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REMEMBER: A CAT IS FOR LIFE!
Think carefully before you decide to get a kitten or cat. It is important that you fully understand and accept the responsibility that you are taking on. Cats can live for up to 20 years and by that time they will seem more like a member of the family and a friend than a pet.
Sadly thousands of cats and kittens are handed over to rescue organisations every year by owners ‘bored’ of caring for them. Many of them are put down because there are simply not enough homes for them all. To save lives, adopt your cat(s) from an animal charity or rescue center; you’ll be giving a cat a second chance of a happy life.
SETTLING IN YOUR NEW CAT OR KITTEN
The first time you bring your cat or kitten home, they need a quiet secure room or space to orientate themselves in. This place will be where you will interact with them and gain their trust before introducing any other pets, children or let them explore the rest of their new home! The length of time needed to adjust can vary from a few hours to several days; depending on the cat’s personality.
If your cat runs away and hides when you visit, give them time, put out your hand and call their name. Don’t force them out – you can try tempting them out with treats. Remember to keep any windows closed so that they can’t get lost outside and that the place has everything they will need to get used to their immediate surroundings:
• Litter tray
• Food and water
• Cat bed (or cardboard box with
a blanket is fine)
You will need to keep an extra eye on a young kitten as, like babies, they love to explore and are oblivious to danger! Check toilet seat covers are down and that doors of washing/tumble drying machines are closed, as well as keeping windows and doors closed.
Remember, your kitten(s) may have left their mother and siblings for the first time and may feel insecure and frightened. They will need lots of fuss, love and gentle handling. Some creature comforts may make them feel more at home, such as a warmed heat pad under their blanket and a soft toy to play and snuggle with.
Depending on your cat(s) personality they could become comfortable with you and in your home in a few hours, days or a couple of weeks. However, you must wait at least 3 weeks before allowing them to venture outside and, whether a kitten or an adult cat, they should be fully vaccinated.
Any kitten under 6 months of age should not be left outside alone. At this stage whether kitten or adult they must be microchipped. You could also give them a quick release collar and identity tag; for safety and in case they get lost. At first it’s best to let your cat out before meal times so that they return when they are hungry!
KEEP YOUR CAT SAFE, KEEP THEM IN AT NIGHT!
CHILDREN AND OTHER PETS
Once you feel that your new cat or kitten has gained confidence, you can gradually introduce other members of the family. Young children should be calm and gentle and everyone should balance giving the new arrival attention and also knowing when they want sleep and privacy.
If you are introducing other pets to your new cat or kitten, please take it slowly. Cats are territorial and at first there may be hissing and spitting between the resident cat and the new arrival for anything up to a few weeks.
To avoid an aggressive confrontation and help ease introduction, follow these steps:
• Allow them to smell each other’s scent through a closed door or on your clothes
• Place their food bowls on each side of the door and feed them at the same time
• Make an extra fuss of the resident cat
• Begin to let the newcomer explore outside their room, while keeping the resident cat out of the way
• Introduce them under supervision
• Place their bowls at a reasonable distance and feed them together
When introducing dogs to cats the same approach works, but most importantly make sure that you have full control of your dog when they’re together. Make sure the cat has an escape route and never leave them alone until you are convinced that they at least accept each other.
Royal Canin or Hills Science Plan are the foods recommended by vets and by A.R.C. They are available online, in pet shops and at vets. Feeding an inferior wet or dry diet, can lead to obesity, urinary problems and crystals in the bladder which can be fatal. It’s advisable to add some dental biscuits into the mix to avoid expensive dental treatment later in life.
• Young kittens should be fed 4 times a day, on special kitten food. Try and find out what your kitten prefers before you bring them home!
• Give small amounts of food and more if still hungry, by 3 months you can feed them 3 times a day.
• By 6 months they can eat adult food, twice a day. Follow the manufactures guidelines and adapt to your cat’s individual needs
• Water must be changed every day and always available. Special cat milk for a treat is fine but do not feed cows milk
• If you need to change your cat’s diet, do so gradually over a period of a week
Until your cat is ready to be allowed outside to go to toilet, keep the tray in a quiet place and completely clean at least once every other day, removing ‘mess’ as and when they happen. Don’t use bleach or disinfectant to clean the tray, unless it says it’s safe for animals. If you have more than one cat it may be advisable to have more than one tray. Once they go outside to do their business they will need the litter tray less and less, but you should still provide one.
