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    Mistake 3: Delaying Care

    McGeorge says another important mistake pet owners make is waiting to see if a health problem gets better on its own before taking their cat to the vet.

    The flaw in a wait-and-see attitude is cats’ adeptness at hiding illness to protect themselves from predators. So although you may think a health problem has resolved, you could find a week later that it's progressed to a full-blown emergency.

    If you clearly see there's a problem -- your cat is limping, for example, or has her head cocked at an angle -- always call your vet.

    Other signs that your feline friend may be ill include:

    Mistake 4: Skipping Parasite Control

    Fleas are the bane of cats worldwide and by far the most common external parasite they face. And they’re more than just an itchy irritation. For cats with flea allergies, an infestation can lead to inflammation, severe itching, and hair loss. Kittens can die of anemia if severely infested with fleas. To double the annoyance, it takes just one swallowed flea to lead to tapeworms.

    Tapeworms are the most common internal parasite in cats but not the only one. Though heartworms are often thought of as an issue for dogs, they can also plague cats. There is no treatment for heartworm infection in cats, so prevention is key.

    Keeping a lid on problem parasites isn't just for your cat. McGeorge says, "Some intestinal parasites can be transmitted to people." Children and immune-compromised adults are at increased risk.

    Along with fleas and tapeworms, ear mites, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, and ticks also can trouble cats. Talk with your vet to decide the most effective treatment to control the problem parasites in your area.

    Mistake 5: Not Microchipping

    Cats can be real homebodies, soaking up the sun on a windowsill or snoozing the day away in the garden. Yet they are still among the 10 million pets lost in the United States every year.

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