ADOPTING A CAT – HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR CAT/KITTEN

While a cat doesn’t need daily walking like a dog, don’t be fooled into thinking that cats aren’t a time commitment. They’re still active pets that need a lot of play, and affectionate companions who demand attention.

Your first decision is whether you’d like to adopt an adult cat or a younger kitten. Kittens are adorable, but they do take a lot more work than an adult cat, and you must be sure that you have the time and energy to give them what they need.  If nobody is at home during the day to keep a kitten entertained, it might be wiser to adopt an adult cat. An adult cat will be calmer and quieter than a kitten. Kittens are also more likely to scratch things, as they are still learning social cues.

  • The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 13-17 years, so be aware that you’re making a long-term commitment to a new family member.
  • If you might move abroad for any reason and cannot endure the cost of transferring your cat with you, then consider being a foster parent and not adopting. Cats become harder to home the older they are.

Brushing – helps remove dead hairs, improve circulation and can feel great. Brush your cat at a quiet time of the day, be gentle and calm, giving occasional treats to make the whole experience positive.

Teeth – depending on your cat’s temperament, you may wish or not wish to clean their teeth. If it is too difficult to brush their teeth you can get chunky food, which is good for their gums and keeps their breath fresh. If you notice that your cat has persistently smelly breath, then you should seek advice from your vet.

Ears – keep your cats ears clear with an ear solution, which you can buy from your vet. If your cat’s ears are regularly waxy, then get your cat checked by a vet.

Bathing – cats clean themselves throughout the day and are very clean animals. You shouldn’t need to bathe your cat. If for some reason you feel as though they do need cleaning, then use a warm, moist flannel to gently wipe over them.

There are lots of household plants, different types of food and household products that can be toxic to your cat. If you suspect that your cat has consumed something is shouldn’t have, never ‘watch and wait’ to see if it’s ok. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, act fast and contact a vet for advice immediately.

Some of the most common household substances that are poisonous to cats include:

  • Paracetamol
  • Lilies (Lilium spp)
  • Ethylene glycol – the active ingredient inAntifreeze
  • Permethrin – found in Spot-on flea treatments for dogs
  • Metaldehyde – found in slug/snail baits/pellets
  • Petroleum distillates – found in decorating materials – e.g. paints, varnishes, preservatives, paint and glass cleaners can contain

If you have your eye on one cat in particular, ask about its medical history to see if it requires any long-term care. Think whether you would be able to afford this cat’s medical needs, including a special diet?

  • Even if a cat is healthy, consider its breed. Purebred cats from different breeds can have their own genetic problems to overcome. For example, flat-faced cats like Manx and Scottish Fold often develop breathing problems.
  • Purebred cats are more likely to have genetic medical problems than non-pedigreed cats.
  • If there’s a chance that you may move to another country, bear in mind that there are some breeds of cats that can’t fly – flat faced cats.

Just like any member of the family, a cat should have a medical check-up every year. Unlike human children, cats can’t let us know when they’re not feeling well. They rely on their owners to take them to a veterinarian for regular medical examinations to keep them healthy. It is important that a cat sees a vet at least once a year, for a physical check-up – teeth, ears, eyes, heart, etc – booster vaccinations and deflea/deworm treatments (although they should have deflea and worm treatment every three months).

Please don’t keep your cat in a cage, unless they’re sick, recovering from surgery or adjusting to a new environment there’s no reason that a cat should be caged.

You should to be vigilant to changes in your cat’s behaviour. Changes could be a sign of distress, boredom, illness or injury, stress or fear. Signs to look out for:

  • Cats grooming themselves more often than usual, hiding, sleeping hunched or altered feeding/toilet habits, as well as urinating (spraying) around the house are all indicate stress or fear.
  • Unwanted habits such as aggression, spraying indoors, disappearing or avoiding people all suggest your cat being in pain or frightened.

If any of these symptoms become an ongoing problem speak to a vet or clinical animal behaviourist.