of toys, scratching posts, a good view out the window if you have it, and interactive play sessions each day with your cat. Adult cats are less likely to play by themselves than kittens, so just leaving toys around the house is less effective at sparking their interest than using an interactive fishing-rod type toy.

Make the toys jump and dance to get your cat running, jumping, and pouncing. It's good exercise for your cat, and it can help prevent it from becoming overweight. It also helps maintain a strong bond with your cat, and it's fun for both of you.

If You're Not in a Position to Adopt Another Cat, How Can You Help Counter the Overpopulation Problem?
You can purchase specially marked boxes of Fresh Step litter, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the ASPCA to help improve the health and wellness of all cats. Check out freshstep.com/aspca for more ways to help cats live longer, healthier lives.