Although most cats instinctively use a litter tray from about 5 weeks, you may need to confine your cat to a room with a litter tray to get them used to using it if they are reluctant. If your cat or kitten is still going to toilet outside of the litter tray then they may be ill, stressed or the tray is dirty as cats are naturally clean and tidy animals. Please call us if your cat or kitten is not using their litter tray properly.
Litter trays are a minimum of fuss, just remember to always wash your hands after cleaning the tray regularly and of course, de-flea and worm your cats. In this way they pose no health risk, although keep babies and small children away from the tray at all times and consider a tray with a lid.
Unfortunately, cats become unwanted when their owners become pregnant because of the confusion over Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a cat parasite that can be transmitted, although the chances of it spreading are easily minimized. Simply wear gloves or wash your hands after cleaning the tray, or get someone else to do it. In fact, unwashed vegetables and under cooked meat pose more of a threat to expectant mothers.
• Carrier – a secure, covered wire or plastic pet carrier
• Litter tray – a good sized plastic litter tray, possibly with a clip on cover. Chose from wood, paper, silicone or clay based litter
• Collar – must have a proper quick release catch designed to snap open easily if caught on anything. Reflective ones available. Do not use on very young kittens. Make sure two fingers can slip underneath
• Identification – must have a microchip and could have a quick release collar with an ID tag as an optional extra precaution
• Bedding – either a comfy cat bed or simply a basket or box with a cushion or blanket. Regularly wash and treat for fleas
• Scratch post – very useful when attempting to protect your furniture and fun for sharpening claws
• Toys – balls with bells, pretend mice, feathers or balls on elastic, cotton reels, corks, scrunched up silver foil, etc.
• Food and water bowls – whether your bowls are plastic, stainless steel or ceramic; clean them every day after use. Also remember that cats don’t like drinking water out of plastic bowls.
• Cat flap – This is your cats front door to the outside world, so it should also be lockable to keep them in and other cats out at night.
Please also read: Health Care & Neutering in the tab above
Feel free to download this information as a printable friendly PDF
You need to be absolutely sure that you can take care of your cat or kitten for the entirety of their life. Aside from the routine healthcare such as flea and worming treatments, annual vaccinations and neutering, there may be other unexpected veterinary costs if your cat is ill or involved in an accident. Over the years most people grow very close to their cats and regard them as members of the family or companions, rather than pets. So it’s important to make sure that you’ll be able to help your cat if they need emergency veterinary treatment; take out either pet insurance or set up your own ‘pet fund’.
As a responsible and caring pet owner, it is essential that you get your kitten neutered at the appropriate age, between 4 – 6months of age. A.R.C. and most other charities try to ensure that this is done by asking you to sign for this when you adopt a kitten. Most charities neuter cats over 3 ½ months, before they are adopted.
WHY NEUTERING IS SO IMPORTANT?
Many thousands of kittens are born every year. Many of these will become unwanted and homeless within the first year. Some of these unwanted kittens and cats will find new homes but many of them will be destroyed because there are simply not enough homes.
Even if you manage to find homes for your kittens, you will have taken those valuable homes away from the many unwanted cats and kittens. Don’t forget that an un-neutered tom will also be responsible for reproducing many litters.
Animal welfare organisations and other professional bodies are desperately trying to control the overpopulation tragedy, by ensuring that people do not allow their pets to breed and by educating owners about the benefits of neutering.
THE BENEFITS OF NEUTERING
• Your male cat will be calmer and less inclined to wander and get hurt, lost, or into fights with other cats. He is also less likely to spray his h2 smelling urine to mark his territory
• Male and female cats are less susceptible to potentially l ethal infectious diseases, such as F.I.V. and FeLV
• A first litter, despite the myth that a cat should have one, can put your cat at risk, and neutering means she is less likely to suffer lethal viruses through mating
• Neutering will calm both male and female cats and make them more affectionate both to you and other cats
• Your cat will not gain weight after neutering, unless overfed by the local neighbourhood of course!
Both procedures are performed under general anaesthetic. A female cat will have an area shaved on her flank and a vertical incision will be made. The ovaries and womb will then be removed. The wound is then stitched up internally with dissolvable stitches and sealed on the outside with surgical glue. Pain killers may be administered and she will normally be allowed home on the same day.
The male cat will have his testicles removed via two tiny incisions made in the scrotum. Stitches are not generally required, as the incisions will heal themselves.
To spay a female approximately £75
To castrate a male approximately £50
Please consider this expense before you take on a kitten.
All cats and kittens are at risk of contracting several potentially fatal viral diseases during their lifetime. Fortunately, we are able to offer vaccinations against three of the most common below. Don’t take the risk with your cats, get them vaccinated as soon as possible.
Feline Infectious Enteritis (F.I.E.)
Caused by a strain of virus called parvovirus which is spread through an infected cat’s faeces, and other bodily fluids. Fleas can also help to transmit the virus. In extreme cases, an infected cat can suddenly stop eating and die within a few hours. It is more usual for a cat to show symptoms of depression, high temperature, vomiting, inability to drink, followed by diarrhoea. Hospitalisation and re-hydration is required. Prevention of F.I.E. is vital as the mortality rate is high.
A general term for feline upper respiratory disease, usually resulting from a viral infection. The viruses responsible are highly contagious; transmitted mainly by sneezing, direct facial contact and food bowls. The main viruses responsible are the herpesvirus and calicivirus. Symptoms range from lack of appetite, fever, sneezing, discharges from eyes and nostrils and severe inflammation of the eyes. The calicivirus causes severe ulceration of the mouth and tongue. Antibiotics are usually administered to combat any secondary infections but cannot really treat the symptoms. Cat ‘flu’ can be fatal in kittens and older cats.
Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
Another nasty virus which can cause cancer of the white blood cells, other cancers and suppression of the immune system. An infected cat cannot fight off disease and may develop gum inflammation, skin / bladder infections, diarrhoea and anaemia. The virus is generally transmitted by prolonged direct physical contact with an infected cat; mainly through saliva, urine and faeces.
Vaccination is recommended, although a vaccinated cat should never be deliberately exposed to FeLV (no vaccination is 100%). Sadly most cats will succumb to infection within 3½ yrs. of the diagnosis. The vaccination for leukaemia can now be given as part of a triple vaccine with the enteritis and cat flu.
The primary course of vaccinations can be given from 9 weeks of age, followed by a second injection 3 – 4 weeks later. Your cat or kitten should not go outside until a week after the course is completed. To ensure immunity, you must follow up with an annual single booster.
Primary course costs approximately £45
Annual booster costs approximately £ 75
ROUTINE HEALTH CARE
Apart from the obvious itching and agitated meowing, you can also look out for brown specks on your cat’s fur or bed as a sign of fleas.
Unfortunately due to central heating, fleas can lay eggs and survive in your cat’s fur all year round. Regular treatment is therefore needed to stop a major infestation and unhygienic discomfort to your cat. Your vet can advise on different available treatments, usually applied every 4 weeks.
These products can be supplied by the vet, or for a small charge, you can obtain a prescription that will enable you to buy the products on line. Remember fleas jump between animals so treat every animal in your house and should an infestation occur, sprays are available to treat your carpets, furniture and the cat’s bed.
Worms are parasites that can be caused by fleas and live inside your animal’s stomach. The two most common types are roundworms or tapeworms. Signs to spot include diarrhoea, constipation, erratic appetite, swollen belly as well as general sickness. It’s important to treat regularly for both fleas and worms; Kittens should be treated at the age of 4-6 weeks thereafter every 3months.
WE ADVISE USING FLEAING & WORMING PRODUCTS RECOMMENDED BY YOUR VET
You should regularly check your cat or kitten’s ears for a greyish brown wax as this could point to ear mites: if discovered take him/her to your vet to be checked out.
Every cat loves to be stroked, but not all like being combed! Make sure your cat is accustomed to being groomed and bear in mind before you take on a long haired cat, that they will require – and come to expect – daily brushing as well as strokes.
Whether long or short-haired, you need to brush your cat regularly – ideally everyday – since this reduces the amount of hairballs they swallow when they clean themselves fastidiously.
When you groom your cat, keep an eye on their teeth, claws and ears. Special cat toothpaste can be bought and administered with a baby toothbrush and may prevent dental problems later on. Claws may grow too long and curl, particularly if your cat is older or a ‘house cat’. If you are in any way uncertain about clipping your cat’s claws with the correct clippers, then take them to a vet or professional groomer.